Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Grapely Dorky Box

If you've noticed, I've changed the focus of my care packages. They used to be super cutesy with a lot of knick-knacks. John wants food more than he wants adorable tchotchkes, and while they were fun to find/make and send, I'd rather send him what he really needs.

I've sent John a fruit (and fish) box before, but this is the first one that was packed entirely with fruit. Trader Joe's is excellent for healthy variations on this theme. I was able to send freeze dried, freeze fried, and regular, old dried fruits in tons of varieties (banana, strawberry, blueberry, mixed berry, grapes, mango, mixed berry, raspberry, and blackberry) as well as cups of fruit in fruit juice and different flavors of applesauce. That should set John up nicely for awhile.  (And yes, poor John. He has to deal with all of these terrible puns. He probably groans when he opens up each box.)

One of my fabulous sponsors, Tif, is having a giveaway blowout to celebrate the third anniversary of her 40th birthday. I'm joining her! Enter below-- there's a ton of awesome stuff that's up for grabs!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

You are Cordially Invited... join...
I started my 100 in 365 two months after John left on his deployment. As I looked at the year from the beginning of the deployment, it seemed like a giant, empty hole. While I'm not done with it yet, it has helped me stay focused on the things that I really want to get done while John is away.

I've noticed that other blogs have similar lists. If you've got one, no matter what you call it--  a bucket list, a 10 in 12, a 101 in 1001, a 25 before 25, or something else-- link it up, slap the button on your page, and be part of a directory that's full of optimism, adventure, and awesomeness! Head on over now!

Today, I'm linking up with Simply Summer and Walking in the Light for a Wednesday Facebook page hop. Link your Facebook page, hop around, and join us!

Hop Rules:
1. Don't forget to follow 1-3
2. Remember to link up with your Facebook Page, NOT your blog!
3. Try and visit some fellow Facebook pages and leave facebook love!
4. Have fun and hopefully make some new friends!!

If you are interested in co-hosting with us, please email


Monday, February 25, 2013

Forrest Gump Approved!

vegetables, veggies, care packages, care, package, military, navy, relationship, mail
I'm not a particular fan of Forrest Gump. I could take it or leave it. But, as I was grouping the next shipment of comestibles for John, I realized that I was channeling my inner Forrest. The phrase, "Jenny and me, we was like peas and carrots," kept going through my head. Finally, I gave in to Tom Hanks and used his inspiration for the box. 

It's perfect, too, since this box included cans of peas and carrots! I also sent bags of Trader Joe's Inner Peas (snacks made with peas and cornmeal), bottles of olives, Vietnamese veggie curry, single-serving cans of green beans and (more) peas, roasted red peppers, and bags of sundried tomatoes. 

vegetables, veggies, care packages, care, package, military, navy, relationship, mail

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Being Super Social!

At the beginning of February, I participated in the Lots of Love Blogger Swap. The idea was to get the name of another blogger, (lovingly) stalk their blog for a bit, and then send them a care package in time for Valentine's Day. I was lucky enough to get a box from the crafty Denyse from Glitter, Glue and Paint.

She sent me a Charm City Cakes wedding cake pop kit, a bag of Swedish Fish, and a recipe for... fried green tomatoes! It was absolutely perfect! I haven't had a chance to try the cake pops yet, although I can't wait. That's going to be an activity for next week, I think. (I have to confess, I've never even eaten a cake pop  before. Feel free to judge me.)  I've been chomping on Swedish Fish. And, I've finally got a tried-and-true fried green tomatoes recipe which, when I make them, will be one more check mark off on my 100 in 365 list!  Thanks, Denyse! That package made my day!

Today, I'm lucky enough to be a co-host for Sarah's blog hop. You will probably recognize her since she blogs at Life In a Breakdown and has been chilling on my sidebar for the whole month of February. If you've got a blog, feel free to link up and hop around! We'd love to have you!

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I love my posy 
Welcome to the I Love My Post blog hop where we invite you to link up your favourite post of the week, to show it off and hopefully receive some love from the others partaking in the hop!
If you are yet to participate in a hop they are really simple to get the hang of all you need to do is 'hop' around, hopefully finding some new great reads!

The Rules are simple. 
1. Check out and follow the hosts and co-hosts. Leave them a comment if you would like them to follow back. 
2. Choose at least 3 other blogs and hop on over and leave them some love, plus let them know how you found them - I'm sure they would love it if you followed as well! 
3. Have Fun and come back next Saturday.
Please just don't link up and click off to make this successful everyone needs to hop around!

Your Host’s this week are: 
Sarah from Life in a Break Down 
Bex from Futures 
and our lovely co-host’s are: 
Jo from Jo MyGosh 
Vita from PixieVita 
I would love it if you would tweet, share on facebook or place our button on your blog, the more sharing we can get happening the bigger this hop can become!
Life in a Break Down
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Life in a Break Down"><img src="" alt="Life in a Break Down" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
This week's Featured Blogger is: Natalie from from Twenty Three Seventeen I love Natalie's blog she's a straight talker and there's something about that that always draws me in - you know what your getting with someone who's straight down the line - check out more about her here. ~ Sarah
If you fancy being next week’s featured blogger make sure you follow all the rules give you hosts and co-hosts a follow and Sarah could be calling on you next week to come and feature with us.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

R&R Stands for Ridiculous & Rad!

Here's the post I've been dying to write and post, but just couldn't bring myself to write it and admit that John's leave has come and gone. Lame, right? I know. But as I was flipping through pictures that are now more than a month and a half old, I couldn't help but smile and feel absolutely, over-the-moon happy. Somehow we managed to fit so much awesome into 15 days that it pained me to have to choose between photos. (So you'll just have to look at a lot of photos of food and us. Sorry.)

If you know anything about me by now, you know that I love food. So does John. (This is most likely the largest reason why we're perfect for each other.)

While he was home, John grilled out, we ate sushi (twice!), ate piping hot, tiny doughnuts in the car while snow swirled around us outside, and John got the Reuben sandwich he had been lusting after for the previous seven months. That doesn't even include the two Christmas dinners we had at each of our folks' houses, the Thanksgiving dinner John's mom made, or homemade treats we chomped down.

One of our gigantic goals was to make sure that we did as much wedding stuff as we possibly could. We (hold onto your hat) found and bought wedding rings, tasted and chose our cake and icing, met with the wedding coordinator at our venue and figured out most of the reception's big details, met with our pastor and figured out most of the ceremony's details, picked out invitations, got John fitted for a tux, and took two dance lessons. And that doesn't even include Steven. We did battle with an over-zealous wedding registry consultant who held us hostage at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. (Steven didn't let us hold the beepy remotey thing! The horrors we endured!) Eventually, we found our way to Macy's where they gave us chocolate and the beepy remotey thing. And yeah, we picked out china. That was pretty darn cool.  (And that crazed look in my eye? That's what happens when you spend three hours in Bed, Bath, and Beyond and only register seven items. Because you're not allowed to touch the beepy remotey thing. Yes. Seven. Items.) 

And we definitely, definitely, definitely did our part to try to make up for the year John had been and would be missing. I have too many favorite memories to label them as such. 

We went to see the symphony. We saw Les Mis. We had one of the best dinners of my life (I didn't even know cornbread croutons exist! They do and they are delicious. Delicious.)  We traveled to Penn State to see one of my sisters, enjoy a day at our alma mater, and finish up our engagement photos (and knocked off #65 on my 100 in 365).  We went to a spa and got pedicures. We went shopping-- it is remarkable how exciting Kohl's and American Eagle can be when you're with someone you haven't been with for a long time! 

We enjoyed hanging out with both sides of our families-- from watching movies to playing charades and dominoes to going to a school board meeting to talking late into the night.

And, our friends surprised John. We lured (that's the only word that works in this instance) him to a breakfast place under the false pretense that he and I were going to spend a whole day together. When we walked into the restaurant, about ten of John's closest friends from college were there. He wasn't expecting to see them during leave, and he definitely wasn't expecting to see them all together.We spent almost the entire day hanging out-- going to a really need conservatory and a craft brewery and restaurant. But the best part was getting to see all of them joking, laughing, and smiling together. I really need to devote an entire post to it: it was one of the coolest things ever.  I say that without any hyperbole.

And then, too soon it was time for John to go back for another [insert number of months here]. I already wrote about that, but if you missed it (and want to read a thoroughly sad, weepy post, you can check it out here).

I cannot wait for John to come home.  The fifteen days of leave were the longest span of time we've been together consecutively (unless you count four years of college and we don't). I can't wait to marry my up-for-anything, even-gets-pedicures-with-me buddy and spend my life with him. I can't imagine anything better!

Today's the last day to enter the giveaway! There are $60 worth in prizes that are up for grabs from my wonderful sponsors! Enter, enter, enter!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cajun Cookin' with Tif

Today, I've got a delicious Southern treat for you straight from Tif who blogs at Ramblings of a Southern Belle.  Tif has been hanging out on my sidebar for the past month and she's also contributing a $20 Amazon or Starbucks gift card for our February Sponsor Giveaway! (If you haven't entered, you've got less than one day! Hurry, hurry!) 
One of the best things about blogging is getting to meet so many different people from all around the world. Being a Southern gal, Tif shared with me a recipe from a Louisianan friend of hers. I made it last night for dinner (and now I only have 11 new dinners to try out on my 100 in 365) and wanted to share it with you! 
Try out her delish recipe and then  stop over at Tif's blog and leave some comment love!

You'll Need:
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 8 ounces linguine
  • 4 teaspoons cajun seasoning (Cajun Seasoning Mix or store-bought)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 - 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Place chicken and Cajun seasoning in a bowl and toss to coat. 
  2. In a pot, boil water and add pasta.
  3. In a  large skillet over medium heat, sauté chicken in butter or margarine until chicken is tender (about 5-7 minutes).
  4. Reduce heat. Add green onion, heavy cream, tomatoes, basil, salt, garlic powder, black pepper. Keep on stove until mixture is heated through.
  5. Pour over hot linguine and toss with Parmesan cheese.

Do you have a blog? A business? An organization? You can be a Jo, My Gosh! sponsor, too! For the month of February, use code OMG JMG for 50% off ANY ad space! That's right! 50% off!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oh, Honey... Nuts

Every time I'm gearing up for another care package, John asks me to send him more nut mixes. I promise this will be the last roasted nut mix recipe for awhile! I wanted to post this one so in a few days when I publish my next care package, you'll have the recipes for everything if you want to recreate your own!
You'll Need...
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 cups walnuts and pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F. 
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the honey to a boil. Take off heat and stir down. 
  3. Pour honey over nut mix and stir so the walnuts are evenly coated.
  4. Add cinnamon and mix until it is incorporated with the glaze and nut mix. 
  5. Spread nuts evenly on a cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes. 
  6. Remove from oven and let nuts cool.
  7. Let cool and serve!

Make sure you eter the February group giveaway! 
You do NOT want to miss out on $60 worth of prizes!

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Are You in School?

It sounds so lame, but when I was in college, buying textbooks online was almost unheard of. I remember talking to my sister about buying off Amazon. She thought it was a great idea. I was skeptical at best. And renting textbooks from a brick-and-mortar store? No one did that. (Geez, I feel like I need to put in my dentures and yell at some kids to get off my lawn.)

If you're in school and you're looking for an affordable alternative, maybe be just the thing for you. Book rentals are cheaper than buying and reselling (although if you've bought books and want to rent them, has a program for you, too). You can use the books as you would your own-- highlight, write in them, fall asleep on them in the library. Shipping is free both ways, and the company has been vetted and lauded by outlets like the New York Times. In addition, has partnered with Operation Smile to provide free surgery for children with facial deformities. If you like supporting businesses who support social causes, you may have found your business for your books! 

Now, enter the February group giveaway! You do NOT want to miss out on $60 worth of prizes!


Disclaimer: While this is a sponsored post, the opinions are mine entirely. I have been compensated for this post by 
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Introductions and Chances

I'm doing something I've never done before-- introducing my fantastic sidebar sponsors!! If you've read Jo, My Gosh! for a while, you probably have noticed that I recently ventured into advertising.

One of the great things about blogging is getting to connect with people from all over the world and from all different walks of life. I have enjoyed getting to know each one of these lovely women (and I'm learning so much about blogging from them)! I hope you take a minute and drop by each one of their blogs-- you will not be disappointed! 

And, as if that's not enough, today also marks the first official giveaway for Jo, My Gosh! We've got $60 worth in prizes up for grabs-- a gift card and tons of ad space! What more could anyone want? Read below for all of the details!

Meet Tif from The Ramblings of a Southern Belle!
Hiya, y'all! I'm Tif! I blog over at The Ramblings of a Southern Belle. I'm married to my high school sweetheart for almost 24 years now (and I put a love note in his lunch every single day).  Proud momma of an amazing son who is about to be 24... yikes-- I'm old!  I love the Lord, fashion, and everything Pink! I'm thrilled to be sitting on Jo, My Gosh!'s sidebar and can't wait to get to know all of you!
Meet Sarah from Life in a Break Down!
Hi, I'm Sarah and I run Life in a Break Down, a blog that is filled to the brim with all sorts. From beauty to fashion, lifestyle to the weird and wonderful-- you will laugh and cry and hopefully awww at the animals. So pop on by and say hi!

Meet Chantal from Scattered Seashells!
Hi, I'm Chantal! I'm a writer, wife to an Army helicopter pilot, and mom to a young toddler named Penny. I blog about life as a mom and everything related!

Meet Breanna from Sweet Silver Lining!
I'm a 24-year-old recently graduated nurse from Minnesota. I love country music, the color pink, sparkles, and dream of living in Nashville.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you have a blog? A business? An organization? You can be a Jo, My Gosh! sponsor, too! For the month of February, use code OMG JMG for 50% off ANY ad space! That's right! 50% off!

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Date (Box) to Remember!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Today has been a pretty tough day-- not because John's gone, but because my students were so hyped up on sugar that they were almost literally bouncing off the walls. Add to that numerous enormous stuffed bears, Macy's-Parade-sized balloons, and gigantic sweets, and you can understand the difficulties of my day.  

So, while dealing with sugar-rushing, hormone-raging teens today, I went to my happy place: Valentine's Day last year. John was close to Baltimore for some training, so we were able to go on an honest-to-goodness, in-the-flesh, really-real Valentine's Day date. It was the first Valentine's Day we spent together, and it was fantastic: one of the best dates-- nay, best evenings-- ever.

When I came up with the box, I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I wanted to relive that night. And then, I realized that we could! Distance be damned! So, I sent John a Valentine's Day dinner box with everything to recreate that night and for us to share a dinner together
John took me to Il Porto, a fantastic Italian restaurant. We had a fantastic three-course dinner complete with candles and linens, so of course, the box had to have a place setting equal to the restaurant's ambiance! Yes, this dinner is so fancy that I just had to include a plastic champagne flute and a menu.  (I have a matching glass and the same napkins and plates for myself.)  You guys know me-- I embrace the cheesy-- and there's a whole lot of cheese in the menu!

Appetizer: Trader Joseph's Bruschetta with Handcrafted Cracker Thins
(I sent a jar of Trader Joe's bruschetta, which is one of John's favorite items for me to send. I also sent him a bag of the homemade Wheat Thins I shared this week.) 

Main Course: Tender Rotini with Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce  (You guessed it-- it's a Healthy Choice microwavable meal!) 

Dessert: A pair of Double Chocolate Sweet Cherry Cookies (I also blogged about this recipe this week!) 

While our dinner was amazing last year, the best part was the time that we spent together. We walked around town holding hands and window shopping. To represent this, I took one of my gloves that no longer has a partner, and filled it with rice. John can microwave it, slip it into his uniform, and use it as a hand warmer. That night, we visited an insanely cute candy store and had fun buying way, way, way too much candy. So, I sent him a few of Six-Minute Vanilla Caramels.  And, of course, there's the goodnight kiss.  I packed a Hershey's Kiss. 

Next year, we'll have another Valentine's Day to share together, but for this year, we'll make do with Skype and a Healthy Choice meal. (Nothing says love like pasta at 10 PM for me-- and 7:30 AM for him!) Still, I am so lucky that John has internet access. I absolutely cannot complain. Not even one tiny bit! 

I didn't think the box would make it to John in time-- especially when Winter Storm Nemo hit the East Coast. Today, John emailed me-- he got the box in the nick of time! Now, pardon me as I paint my nails and do my hair! I have a hot date tonight!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cuckoo for Cocoa Roasted Walnuts!

I'm currently working on goodies for a box for John, and I have I got an original, healthy recipe for you! (And it's really simple too, which is always a bonus!)

You'll Need...
  • 1/4 cup honey for a thin glaze (If you want a thicker, candy-like glaze, use 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups walnut halves

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F. 
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the honey to a boil. Take off heat and stir down. 
  3. Pour honey over walnuts and stir so the walnuts are evenly coated.
  4. Add cocoa and mix until it is incorporated with the glaze and walnuts. 
  5. Spread nuts evenly on a cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes. 
  6. Remove from oven and let nuts cool, stirring every so often to break up clumps (otherwise, you'll have to chisel the nuts off the pan).
  7. Let cool and serve!
And in another really fun, completely unrelated note: today makes exactly five months until I'm shackled to John for life! 

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crackers for Crackers!

Every once and a while, Pinterest makes me want to be super, duper healthy. Usually, I like to ignore how many chemicals and preservatives are in my food, but dang it, Pinterest-- you always show a perfectly-timed pin of a horrifying statistic or thought about how my food is slowly killing me. Not that I eat that many Wheat Thins to begin with, but John had just asked me to send him some boxes of them. Currently, he's a captive taste-tester (I think he'd eat homemade glass if I sent it to him), I thought it'd be a perfect time to try out a recipe for homemade Wheat Thins.

While the texture of the crackers is not exactly like Wheat Thins, the taste is pretty close. Try them for yourself and see what you think!

This is not my recipe; however, with so many Pinterest recipes, they need a little tweaking (which you can read below).  If you'd like to see the original recipe, visit Green Life Pages.

You'll Need:
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (I ended up using about 2 cups total. The dough was originally too sticky to roll and cut.)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons  butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water (or a tiny bit more if dough is too dry)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. Cut  butter into the flour mixture.  Mix together the water and vanilla and then pour into the flour mixture. Stir.
  4. If dough is sticky, add 1/4 of a cup of flour and mix. Continue adding a 1/4 cup of flour until the dough is able to be rolled out with a floured rolling pin. 
  5. Roll the dough as thin as possible (The thinner, the crisper the cracker.) Cut with either a pizza wheel or cookie cutters.  Sprinkle with salt and place onto cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Check out Jo, My Gosh! tomorrow,  when I roll out another recipe! February is a new-recipe kind of month for me!

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Monday, February 11, 2013

The Cookie to My Heart!

It will probably come as no surprise to you that I love cherries (which I professed in this post) and I love chocolate (which I've professed in way too many posts to count). John and I are trying valiantly to get and stay healthy for the wedding.   I absolutely refuse to diet without being able to eat dessert. I find that when I completely cut off sweets, I eventually binge on them and wreck any hard-fought progress I've made. And so, I've been searching for low-calorie, low-fat, or low-other-bad-stuff recipes.

You can understand my excitement and glee then, when I came across Low-Calorie Chocolate Cherry Cookies! While the original directions and nutritional information are here, I found a faster and easier way to make these cookies-- and it makes them fudgier and chewier, too!  (I'm a little biased, but I think my way is better!) Try them out and decide for yourself!

You'll Need...
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (Like a true Central PA-er, I used Hershey's.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup dried tart cherries
  • 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt and stir. 
  3. Cut in butter. 
  4. Microwave mixture until butter is completely soft. Stir the butter into the mixture until all ingredients are combined. 
  5. Add egg and vanilla and stir well. 
  6. Fold in cherries and, if you choose, chocolate chips. 
  7. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased trays. (You may have to form the cookies with your hands. Don't worry-- the cookies will turn out just fine!) 
  8. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or just until set.
Keep checking back this week for a variety of fun Valentiney posts! Love is most definitely in the air!

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