Thursday, November 29, 2007

Italian driving rules...

Neal likes to joke that when it comes to driving in Italy, everyone is related to Mario Andretti. We joke about the driving here constantly because it really is laughable. Here is a satirical look at driving in Italy...

The rules of the road are as follows:

2. Anyone can do anything at any given time
3. Those lines painted on the roads are purely cosmetic, there is no purpose for them whatsoever
4. The person who pulls the furthest into the intersection first has the right of way
5. There is no such thing as a crosswalk, the entire road is a viable option for crossing
6. You MUST go at least double the speed limit
7. You MUST slam on your brakes and come almost to a complete stop when Polizia are spotted
8. Seat belts are purely optional. In fact, children are not allowed to use them. They are required to be up and about the cabin of the car at all times, smiling and waving at other drivers.
9. It is illegal to have any less than 6 inches between you and the next car, this is reduced to 2 inches when stopped
10. While you must be 18 years old to drive a car, simply being able to breathe is the only requirement for driving a motorino
11. Helmets on motorinos are only fashion accessories, and need not be worn. It is highly unnecessary to wear anything more than a tee shirt, cut off shorts, and sandals for men; and a bathing suit, miniskirt, and heels for women.

More to come I'm sure!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Our First Thanksgiving (together)...

Neal and I thoroughly enjoyed our Thanksgiving Day together. It was just the two of us, with loads of food, but it was nice and relaxing. We had a wonderful day, and we loved every minute of spending the holiday together this year. I really enjoyed the time we got alone, him helping me cook, sitting at the table and nibbling on what was left on our plates after we filled up, and enjoying a glass of wine and a game of cards together. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect, romantic, or special Thanksgiving.

I think we're both getting more and more anxious to get back home for a visit, as we were talking all day yesterday about what we want to do when we get there, things we want to take home with us, and what we can only get at home. We're both very weary of being so far away, and overly ready for a trip back home. This assignment will really test our patience, I think.

I was really happy for Neal to finally have a normal holiday. Given how many holidays he's missed out on from being deployed or working and not able to get home, I was so happy that this year, even though we’re not at home with family, we could at least have our own special dinner. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long, as he’ll be working this weekend, but we were both so grateful for him being able to be home to have a special day, and for all the ways that God has blessed the two of us.

Here are some pictures from our dinner:

...Trying to reheat the casseroles that I made up on Wednesday, while keeping the turkey and mashed potatoes warm. Thank you Brian and Melanie for our casserole dishes! You can tell they've come in handy!

...I just had to set out my snowman dish that the Pritchard's gave us at my bridal shower in Memphis. It's adorable! I told Neal I needed something to put in it, and he said I would just have to make cookies to fill it, hahaha!

...the spread (turkey breast with stuffing, corn pudding, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, and steamed broccoli), and the cook...

...Our desserts, Apple Crisp and Pumpkin pie (already a casualty)...

We love you all, and hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just having fun...

I found a link for some seasonal fun the other day, and thought that everyone would enjoy seeing this... (P.S. Neal hates me now, lol!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More garden pictures

Here are some more recent pictures of the garden and other stuff. Some of them were taken at night, so they're not all that great, but they're just so everyone gets an idea.

These are the cold frames that Neal made for us. We put carrots, onions, and various herbs in them, and still had enough seeds that we decided to plant them in the back half of the garden.

This was our way of labeling what we planted. We had a few pieces of wood left over and had to use something so we didn't walk all over the seeds.

Here's Neal fighting our new tiller. Luckily it's just a bitty little one instead of a monster one, but it was eagerly eating up that ground. It was jumping and bouncing all over the place at first because the ground was so hard, but once it softened up, we got some gorgeous dirt!

This was the ground, after we burned off the "grass" (read: weeds and rocks), and before we started tilling it.

This is for comparison. The far end was the area with the hardest ground, and in the foreground is the area that had been tilled once over.

My hunny doing the hard work for me!

Another view of the garden, and my guard duck!

My Guard Duck - we're still trying to come up with a name for him. (Neal doesn't like Howard)

We took this picture about two houses down the street. There was a gorgeous sunset the other night, but we had the hardest time getting good pictures. This one's even a bit blurry. But it's beautiful, and you get the idea.

The same night, this was the view from the back of the upper deck of the house. (There's actually snow on those mountains now, it literally happened over the course of about two nights.)

I was nice and didn't post the picture I took of Neal, but he got a serious giggle out of my choice of color coordination. I told him I was just trying to blend in here in Italy. Note the bright yellow garden shoes, lol!

Not much going on here. The weather's turned bitter cold, and it's been rainy for the past few days. We're waiting for the rain to stop, and for things to dry out a bit, so that we can till again and plant our fall bulbs. We're having a really quiet Thanksgiving this year, just the two of us. We're planning on getting a little turkey breast and making our own little feast.

We hope everyone's doing well, and enjoys the upcoming week with family, friends, and food! We love and miss you all, and can't wait to see everyone!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Well, we've taken a few more pictures since the concert, and I've tried to upload them to Shutterfly, but didn't realize that I had a limit. So I'll be doing some rearranging of albums and such, and I'll let everyone know when I've finished putting them all up. For now, I'll post a few pictures of the cold frame that Neal made this past weekend. He's making another on his next day off. We've already put it in the garden, and I'll be doing some serious planting this week. We've already got seeds for lettuce, spinach, carrots, various herbs, and some Spring flowers. I'll be planting them throughout the winter to make sure we get several crops out of them. The flowers will be planted closer to February, then moved to another bed. We also bought a bag off 100 Spring bulbs that we're looking to plant in the bed where the impatiens used to live. We're going to try and find some stepping stones, then plant the bulbs around those.

This was the finished product before we moved it out to the garden.

In the garden, with the lid open.

From about halfway up the patch of yard on the side of the house. That's my little basil plant. The fencing is for the cats. We're going to just use the two cold frames during the winter, then use this whole area for tomatoes next year. We're working on another area on the other side that will be a little smaller. That's where we'll put the herbs and other summer veggies next year.

This is from July, just to show you that this is the little spot that we've widened, and are planning to put the stepping stones and bulbs in. I'll post a couple more updated pictures of this spot soon.

For right now, the only thing we have growing is my last basil plant (he's staying strong and thriving though), and the Wisteria tree that the landlady likes. If it were up to us, we'd remove it (Wisteria's not meant to climb a 2D wall, so it keeps growing out over the garden). But the landlady babies it, so we have to leave it.

Neal is back on nights now, and will be nocturnal for a few months again. But it works out well, as he's still busy taking classes. I'm back to working out daily, and Mikelauren is really doing a number on me! But it's all good. I'm running again, and I've actually gotten back to it even better than before the ankle sprain!

The weather is still really nice during the day. It's usually in the upper 50's to mid 60's during the day, and in the mid 40's at night, so very bearable. Most days are sunny and cloudless too, which I guess makes up for the late Winter/early Spring rainy days.

I'm in the process of making some curtains for the house windows, and will post pictures of the inside, as I've had requests numerous times (*hanging my head in shame*). Neal took a few this past weekend, so I'll take more and post them here soon too.

Enjoy the pictures!

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Hi everyone! We just wanted to upload a few pictures and update you all on our most recent trip to Rome! We had heard that Michael Buble was coming to Italy, and since we're both such huge fans, we decided to do an overnight trip to Rome to see him there as an anniversary get away. It was loads of fun! We got there Wednesday afternoon and checked into the hotel, which was about a block away from The Vatican. We then did a little shopping (mostly window shopping, Rome can be expensive!), and had dinner at a little cafe that we've eaten at before. It's quickly becoming a favorite, and it just happened to be right beside our hotel, and we didn't even know it!

The concert was at 9pm, and it was packed! Michael is definitely a favorite here in Italy. They play his music on the radio all the time, and the crowd was singing his songs (in English even!) throughout the night. It was a very fun concert. He is a great showman, and you can really tell that he enjoys himself on the stage. He has a great voice, and there was one point at the end that he cut all the music, put down his microphone, and belted out a few lines of the current song! We were both amazed that even with the not-so-great acoustics in the building, we were able to hear him crystal clear up in the "nose bleed" seats! Amazing!

The group that opened for him was called Naturally 7, an American a-capella band of seven guys who have gotten to be fairly popular here in Europe. They are described as a gospel, R&B, and pop "band" that has covered songs like "In the Air Tonight" and "Broken Wings." They are amazing, and even though neither of us are fans of the genre, we couldn't help but be amazed at the "beatbox" style of music they performed. Every sound was done by their mouths and/or bodies, and it was amazing.

Here's a teenie taste of Michael:

On Thursday, we went to Saint Peter's Basilica, took loads of pictures, ooh'd and aah'd and generally had a great time. We spent two hours in the basilica, and Neal, the resident shutterbug (and people thought I was bad), took almost 200 pictures! Of course, not all of them turned out, but he was very pleased with the ones that did, and I'll be uploading those very soon.

Neal at Saint Peter's Basilica...beside a massive marble "thingie" for a former Pope. A lot of the Popes were buried there, and there were these huge pieces all over! We just kept gawking at the massive amounts of gorgeous marble!

This is me before we left for the concert, in our hotel room. It was tiny (probably about 10x12, including the bathroom), but for one night, it worked fine. I even slept really well! And the bed didn't have a huge gap in the middle (Italians will put two twin beds together and call it a King)!

Neal is working this weekend, but we have been told about a store near Naples that we can get lumber at, so we have plans next week to go and get the materials to make a cold frame or two for the garden. We're planning next weekend for our stay at home/gardening weekend.

The weather was bitter cold last weekend, mainly because we had wind gusting up to 25 mph (I think Neal was wondering if he was back in Whidbey Island, lol!). It was around 45 at night and 55 during the days. But yesterday it perked back up, and we're back in the 60's again, so it's really pleasant.

P.S. This is what we saw from our back patio last weekend, in the middle of 25 mph winds!

A close-up:

The Italians like to burn everything: grass clippings, trash, and apparently the mountainside! Amazingly though, it ended up burning a complete circle, then going out as quickly as it started. We asked one of the ladies on base what the purpose of this was (we see random fires on the hills regularly, although not usually that big and close), and she said the shepherds burn all the dead brush and weeds from their pasture land to allow for new stuff in the Spring. Although it is technically illegal, they don't really police it (surprise!), and she said there's never been a problem with one getting out of hand! But with all of the wildfires in California right now, that was just a little bit of a nerve-wrecking sight to see when you walk out to get firewood from your back patio!

We did have fun with the colder weather over the weekend though:

I am back to working out now, so the warmer weather is definitely welcome now that I'm traveling to base daily as well. I have plans next week to start personal training with Mikelauren (the Navy wife I mentioned from Easter Mass), so I'm really going to be busting my rear end back into shape hopefully. The two months off from my ankle sprain were no fun, and I really missed it. Luckily, it seems I haven't lost too much stamina, as I've managed to run three times this week already, and I only had to limit myself because the physical therapist said to do so. Otherwise, I could've kept going, so that's encouraging. Mikelauren is going to help me with weight training, and I'm going to keep running too, so I should be a hot mama in no time! Just kidding, I've got a personal goal to meet by my birthday next year, so Mikelauren's going to be keeping me in line. She's good like that.

Neal has his biannual physical readiness training (PRT) next month, so he's been running again as well. He told me yesterday he ran it easily with only a minute to shave off his time, so I'm not concerned for him at all. I'm sure he'll do fine.

So that's what's going on in our little world! We love keeping up with everyone, and hope you all are doing great! We love you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Minor update and pictures

I know I just updated, but I wanted to post some pictures now that Blogger is back and working. I still had tons of tomatoes left, so I talked to a couple of the Italian women who work on base, and they told me how best to can them for use later. So here are pictures of the process. Overall, I ended up with 15 cans of diced tomatoes, 4 (now 3) of sauce, and 2 of what I call "guts"(basically crushed tomatoes). So I think we're pretty good for the winter.

The tomatoes in the plastic bag were about half of what was originally in there. The ones that were already diced at this point were what I'd already taken out.

Even more, besides the ones in the bag. In all, over 25 pounds!

This was fresh basil that I'd just picked off our own plant. I put a few basil leaves, as well as some garlic in each of the jars with the tomatoes. So they are about 90% home-grown (the garlic wasn't ours).

The first batch, about to be sealed up and then boiled.

Doesn't that just look yum?!

This was the first batch, ready for boiling. The cans are about 24 ounces maybe, so we've definitely got plenty of tomatoes for chili, spaghetti sauce, salsa, marinara, pizza sauce, etc...

On another note, I had a couple of people ask how to post comments on the blog because they were having issues. I did some research and realized that when I set it up, Blogger automatically only allows fellow Blogger members to post comments. However, I've changed it now so that anyone can comment. I still moderate them, so they won't show up until I've approved them, but it emails me anytime someone comments, so it shouldn't take me long to get to them.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hello again!

Hey everybody! Sorry it's been so long since I last posted. Somehow, I manage to let the pictures get all stacked up on me before I sit down to post again. But I'm loving the Shutterfly website, as I've posted all of our pictures there, and everyone can scroll through them at their leisure. I'll still post a few here, but I'll put the link below for the whole set.

Note: when I posted this, the Blogger site was having issues uploading pictures, so I couldn't add any here. But you can still check the link below, and you should get access to all of our pics there.

Well, it's been a crazy few weeks around here. We cleaned up the garden with the exception of a plant or two before we had two guests from Knoxville. One of Neal's college buddies, Chris Brown, and a friend of his from church, also Chris, came to visit for a week. We very quickly took to calling them Thing One and Thing Two, and though it was a whirlwind of a tour, we had loads of fun! I got to take them around the area for the first two days while Neal was working, then Neal had three days off and we all went carousing around the area. They had been in Scotland before coming to Italy, then were heading out to Germany and Spain, then back home to Knoxville.

The first day we went to Pompeii, then on the second we went to Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Unfortunately, Neal wasn't able to do either of those with us since he was working, but we decided that he and I will have to take a long weekend to Positano on our own soon. You'll understand when you see the pictures! On our way back from Positano, we missed the last train to Naples, and thus ensued a hilarious comedy of errors for the night, during which we argued with train conductors, I learned I know more Italian than I thought I did, and poor Neal had to drive to the Naples base around 2am to pick us up after working all day. We ended up getting in bed that night around 4am, but were able to laugh about it the next day, so all went well. It was quite the frustrating situation, but all-in-all we learned alot from it, and are much more comfortable with transportation in the area.

Friday, the third day they were here, we slept in and just chilled. That afternoon, we walked around a local historic site, Minturnae, and then went to a WWII War Memorial near the house. It really was the most beautifully kept area we've seen in Italy. The Italians aren't all that big on landscaping and keeping grass healthy and weeds under control, but this area would've rivaled many golf courses back home, and was immaculately kept.

Saturday and Sunday we toured Rome, including all the big tourist spots. We saw the Colloseum, Palantine Hill, Saint Peter's Square and the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. We took loads of pictures, and really enjoyed all the sights of Rome. Having friends visiting was really nice, especially being able to talk about friends and family back home and how everyone is doing there. The house was definitely not as quiet as usual, and it was really nice. They left to finish their tour of Europe before heading back home before the UT-Georgia game.

After they left, Neal and I both managed to get allergy/sinus colds, so we've been taking it easy for a week or two. We had been noticing the yellow pollen everywhere, but even through allergy medication, still managed to eventually succumb to it. We're doing better now though, and looking forward to Neal's next few days off.

We're already planning our winter garden, and we've got big plans for a couple of cold frames with lettuce, spinach, onions, carrots, and whatever else we come up with before then. The garden is really looking great. This past week, we took down the fencing and expanded it for the winter garden. Neal's got plans in his head for landscaping the rest of the grassy area back there, and we're just waiting for him to get the time to be able to do it. He's enjoying playing back there, and it's making a huge difference. It's definitely relaxing, and has been a great way for us to do something constructive together.

Neal has just finished a couple of his business classes, and is finishing up week two of his next batch. They're keeping him busy, but he's really excited to be back on track with his degree. His estimate is to finish up the degree, including a real estate certificate by Spring of 2009. He's doing really well, and while the material isn't always the most thrilling, he's sticking to it!

I finally made it to see a physical therapist about my ankle. The news wasn't thrilling, but it was good overall. He informed me that I somehow managed to pull two of the three tendons in the ankle (go figure). But he did say they were healing well. He gave me the okay to ride a bike (Neal had just gotten me one the day before), get back to working out 100%, and only limited me on running. He said that I could use the elliptical, but the treadmill is definitely a no-go, at least until after Christmas, or he re-evaluates the ankle. I'm definitely at about 99% now, as I can walk/run as needed, and rarely feel any kind of soreness or swelling, so that's good. But I'm really ready to start running again, so we'll see how that goes. I have another appointment later this month, so maybe he'll clear me to at least run on the track. I can at least hope!

Other than that, there's not much else to update on. We have a couple of minor trips in the works, and we'll definitely update on those as we do them. There's a few classes and field trips that are being offered on base, as well as an Italian language program starting next week, so it looks like the Fall will definitely be busy.

We love you all, and miss you dearly! We are really looking forward to making a trip back home as soon as we can, and can't wait to catch up with everyone!

You can view the pictures at this site: You'll need a password, which I have already sent out in the blog email. If you don't have it, please email me at, and I'll give it to you. Sorry for the hassle, but no need to deal with all the crazies on the internet. Thanks!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I had finally decided to seek out some advice from one of my food science professors on why our tomatoes were frozen in time, and wouldn't you know it, the very next day we got a ripe tomato!

We were out staking up one of our baby seedlings, and I just happened to look over and see a spot of red. I walked over, and it was a tomato that had finally started ripening! I poked at it to see if it was ready, and it fell off into my hand. The neighbors probably thought we were crazy because we were so happy over one silly tomato!

So we have our first successful tomato from the garden! Apparently, we are doing things right, we just need to be patient!

P.S. Here's a bit of a better pic of my new haircut!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New haircut! And other recent updates!

I got a new haircut today!

I've been meaning to get it trimmed since we got here, but hadn't quite built up the courage to brave a trip to the Italian salon. I talked with one of the Italian ladies that works on base, and she suggested a salon she thought was great, and I went there. The guy did a great job!
I just took in pictures (decided to get a little more than a trim), told him to do some combination of them, and he did exactly what I wanted! He was super sweet too, stopping frequently to ask if I was okay, if he was doing what I wanted, etc. I think he was a little concerned about the language barrier, and wanted to make sure we understood each other. They take their time, but it turned out really well, and even less than I used to pay in the States (random fact: they don’t tip here!).

That’s definitely not the best picture, as I had to take it myself, and didn’t realize there was a glare off of my glasses, but you get the idea. I’ll probably post another soon, once I have a chance to get used to doing it myself.

I love it! It’s so much lighter on my head, and has some character to it now. It’s also nice to get rid of all of those split ends! Neal loved it too. I went back up to base afterward to show him, and I think he was pleasantly surprised. He had another one of the guys laughing at him because he had to tousle and play with it. It was cute. After I got home, I had called him to let him know I was home, and he commented again on how much he loved my hair, and how cute it was! So I’m glad he likes it too.

Other updates: Janie's adventure in blood-draws! So I haven't had my cholesterol checked since last June, and I figured it was high time to check on it again. I had actually scheduled it back in July, but I had to go and sprain my ankle the day before my appointment, and I was not about to deal with a needle while in that much pain (I know, I'm a wimp). So I finally decided to get it done last Tuesday.

After fasting for twelve hours, I go to medical, and the tech just cannot get blood. She pokes me three times (including once in the hand - ouch!), and it doesn't even bleed after pulling the needle out! We finally decide to just stop,
and try again another day, after drinking tons of water the day before/of. So I pour the fluids down, and try again Friday. Different tech, same results. She just goes straight for the other hand, knowing how hard we had it last time. Nothing. She tries an arm - again nothing. Finally, she decides to go for the wrist. Oh so not fun! She finally manages to get some blood, but it is literally dripping down the tube. Halfway to what we need, it just stops! She maneuvers the needle deeper, has me flex my hand, and tries to physically pump it from higher up on the arm, but it will not give anything but a nasty bruise. Again, we decide to stop. The funny part of all this was that while I'm trying cleansing breaths and praying for help, the tech was actually praying for God to show her a vein, lol! She was seriously saying, "Praise you Jesus, just show me a vein." I couldn't help but laugh. She honestly felt so awful for inflicting so much pain. I'm not sure who was more relived that we stopped!

Neal has now nicknamed me "turnip." We finally decided that since Neal has a dental appointment in Naples this week, we'd see if their lab tech can fare any better.Fast forward to today. We tell the lab tech how much trouble we’d been having, and he took his time finding a vein to try, but he got it on the first poke, no problems! I barely felt the initial prick, then about 15 seconds later, he had all he needed. I told him he’s my new hero, and is on my Christmas list! I was amazed! Of course, I had been drinking water like it was going out of style, but I still think he was an angel sent from God! I'm kidding of course, but I was praying throughout the day that this would be successful. I'm so not good with needles, and though I'm cooperative, I was about to start losing it if someone couldn't get me to bleed! I told Neal that if they had trouble, I was just going to slice a finger open for them!Anyway, not so interesting maybe, but definitely a successful day for me.

Other notes: our garden is frozen in time, I think. After several weeks of amazing baby tomatoes, they have just stopped growing! We hit a bit of a cold snap, and it's really cool at night here, so I'm thinking that's the reason, but it's really frustrating! It's so hard to see all those lovely tomatoes on the vine, knowing that they're not quite ready to pick, even to ripen off the vine. We've been feeding them once a week, and we're praying that since the heat is back, they will buck up, but this may just be a lesson for next year. We may have lots of fried green tomatoes and green salsa on our hands.

Neal didn't end up making chief, but no one here in Gaeta did. There were about eight candidates I think. Apparently, it's not unusual, and only about 10-15% of the candidates were selected anyway. Neal said they call the Chief's exam "the annual meeting of the first classes." Some people never actually make it. Neal took it really well, and said it obviously wasn't God's timing. I think I took it worse than he did, but there's always next year.

We watched a friends dog last week. I just wanted to post her picture. Her name is Bella. She is an adorable little thing, though she's definitely still a puppy. She's very cuddly, and follows you everywhere. Mommy lives in an apartment, so she really enjoyed being out in our yard. Because we have the fence, we could just let her run loose. She would play fetch with a tennis ball for as long as we kept throwing it. And she even scared one of the stray cats away while she was here! This picture is of her crashing on our bedroom floor after we came inside. I think she liked the cool tile. Obviously, she's just a teenie little thing, but she has some serious energy!

I think that's about it. We're just living daily life right now. We're definitely looking forward to Neal's college buddy Chris and his friend from church, also Chris, coming to visit this fall. They will be our first guests from home, and we can't wait to just see familiar faces! And of course, we'll get to show them around. We're also really looking forward to football season, now that we have a satellite box to be able to watch American football! Right now, we're planning a trip just for us to Florence this fall too. We're still in the planning stages, but it's so much fun to research the area! We're really looking forward to getting away for a while and spending time together exploring!

We love you all, and hope everyone is doing well! As always, we miss you all dearly, and can't wait to see everyone again at some point or another!

Friday, July 27, 2007


So, on Tuesday, I decided to "test the integrity" of the roads around here. Results: not so much. Roads: 1, Janie: 0.

Neal and I were helping someone move some boxes, and when I stepped off the curb into the street, I neglected to see a large pothole - a dumb move around here, since they are everywhere. I stepped right into it, turning my left foot under me, and spraining my ankle pretty badly. Nothing's broken, thank God, but it hurt like a beast!

We ended up in the Italian emergency room, but thanks to our medical translator, managed to get in and out rather quickly, and got x-rays saying everything was okay. That night was rough, as I had to sleep on the couch (didn't want to attempt the stairs to go to the bedroom), and Neal slept on the floor beside me. He is such a great husband, and an awesome nurse! He carried me around alot, even while I was wincing and whining from the pain.

We went to the medical clinic Wednesday, so I'm now on medicine and feeling better. They gave me some crutches, but they are painful and awkward, and give you bruises too. I'm now able to put some weight on my foot though, and am only using the crutches for stability instead of support. I'm going to have to do physical therapy starting next week, so I don't re-injure it, and working out has gone out the window for a few weeks (there goes that goal). The funny thing is that was the first thing to go through my mind once I realized what had happened - after the initial "What was that? That hurt!" I immediately thought, "Shoot, now I can't work out any more!" Neal thought I had lost my mind, I think!

This was Wednesday morning, before the swelling really set in:

My "pimped" crutches. Neal tried to soften them up a bit:

But overall, I'm doing fine. I just have a foot/ankle the size of my calf! It still feels a bit tingly when I'm up on it for too long, but no more pain is a great thing! I think by the beginning of next week, I won't need the crutches any more, and I'll be well on the road to recovery. I told Neal that I was just making sure that he had some practice before we had kids. He did fine, lol!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Garden update!

I just wanted to let everyone know I've posted more pictures of the garden! It's really starting to look like an actual landscaped garden now, thanks to tons of heavy manual labor on the part of my hubby! He's been so great, doing all of the hard work and leaving all of the easy and fun stuff for me! He managed to finish clearing the weeds and grass from the top of 50-60% of the whole area this weekend. He's put a tarp over the part we're not using yet, hoping to keep everything from growing back, and it really helps make the whole area look alot better.

We also caged up the tomato plants, so they don't look like such monsters any more. We pulled a basil plant and are drying it to save for some home-grown, fresh-dried basil to use in the winter. I planted the last four baby tomato plants. We're thinking that our monsters are Roma tomatoes, which would be awesome for making sauces. The baby four are beefsteak tomatoes. No telling what we'll get from them, given that it's so late in the season, but we'll see. And finally, we planted some colorful impatiens in the corner. We had wanted some color, as well as something to eat up the awkward corner right there. They will have plenty of water, given that the area gets all of the drainage from the rest of the garden. They made a huge difference, and they are so colorful and happy-looking, you can't help but smile.



My job this week is to lay out more topsoil in the vegetable garden (some has washed away, and it's looking a little dry), and also some more on the impatiens, and to fertilize and weed the entire area. We already have some babies growing on the biggest of the tomato plants, so it should be another two weeks, give or take, until we have some fresh produce!

Neal's planning on clearing the last of the side area by the end of the summer, then tarp it all off as well. Our hope is that it will kill any grass and weeds off during the fall and winter, making it easier for us to clear and till next Spring. We're already planning our vegetable garden next Spring, including peppers, beans, more herbs, and who knows what else. We're thinking about using the little plot we have the tomatoes and basil in right now for some late-fall lettuces and peppers, and maybe some peas and broccoli if we're feeling adventurous. And of course, we'll have to plant some bulbs for the Spring.

We're loving playing in the garden, and it's really encouraging that it's doing so well with so little difficulty! The soil here is so rich and healthy, I'm sure whatever we do will turn out well. It's so nice having our own little space, and being able to do it together is a lot of fun! The hard work feels good, and the reward is amazing!

P.S. We've put more of the garden progress pictures on Shutterfly:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Another late/long update

So I've been horrible about updating our blog. Sorry about that. We've stayed busy, though there's not a ton of really interesting stuff going on, just day-to-day life. Neal is finally (!) back on days now. Wednesday was his first day on, and he has a long weekend this week. We're planning on getting out in the garden and doing some more landscaping. Little by little, it's really starting to look good! The basil and tomatoes have gone crazy just in the last week or so. They were doing really well before, but it seems they just about doubled in size in about a week, and the larger two tomato plants are monsters! I've been pinching the blooms to make them grow bigger before letting tomatoes grow, but I'm afraid I might run out of room at this point, so we're going to let them start producing. We've got about a dozen blooms on different plants, so the next two to three weeks ought to be interesting. I somehow have this feeling that we're going to be swimming in tomatoes and begging people to take them off our hands. But we're hoping to make some sauces, can some of them diced and whole, and I guess we'll be eating the rest! We also have two little plants growing among the tomatoes. I was weeding one day and noticed two very different-looking sprouts that I decided to leave and see what happened. They looked very much like vegetable sprouts. Right now, I'm still not sure, but I think they may be squash or something similar. How cool is that?!? I'm going to wait another week or so and see if I can tell what they are. Either way, I'll have to either pull them or move them, as the tomatoes are already crowding each other.

We have cleared about 2/3 of the area that we are working on, and we're going to do the rest this weekend. We are planning on expanding the length of the garden by another row, to allow me to plant my tomatoes from seed that are still potted right now. Then, we're going to leave a border on each side of the garden, place walking stones in, and put down some marigolds to keep pests away (we have a bad mosquito issue out there) and make things pretty. Eventually, we want to put some more flowers, maybe rose bushes along the back wall, and some smaller flowers below the wisteria tree. I'll attach a few pictures so everyone knows what I'm talking about. I'll probably take some before and afters this weekend too, and post them next week (P.S. I have an album of the entire garden and progress here:

Somehow, these...

...turned into these...

...and these...

...turned into these!

We went to Rome two weeks ago. We had a blast! We left Saturday morning, spent the day in Rome, then got back home around 10pm. It was a long, exhausting day, but it was loads of fun! We went to the Colosseum, then just sort of made our way around the area. We checked out a couple of churches, a monastery, a couple museums (including the Italian war museum), and a cute little cafe. We just snacked all day while walking around, then stopped for dinner before the train. The cafe was a quaint little place that has tables actually in the alley between it and the next building (very popular way of doing things around here). Neal had ravioli, and I had a pork chop. And of course, we couldn't turn down dessert, so Neal had a tiramisu, I had rum-soaked pineapples, and we split the two. Overall, the day was a blast, and we took tons of pictures! We have them all posted on the Shutterfly website because there are so many. We didn't want to overload the blog. I'll post a few here, but the entire album (191 pictures) is located at: (warning: there are several pictures in here that include nudes in the art. If you'd like a kid-friendly version, click here:

We're getting a new car this week. The BMW we bought has been difficult lately, and since we got it dirt cheap, we don't mind replacing it. The brakes had been acting up, and we weren't super happy about depending on it. We're buying an Alfa Romeo from another MA that is getting transferred. Apparently it's in great shape, so we won't have to worry about this one.

We're also anxiously awaiting Chief's results, which should be out no later than mid-August. Apparently, Neal is considered an early applicant because he has less than twelve years in the Navy, and they're only allowed to have 10% of the final group as earlies. So while that's not great news, if he makes it, that will just make it that much sweeter! Though we're both anxious to know, he's kept a very calm attitude about it, taking the "wait and see" attitude. I, on the other hand, am like a kid at Christmas! If there was a box to shake, it would be torn to pieces by now! I never have been good about waiting for things, hehe!

Mom and Dad Carcello sent us the Rosetta Stone Italian language program for Neal's birthday. We'd been wanting to try to learn the language, and we've heard that this program is the best. We just got it yesterday, so we may try it out this weekend too. We're super excited about it, as we're starting to understand, or at least distinguish, Italian words a little better. One funny thing that happened in Rome: when we were getting in line at the Colosseum, there were "tour guides" (they use that term loosely around here) that were trying to drum up business before we went in. There was one that was near us and started asking us in English if we needed a guide, and I didn't even realize she was speaking in English at first! I had been so used to being among Italian speakers, that it seemed odd to hear someone speak English anywhere off of base! It was hilarious!

We're both trying to lose some weight together, and I am finally back to working out on a daily basis. We're trying to focus on our diets, less processed and more fresh foods, and really paying attention to what we're eating. I am doing the Body for Life workout challenge, and it's been great so far! I can really feel my body getting stronger. And I've lost about 1.5 inches all over, which is nice given that it's only been three weeks so far! Though I still am not on good terms with the scale, I keep reminding myself that I'm building muscle, and the scale won't drop as fast that way. I'm also running, which is nice. I've finally been able to build up to the point that I can run straight through, albeit slowly, for 25 minutes. I usually get in about two miles, so I'm satisfied with that. I probably could keep going, but I'm doing so well, I don't want to overdo it. Neal is doing PT at work. There is now a requirement that he has to work out with the command, so unfortunately we don't get to work out together anymore. But he's doing really well too, and you can see the difference!

I believe that just about covers everything going on here. I will definitely try to update more often, and will do so if I think of anything that I missed. We love you all, and hope everyone is doing well! Ciao!