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Hey, there! Sorority Life to Army Wife is now Extra Black Olives! After 6 years, I decided to rebrand with a shiny new design (thanks, Fran!) and restart my blog after my semi-hiatus during grad school and the past year. 

Why the new name? A few reasons. One is that Sorority Life to Army Wife is really long. It is catchy, but it’s a lot to type and spell correctly on a regular basis. Another reason is that Sorority Life to Army Wife doesn’t feel like me anymore. I didn’t blog a lot during grad school, and I felt like my blog name was very me anymore. (I am still a sorority woman and an Army Wife). Extra Black Olives is very “me” because I always order extra black olives on anything and everything (pizza, subs, tacos, you get the idea). I also love purple, and I wanted my blog design to be more me than a coordinating palette for my name (I’m going to overuse parentheses in this post. I really did love the Americana theme and colors of my latest Sorority Life to Army Wife design, but it was time for something new.). 

A big shout-out to Fran with 259 West Designs for the facelift and domain migration. I could not have done this without her because I have truly no idea how to move a website from one domain to another. If you are in the market for a fresh blog look, I highly recommend her. I’m still in the process of updating links and some other stuff, so you may still see stuff from the old website for a few days.

Hope y’all enjoy the new blog!

The post Makeover Monday appeared first on Extra Black Olives.

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One of my favorite things about vacation has to be the food. I love exploring new tastes, cuisines, and dishes (even while being an incredibly particular eater). Here’s what we ate while in Oahu; I’ve included links where possible.

Given where Turtle Bay is, you have to drive at least 20 minutes in either direction to reach the closest off-property restaurant. We did order room service twice and also bought snacks at Target to have some food in the room. If you’re planning to spend more time on property or to save money, there are two grocery stores about 15-20 minutes away (both are Foodlands) where you can stock up on more reasonably priced food options. 

Friday

Breakfast – Lulu’s Waikiki
I had probably the most delicious stuffed French toast I’ve ever eaten (it had cream cheese, pineapples, and bananas) while Mac had a dawn patrol omelette with Portuguese sausage and lots of veggies. We topped it off with mimosas and an incredible beach view. We had a bit of a wait to place our orders, but the food and drinks came out pretty quickly once we ordered. Overall, a filling and tasty breakfast for a reasonable price. 

Snack – The Dole Plantation 
We stopped at the Dole Plantation after a morning exploring in Honolulu. We had to try an authentic Dole Whip, and it did not disappoint. 

Dinner – The Point (on property at Turtle Bay)
We weren’t super hungry for dinner and wandered down to the pool area for a few drinks. We enjoyed the very strong Mai Tais (which were $16 each) and shared an order of short rib nachos while enjoying the sunset. The food and service were solid, even if the bill was almost $60.

Saturday

Breakfast – Kula Grille Buffet
Turtle Bay has a program where you can opt to have housekeeping come every three days instead of every day. If you do this the day you check in, you will receive a voucher for a buy-one-get-one-free breakfast buffet. We used our voucher this morning, and I don’t think we would’ve eaten here without the voucher because the buffet is around $36 per person. 

Lunch / dinner – Teddy’s Better Burgers
We headed into Haleiwa for a late lunch. We (I) wanted to explore the town, and I found Teddy’s Better Burgers online ahead of time. Mac ate a fried buffalo chicken sandwich with onion rings, and I had a bacon cheeseburger with tots. The food was good, but it’s a made-to-order place so it takes a bit longer than your standard counter service burger joint.

Dessert – Matsumoto’s shave ice
This is the place to get shave ice, so I made Mac stand in line for 20 or so minutes to try it. We split the small rainbow (strawberry, pineapple, and lemon. It was a tasty treat to end the day.

Sunday

Breakfast – Restaurant 604
We didn’t get advance tickets for Pearl Harbor, so I managed to snag the first available next-day tickets for Sunday morning. We weren’t sure of parking and lines, so we headed to Honolulu on the early side to pick up our tickets early. Restaurant 604 is across the parking lot from the main Pearl Harbor entrance. We made a reservation for when they opened at 9:30, but it wasn’t necessary for that early on a Sunday morning. If you are visiting or local, this is a place that you should not miss. I had a mimosa trio: I thought it was going to be a triple-flavored mimosa, but it was three, separate, full-sized mimosas (orange, guava, and pineapple). For $8. Definitely the best deal of the trip. I had poi pancakes with guava butter which were tasty if a bit dense. Mac had a kalua pork benedict with a mason jar mimosa.

Dinner – room service pizza

Monday

Breakfast – Cinnamon’s at Ilikai
We again drove to Honolulu early; this time for a Ducky tour. The Ducky tour picks up at the Ilikai Hotel, so we grabbed breakfast in one of the hotel restaurants. I had a basil pesto frittata (which I ordered even though I don’t like pesto. It was good.), while Mac had the special of the day, a chicken caprese frittata. We tried four mimosa flavors: strawberry guava, mango, lilokai (passion fruit), and plain strawberry. 

Dinner – L&L Barbeque
We drove up the other side of the island because of traffic. The town approaching Turtle Bay from that direction is Laie. There’s a shopping center right on the highway which has a bunch of places to eat. Our original plan was to eat at a sandwich shop, but we got there during the 4 pm – 5 pm hour when they were closed. Next door was L&L Barbeque, a Hawaiian barbeque place that does not involve barbeque sauce. Mac had a chicken bowl with veggies and rice, and I had a barbeque chicken plate with mac salad and rice. The mac salad was pretty delicious (I didn’t really eat the rice). 

Dessert – Angel’s Ice Cream
I posted this on Instagram stories, but I will tell this story forever. We grabbed ice cream after dinner and sat at one of the outdoor tables. Hawaii has a feral chicken problem, and there was a crew of three chickens pecking about this seating area. Mac’s ice cream cone broke, so he tossed a piece to one of the chickens hanging around us. It grabbed the cone and ran away with its friends chasing it. After it ate the cone, it came back over for more. It seemed curious, so I started to reach out to it. I pulled my hand back because I didn’t want to get pecked. Mac puts his hand out, and this chicken legitimately bit hitmLike he had a mark on his finger. I’m still laughing about it.

Tuesday

Lunch / dinner – Spaghettini
We went kayaking Tuesday morning and didn’t eat a full breakfast. Mac loves Italian food, so I found an Italian place in Haleiwa. We headed over there and were surprised to find that it was a walk-up window. We ordered mozzarella sticks, ravioli with Bolognese sauce, and a slice of pepperoni pizza. It was a nice carby meal to fill us up after a morning out on the water.

Wednesday

Breakfast – Hukilau Café
Apparently, this restaurant is in 50 First Dates. I haven’t seen that movie in any sort of recent memory, but all the Yelp reviews assured me it was the same place. This is a little hole-in-the-wall breakfast and lunch place that seats about 25 people total in a neighborhood in Laie. It’s cash only and you get your own water, so you know the food will be great. I tried the macadamia nut pancakes (a short stack of two dinner-plate sized cakes), while Mac had the loco moco, a Hawaiian breakfast of eggs, rice, and hamburger patties with a gravy-ish topping. He also had potatoes on the side. This was was my second favorite breakfast. 

Dinner – Ali’i Luau
I’m going to share our full experience at the Polynesian Cultural Center in a post about what we did, and the luau was the food part of that evening. The Ali’i Luau is a buffet with green salad, mac and potato salad, chicken, kalua pork, beef, rice, and an assortment of desserts. The food was good if not overwhelming.

Thursday

Breakfast – Dat Cajun Guy
We left on Thursday, and we grabbed breakfast in Haleiwa on our way to the airport. Dat Cajun Guy is a food-truck-turned-restaurant owned by a New Orleans native (he’s a nice guy). As a person who has spent the majority of my life in the South, I have to say he makes a good biscuit. Mac and I both tried the breakfast biscuits with bacon and cheese (mine with scrambled eggs, his over medium). The beignet bites are an absolute must-try. Amazing, delicious, and as good as those at Café du Monde. 

What was your favorite place to eat in Oahu?

The post Our Oahu eats (and a story about Mac being bitten by a chicken) appeared first on Extra Black Olives.

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We’re back from Hawaii and back to reality. Our trip was great, and we really enjoyed the time off. We decided to stay at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu. We booked the trip through Costco (which I’ll review in another post). Our room was a deluxe ocean queen and overlooked the pool area and the surfing side of the bay. When I was researching resort options, I couldn’t help but think how familiar Turtle Bay looked until I realized this is where “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” was filmed (though the resort doesn’t look entirely like it does in the movie.

I totally failed at taking pictures when we arrived because we’d been travelling for 15 or so hours, but the room was spacious, clean, and very nice. Overall, Turtle Bay is a great resort. It has tons of beachfront, lots of amenities (a spa, fitness center, golfing, restaurants, etc.), and is a beautiful property. We took advantage of the snorkeling, ordered room service, ate at the pool bar, and loved falling asleep and waking up to the waves crashing on the beach (though we weren’t overly keen on the very loud bird that woke us up our last few days). They also had a Redbox type DVD rental service where you could rent movies; we used this almost every day and made a (tiny) dent in our Netflix queue. The resort is over an hour away from Honolulu in normal traffic, but we didn’t mind the drive and were able to see so much more of Oahu than if we had stayed in Waikiki. 

The main thing we didn’t like about Turtle Bay is the cost. The rooms average over $300 a night, and you still have to pay for some much. The resort fee is $46 a day, and you have to pay for self or valet parking (so between $61 and $66 if you have a car). The breakfast buffet (which is only a slight step above your nicer chain hotel breakfast buffets) is $36 a person and not worth it. The two times we ordered room service were $50+. If you stay there, plan to be charged for pretty much everything. The only free things I can think of were the DVD rentals, the snorkeling (limited to two hours a day), and the filtered water in the lobby. I personally would’ve liked to have either more amenities included in the cost or to have paid less each night. We left with a bill of around $800 at checkout in addition to the cost of the trip. 

Turtle Bay is definitely worth consideration if you are planning to visit Oahu. Its location and views on the North Shore are hard to beat, but be prepared to pay for a lot of the standard hotel services. It also isn’t overly close to food, so either eat before you get back if you leave the resort, plan to eat on property, or stop at a grocery store to stock up on supplies. 

Have you stayed at Turtle Bay? What were your thoughts?

The post How we forgot Sarah Marshall (at Turtle Bay Resort) appeared first on Extra Black Olives.

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Y’all should know that I am not a beauty blogger. I don’t wear makeup on a regular basis, and I’m not up to date on any sort of beauty trends. I have been trying new products to broaden my horizons and to figure out what works best with my skin as I age and deal with the joy that is adult acne.

Tula 

I tried the purifying cleanser, the resurfacing gel, and the hydrating day and night cream. I was not enthusiastic about the price (though you can get a 15% coupon if you sign up for their emails), and this one order of each product has lasted me around five months. Overall, I think my skins feels clean, but Tula has not really helped my adult acne situation.

IT Cosmetics

My mom bought me these IT Cosmetics products to try. I haven’t tried them yet because the Tula products have lasted so long. I’ve heard really good things about IT Cosmetics, so I’m definitely interested to try them.

Peter Thomas Roth and Mario Badescu

I came across these brands while looking for good cystic acne treatments. The invisible dots are little acne stickers that you can place over a blemish, and they work really well. For me, they don’t cure the blemishes or cysts overnight, but they do heal them faster than no treatment. The Mario Badescu drying lotion is another spot treatment. It has calamine (which is in poison ivy cream), so it has a bit of a pungent smell. It also works well, and I tend to alternate them or use the drying lotion during the day. I splurged on the Peter Thomas Roth mask trio when I was buying more invisible dots, and I kind of love these. They are a nice little pick-me-up in my skin care routine.
 

I found these Neutrogena skin care products at the Target in Colorado Springs when I was back there in February for a wedding. One is a BB-style cream with salicylic acid in the formula. It provides a good level of coverage, and I haven’t had any issues with breakouts while wearing it. I normally don’t wear any makeup on top of this. I was also happy to find this foundation with SPF 55. It’s a bit more creamy than my normal powder foundations, but it provides good coverage. 

What are some of your recent beauty finds?

The post My latest beauty finds appeared first on Extra Black Olives.

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I sit down to write this post each April 16th, and thoughts continue to elude me each year. How can you put into words such a day? How do you respect and remember what happened?  The emotions of these days don’t diminish with time; your memories of them don’t change or fade. Time moves on, but that day stays frozen. We have prevailed from that tragedy, and we continue to honor the lives of the 32 we lost on that April morning.

2017
2016
2015
2014
2013

The post We will prevail appeared first on Extra Black Olives.

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One more straggler post from our trip to St. Augustine. On my must-see list of places in St. Augustine was the Castillo de San Marcos. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the US, and this fort is a big reason why. It’s a pretty standard historical fort, and the history of the fort and settlement is chronicled in the various chambers as you make your way around the structure. I personally enjoyed learning about how the area went back and forth under the various colonial powers. 

Another fort in the local area is Fort Matanzas. This is about a 20 minute drive from Castillo de San Marcos. The fort is on an inlet that is currently inaccessible because of hurricane damage, but the visitor’s center and the mainland side of the property are still open.

The post Castillo de San Marcos appeared first on Extra Black Olives.

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I crossed a big item off my bucket list over the weekend and finally made it to a Braves Opening Day. We only lived in Augusta six months during our first stint here, so we left before baseball season started. Tickets went on sale a few months ago, so I bought seats even though we weren’t sure what Mac’s work schedule would be like. He was slated to be teaching at this time, but the course schedule was rearranged and left him free for the game.

We headed out on Thursday for the 4:10 pm first pitch. We had quite a time finding parking (always a problem in Atlanta) and made it in for the pre-game festivities. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I may have cried when Hank Aaron drove around the stadium. The game was a bit slow, but the Braves fought back and walked off in the bottom of the ninth. 

Have you ever been to an Opening Day?

The post Braves Opening Day 2018 appeared first on Extra Black Olives.

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My half-birthday was over the weekend, so I am officially on the last downhill slide to 30. Here’s one more update on my 30 Before 30 goals even though I really haven’t done a ton since my last update. Whoops.

1. Read the Bible completely. Every single verse, every single book.

2. Save $5,000 a year each year.
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

3. Complete my Masters degree.

4. Pay off at least 50% of my undergrad student loans.

5. Run one organized race (5K or longer) a year.
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

6. Visit all 50 states.
Nevada Alaska Hawaii

7. Get healthy.

8. Lose weight.
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

9. Eat better.

10. Be more active and work out regularly.

11. Stay healthy.

12. Volunteer at least 100 hours a year.

13. Keep growing my blog.

14. Buy a house, maybe.

15. Read at least 20 books a year.

16. Find a new church home whenever we move.
Virginia Colorado Georgia

17. Stay in contact with my college friends.

18. Run a half-marathon.

19. Attend Alpha Gamma Delta Convention.

20. Try out or create a new recipe a month.

21. Have date night at least once a month (when Mac is home, of course).

22. Donate my hair to Locks of Love at least twice.

23. Give blood at least four times a year.

24. Publish at least 300 blog posts a year.
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

25. Attend church regularly.

26. Save enough money to buy a new car.

27. Visit a new country.

28. Photograph a sunrise and a sunset.

29. Document and blog an entire week of my life.

30. Enjoy 30 years of a crazy, wonderful, loved life.

The post 30 by 30: last six months! appeared first on Extra Black Olives.

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I realized after sharing why we live on post at Fort Gordon that I never posted about our decision to live off-post at Fort Carson. 

Back in the fall of 2014, Mac received orders, and we knew we were officially moving to Fort Carson. He was still deployed, so I decided to make a house-hunting trip. Our grand plan was to find a place to live, have me move all of our household goods out there, then have Mac and I road trip with Purrburger to our new and somewhat settled home. We spent weeks scrolling through Zillow and found what we thought was the perfect house. It was a good size and a reasonable price (below our max budget), but it had been on the market for three years. I called Mike, the Realtor listed, and he told me that house was a foreclosure with three standing offers. We chatted for a bit, I told him what we were looking for, and we decided to work together. 

Mike sent me a list of houses from the real estate database that Mac and I combined with our Zillow finds. We decided to look at ten houses, and I sent the list back to Mike. A week or so later, I was on the ground in Colorado Springs and working with a second Realtor in the same office. Three of those houses were already off the market, so I realized that we would need to act quickly to get a house lined up for our move. We looked at the seven remaining houses in one day. After we finished there, I drove down to Fort Carson to speak with someone at the housing office. They quoted me the standard 3 – 6 months wait time for a house once we were on the list. I also checked out a few apartment options, though we really had no desire to live in an apartment. At that point, I decided we should buy a house because the housing allowance in the Colorado Springs was too good to give up to live on post or to spend on an apartment.

One house stuck out to me in our search. It was four bedrooms with four baths and about 2300 square feet including the finished basement. I clicked through the home tour photos and found a jaw-dropping view of Pikes Peak from the master bedroom. Secretly, I decided this was THE house. It was priced at the lower end of our budget because it was a short sale. When I arrived in Colorado, I learned that the price had dropped a few more thousand dollars. It seemed too good to be true. Mac and I Skyped that night, and I told him about the houses. We decided to put an offer in on the short sale. Luckily, Mike specializes in short sales and foreclosures, so he was instrumental in negotiating that process. We offered at the list price, and it was accepted that day. After a lot of paperwork and a lot of signing for myself and Mac, we closed on our first home 60 days after I made the offer. Our household goods were delivered two days later, and we moved in about a month later. 

The post Why we bought a house at Fort Carson appeared first on Extra Black Olives.

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