Sunday, September 23, 2012

Recent goings on...

Two Sundays ago (which would've been the 16th) we hosted our first "Football Sunday Funday" (and yes, this is the name I've dubbed the weekly event!).  I cooked homemade pulled pork, homemade mac and cheese, strawberry cheesecake bites, cupcakes - the works:
Butt Roasts with dry rub, pre cooking :D - it was yummmmy
Cupcakes were for the attendees and the cakes-in-a-jar were for a deployed Airman that we included in his package!
Mini strawberry filled cheesecake bites - thank you pinterest :)
Anywho... a bunch of the hub's co-workers showed up, as did a new Airman who just got stationed here, and everyone seemed to enjoy the food, the company, and most importantly, the football.  Although my Patriots blew a game-winning field goal in the last few seconds of the game, I enjoyed myself as well and we planned for another get-together.

On Monday, I went out to lunch with a co-worker of the hubs/a new friend of mine :)  Then we met up with another new friend/co-worker and the three of us did some window shopping around town and ran some errands - they did their best getting me out of the house and I love em for that!!

On Wednesday, we got our HOMEGOODS SHIPMENT!!!!  And let me tell you, our house was WRECKED from it.  Every spare inch of space had boxes crammed or shoved.  It, as most of you are aware, is our first PCS (Permanent Change of Station = Military ordered move) so the whole process of having someone else pack my belongings and trusting them to get to me in one piece was absolutely nerve-wrecking for me... and apparently for good reason.  Of course the first things I went for were my beloved books.  And I was quickly heated in discovering that these dumb bitches who packed it up put paperbacks with the pages up underneath hardbacks.  Naturally, gravity will take over and the heavier item will smash the lighter items underneath, meaning, my paperbacks pretty much got destroyed.  I mean, honestly, any normal, sane, non-book addicted human being would see nothing wrong.  But to me, in my eyes, my books have been assaulted, injured, mistreated, and neglected and I'm not having it.  They are now warped, pages bent, some slightly ripped, and will take weeks for me to press back into shape with PROPER weight distribution from heavier books.  OKAY - rant over.  In any case, I was very worried to see the rest of what these so-called "professional" movers' work looked like.  I was most worried (after my books of course) what my "china" looked like (and for me china encomapsses all my nice dishes, servingware, pretty much anything glass, and most importantly - my wedding toasting flutes).  Welllll... everything was fine!  Although their packing techniques were absolutely RIDICULOUS, nothing was shattered or broken.  So we're going to leave a lovely little review (and by lovely I mean angry, aggrivated, annoyed, and displeased) for them when we get their generic email about "please go to our site and rank our movers for your recent PCS..." blah blah blah.

Now on Thursday, my husband informed me that the guys were coming over on Sunday.


We just got 6000 pounds of homegoods, haven't opened anything but books, and you're telling me you want people over here.  WTF.  Men... gotta love em :)

Now my lazy ass has to rush this unpacking thing, because I'll be honest, I hate people seeing my house in any state of disarray (I know, I know... just wait til you have kids, right?!).  In the past five moves we've made (all non-military related mind you... just college-related - ha!) I've taken up to a month to get every single box out of the house, because, let's face it, life is more important.  I take my time.  I go through every single photo album that gets unpacked.  I go through every little thing that sparks a memory.  I have to have every wire hidden so the wandering eye can't just see them sticking out.  I'm freaking OCD.  So rushing this thing wasn't something I was okay with.  So all of Thursday and Friday, I unpacked.  I cut open, I untaped, I broke down cardboard boxes, I stacked, I organized, I sorted... shit got done.  My intention was to also spend all of Saturday and the morning of Sunday doing this as well, but my female friend I was telling you about earlier, she called me up and told me about this Friendship Festival in the town of Maniago and asked for me and my husband to be her "dates" - how sweet, right?  I got the info from her about the festival, thought it sounded like a good time, and decided since we hadn't really gone anywhere new and fun in a few weeks that we should totally do it.  I mean, I'd been working my ass off to make the house presentable for our weekly "Sunday Funday" so I felt I deserved a little Funday of my own :)

So, this festival, you're wondering about... well this is what the Aviano website says about it:

The 11th Italian-American Friendship Festival, hosted by the town of Maniago, begins at 2 p.m. at the Maniago Sports Center. The event celebrates the friendship between the two countries through music, food and sporting events. 
"I strongly encourage Team Aviano to come out and celebrate the partnership we have with our Italian partners during the Italian-American Friendship Festival," said Brig. Gen. Scott Zobrist, 31st Fighter Wing commander. "The festival comes on the heels of the consolidated unit inspection and offers a great opportunity to relax and enjoy a free meal, while strengthening our friendship with our Italian hosts."
The schedule of events for the free festival is as follows:

- 2 p.m. - Soccer, beach volleyball and basketball tournaments and archery demonstration
- 5:30 p.m. - 9/11 remembrance ceremony featuring music by the Maniago Philharmonic Band
- 6:30 p.m. - Free food and wine in the Piazza Italia
- 7:30 p.m. - Martial arts demonstration 
- 8 p.m. - Awards ceremony accompanied by music and dance performances 

The festival will also feature Italian and American emergency vehicle static displays, a knife museum and paragliding demonstration. 

At first, when the three of us got there (myself, my husband, and our female Airman friend) we were a bit skeptical about it, seeings how there were hardly any people there, but we made the most of what we saw and then soon realized that the majority of the happenings were located away from the Sports Center and in the town center.  We made our way over and were pleasantly surprised.  We saw some jets flying overhead just as we approached the center, and were lucky enough to hear the base commander giving a speech discussing our (American Airmen) joined efforts with the Italians and how we honor that relationship and value the joined services.  Then the Italian commander gave a similar speech, also making mention of the remembrance of 9-11, and then both the Italian and American military members marched around the square behind an Italian military band.  That was all followed by free food!!  Of course the three of us made our way to the line as soon as we saw ladles and hair-netted old Italian women - and that stuff was yummmmm.  They also had free local wine and water to accompany our meal, and then we visited the little stalls all in the center before heading out.  The festivities continued on into the night, but we'd been walking and discovering Maniago for over five hours at that point, and were fully satisfied with what we'd done and were ready to end the night.

Two local Italian teams playing some good ole fashioned futbol :D

My love and I getting ready to watch some basketball
Me, the hubs being a goof, and our friend :D

Candy stall in the town center - YUMMM

Yummy Yummy in my tummy

Perfect end to a perfect night :D
All-in-all it was a pretty solid day!!  We really enjoyed ourselves and were super glad that we went, even if it did cut into my unpacking time!  When we got home that night, around 8ish, we immediately got back to work, and actually got a lot accomplished.  I prepped some food for the next day (we planned for two different types of wings, homemade potato salad, chips and dip, something healthy, and something for dessert) :D

I ended up finishing some last minute organizing/straightening the next morning while the hubs had to go into work for a few hours and by the time everyone got to the house, the place actually started feeling like home finally.  I still have much more work to do, but having a good night with some friends, good food, and football makes the work worth it.  Oh, and I've already planned the menu for next week - homemade chicken enchiladas, homemade guacamole, beans, and rice!!  Come on over, it'll be tasty :D

So that was the past 10ish days in a nutshell.  There's a Bazzar on base this weekend, so I'll probably be posting again in a week or so... stay tuned :)

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First week of September...

Hello there...

So this has been quite a busy week for us.  We received our first shipment of homegoods (the small one/unaccompanied baggage).  The majority of what it included was clothes with our TV (WOOHOO!), printer, Lucy's stuff (she's super happy about having gotten a bath, brush, teeth cleaning, and nail cut all in one day lemme tell ya!), a bit of bathroom stuff, and pictures/decor mixed in.  Of course we have walls made of pure cement/concrete and no drill, so hanging anything will have to be held off until we receive our drill in the second and final shipment (the one with the other 6000 pounds of our belongings) which won't be until the last week of September.

We FINALLY received our DLA (dislocation allowance) payment which we've been waiting on for over a month.  For those of you who don't know what that is... basically, the military pays you a handsome sum of money (based on rank, number of dependents, location, etc.) for moving.  Here's what the military has deemed it:

The purpose of DLA is to partially reimburse a member for the expenses incurred in relocating the household on a PCS, ordered for the Government's convenience, or incident to an evacuation. This allowance is in addition to all other allowances authorized in this Joint Federal Travel Regulation (JFTR) and may be paid in advance.

Of course ours wasn't paid in advance and when we got it, it was spent within hours because of all the things we've needed and couldn't get because... well I could totally explain, but let's not rant about the financial process of the military, shall we.  Let's just say that we should be getting two months of BAH (basic housing allowance) backpay here soon from when I was in the states without my husband.  They had me on his orders as already being in Italy with him when I obviously wasn't...☺

Moving on...

So with that wonderful DLA payment we purchased a memory foam mattress and box spring, a bed frame, an iron, a hand mixer, a microwave, a few shelving/drawer units for throughout the house, some basic household needs (TP, paper towels, detergent (dish and clothing), tissues, starch, smell-goods, etc.), the hubby's contacts because he was tired of wearing his BCG's everywhere (60 FRIGGIN DOLLARS FOR ONE BOX! WTF!), some food for us and the pooch, the down payment for our new internet company (THIS makes me super happy!!!!!), a kickass smoker/charcoal grill with all the necessary supplies that accompany that, and subscription renewals - one for a year of Skype premium so we can call home and one for a year of HideMyAssPro so I can watch my American TV on my laptop.  And we still need to purchase a kitchen table and chairs and a few lamps to brighten up the place... guess that'll have to wait for a while.

Anywho... we've managed to make due with what we have and are looking forward to saving money and spending a little on traveling once we're all settled in.

But back to this week... we had a friendly, little get-together combining burgers and dogs and pasta salad with some of the hub's coworkers.  It was sort of our celebration of labor day (although almost all of them had to work at one point during most of your three-day weekends) and the first of hopefully many gatherings at our wonderful little home.

Another fun little happening for this week was our random night-trip up to Mezzomonte :)
From our little town of Budoia, the entire northern horizon is filled with the Italian Alps.  About a mile up, on the side of a stretch of mountain, you can see this little strip of a town, totally secluded just there in the middle of thousands of trees.
View from our little city
We've always wondered what it's like up there so after eating at Texas Bob's, which is the closest thing we've had to American food since we've been here, we decided to have a little night adventure.  This is what it looked like:

This is a small portion of what the entire ascent looked like... scary, windy, curvy, and  STEEP as hell!

Halfway up the mountain... can almost see our house from here.

Just entering the outskirts of the town and not a soul in sight.  It would be a good setting for a scary movie for sure!

In the middle of the city, about half way up the giant mountain and that's about 1600 meters above sea level (1 mile higher than where our home resides) - top of the mountain is probably around 2500 meters above sea level but I don't even know if you can drive up there or not.

Gorgeous View

My Love and Me... thank you camera timer and night landscape setting :D
We had a blast just wandering our little slice of heaven for a few hours.  Here's a few more pics from the day...

First pic of the night when it was still light out

Quaint little Catholic church in Polcenigo

Sweet older couple out for an evening stroll, AKA me and my love in 50 years :)

But by the end of the night, we were superbly chilly and ready to snuggle down for a nice long sleep.  But of course, the piece de resistance of the entire week... the next morning around 10am, we received our FMO (furnishing management office) delivery!!!!!!  For those of you who don't know...

"Furnishings Management is here to assist you in the area of temporary loaner furnishings and
major appliances. Our goal is to make your PCS move as painless as possible.  Aviano is a full JFTR area for all military and DOD personnel who are authorized a housing allowance (BAH/OHA/LQA). These personnel are authorized the issuance of refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer, kitchen cabinet, wardrobes, and transformers for the duration of their tour."

We got a washer and brand-spanking new dryer, a brand new fridge (it's NICE!), a dishwasher, 2 smoke alarms, and an AFN (Armed Forces Network) decoder box which is basically a free cable network through the armed forces so we don't have to pay for cable.  The delivery was quick and painless, but not until after they were gone did we determine that it wasn't going to be as easy as we thought...

Fridge is hooked up and working (now we just need to fill it with fooooood)  √
Washer and dryer are hooked up and working (No more laundry on base)  √
Dishwasher fits perfectly in the little cabinet cutout and is hooked up to power but we were not given the water inlet tube or the correct PVC adapters from FMO so we'll have to purchase the random plumbing parts to rig up the system when we find the Italian home depot I've been hearing of  X
AFN decoder box is hooked up but we can't register it and get signal/channels today because by the time we figured out we had to do this through the housing office, they were closed - fail  X
Smoke detectors batteried up and dispersed throughout the house  √

All-in-all, 3 for 5 was a pretty solid day, especially since FMO was too lazy to hook anything up for us or even give us any information on how any of this stuff works... more work to be done tomorrow for sure since we'll have to buy the parts we need and make a trip to housing so we can have television finally.

We have some more errands for tomorrow and then the weekend is going to be pretty lonely for me, since my husband works Friday through Sunday!  But I'll stay busy putting away all the stuff from the homegoods shipment and probably doing a thorough cleaning since I haven't really done one since the first time, when I got here a month ago.

Hopefully next time you hear from me I'll have a much more interesting tale to tell.  Until then...