Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yummy Baked Potato Soup

Here is a recipe for a healthy version of Baked Potato Soup that I adapted from a Mollie Katzen recipe.

A few things I love about this recipe:

1. Ben loves it. Potato soup is his favorite, and he says that this is his favorite version so far.
2. All of the ingredients are super inexpensive making it a very affordable dinner.
3. It is actually a very low fat and healthful dinner without losing its flavor.

3 bulbs of garlic
4 large Russet potatoes
1 bag of baby carrots
6 cups water
2 tsp. salt, or to taste
2 tsp. rosemary
2 tsp. pepper, or to taste
crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
8-10 slices of low sodium turkey bacon, crisped and crumbled

Garnish: sharp cheddar cheese, grated & chopped chives

Preheat oven to 375*, place three bulbs of garlic on a foil covered baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, put potatoes, carrots, water, salt and rosemary in a large pot and allow to boil. Once boiling, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are done.
Once garlic is roasted and is cool enough to touch, squeeze the pulp into a small bowl and mash with the back of a fork.

Stir the garlic mixture into the soup, and once the potatoes are soft enough, transfer the soup in batches to a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.

Transfer the blended soup into another pot, and add pepper, crushed red pepper and turkey bacon. Add more salt or garlic if needed. Garnish with chives and cheese.

We served the soup with homemade rosemary olive oil bread, (thanks Whitney for the idea ;) ) and it was great!

Now if only I could figure out how to make a bread bowl.....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Time and Superheros.

So Ben and I have a lot of time on our hands right now. A LOT.

True, its an indefinite period of time, and could come to an end pretty quickly. But for now, we have plenty of time to make lots of things happen and are trying to seize the day and spend our time wisely.

One of our friends works for an elementary school in the area and asked us to come and read to the kids in her ESL class whenever possible. Since we have plenty of time, we have been so excited to help out and to have something productive to do with our days.

Today, Ben got to help some of the kids with their reading comprehension, while I worked with them on writing a paper about their "dreams" in life (for MLK day).

So of course, when you ask a first grade boy, what he wants to be when he grows up, what else is he going to say, but, "I want to be a superhero! Like Ironman or Spiderman!"

So thats exactly what we wrote about. His sweet dream to ZOOM around at super speed like Ironman to save people by fighting crime. I wish you could have seen his face as he read to me the final draft of his paper. He was beaming with excitement. I loved it. I mean, yes, maybe we should have told him that this was a very unlikely dream to come true. But, I think it was better to let him dream. The reality that he could be a superhero in the sense of fighting crime as a police man or a fireman, or in the military is still very true, and something I would never want to discourage.

It is so neat to me to see how God made little boys to want to be superheros.

I love it. Too often they are told that their dreams are impossible, and that they will never be able to amount to anything even near what they aspire to. Their dreams are crushed, and often their spirits too.

A lot of you know how much Ben loves GI Joes. I still buy them for him for Christmas and I love it because one, I think its great that he is such a big kid at heart, but two, I think he still has that little superhero spirit in him that just loves to see the good guy get the baddies.

God made him to be a protector and defender, and I think most all boys have those same instincts.

Maybe some just need a little encouragement. Maybe even just the acknowledgement that being Ironman is an awesome aspiration ;)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Military Life: Tackling Taxes!

This post really just applies to all the military people out there.

I wanted to let you guys know about a great FREE tax filing service that H&R Block gives to the military.

It is similar to H&R Block at home that everyone else has to pay to use, but it is specially tailored for military personnel, helping you determine what of your income is taxable, what is non-taxable, and what kind of deductions/refund you might be eligible for.

The service is only accessible through, and you will need to create an account with them before accessing this free service!

I used this last year and it was SO helpful and very user friendly!

Just click on the link below to get started:


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help for Haiti

Here are a few ways to find out more information on what is going on in Haiti and how to give toward disaster relief.

Real Hope For Haiti -- a blog from the perspective of people actually living in Haiti

T-shirts for Haiti here--- donations

So many questions

Ok, sorry that is a huge question mark.

I can't figure out how to make it smaller, but maybe its a good thing that its big. Maybe it will help illustrate this post more than I thought it would.

Ben and I have noticed a pattern in our speech developing over the past couple of months.

This pattern became really apparent when we sat down with our financial advisors, who are also friends, to talk about the future and financial strategies therein.

Here's how it went. Financial guy would ask us a question, such as, "well, when do you guys think you will be moving?"

Ben and I would look at each other, and say "I don't know."

"Ok, well what job will you be doing?"

"I don't know."

As the conversation went on, this same scenario occurred several times. We were all becoming a little humored by it, and our financial friends basically summed up the meeting with us by saying, "well we will keep in touch---you guys are definitely living in the unknown right now!"

And if I had to sum up our lives (over the past few months) in just one word, it would be: Unknown.

But, if I had two or three words to sum it up with, it would be: the Unknown & God's favor.

Although there are soooooo many things we don't know. God gives us just enough light on our path to see what's right in front of us.

So one thing we do know is that He is leading Ben out of the aviation world & into some other career. We haven't gotten as far as actually knowing what that career will be. But, the Lord has put us around some really amazing people who are doing a lot to help us figure that out.It was evident from the way both of those men have been so interested in Ben and helping him in his career, that the Lord is totally in control of all this, and is orchestrating something beautiful.

So, just a heads up. We may tell you that we don't know a lot of things. And that is true. But that is often true at most every period of our lives. We never know what tomorrow holds, and Ben and I haven't even the slightest idea what it could even possibly hold. But we are sure of this: That God is in control & is leading our way, giving us insight for the moment we need it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Never really make them because I am always kind of nervous I won't keep them. And then I don't want to feel like a resolution failure a few weeks later, so I usually just opt not to make any.

But this year, Ben and I have made a couple of resolutions. We are making them month by month, rather than for the whole year.

A month is a much more obtainable goal than a year, and I have a feeling that after making something a habit for a month, it will get a little bit easier the next month to continue with the same goals.

Our number one resolution is to spend time each day in the Word of God. That needs to be our first priority anyhow, but how easily we can overlook that time when life gets busy.

Resolution number two (and this was Ben's idea, not mine) is to eat healthier and exercise more. Yes please! I am so excited that this was Ben's idea. Now when I put a nice spinach salad in front of him, its because he wants it, not because I am a crazy health nut ;)

Resolution three. To be more organized in our house. We are finding that it makes a world of a difference if everything in the house has a place. The house is easier to maintain, we don't get frustrated trying to figure out where we put this or that, and the house just feels more open and stress free! Its also a great excuse to get rid of things we don't need!

So for the anti-resolution maker out there (like myself), think about some one month goals you could attainably set for yourself. We are almost halfway through January and so far it is really working for us---and our goal is in sight!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Tour de Texas

Ben and I had such a wonderful time visiting with family and friends in TX over the holidays! Of course, there are still so many people that we didn't get to see and would have loved to have spent time with, but unfortunately a 10 day trip to 4 different cities makes that almost impossible.

So for all of our Texas friends & family that we missed on our Tour de Texas, we love you guys and weren't trying to avoid you ;)

My trip started off a couple of days earlier than Ben's, as I flew into Fort Worth for my grandmother's funeral and to see family and friends there. It was a special time of celebrating my grandmother's life, and I was so glad that I was there to be a part of it.

From Ft. Worth I flew to Houston to meet Ben and his family where we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day. The festivities included tamales, gift swapping, antique store shopping, avatar watching, buffalo burgers, 50 cent entrees at Bellaire Broiler burger and the list goes on. Pretty good for just a few days.

Ben and I were also able to swing a few deals, and work it to where we were able to leave our car in Houston for the entirety of the trip! We caught a ride from Houston to SA with Uncle Bob & Aunt Sister (Ben's aunt & uncle) that included a trip to Buckees for some beaver nuggets and a much needed bathroom stop. Uncle Bob and Aunt Sister then joined the Norville family for our Christmas dinner! It was so much fun to have both sides of our family together, and we are constantly marveling over how blessed we are to have families that enjoy each other's company!

In San Antonio, Ben spent a lot of time with my brother, dad & uncle doing man stuff, while my mom and I went antiquing with my aunts and cousins. We had a second round of avatar (which was not my cup of tea, but the guys loved it), lots of yummy food, bargain shopping, and duked it out with Mama Rhonda in Wii boxing. She throws a mean punch.

From SA, my parents & brother drove us to Marble Falls to see Jim & Ida (Ben's grandparents), where we all spent New Years. Once again it was so fun to have the Norville's and Carter's all together! Highlights included, Ida schooling us in Wii bowling on her first time playing, Ida killing the fatted calf for dinner every night, Ben, Cam and Austin setting off fire works from the boat dock, and Austin falling of said boat dock in full winter gear.

We made our way back to Houston with Ben's dad & brother, Cam for one last night in Texas. I got to spend the night hanging out with all my college roommates (rebekah, laura & kelley), shopping around houston, eating great food, and finishing our appetites off at the chocolate bar! So much fun!

And that pretty much sums up our trip to Texas. It may not have been the most restful trip, but it was fun. WAY too much fun. Thanks to all our family & friends for such amazing hospitality & generosity!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

It looks as though 2010 is going to hold a lot of new adventures for the Carter household.

After spending 10 wonderful days in TX we are finally back in Pensacola, and settling back into life here.

Except, this time rather than truly "settling" we are already shaking things up quite a bit.

The morning after we got back from our trip to TX, Ben had a final meeting with the Commodore to tell him the decision he had made about continuing in the flight program.

Ben thanked him graciously for the opportunity to be a part of the program, and for the time spent here, but chose to step down from the aviation program.

The Commodore assured him that the AF would still have a job for him so now we are praying about the career path that the Lord would have for us within the AF.

Looking back on 2009, I would have never imagined that this would be the road that the Lord would have for us. I would have never imagined that we would choose to get out of aviation, or that we would even come to the point of having to choose, but we are very confident that it is Him directing us out of the flight community and into something new. This year will truly be one of new beginnings, and undoubtedly, new trials and victories as well.

As for a timeline. We have no idea when we will move or what job he will have!

Definitely have more to say on all this, but I'll save it for another day.

Will keep you posted :)