{February 24, 2017}   Food Pho Thought

There is a definite chill in the air here in Big Sky Country. One that harkens  back to yesteryear and winters of long ago. Nowhere in sight are signs of the climate change promised and yet we know it’s here. Not two days ago, most of the snow was gone and green grass was all the eye could see. Then a warm front came in; one had hope that an early spring was on the horizon. But alas the more things change, the more they stay the same. The warmth was only a prelude to a winter storm. Since then it has snowed for nearly two days non-stop and all the progress towards greener pastures feels like it’s disappeared. Still I hold onto hope. I hold on to the hope that this cold front, though nostalgic for some, won’t last forever. I hold onto the hope that as time and weather patterns change that, though just as brutal, this winter won’t last as long as past winters. That the sun will come out and warm all it shines upon. In the meantime, winters like this are a great time to learn and try new things. What better than a soup that is a generational and cultural staple to warm you from the inside out until the rest of the world begins to thaw. As we all go through this cold winter I encourage everyone to explore new cultures, embrace new ideas, try new things, and just enjoy good food. 


I grew up in the northwest, where a large population of Asia Americans and Asian immigrants reside. Pho was a common and cheap soup to find on a cold day and wet day. So imagine my surprise when yuppies and food trucks discovered Pho and the our staple went from “Phoe” to “Pha” and from $4 bowls at a mom and pop corner store to $15 a high end food truck. Since Pho has made its emergence to the elite it only made since to find the cooking class I attended last week at an upscale kitchen supply store would be teaching us how to make this soup like a gourmet recipe. Don’t get me wrong I was thrilled to learn this yummy Vietnamese staple. The class was more observational than hands on, so I went straight home determined to see if I could make the recipes myself. I have to say I’m pretty impressed with myself, especially since I’ve taken a little break from cooking lately. This was a great recipe to restart my passions. 

Beef Pho


  • 3-5 lbs. oxtail or beef bones
  • 1 1/2 – 2lbs chuck roast (I used sirloin steak)
  • (4) 3″ pieces of ginger, halved
  • 4 yellow onions, peeled and halved
  • 2 1/2 c. fish sauce 
  • 1/3 c. palm or rock sugar
  • 2-3 whole anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 pounds rice sticks (small or medium)
  • 1 sirloin steak, partially frozen
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 c. chopped cilantro 
  • 1 c. Thai or regular basil, chiffonade
  • 2 lbs. bean sprouts
  • 2-3 hot chili peppers (Thai, Anaheim, Jalepeno, Serrano)
  • 2 limes thinly wedged

Note: I cut the recipe in half for my small family and the fish sauce to a 1/4 of the called for amount to avoid an over-salted flavor as the leftovers sit in the refrigerator. 


  1. Bring 8-12 quarts of water to a boil, add beef. Boil 10 minutes then drain, rinse meat and bones. Bring another 8-12 quarters of water to boil with bones and meat, reduce heat to a simmer, skimming surface often. 
  2. Char ginger and onions over high heat on the grill (I used the broiler). Add charred finger and onions, fish sauce and sugar to the pot. Simmer an additional 60 minutes. Remove beef and set aside in refrigerator. Remove oxtail and dispose (I definitely did not do this! Pho is a humble food made to feed working class and poor people originally. Not to mention I come from a southern “waste-not want-not” family. So I used the meat from the steak and oxtail to make the most amazing BBQ sandwiches for a quick dinner). Continue to simmer broth an additional 90 minutes. 
  3. Place anise and cloves in the broth (you can place in a spice bag though I didn’t find it necessary). Simmer broth for another 30 minutes. Drain and discard spices, ginger and onions (I added mine to the BBQ). 
  4. Refrigerate broth overnight.
  5. The next day, skim fat and reheat broth. 
  6. Slice half-frozen steak. 
  7. Prepare noodles according to the package. 
  8. Chop peppers, green onions, bean sprouts, cilantro to be added as desired.
  9. In a large bowl add noodles and pour broth over noodles. 
  10. Add raw steak (only if broth is boiling hot, it will cook in the broth). Otherwise add to broth while it is still simmering and allow it to cook. 

This soup is so good! We loved every bite of it. I hope you do too. 

{February 1, 2017}  

You know that time where life is happening so fast and all of its blog worthy but you can’t seem to keep up with it all? Yea, me too. The last six months have been a blur of blogable events and yet I haven’t really blogged. So I figured maybe if I just list everything that’s been going on then I can organize my thoughts and pump out some posts. So here we go:

  1. Husband and I developed a fertility diet for me after weeks of research based on some great books and blogs. 
  2. We found out we were pregnant after one cycle on the diet. Which was wonderful because we’d been trying for awhile and had received really distressing news from the doctor. I attribute a lot of this to faith in action. I had faith God would make a way, but I didn’t sit on my laurels either. 
  3. We celebrated a milestone birthday for hubby with a trip to Yellowstone National Park. It was amazing and we loved it. 
  4. Then I went about finding the right care provider by of course researching. Who would have know this sadity girl is crunchy when it comes to her baby. I wasn’t impressed with the apathetic or overly medical options I was being offered with traditional medicine so we picked a midwife. What! It’s actually becoming more common but mine is not associated with a hospital so for me that meant I could seek the care I want and not the treatments dictated to me. 
  5. I have had to do a lot of traveling for work and family in the last few months. Which has helped me come up with a pretty stellar travel “must haves” list for the pregnant woman. 
  6. I also switched my fertility diet and exercise routine to a prenatal one. I didn’t follow one particular plan but rather I took practice options from several to create a plan for a real pregnant person. You know one who is has a  below average fitness commitment and likes food (even if it does make her sick right now).
  7. I put together a registry early on based on great advice from my sister and mother, two vets in the game. It’s also gender neutral!
  8. I’ve resisted the new mom stereotype of everything must be new and instead opted for a Sadity Cents type nursery and baby preparation. 
  9. I’m prepping for taxes because organization and life don’t stop with a baby. 
  10. And of course cooking! I will say that’s fewer and far between because standing and smelling for too long just aren’t working right now. 
  11. As a bonus I figured out the man I married is awesome! And really is the best daddy-to-be. He’s consistently take on a number of chores and pampering techniques to make this a wonderful pregnancy. 

Follow the links, which I will add as I write the relevant posts. Said posts will be written in between naps, so please be patient. 🙂

{January 18, 2017}   Christmas in Big Sky Country 

{December 19, 2016}   Let’s Play Catch Up

It’s nearing the end of the year and I’m in a reflective mood.  I was looking at all of the photos on my camera and all of the blog posts that I started and didn’t finish. Some don’t even seem relevant, but that is the beauty of blogging. Someone may read this years from now and my blogs are completely relevant. to them. So I decided why not finish up some of the vacation series and other topics series I never finished so at least for posterity there will be a complete set and the timeline of my life won’t be missing large chunks.  So over the next few weeks you may see several posts that are linked to older posts. I’m just playing catch up and then I can write about all of the current and amazing things that are going on in my life. See you next year my friends!

{November 4, 2016}   Voting

A cute post about the importance of voting during this election season.

charityis's Blog

We always take the kids with us when we vote. This year was no exception for early voting.

Me: Ladybug our current president is President Barack Obama. Today we’re voting for a new president.

Ladybug: …another guy?

Me: Today we’re voting for a girl.

Ladybug: Like me?

Me: yes, like you!

Ladybug:With curly hair?

Me: Maybe next time…

Our kids need role models in all walks of life. They notice when they are and aren’t represented, regardless of their age.Our Politics, Presidents, Senate and House should look like our country; diverse. Go vote!

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{September 26, 2016}   Military Wife Life: The Song

This is kind of a movie review and a post in one. I rarely attempt to give anything even resembling relationship advice on this blog, but I just loved this movie so much. 

The movie follows a musician and his marriage. I don’t want to give spoilers, but you can guess that there are temptations he has to challenge as married musician. What I love about the movie is that there are so many facets. My husband and I just finished watching it a second time in preparation for a marriage Bible study we will be facilitating and I still found new layers. This is refreshing because so many Christian movies are over simplistic in their views on love and life. 

Let’s be honest, marriage isn’t clear cut. I listed this under military wife because I could see how the same struggles of a touring musician could effect a military family. It’s not just the temptation to cheat, but the strain of long separations; as a spouse building a life without your service member when they are gone, then the struggle to reincorporate them back into your life. 

The movies highlighted a lot about choices. I see it a lot on base. Spouses who make their whole world about being a military spouse. I talk about it a lot on this blog, but that is because it’s really inappropriate to talk about my career as an attorney.  So I discuss home life. But in real life there are spouses who can’t relate if you aren’t talking about being a military spouse or a mother. This is not to condemn anyone, but when our self inflicted identities take precidence over our marriages can they survive?

I told you the movie was deep! Anyway so, I encourage you to watch it and if you’re so inclined do the Bible study or devotional. 

Are you a child-free military spouse? Here’s our tips for surviving the military life without kids.

Source: How to Survive the Child-Free Military Life |

Not too long ago I wrote about my desire to be the change I wanted to see in the world. This concept is applicable even in the small things in life. I became very aware of that when we moved into our new base housing unit this summer. To say I was excited was putting it mildly. I grew up in base housing and now as an adult I looked forward to barbecues and sitting on the lawn with the neighbors on a random Wednesday. I looked forward to meeting the neighborhood spouses and waiving and smiling as we passed by. I looked forward to the women who come around just to say, “Hi,” and “Welcome to the neighborhood.”

So imagine my disappointed when our first week had passed by and we had yet to even see most of our neighbors, let alone be greeted by any of them. Imagine my dismay when I rolled into my second week in base housing and I had to run down one of my neighbors as she headed into her house. She looked straight at me, knowing I was new and didn’t waive or anything just turned to go Ito the house. So I literally ran up to her extended my hand an introduced myself. She was actually very nice and I don’t think she did it as a snub. I think she just was minding her own business. She said she’d noticed new people moved in and she thought I was new to the neighborhood. I honestly don’t think it even crossed her mind to introduce herself.

Maybe it’s the new generation of people.  Maybe it’s social media. But one of the best parts about living on base is that small town feel, or it used to be. As I read spouse blogs and meet more people that’s the very thing new spouses hate. They view each other with suspicion and those that do not, mind their own business to avoid intruding.  In short, when it comes to our neighborhoods, we are losing our ability to be…well, neighborly.

After talking to our housing manager during our intake inspection, I got the sense that that was “just the way” this neighborhood was. No one came out and no one participated. So what to do? Well I determined that I wasn’t going to give into the norm and be apart of the problem. Maybe people just need a reminder that it’s okay to be friendly. So I decided to become my own welcome wagon. What makes people happier than sweets?! That’s why I made really easy and cheap cookie bags for the entire neighborhood.

Here’s the supply list and a video of how I put the simple bags together:

Brown bags


Post it notes


Hole puncher

Sandwich bags


Normally I would make my own sugar cookies, but at the time my household goods were still lost. By making the cookies you can probably save even more money because you can control the size of the cookies and therefore the usage of the dough.

—-Update ——

Since passing out the bags, the response has been slow but heart warming.

I’ve received a neighbor at our food just to say hello

Another introduced he whole family and another neighbor as I walked by

And yet antihero sent fresh and hot spice cake down as a thank you gift.

People are reticent to speak still, but they wave.  So I keep trying. The neighborhood BBQ might not happen this summer, but hopefully there will be time for that.

So it’s no secret hubby and I love to save money. We also love to eat really well, which means I find myself at the farmer’s market or grocery store several times a week looking for food inspiration or either we are at nice restaurant. Well recently we have begun saving for some very specific and life changing events we hope to happen in the future (more on this later) and that means while we’ve always budget, we actually need to stick to it now. Our food budget was the one area where I was more flexible than not.

As we are adjusting to American grocery shopping again, I am realizing we need to adjust our budget and our approach. No more are the days where I haggle with vendors to get a great deal. In America, the price is the price. With that said I spent this months grocery money in two weeks. Now could I just reallocate money, yes, without much trouble actually. But where’s the fun in that. I haven’t had a good challenge in a while so I decided to take what I have in the house and see how many meals I can make before I’m forced to go shopping again.

Here are some disclaimers and rules I set for myself:

There are only two of us and we are not heavy eaters,

My husband comes home for a sit down meal twice a day and eats a very light breakfast,

I bought a rotisserie chicken and frozen pizza before deciding to do this challenge in anticipation of some very work and school obligation days,

My husband and I hate random meals so these meals must be thought out prepared meals others might want to duplicate. So no tuna, crackers, and canned peaches. Lol.

My goal is to prepare 7 days of dinner for two people from the continents currently in the house.

I took pictures of our refrigerator and cabinets and have listed the contents below:

  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 packs of tuna
  • 3 packs dried fruit (craisins, banana, apricot)
  • 2 rum cakes (random I know)
  • Ground turkey
  • 2 yams
  • Pack of burger buns
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • Couple handfuls of spring mix greens
  • 1/4 cantaloupe
  • 1/4 of a pint of strawberries
  • Half a pack of blueberries

Here are the meals some of the meals we ate:

Are there any other amateur food bloggers out there who’d like to take the challenge?

{September 6, 2016}   The Lost Art of Gratitude 

I was on Facebook today and I had to just turn it off. Have you noticed how angry people are and how negative. I’m all for the political discourse I hope it makes people more informed. But I’m talking about highlighting the negative people of the world. Whether it’s a crazy ex, an aggravating co-worker , or a family member who can’t stay out of trouble; why broadcast it? And more importantly why give them that energy?

So today I wanted to highlight something awesome. When my husband and I moved to our new base we had more than a few struggles with receiving our household goods (by the way the drama is on going). We had no furniture for almost a month. Most important to me was we had no dining room table. We like to eat dinner together at a table. I mentioned this at a dance workout class I attend and another spouse overheard.  Immediately she offered up a card table she had, brought it over for me and came bearing cookies. It was such a sweet no strings attached action. She told me to return it whenever we got a table and I was so grateful. She probably will never fully know how much it meant to me. Anyway, in gratitude I didn’t just want to return her table so I bought a small gift. It’s not much but it has a theme. She’s a mom of 4 or 5 kids, so I made a mini relaxation kit. 

I still have some amazing organic tea unopened from Korea so I am giving her some of that , a yummy smelling candle, a cute cup, and this cute little tea kettle tea strainer. Once upon a time people did nice things for one another and highlighted the good in people. What are you grateful for? How have you tried to be a blessing to someone else?

et cetera