Category Archives: Dating

Guess What?

I know I’ve been busy – apparently too busy to post on my blog…but while I haven’t been keeping you up to date, I have been hanging out with my lovely boyfriend…who is now…wait for it…MY FIANCÉ!  In the less than a week since it happened, we’ve started to make plans, plans and plans…and I’ve also been obsessing about dresses, having had a vision of a dress come to me in a dream even before the proposal… My mind is still reeling with the planning to do for the wedding, everything at once running through my head, even though I know I don’t have to think about it all right now.

Not only planning a wedding, but once we get married there will be even more paperwork to do to get him on my orders, get medical clearance, move overseas again… Fun fun fun.  I got him a packet of handouts from the Family Liaison Office and he’s ready to become an EFM!  I’m just such a lucky woman to have found such a wonderful man.  I can’t wait to start married life with him.


A Weekend of Cooking

So the last half of this past year, after having a wonderful time with the boyfriend, we both managed to slack off a little with our diet and exercise.  What’s the saying, fat and happy?  Well, we’ve both managed to slide back a little in our progress.  So, as with many people, the new year starts off with resolutions.  Resolutions to have a healthier year this year.  And so, this weekend was our time to motivate.  We’ve been having a great time with our new Christmas presents – I got some awesome kitchen knives from my man and he got an awesome Bosch kitchen machine from me.  It’s a mixer and much, much more.  He loves it.

This weekend we started with a run to Costco for our supplies for the weekend.  Back to my place, he made some delicious rye/pumpernickel bread using THE machine – YUM.  Taking a break, we watched some football which was VERY exciting.  Another great meal of salmon and asparagus for dinner finished off our Saturday night.

Sunday morning came, and we decided to make breakfast.  We went with omelets and toast with the homemade bread.  And then he wanted to make butter for our toast…yes, MAKE butter.  So he made butter with the same Bosch machine while I was whipping up our omelet.  He’s quite handy in the kitchen, that is for sure!  We did some more shopping in preparation for the evening’s project and then went down to the gym and worked out.  It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the gym, but it felt good to be back.  Now that we’ve found our initial gym motivation, I think it’ll be easier.  We have about two months until Cancun, so I’m trying to get back into shape for swimsuits!

After another football game, we started on meals for the week.

  I made some mini frittatas in muffin cups and now have some easy, quick, protein-rich breakfast for when I push snooze too many times.  I had one this morning (when I pushed snooze too many times and had to bring it to work) – these were a winner in my book!

After some more football, we started on our lunch for the week project.  I kept seeing these recipes and Pinterest board ideas for Mason jar salads.  I was really liking the idea, but had not as of yet bought any jars to make the salads in.  This weekend we finally bought some and with our Costco supplies, we started in on our Mason jar lunch salads.  We cooked up some chicken and chopped up our veggies (using the wonderful knives, and on a few occasions, the food processor) and had a little salad assembly line going on.  One would be filling while the other was chopping and trying to clean up in between.  It worked well, even with our many ingredients.  Capped the jars and put them in the refrigerator and they were good to go for the week!

Today I brought my salad to work –  the before (in the jar) and after (dumped out) are below.  As I was putting it on the plate, someone walked in and started asking me about it.  I’ve inspired a few people in the office to think about making their own!  🙂  And just for the record – YUM!


Here’s to a great new year of healthy, happy resolutions!  Looking forward to the rest of the year, full of friends, family, love and good times! All the best to you and yours!

Blog Update – Slacker edition

I’ve been a slacker, I know.  Here’s to a renewed blog in the New Year!  Life has been wonderful these last months.  My boyfriend and I are beyond happy with each other.  We took a few trips out of town over the fall – a camping adventure and a trip to Pittsburgh to see (and for him, to meet) my best friend Jeni and husband Jason, and they all loved each other. We also went down to see his family for Thanksgiving, which was the first time I’ve met them.  We took to each other like a fish takes to water…I love them already and they seem to love me too.  His younger niece asked me if I could be her aunt – I was honored.  They remind me a lot of my own family, and they really made me feel welcome.

The day after Thanksgiving, we went to Paris, which was just wonderful!  I’ve been there a number of times, but this was his first trip there and it was great to be able to show him my Paris.  I was also confident enough in my French ability to make it through most of the trip just speaking French to the various merchants and French people and not once asking “Parlez-vous anglais?”  We also got some beautiful photos, one of which I’ve attached below.

Paris at sunset

We had a great trip back, and a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s.  The new year is upon us, and as we’ve taken stock of the last year, the many ups and downs, we are blissfully happy to start this new year.  He is turning 40 this year, and we have planned a trip down to Cancun, where much of the rest of my family we will meet up with (and he’ll finally get to meet them in person!) and have a ton of fun.  We are both looking forward to that!  We also look forward to getting healthier in the new year, learning new things and just appreciating everything we have.  I think coming back to Washington for a tour was the best move I’ve made in a long time!



Well, the last few weeks have been amazing!  Work is going well – all my new colleagues seem friendly and I’ve run into a number of people from previous posts.  I’ve also spent a lot of time with my new boyfriend.  A week or so ago we had that talk about our budding relationship and decided to start using those labels – it is Facebook official, we are ‘in a relationship’!  We’ve been sailing, cooking, hanging out, and every day he surprises me with his wonderfully sweet nature.

One weekend he decided he was going to surprise me, so he wouldn’t tell me where we were going other than “east” and on a picnic of sorts.  So, we made a picnic and off we went for a drive.  We drove, and drove some more…city turned into woods…and I wondered where we were going.  I started seeing some signs for wineries and wondered… and lo and behold, that’s where we went!  We had a lovely bottle of wine with some delicious cheese, 1000581_10200926966229558_902511679_n  then I was told we were moving locations shortly… More surprises!  We hopped back in the car, then drove to a polo field of all things.  I never could have guessed that one!  We had brought some sand chairs with us and a blanket, so we spread out on the lawn and watched polo while picnicking!!  I was over the moon with a huge smile and really started falling for this wonderful man that night.  The next day we went sailing; it was just a perfect weekend!  I look forward to many more weekends together.  And tomorrow, we are moving to another level – he’s going to meet one of my best friends – we are all going out for dinner!

So, in a nutshell, I am SO happy that I decided to move back to the USA for a few years!  This is truly what I needed after 6 years overseas, and especially after 2 years in Baghdad.  Here’s to a fabulous two years in the US!

This is the end…of home leave

As all good things must come to an end, home leave is over. The weeks have flown by seeing family and friends. While in some ways I didn’t do nearly as much on this home leave as my last, doing nothing was probably better for me, coming out of Baghdad. It gave me time to just hang out with my family, get to know them and let them get to know me better.

This past weekend I went to a family reunion, the first big one since 2000. In my last post I mention the number 200; I underestimated and the numbers are closer to 300 in my family! That includes my aunts, uncles, cousins, kids of cousins, and kids of kids of cousins. It’s seriously insane. How insane, you ask? We needed name tags at our family reunion, specifying your name and lineage (e.g. Daughter of X who is son of Y.) Seriously, craziness. But it was fun seeing them all together again. I was also pleasantly surprised that I have a few readers of this very blog among my family members. 🙂 Here’s a random pic to give you an idea of sheer numbers – and this is just a small percentage of everyone was that was there:


The rest of home leave has consisted mostly of unpacking all this stuff! I am still living in a land of boxes with no end in sight. But at least now I have silverware, dishes and pans – I am able to cook again! I made homemade gyoza the other night and my date and I made sushi, which were both delicious! Gyoza are really very simple to make (even the wrappers!) and I’m glad I made enough to freeze! I found a great grocery store in the neighborhood for sushi grade fish, which made proper sushi (rather than my makeshift Baghdad sushi.) Here’s a pic (which is also much better than the Baghdad sushi picture):


Thanks to a wonderful friend, I also got to go see The Eagles in concert! It was an awesome concert – highly recommended. Joe Walsh is just amazing on that guitar, and it’s crazy how many great songs they have had. Today I had a Baghdad out briefing class and stopped into my new office to see firstly, where it is so I can find it Monday when I start, and secondly to say hello. I walked in and I instantly knew I was in the right place – my name was on the desk. 🙂 Said a quick hello, then saw a few more old friends on my way out the door. You really can’t turn around without seeing someone you know! I walked to and from work today, which was pretty great – it’s pretty close and I’m looking forward to being able to walk! The bus line is also very convenient, for those days I don’t feel like walking. I’m so excited! I’m also going sailing this weekend – I can’t wait!!

Lucky Lucy

The last week has been quite an adventure. While there has been the occasional yelling at the walls in frustration over another box of books and yet no bookcases, it’s been pretty great overall. The movie just gets better! Moving in is going well as is dating life. I’ve come across some interesting things that have been in storage all this time – floppy disks, an old computer, chocolate…you get the idea. I was talking to my insurance agent today, getting renter’s insurance and told him about all this stuff (including a table saw) and he said sounds like it’ll be Craigslist time! Definitely.

Dating life is going very well – I’ve been on three dates in the week I’ve been back, all with the same guy. We apparently kind of like each other, lol. Date number three, which was originally going to be date number one, was sushi and pub trivia. While we came in a respectable sixth in trivia, we won tickets during prize round to see a band in October – I look at this as a good sign! We are definitely Lucky Lucy (our team trivia name, which I may explain in a future post). While some of my friends worry that I dive into these new adventures head first, I have a hard time doing it any other way. I think it’s fine though – we seem to be on the same page as far as that goes.

Today I got out in my car for awhile – I forget how freeing it feels to drive your own car around, having been in Baghdad the last two years. I also packed another suitcase, as I’m returning to Minnesota tomorrow for a family reunion this weekend! It’ll be nice to see the masses of relatives I haven’t seen in years. And when I say masses, I do mean it! When my grandmother died, they said she had over 150 direct descendants – and that was over a decade ago – so I am sure we have to be close to 200 by now!

The New Adventures of Darlene

My new adventure has begun! My life is starting to feel like a movie. As you know, I’ve left Baghdad and went on home leave. As you may recall from a few posts ago, I leased a new place and started online dating. Things are going very well with both of these. I’ve moved into my new place and went on a date!

The apartment is slowly taking shape. I didn’t realize until late in the move that this wasn’t nearly all of my stuff – not all my stuff is in the same place apparently. I looked back to check if I had emailed the correct people and I had, I just hadn’t received a response from this one in particular and forgot to follow up. So, the rest of it I get in two weeks. But it’s been fun going through some of the stuff I haven’t seen in six years!

The dating adventures are going well too. The guy I mentioned in the post “The Next Chapter” and I have emailed, Skyped, etc more and more and we were both in Minnesota over the Fourth of July weekend. We both left on the 8th but about 5 hours apart. So I’m sitting at my gate, getting ready to fire up my iPad while I wait when someone says, is this seat taken? I start to say no, go ahead and I look up and it’s him! Now, of course, this scenario had crossed my mind but I never thought I’d actually see him there – because these things don’t ever happen to me in reality. I was very happy and so we talked until I had to board, then with a long hug, off I went with a big smile on my face. My Tuesday plans fell through with a friend, so we decided to go out that night. It was a great date – cant wait to see him again! While I know I keep saying I’m looking forward to real life (and normal dating), I am feeling like I’m in a movie!

So, that’s life in a nutshell for me! I have two weeks left until I start working. I’m pretty damn happy right now – these two years in DC are going to be fantastic, I can already tell!

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I was once on an island and eight parakeets landed on me. I had positioned myself to welcome them. Hope has that effect. I want to see all of creation awaken with hope~ especially the Middle East. Anything is possible for those who believe. ☆☆☆☆ Come believe with me. ☆☆☆☆


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