Monday, June 27, 2011

Sickness, Scratchin Dog, Sand, Poolside, Toddler Bed, Bows, and Vacay

Holy man.. I know it's been forever since I've actually sat down and wrote a family update. In the month of June we visited 2 different countries.. Austria and Ireland. I haven't gotten around to writing about Ireland and I apologize.. I took soo many pics and am making a photobook with them. I wanted to wait until the book was done to do the update just because I have so many pictures. We are heading to Germany in less than 2 weeks for four days! In August we have trips booked to Rome and to Tuscany to go to Volterra (famous from the Twilight books!) and San Gimignano. I still really want to do Paris, but right now I just don't think it's going to happen. After these trips are said and done we'll have burnt through most of our vacation money. We probably could swing it, but we're trying to save as much as we can because our PCS is right around the corner! We should know by November where our next home will be! Just a sneak peak of Ireland! This is where we stayed at... Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dun Leary).

Gorgeous isn't it. I absolutely LOVED it here!

Rosalie and I have both been terribly sick since we got back from Ireland. I imagine going from one extreme climate to another did her in... and naturally she passed it off to me. She did go to the doctors just to make sure her ears were clear. We're feeling a little bit better, but now 100% up to par.

Buddy also went to the vet yesterday. His allergies have gotten out of control since we took him off the steroids the Italian vet put him on. It's not good for him to be getting steroids the way he was. We took him to the base vet and they put him on regular benadryl, fish oil, a new flea medicine, and allergy shampoo. We just started everything last night so I can't really say if its working or not.

We've also taken another big step in the Hollis house... Rosalie has moved to a toddler bed. It was very spur of the moment. When we went to Ireland Rosalie had to sleep with us because the pack n play they provided was too small for her and she wouldn't sleep in it. We were both nervous because she had only ever slept in a crib. Well, she did GREAT. We decided that she might be ready to move to a toddler bed. I started searching online for a bed that would ship APO.. nothing I found that I liked would. I didn't want an expensive bed and I didn't want a junky bed. We just wanted to put her in a toddler bed to start transitioning her because when we go back to the states she'll be getting my old bed that goes with all of her bedroom furniture. Then Friday evening Kevin and I were in the BX and they got Disney Princess beds in.. well we bought it and tried it out that night. She's doing okay with it. A lot better than we expected, but she's getting up at least once in the middle of the night (she stays in bed at least) and she's getting up earlier than normal for the day. Rosalie has never been a good sleeper so I think this transition has been cake. I think we picked the perfect time.. not too early and not too late. She loves her little bed. If we're upstairs she'll run in and grab her books and take them to her bed. I can't believe how fast she's growing up!

I've been crazy busy with bows. I have a bunch of orders to fill this week, plus orders needing delivered.. I'm def keeping busy during naptime!

That's basically about it.. we've been spending our days playing in the sand.. hanging poolside.. and cruising around in Rosalie's lil buggy. We're def enjoying our last summer here in Italia!

Hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July! Remember the reason for your freedom!!!

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Heaven. That's the only word that comes close to describing this pan of pure deliciousness. You're going to see the picture, read the recipe, and run straight to grocery store or local market and buy fresh blueberries and whip up a pan. I can guarantee it. I found this over at Pioneer Woman (of course right!) and had to try it as soon as I saw the picture.

For the Cake..
5 tbls butter
3/4c sugar
1 egg
1/2 teas vanilla
2c all purpose flour
2 1/4 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
3/4c milk
2c FRESH blueberries (this is CRUCIAL! The berries must be fresh, not the frozen packaged crap)

For the Topping..
3/4 stick of butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 teas cinnamon
1/2c flour
1/4 teas salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking powder, and a salt. Stir and set aside.

Cream butter (for the cake) with sugar. Add egg and mix until combined. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until totally incorporated. Do not overbeat. Stir in blueberries until evenly distributed. Be very gentle! You don't want to smash your berries!

Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Pour in batter.

In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients and cut together using two knives or a pastry cutter. I don't have a pastry cutter so I used two knives and just hacked away until the ingredients were blended and crumbly. It's not going to get like graham cracker crumbs crumbly, it'll be a thicker crumbly mixture. Sprinkle over top of cake mixture.

Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar.

We tried it warm and cold.. it was soo much better cold! When it was warm the berries were too hot and over powered the taste of the cake.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Down Home Cooking... Country Fried Steak and Potatoes

When I came across a recipe for homemade country fried steak, I was pretty pumped. I never had it, but Kevin absolutely loves it. We had bought the Tyson freezer stuff before and he was disappointed and didn't like it all. Pioneer Woman has done it again.. giving me a recipe that made my husband fall in love with me all over again! Ha! Both of these recipes came from Pioneer Woman, but I did not make the recipe for gravy because Kevin doesn't like the thick, white gravy that country fried steak is usually topped with. I made brown gravy instead and it was just perfect for this meal. If you want the recipe for the country fried gravy, head over to Pioneer Woman.

As I was making this, even after it was done, I was VERY iffy about eating it. It just didn't appeal to me or look like something I would like. I gave it a shot and let me say o.m.g. We both absolutely loved it! Don't let the looks turn you away from this absolutely delish meal. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of this meal either because my husband was digging in before I was even done cooking.


3lbs cube steak (I used only 1lb.. it was 4 steaks.. PLENTY for Kevin and I.. he even had enough for leftovers for lunch)
2 large eggs
1c milk
2c all purpose flour
2 teaspoons of Lawry's Seasoned Salt
3/4 teas paprika
1/4 teas cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teas black pepper
1/2 c of canola oil for frying

-Begin with an assembly line of dishes.
-Start with the steak on one plate.
-Eggs and 1c of milk in the next. Beat together with a fork
-Next combine the flour with the seasoned salt, paprika, cayenne, and black pepper.
-Finish off your assembly line with an empty plate for coated meat.
-Lightly season all of the meat with salt and pepper.
-Dip meat in egg-milk mixture; completely coat
-Next place the meat in the flour mix; completely coat
-Return the meat to the egg-milk mixture one more time.
-Coat in the flour mixture again.
-Place on plate and repeat with remaining meat.
-Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is heated, place chicken in oil. Cook one one side until the edges start to look golden brown. To test to see if your oil is ready, sprinkle in some flour. If it sizzles and dissipates quickly, it's ready.
-Turn over and cook until the other side is golden brown.
-Remove to a paper towel lined plate and keep warm.


(This is the original recipe, but I cut everything in half since it's just us 3)
5lbs potatoes
12 tablespoons of butter (softened)
8 ounce package of cream cheese (I used fat free)
1/2 to 1/4 cup of half and half
1/2 teas seasoned salt (I used Lawrys)
Salt and Pepper to taste

-Bring a large of water to a slow boil over medium-high heat.
-Peel potatoes and rinse in cold water.
-Chop potatoes in halves or fourths.
-Add potatoes to the pot
-Increase to high heat and bring to a full boil; cook for 20-30 minutes
-The potatoes are ready when they pass the fork check; a fork should easily slide into potatoes with no resistance
-Drain the potatoes in a large colander.
-Return to the pot and turn the heat on low.
-With a potato masher, mash the potatoes over low heat to allow much of the steam to escape. Continue mashing until all lumps are gone; Turn off heat
-You don't want to use a mixer or whisk (which is what I have always been guilty of!) This will break down the starches in the potatoes and cause them to be gluey. (which always happens to my potatoes!)
-Add butter, cream cheese, half and half, and the seasonings. Stir together until well combined.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Chicken Parm

When Kevin and I first got married, I found this recipe for chicken parm in a Taste of Home cookbook. It was chicken, breaded with egg substitute and a combination of italian bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and a few spices. It was baked in the oven until juices ran clear.. then you poured sauce over it and covered it in mozzarella cheese. I then put it over normal, very saucy spaghetti. I'm not going to lie, it was terrible. I never attempted chicken parm after that.

I now have this new found love for the Pioneer Woman. If you have never heard of her, she was a city girl who married a cowboy. This former sushi eater, heel wearer, vegetarian now runs a website and has her own cookbook. All of the food is very hearty, home cooked, Cracker Barrel style food. When I came across her website and started reading some of her recipes I had to buy her cookbook. I bought it on my kindle so instantly it was in my hands and with Kevin being on 12 hour shifts, I had the time to sit and read through it entirely. I'm so excited about all of the new recipes in it. It's food that we will eat. Rosalie and I are both pretty picky eaters. I like things very.. plain. Rosalie, well she doens't eat meat or pasta, so it feels like I make her the same things in day in and day out since half the time she won't eat what I've prepared for Kevin.

Anyways.. getting to my point. I came across this recipe for Chicken Parm and decided to try it once more. It knocked us of our feet. No only does it look like it was prepared by a professional, but it is sooo good. Rosalie even housed her food down, and she is not a pasta eater. I tweaked the recipe a bit since I didn't have the stuff to do homemade sauce and I didn't have fresh parmesan. Here's my tweaked version:


Chicken Breasts
1/2 C of all purpose flour
salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 C of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbls. butter
Jar of your favorite sauce (next time I will be attempting homemade sauce)
Mozzarella Cheese
Parmesan Cheese

-If your chicken breasts are decently thick, hold them with a pair of tongs and slice them into 2 thinner pieces
-Wash the chicken thoroughly
-Place in a ziploc bag and beat with a meat tenderizer, or a rolling pin if you don't have a mallet.
-Combine flour and salt and pepper in a bowl.
-Place chicken in the flour mixture and completely coat it. Sit it aside on a plate.
-In the meantime, start boiling water for your noodles.
-In a skillet, heat the butter and oil.
-When the butter is completely melted and skillet's hot, carefully place the chicken in.
-Cook chicken until brown. The longer you cook it, the crispier the outer layer will get. I let mine get nice and crispy.
-When the chicken is completely browned on both sides, drain the juices.
-CAREFULLY pour in sauce. Make sure chicken is completely covered. If all of your breasts didn't fit in the skillet, be sure to save some sauce for the 2nd round.
-Sprinkle mozzarella on every piece of chicken. (The original recipe didn't call for this... but since I didn't have FRESH parmesan, I figured it would add a lil flare that the processed parmesan lacked)
-Using a spoon, sprinkle some parmesan on each piece of chicken. Totally up to you how much you want!
-Sprinkle parsley on top of every piece of chicken.
- Cover chicken and let cook for a few minutes or until cheese is completely melted.
-Spoon noodles onto each plate.
-From the chicken skillet, spoon about 1 big spoonful of sauce onto noodles and twirl it around so the noodles are LIGHTLY covered with sauce.
-Place one breast on top of each plate of noodles.
-Repeat steps if you still have some chicken that didn't make it into the skillet the first time around.
-Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Feeling Like Death

I promise for an update sometime this week.. Rosalie and I are both VERY sick. :(

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Last Saturday we took a day trip to Austria. We left our house around 8am and crossed in Austria 2 hours later. We had to stop as soon as we crossed to purchase a vignette, a sticker you have to have on your windshield to drive through Austria. Not even a mile after we left the place where we purchased the vignette, we were detoured off of the autostrada. They were basically checking for vignettes. We had another 2 hour drive (which should have only been an hour and a half but we hit traffic) to get to Salzburg.

We arrived in Salzburg around lunch time. We parked right by Mirabell Gardens so we started there first. We walked through the gardens and had lunch there. If you don't know anything about Mirabell Gardens, ughh I can't even describe how beautiful it is! Part of Do-Re-Mi from the Sound of Music was filmed here.

We walked through Salzburg, stopping at Mozart's residence. We walked through all the little streets and looked at all the churches. We happened to run into a cute little market. We made our way up a massive hill to Hohensalzburg Castle. We were pretty pooped after that because it is def NOT stroller friendly, so we headed back down through Salzburg and to the car. We spent about 4 hours just walking around. It only took us a little over 3 hours to get home. Rosalie was a trooper! She did so good and was very well behaved on the ride to and from! Austria is the SIXTH country Rosalie has been to!

I took 100+ pictures, so instead of uploading them here, I'll just post my photobook I made! Oh how I love photobooks!

Click here to view this photo book larger

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Last Thursday, Kevin and I took Rosalie to the zoo. We were kind of iffy when we got there because Rosalie only slept for half an hour, whereas she usually takes at least an hour and a half to three hour nap. We only live 50 minutes from the zoo, but my bad, I planned our lil trip on an Italian holiday. Of course it was nice out, so everyone was heading to the beach and the traffic was insane, so it took us 2 hours to get there. Rosalie was a trooper in the car. I figured she would be so grouchy from not napping or would nap going through the zoo, but she proved me wrong! The zoo in Lignano is nothing like zoos back home. They have some different animals... a lot of exotic animals. We all had a good time. The weather was perfect! Rosalie went back and forth between her stroller, my shoulders, Kevin's shoulders, and walking herself. Traveling is def getting easier since she's getting bigger. She was so pumped on the way home that she didn't sleep at all. She ended up crashing at 6:30 that night and slept for almost 12 hours.

A few pics from our lil trip :)