Monthly Archives: February 2015

Movie Review: Light Girls

adriana allen block
I recently had the time to stay home and catch up on the lack of television in my life.  As I was flipping through the channels, I saw that OWN’s special “Light Girls” was on.  I had heard about this documentary through a couple of my friends as well as some of my family members.  I thought seeing that I am a woman of color, and a lighter skinned one at that, maybe this would shed some “light” on the structural issues that persons of color have in the community, especially when the subject is regarding colorism.

(Just a little background)

  • Colorism: prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

After watching the “documentary” I felt a little empty.  I felt as if this film didn’t do people that look like me any justice.  In the first 30 minutes, the film did a relatively okay job on introducing the issues of color barriers within the POC community.  But unfortunately as the documentary went on, it slowly but surely turned into a collection of “who has it worse” type of monologues.  The women that they had on the show went on to say things such as “I think that lighter girls are raped or molested more because they are seen as prizes,” “no one wanted to be my friend because my hair was long and pretty,” and so on and so forth.

nicki pause

This whole documentary made it seem like light-skinned women put off an air  that makes it seem like because we are light skinned, we are better than those with darker skin.  “Oh, we didn’t have any friends because the dark-skinned girls picked on us because we’re so beautiful.”

eye roll

The film didn’t really tackle why we have colorism or where it comes from.  This documentary basically resegregated light-skinned women and dark-skinned women.  It put both types of women in different categories and then pitted them against each other…  Like society already does. This movie was supposed to be a continuation of the documentary “Dark Girls,” but “Light Girls” seemed to have fallen short of the main issues I would like to have seen discussed, such as:

  • White supremacy, and why POC feel we have to abide by European beauty standards.
  • Light-skinned privilege.
  • Why a majority of POC are divisive towards each other in regard to tone of skin.

All-in-all, I feel as if this film could have done better, and I hope that the topic of anti-black and colorism in its own isn’t squashed due to the lack of information in this documentary.

stare

Overall:  2.5/ 5 stars

The Oscars 2015: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

dj bart plange block

February 22nd, 2015 marked the 87th Oscars Awards ceremony.  This year’s Oscars Awards were met with much controversy due to its glaring lack of diversity and almost all-white nominee list, prompting the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.  Every single person nominated in the acting categories was white, and this did not go unnoticed by critics.  Though it did pick up two nominations for Best Original Song and and Best Picture, Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay, was one of the most talked about snubs on the list of grievances, as DuVernay was not nominated for Best Director for the film.  She would have been the first African-American woman to be nominated in the category, and one of only five women ever nominated. David Oyelowo, who gave a stirring performance as Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. also was passed over for a nomination.  Amidst the unrest, the Oscars went on.

Unsurprisingly, more controversy came from it, but there were notable bright spots as well.

bingo card

John Legend and Common both took home an Oscar for the Best Original Song category, delivering poignant and heartfelt speeches about paralleling the struggles of the Civil Rights movement to the battle surrounding civil rights around the world today.  Legend went on to speak about discriminatory voting rights legislation and mass incarceration in the United States today, which disproportionately affects African-Americans.  Common and Legend’s performance of their winning song, “Glory,” was one of the most talked about musical performances of the night, receiving a standing ovation at its close.  Along with incredible musical performances, Lady Gaga’s 50th anniversary Sound of Music tribute was also praised as one of the best performances of her career.  Julie Andrews, the original Maria, thanked Gaga for her performance, saying it “really warmed her heart”.

One of the most side-eye inducing moments of the Oscars was Patricia Arquette’s speech after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the film Boyhood.  On the stage, her speech about women’s rights for equal pay was cheered on by fans and celebrities alike, but her elaboration of the speech backstage in the press room was what turned many heads.

“It’s time for women.  Equal means equal.  The truth is the older women get, the less money they make.  The highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households.  It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t.  One of those superior court justices said two years ago in a law speech at a university that we don’t have equal rights for women in America, and we don’t because when they wrote Constitution, they didn’t intend it for women.  So the truth is even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface there are huge issues at play that really do affect women.  It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for — to fight for us now!”

Arquette’s assertion that gay people and people of color owe white women their support, is in one word- ludicrous.  Her words completely erased queer women and women of color who have been instrumental in the construction of feminist theory and thought, separating them from the category of “woman” by demanding that they fight for white women.  White feminism has a long history of ignoring intersectionality and excluding any women of marginalized identities concerns from the conversation. Unfortunately, Arquette did not realize the incongruity of her demanding support from groups that are continuously kept out of the winner’s circle she stands in herself. Predictively, Twitter blew up when Arquette’s words circulated the web. A quote from a recent article of The Grio written by Blue Telusma summed up thoughts surrounding Arquette’s statements succinctly, “Who does she think nursed and looked after all of those white children during the slave era?  Did she somehow miss the last 400 years of race relations?  Does she not notice who the nannies are when she takes her kids to the park?  Society has made it all too clear that not all women are created equal.  So to ask the women who are below you on the food chain to once again lift you up is fifty shades of  ‘You got some nerve.’”

patricia arquette

Keeping up with the theme of head shaking moments of the Oscars, Sean Penn delivered a joke to Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu after handing him an Oscar for Best Picture, saying “Who gave this son-of-a-bitch a green card?”  The joke caught immediate ire from Twitter users and written articles alike.  Penn may have thought the joke benign due to his decade long friendship with Iñárritu, but many others saw it as “racist,” “out of line,” and “absolutely disgusting.”  Seeing what was likely one of the most memorable accomplishments of Iñárritu’s life reduced to an incredibly insensitive joke, trivializing the harsh realities many face while fighting for immigration justice was disheartening.

oscars so white

Though opinions surrounding this year’s Oscars awards certainly differ, there is one thing most parties can agree on.  The real winner of the night was Lupita Nyong’o in her pearl-lined Calvin Klein dress. She slayed the red carpet, along with our hearts.

lupita dress

yaaaaasssss


dianejobio

Product Review: Earth Therapeutics Foot Scrub + Therapeutic Balm

janine hanover block

When it comes to keeping my skin healthy, I feel like I have to work twice as hard as everyone else.  Working in a kitchen has done so much damage to my body, it’s to the point of me needing to spend a nice chunk of change to keep it healthy.  I spend most of my money and time on my face, hands, and body, but for some reason I ignore my feet.  It may be that I stand on them a minimum of 8 hours each day and never see the bottoms.  So one day I finally took a peek at my soles and I was mortified.  They looked parched, like close-to-cracking-and-about to-bleed parched.  So I decided to take action.  In the beginning, I only used lotions and creams. Although they would provide some repair, by midday my feet would look like the Sahara.  It became frustrating buying more and more tubes of deep hydration or ultimate repair creams, only to come back with a temporary fix or no change at all.  I needed a product that could give me long-term results and wouldn’t break the bank either.

So I thought long and hard about what kind of product I was looking for.  It dawned on me when I used my three-step hand repair set from Mary Kay.  I needed an exfoliator, and so my search began.  My search began unsuccessfully, and it wasn’t until I walked into the Ulta by my house and discovered something amazing.  My mother casually pointed at an ordinary looking container and said “I’ve used that on my feet before and it was amazing!”.  So I bought this product, took it home, and used it for two weeks.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

The product: Earth Therapeutics Refreshing Foot Scrub and Earth Therapeutics Foot Repair Therapeutic Balm. (Foot Scrub & Repair Balm: $7.99 each at earththerapeutics.net)

Pros: The first is that it worked.  Even if it wasn’t to the point of completely smooth feet, it still helped.  I think my feet have formed a protective hard shell on the bottom due to the fact that I’ve abused them for the past three years working in the service industry.  So when I used the Foot Scrub I expected irritation from over-exfoliating, and to my surprise it didn’t happen.  In fact, the scrub left my feet feeling smooth most of the day until I got home after a long shift, then my feet were a little rough again.  However, by no means were my feet dry, and that it is a win in my book!  My second favorite thing about this product is how easy it is to use.  It takes maybe 5 minutes total to exfoliate my feet, rinse off with warm water, pat dry, and put the lotion on.  It’s not complicated and I easily fit it into my morning routine.  My other favorite thing about this product is how easily I can take it places.  The tubes are not too big, and I can easily throw them into a travel bag to take with me on a trip.  I like being able to carry my beauty products with me.

Cons: My complaints are small ones compared to the effectiveness it had on my feet.  The first is the smell.  It’s not stinky by any means, but smell of “tea tree” isn’t something I’m into.  It’s too woodsy for me; I’m more of a fruity person when it comes to scents.  My other complaint is that it didn’t delivery fully on completely smooth feet, however, this is nitpicking since it did leave my feet smooth for most of the day.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

So, should you buy this product? I think if you have problems with your feet, especially in dryness I’d give this product a go.  It’s not going to work for everyone, and those with severe foot problems need to consult a doctor, but for those with mild dryness or who like myself, have a job where your feet are abused daily, I’d give this product a chance.


Overall: 4/5


janinebio

Kale Salad

janine hanover blockAt the beginning of the year many people made a commitment to live healthier lives, myself included.  Since then, I (like many others) have been off and on the health bandwagon.  It’s a week after Valentine’s Day and I know a lot of people ate themselves into a coma, so I thought I’d share a light, healthy meal that is both beautiful and delicious.  I’ve been a recent convert to kale, and I think everyone should give it a try.  I think kale scares people off, especially when it’s raw.  However, this recipe will make the unbelievers believers.  So get your knife and cutting board and let’s get to chopping.

 

Crunchy Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Lemon Chive Vinaigrette

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

 

What you’ll need for the salad:

Kale

Green Cabbage

Red Cabbage

Granny Smith Apple

Crumbled Goat Cheese

Walnuts

 

  1. Rinse off the Kale with cold water to remove any dirt and pat dry with a paper towel.  Shred the kale leaves with a knife.  Place into a large bowl.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  2. Cut the green and red cabbage into fourths.  Shred the cabbage with a knife and place into the bowl with the kale.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  3. Julienne the Granny Smith apple, and place into the bowl with the kale and cabbage. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in the a saute pan until aromatic.  Roughly chop the walnuts and set aside.  They will be used as garnish.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  4. Add the goat cheese to the kale and cabbage mix.  Toss everything together.  Set aside while you make the vinaigrette.

 

What you’ll need for the Vinaigrette:

Lemon

Dijon mustard

Chives

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

 

  1. In a bowl combine lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and sliced chives.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  2. Once combined, slowly pour the olive oil in a steady stream and whisk constantly until combined.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  3. Add the vinaigrette to the kale mix, top with walnuts, and eat!

 

Now does kale look scary? I didn’t think so.  If you need something nutritious and delicious, reach for this salad.  Eat it as a main dish, or as a small side to accompany a panini or pasta.  Healthy doesn’t need to be boring or bland, and this salad provides many different textures and flavors to stimulate your palate. Now get cooking!

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

Crunchy Kale Salad with Lemon Chive Vinaigrette

For the Salad:

1 bunch Kale, shredded

½ head of green cabbage, shredded

½ head of red cabbage, shredded

1 Granny Smith Apple, julienned

5 oz goat cheese, crumbled

3 oz walnut halves, toasted and roughly chopped

For the Vinaigrette:

1 lemon, juiced

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp chopped chives

Salt and Pepper, to taste

¼-½ cup olive oil

 

  1. To assemble the salad: combine shredded kale, red & green cabbage, julienned apple, and goat cheese. Set aside.
  2. To assemble dressing: whisk together lemon juice, Dijon mustard, chopped chives, salt, and pepper.  In a steady stream, pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly.
  3. Add the dressing into the salad mix and toss together lightly. Top with the chopped walnuts.

janinebio

Series IV: On Home

shelby westfall block

It’s a God Thing

My mother used to say,

when I was feeling low,

that troubles always pass.

I just have to let them go.

 

“It’s a God thing,”

she would say.

Then she’d hug me tight.

So I try to never worry.

My mother’s always right.


 

Going Home

Every time that I go home,

something else has changed.

It may be a new appliance,

or a brand new shade of paint.

 

But the last time I went home,

There was no change that I could see.

I thought and thought and finally saw,

The thing that changed was me.


 

A New Home

This morning I made pancakes

with extra chocolate chips.

They were nothing like my father’s,

but they satisfied an itch.

 

Home is where you make it.

This is something that I know.

And with every perfect pancake,

I watch my new home grow.


shelbywbio

Movie Review – Kingsman: The Secret Service

frank hampton block

Kingsman: The Secret Service, directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kickass, X-Men: First Class), is the first major action film of 2015, and it’s kicking off the start of the year with a bang.  Focusing on Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton), a pleb from a low-income area of London, Kingsman takes us through he and his mentor Harry Hart’s (Colin Firth)  journey into the secretive organization known as “Kingsmen.”  Mixing humor with fast-paced action, the two hours of playtime fly by.

 

Environment

The Kingsman organization is comprised of gentlemen, so tailored suits along with other luxury items and settings set the tone of the movie, with a little inner-city punk thrown in by Eggsy.  With locations ranging from Kentucky to London, the movie stays fresh and the pace never hits a slow point.

kingsman1

 

Cinematography

Vaughn is already well known for his action scenes, and it really shines in this movie.  From long cut scenes to multi-fight scenes, the cinematography stays on point and never resorts to cheap tricks.  If you go to see this with some friends, you’ll all be talking about that fight scene.

kingsman2

 

Acting

Egerton pleasantly surprised me; I wasn’t familiar with his work and went in with low expectations for his overall acting.  He had a great emotional range, and with Firth plus a great script alongside him, he carried the story well.  Firth showed us all how to be a British gentleman once again, mentoring Eggsy during training and pulling him away from the life of being a punk.

kingsman3

 

Overall

Kingsman was definitely an early surprise to start off the year.  While not originally on my radar, it was thoroughly entertaining and definitely worth the price of admission.

5 out of 5 stars.


frankbio

LET’S TALK ABOUT SAFE SEX BABY… LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU AND ME!

adriana allen block

There comes a time in a young human’s life when he or she will become intimate with another human being.  That’s gucci and all, but it’s one of the most dangerous things a person could do with another person.  Why?  Easy.  SOME PEOPLE ARE A LITTLE BIT SLOW WHEN IT COMES TO THINGS LIKE PROTECTION.

gosling idk

We’ve heard it all, haven’t we?  “It just doesn’t feel the same,” “I’m on birth control, it’s okay,” or my favorite… “I’ll pull out!”

Yeah…

blaine um no

The subject of sex can get a bit tricky sometimes…  It’s understandable.  But the fact that here in the U.S people don’t care about safety as much as they should blows my medulla.  Now I’m not making a generalized statement here, I am using the information that I’ve been given over the years through sex education, friends, family members, the media, notes in the sky, telegrams, smoke signals, etc.

Condoms are a necessity people…  A NECESSITY.  They are not just a rubbery substance used to prevent pregnancies, or to make weird smelling balloon animals.  They are a safeguard to protecting your lovely reproductive organs and various other wobbly bits.

vaginas

Personally, I think one of the main reasons a lot of people (specifically the younger generation) are afraid of condoms (or even talking to their partner about sex) is because they’re embarrassed.  I think that somehow the society we live in has put it in our brains that talking about contraception is something to be ashamed of.  We need to stop this type of thinking right now because we are shooting ourselves in the foot here.  For instance, HPV is so common nearly every sexually active person will contract it in their lifetime.  That’s huge!!!  According to dosomething.org, 1 in 4 teens will contract an STI before their 20th birthday.

Things like this can be prevented!!

Now for the good part…

HOW TO TALK TO YOUR PARTNER ABOUT SAFE SEX:

  1. Don’t make this weird…  It’s not weird.
  2. Sit them down and go through the DUN DUN DUN….  Checklist.

A.  When’s the last time you were tested and what were the results?

B.  Do you have any allergies that prevent you from using latex?  If yes, here are some awesome brands that make specialty condoms: Lifestyles, Trojan, and Durex!  Boom.

C.  Have you had more than 4 partners in the last year, and if so have you been tested per partner? (This question is kind of personal, but ties in more with the first question.) People that are sexually active with multiple partners are at a higher risk of obtaining STI’s. There is absolutely nothing wrong with casual sex as long as you’re properly protected. This is just a question to make sure the person you wanna get weird with has been tested after each partner.

See that wasn’t so hard…

condom

Every time you become intimate with someone new you need to go through this.  Find out what kind of person you’re going to be with.  At the end of the day, the only one responsible for your body is you.  Show your body that you love and care about it by being safe every time.

dont catch em all


Seeking Strength Through God

moira carder block

As a child, my church was a second home to me.  It’s where I went to preschool, met my best friends, and essentially where I grow up.  As a kid, the bible seemed like a storybook.  There were always the same stories, the same holidays, and the same traditions.  As I grew up with and through the youth group, I began to find a deeper meaning.  Although my family faded away from going to church every Sunday, I always went.  I learned to read between the lines, and discovered the true meaning of what it meant to love God and live through Him.  It was never easy when things got tough, loving God through troubling times; and as I grew older, it made it very difficult to continue to live this way.

Teenage years are the years of anger, heartbreak, confusion, and loss for everyone.  You grow to see who your real friends are, and who will always stand by your side through the hell you will inevitably endure.  A home, on the other hand, is expected to be the place where you are loved, taken care of, and cherished forever.  It hasn’t been easy growing up in my house; I’ve been a victim of abuse for years upon years.  I’ve grown up struggling with how to trust; I never have had a pure example of what a trusting relationship truly looks like.  I have had to live in constant fear, and in a home I am always afraid to go back to.

It was something I accepted growing up.  I was scared to be anything less than perfect, I was terrified I would say the wrong thing at the wrong time, and I was frightened of what else I would suffer.  It’s terrible when your earliest memories from childhood involve being tortured by a lady that was hired to ‘fix you,’ because you were accused of being a troubled, manipulative five year-old.

The hitting came from anger, and it always seemed like my deserved punishment.  The hair pulling, name calling, and being explicitly told by my parents that they wished they’d never adopted me rooted inside my mind.  I took darker roads than others, and felt pain in the deepest parts of my heart that were torn apart and never healed back properly.

It took a toll on my emotional health as well as my social life.  I relied on my friends for more than they could provide, I broke apart relationships with my grief and fear, and I wore a masked face and carried a heavy heart for such a long time.  I put myself down for things that in retrospect I did well, but never believed at the time were good enough.

It took years of pain and suffering before I decided to actually start praying to God about my struggles, tenderness and hurt.  It was probably my sophomore year when I felt like I was climbing a mountain of nails.  I kept trying, but it became too painful to bear.  I was ready to let go.  I shut out my friends, people that loved me, and even my God.  I didn’t understand why praying didn’t help me, change how I was being treated, or make me feel any differently.  I was ready to give up on forgiveness for the people that tore at the little strings that I had left holding me together.  I was ready to quit.  Everything that even gave me the slightest bit of comfort was never enough.  I felt like my heart had been coated with fear, I felt scared to live the way I was, and I was facing indescribable pain.

My youth group took a trip to Florida the summer before my junior year, and even with my doubts and brokenness in my faith, I tagged along.  I was distant, I hardly smiled, and I was facing each day with a shattered self- image.  I took a lot of time on the beach walking alone on the shoreline, attempting to free my heavy thoughts to the fresh air and sunset.  The goal was to spend a whole week together in the presence of God and one another to become better people through our struggles.  To me, it was a waste of my time.  I wasn’t feeling anything special; I didn’t feel freed from pain, even with prayer.

Personal Photo/ Moira Carder
Personal Photo/ Moira Carder

The last night we were there, our leader, Mike, took us to the beach for our last discussion.  He wanted us to experience the beauty in the work of God, as we discussed.  We talked about burdens, and things that we went there with that were heavy on our shoulders and overflowing in our hearts.  The sunset had reached the point of many colors, and the breeze had become cooler.  The next thing Mike told us to do was the one thing that I had been seeking and praying for.  He said, “I want you all to spread out on this beach, and spend several minutes with just you and God.  I want you to think of the one thing that you want God to take off your shoulders.  The thing that has heavied your heart and really taken control of you through these past months or even years.  Once you think of it, I want you to write it in the sand…  Close enough to where the water can reach it, but far enough away where you can take a minute with it written there before it washes away.  I want you to pray to God and give this burden up to Him.  Free yourself from this struggle, and let Him take it.”

Personal Photo/ Moira Carder
Personal Photo/ Moira Carder

I got up off my towel and found a spot on the beach far from the others spread out along the shore.  The cloud cover gave the colors of the sunset an extra boost, and the sky became more beautiful with every passing moment.  I took a few seconds to think, and I slowly took a breath in as I leaned down to write the word ‘family’ in the sand.  I stood up, took a step back and looked down at the word as the waves slowly washed it away.  In an instant, my shoulders felt lighter, and my heart felt the presence of God.  It was a feeling of relief, and a sudden strength that told me I was going to be okay.  I stood for several more minutes watching the rest of the sunset with tears rolling down my face.  It was the first second that I knew, God doesn’t give up, even when you are ready to.

Personal Photo/ Moira Carder
Personal Photo/ Moira Carder

Editor’s note:  If you or a loved one is living in an unsafe environment, get help.  Contact your local police, church, or social services.  For more information, please visit http://www.helpguide.org/home-pages/abuse.htm.


moirabio

Home: From a Military Wife’s Perspective

brit twenter block

There are a lot of things I’ve learned so far as the wife of a servicemember.  Among the top few things I’ve discovered are: 1) expect criticism for being a Marine officer’s wife, 2) even the biggest, baddest Marines turn to mush for an adorable puppy, and most importantly 3) the definition of “home” isn’t what you would expect.

Personal Photo/ Brittany Twenter
Personal Photo/ Brittany Twenter

I would say that without a doubt, my most texted/ Facebook messaged/ Skyped phrases have to do with missing someone/ missing KCMO.  My friends, family, and town where I grew up are all 1000+ miles away, and that’s something that I am constantly reminded of.

Back in 2011 before I had started “officially” dating my (then future) husband, he was gearing up for OCS Juniors.  I bid him a cheerful goodbye for six weeks, wrote him a couple of letters, and welcomed him home a few days after he flew back in.  Kansas City was home.  My mail was sent there,  I lived at my mom’s place, and my driver’s license proclaimed that my address was there; it was irrefutably my home.

Personal Photo/ Brittany Twenter
Personal Photo/ Brittany Twenter

In 2012 we got engaged.  He was resting for a year, studying for OCS Seniors, and putting the muscle back on that he had lost at OCS Juniors.  My home was in Liberty.  I paid rent there, my fiance called it “Brittany’s house” when talking to other people about where he was, and I was buying kitchenware and the like to try and make it “mine”.  Although it was a suburb of the city where I had lived my entire life, it was still definitely my home.

Personal Photo/ Brittany Twenter
Personal Photo/ Brittany Twenter

The year went by quickly, and before we knew it, it was the summer of 2013: time for OCS Seniors.  Saying goodbye was infinitely more difficult this time than it had been back in 2011.  I wasn’t saying goodbye to a friend, I was saying goodbye to my best friend and future husband.  I stubbornly held him in my arms, planting a disgusting amount of kisses all over him before unwillingly allowing him to leave me.

We wrote letters, I drew him little cartoons, and he called me every Saturday and Sunday after the first three weeks.  I had a big dry-erase board on my refrigerator counting down the days until I would see him again.  This time, I was going to drive the 1000+ miles to watch him graduate, and I tried to distract myself with the planning.  “Okay, did I print my hotel confirmation?  Where’s my packing list?  Has his graduation gift arrived in the post yet?  For f***’s sake, I still have x amount of days to go!”

Personal Photo/ Brittany Twenter
Personal Photo/ Brittany Twenter

Finally, the day had come.  I drove 17 hours straight through eight states to my hotel.  The next day, his parents (who had flown out, obviously proving that older generally = wiser) called me, saying that they were driving to my hotel to pick me up and take me to see him on base.  It was Family Day, and we could spend the next six or so hours with him.  I got a call from room service after a bit, with the desk attendant saying that someone was there to see me.  I grabbed my purse and rushed down the stairs, my throat dry and my heart full.  Halfway down the staircase, I saw him.  He was standing alone in the lobby, with the biggest smile stretched across his handsome face.  It was like something straight out of a movie…  I ran to him, beaming, and landed exactly in the right spot; my head tucked under his chin, lips grazing his collarbone, fingertips pulling his shoulder blades into me as if we could never be close enough.  That is home to me.  Nothing in my life has ever been as clear as that moment.

Sitting here writing this over a year and half after that day, it still holds true.  We are not living in KC.  We are without our family and the friends we’ve known for years.  All we have is each other.  And really, isn’t that what marriage is about?  Being with your best friend, no matter the time, place, or situation?

On the nights his training pulls him away from me for awhile, I’m reminded that homesickness can happen for a person just as much as for a hometown.  That feeling like you’re displaced; like you’re in a part of the world that you wouldn’t otherwise choose for yourself.

At the same time however, I must remind myself that I did indeed make this choice.  It was 100% my decision to uproot myself and follow my husband wherever he may lead me (or wherever the Marine Corps may lead him).  I have no obligation to be where I am today.  But then of course, I also do.  In my mind, there isn’t really an option to go back to Kansas City.  It isn’t my home anymore.  My friends may be there, spare bedrooms awaiting, my family may be anxiously asking about “coming home”, but all-in-all, it doesn’t matter what zip code is on my ID.  No matter which city I’m in, I’m home as long as he’s with me.

Personal Photo/ Brittany Twenter
Personal Photo/ Brittany Twenter

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Valentine’s Day Three Course Menu

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When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I believe there are two kinds of people.  You have the people who adore this holiday and go all out every year, whether they are in a relationship or not, and you have the other people who absolutely despise it.  I would typically categorize myself into the group that hates it, but recently I’ve become more accepting of the holiday.  I think too many people focus on the need to impress their partner on Valentine’s Day by dropping a nice chunk of change.  Too many people get caught up in a materialistic view and think they need to buy flowers, chocolate, jewelry, and even an expensive dinner.  For me, I find Valentine’s Day more romantic when you and your significant other spend time creating something together.  You can go out to dinner or buy flowers whenever, but what’s more romantic than spending an evening in cooking a meal together and drinking wine?  To me, absolutely nothing.  In the spirit of Valentine’s Day I wanted to share with all you wonderful readers a three course meal that you and your partner can make together, including a cocktail to have with dessert.

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

 

Appetizer

Crab Cakes with Remoulade & Apple Celery Slaw

My favorite appetizer is crab cakes, and these are REALLY simple to make.  I created this recipe so that all you need to do is put it all into a bowl and mix.  You can even mix everything and shape the cakes ahead of time, but they can easily be done the day of.  These are classic crab cakes with a spicy remoulade and a crunchy apple celery slaw to help cut the heat of the remoulade.

 

For Crab Cakes:

1 lb lump crab meat (fresh or canned)

1 tbsp butter

½ small onion, finely chopped

½ red bell pepper, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup mayo

1 ½ tsp cayenne

¼ cup chopped parsley

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1 egg

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and red bell pepper to the pan and cook until onion is translucent.  Add the minced garlic and cooked until aromatic.  Remove from heat.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  2. In a bowl add the crab meat, mayo, cayenne, parsley, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, egg, dijon mustard, the onion/pepper mix,salt, pepper,  and ½ cup of the panko.  Mix together until combined.  If the mixture is a little runny, add a little more bread crumbs.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  3. With the remaining breadcrumbs, pour them out onto a flat plate.  To form the crab cakes use a number 12 ice cream scoop.  Scoop a portion out of the mix and place on the plate with the remaining breadcrumbs.   Form into a patty and coat both sides of the cake with breadcrumbs.  Continue this process until there is no more mix left.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  4. In a small saute pan with a metal handle (do not use one with plastic or coating because you have to put the pan in the oven), heat some oil, about 1 tbsp.  Use an oil with a neutral flavor like canola or vegetable.  Add the crab cakes to the pan.  Cook on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Flip over the cakes and place the saute pan in the preheated 350F oven.  Cook for 5 more minutes.  The crab cakes should be golden brown on both sides.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

For Spicy Remoulade:

1 cup mayo

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp creamy horseradish

1 garlic clove, minced

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

¼ cup chopped parsley

1 tbsp capers, chopped

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1 tsp hot sauce (I used sriracha)

 

  1. In a bowl combine mayo, paprika, cayenne, dijon mustard, creamy horseradish, minced garlic, juice and zest of lemon, parsley, capers, hot sauce, salt and pepper.  Mix together until evenly combined.  Serve with the crab cakes.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

For Apple Celery Slaw:

½ green apple, julienned

1 celery stalk, thinly sliced on a bias

¼ cup parsley, chopped

juice of 1 lemon

1 cup Arugula

Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

  1. Toss together the julienned green apple, bias cut celery stalk, parsley, lemon juice, arugula, salt, and pepper.  Make sure everything is evenly coated.  Serve with the remoulade and crab cakes.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

Entree

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Cauliflower Mash & Asparagus

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

Want to eat something rich but not break the bank spending money on a steak?  Fear not!  Short ribs are your answer.  They’ve grown in popularity recently which has made the price go up, but not so much that you’ll see a dent in your account.  Honestly, it’ll be cheaper to buy short ribs rather than filets.  They are also really versatile, and when cooked for a long period of time in red wine, they fall away from the bone and you get a delicious meal.

 

For Red Wine Braised Short Ribs:

3 lbs beef short ribs, bone in

Salt and Pepper

Vegetable oil

1 large onion, julienned

4 garlic cloves

4 tbsp brown sugar

2 cups red wine (pick a red wine you enjoy drinking)

1 cup beef stock

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

 

  1. Season the short ribs with plenty of salt and pepper.  On your stovetop in a deep pot, heat about 2 tbsp vegetable oil on medium heat.  Add the short ribs and brown on all sides.  Remove from the pan but leave the oil and any rendered fat.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  2. Add the julienned onions and saute in the pan until translucent.  Add the garlic cloves and brown sugar.  Add the short ribs back into the pan.  Pour in the red wine and beef stock, the liquid should just cover them.  Add the sprigs of thyme and rosemary, and cover the pan with the lid.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  3. Depending on how your butcher or grocery store portions their short ribs, the cooking time will vary.  I recommend setting the heat down to low on the stove and checking the meat every hour.  You’ll know the short ribs are ready by how they start to pull away from the bone and easily fall apart when you lift them.  You should be able to cut it with a fork.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

For the Cauliflower Mash

1 cauliflower, finely chopped

1 large russet potato, small dice

3 garlic cloves

1 medium sizes onion, small dice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup cream

 

  1. Finely chop the cauliflower. The smaller the pieces, the easier it is to mash.  Clean and peel the russet potato.  Cut into small, uniform pieces.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  2. In a pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until they become translucent, add the whole garlic cloves and cook until starting to brown.  Add the finely chopped cauliflower and small diced potato and saute those until starting to show some color.  Season with salt and pepper.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  3. Add the cream; it will just cover the cauliflower and potato.  The cream should never come to a boil, so keep the heat low, and let everything simmer in the pot until the cauliflower and potato is tender.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  4. Transfer the cauliflower mixture into a food processor.  BE CAREFUL!  You’re handling hot ingredients and make sure to watch for splattering cream.  Turn the food processor on and puree until smooth.  Taste the mash and add a little more salt or pepper depending on your preference.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  5. Remove from the food processor and put into a serving bowl.

For the Asparagus:

1 bunch asparagus, stalky ends cut

Salt and Pepper

Vegetable oil

 

  1. In a deep pot, fill it with water and bring to a boil.  When water is boiling, add the asparagus and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain into a colander and place in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.  Remove the asparagus from the ice water bath and store in the fridge.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  2. When ready to eat, heat some vegetable oil in a saute pan.  Add the asparagus and saute until cooked, around 2 to 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with the mash.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

Dessert & Cocktail

Raspberry Macarons & Champagne Mojito

Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover

 

I didn’t go for chocolate, because chocolate on Valentine’s Day is overrated.  Chocolate can be messy and complicated, but macarons are the perfect little dessert you can eat with your hands and won’t leave you with a mess.  Chocolate can make you feel bloated, and feeling bloated isn’t sexy.  So instead, I want to share a recipe for a wonderfully light cookie that’s sweet and the perfect minty drink to accompany it.

 

For the Macarons:

⅔ cup ground almonds or almond flour

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

3 large eggs whites, room temperature

5 tbsp granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Red food coloring

3 tbsp raspberry compound

8 oz mascarpone cheese

 

  1. Preheat an oven to 280F.  Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  I recommend you cut the parchment down to fit into the pan; if you are having trouble with the parchment paper staying in place, lightly spray the sheet pan with non stick spray. This will help the parchment stick to the pan but won’t affect the macarons.
  2. Sift together the ground almonds/almond flour and powdered sugar through a fine mesh sieve.  Set aside.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  3. Place the egg whites in a bowl of a stand mixer and begin to beat on medium speed.  When the eggs are frothy, gradually add the granulated sugar, one tablespoon at a time until completely incorporated.  Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  The egg whites should be glossy.  Gently stir in the vanilla extract and a few drops of red food coloring.  If you overbeat the meringue it will become lumpy.  The texture should always be smooth.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  4. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients and gently fold it into the meringue.  Use a flexible silicone spatula for this.  Lift from the bottom, around the sides, and toward the middle.  Do not stir or whisk, this will over agitate the meringue and you will lose air.  Once incorporated, add in the second half and repeat.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  5. At this stage, you’re going to need to “punch” the meringue.  Use the flat of the spatula and smack it down into the center of the meringue.  Scrape everything into the middle and smack it again.  Do this about 10 times or until the meringue drips slowly into the middle of the bowl.  You shouldn’t have to force it with a spatula.  Think the consistency of molasses.  If the batter is too runny, the macarons won’t rise and you’ll end up with flat discs.
  6. Pour the mix into a pastry bag, or use a gallon size Ziploc bag (just make sure to snip a teeny bit from one of the bottom corners).  On the prepared baking sheets, pipe 1 inch rounds with at least 1 inch between each cookie.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  7. If you need to smooth out the tops, gently tap the baking sheet against the counter.  Allow the piped macarons to dry for about 15 minutes.
  8. Place the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes.  The macarons are done when they are baked all the way through and the shells are just hard.  If you underbake them the insides will still be mushy, if you overbake the tops will start to brown.  Transfer them to a wire rack or a cool baking tray.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  9. When completely cooled you can assemble them.  Take your mascarpone cheese and raspberry compound.  Mix the two in a bowl.  Using a knife spread about 1 tablespoon onto one side of the cookie, top with another.  Do this until all the macarons have been used.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  10. Eat them!!

 

For the Champagne Mojito:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 bunch mint

6 limes

2 cups rum

1 cup champagne

 

  1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium heat.  Whisk the mix until the sugar dissolves, creating simple syrup.  Let it cool down to room temperature.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  2. In a bowl combine simple syrup, mint, and rum.  Take five of the six limes and cut in half.  Lightly squeeze juice into the simple syrup mix, then put the half into the bowl.  Muddle everything with a wooden spoon.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
  3. Strain into another bowl; you don’t want any lime pulp or mint leaves in your mix.  Pour the strained rum mix half way up several glasses.  Top with the champagne.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover
    Personal Photo/ Janine Hanover


Don’t spend a lot of money this Valentine’s Day; instead spend the day as a couple doing something together.  Make an awesome meal, have a couple glasses of wine and a cocktail, and enjoy each others’ company.  That’s really what Valentine’s Day is all about: enjoying your partner’s company and eating some good food.


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