Monday, September 29, 2014


Officer AFOQT Test, Studying for the AFOQT, Taking the AFOQT to Commission as an Officer

At 0600 (zero six hundred, also 6:00 am, for the civilians here—which is most of you) on Wednesday, August 20th, I walked up the concrete steps of the Boise MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station), mentally preparing for a very big test that could hold a lot of impact for my future—I was about to take the AFOQT! This is the test that all future officer candidates must take to qualify for a coveted commissioned position (hence Air Force Officer Qualifying Test). Four hours later, I walked out of the glass doors with tense shoulders, a coffee in my hand, and the broadest smile on my face—I had done it!

Now before you begin to ask me the, "Why didn't you just commission when you joined because you already have a college degree?" bit, I'll just say straight-up that the Air Guard does it differently. Unless you're a doctor or a lawyer, you pretty much have to go in as enlisted and then go for a commission afterward—regardless of having a degree or not (I have a B.S. in Health Education & Promotion). So that's why I joined as enlisted. And to be honest, I didn't think I'd ever want to be an officer—I was (and still am) totally happy being a member of the enlisted force. But things change, you know? And if things do change and I decide the officer route is the way I'd like to go—at least the test is out of the way.

So, the AFOQT. It's a beast. Truly. It's like a souped-up version of the ASVAB (the test you take to join the military, which is very similar to an SAT/ACT type test), but harder, longer and requiring much, much quicker responses. I had to go to work after finishing the AFOQT and my brain was like, "Work... cannot... paper... typing... what?" for the rest of the day. Here's the test's 470-question (yes, 470!) breakdown:
  1. Verbal Analogies: 25 questions - 8 minutes
  2. Arithmetic Reasoning: 25 questions - 29 minutes
  3. Word Knowledge: 25 questions - 5 minutes
  4. Math Knowledge: 25 questions - 22 minutes
  5. Instrument Comprehension: 20 questions - 6 minutes
  6. Block Counting: 20 questions - 3 minutes
    • 10 minute break
  7. Table Reading: 40 questions - 7 minutes
  8. Aviation Information: 20 questions - 8 minutes
  9. Rotated Blocks: 15 questions - 13 minutes
  10. General Science: 20 questions - 10 minutes
  11. Hidden Figures: 15 questions - 8 minutes
  12. Self Description Inventory: 220 questions - 40 minutes
To say that this test has very short time limits is quite the understatement. I was able get through most of the sections without too much trouble, but the Block Counting & Table Reading? You've got to be kidding! Those ones go way too fast. It's safe to say I guessed on a quarter of those sections as I furiously scribbled in the last few bubbles before the time ran out. And then there's the personal description inventory—which is essentially a personality test—and that one was totally easy to finish on time; it only took me 20 minutes.

Overall, the test was alright. Some sections surprised me (like Word Knowledge—it was easier than I thought it would be) and others totally blew my mind (Block Counting—I'm so bad at it!). I am glad I studied a bit before taking it by taking a few practice tests and reading the Barron's Officer Candidate School Test book. I wouldn't recommend going in cold turkey. You only get two chances to take the AFOQT, and being prepared is the way to go.

As far as my scores go, I did just fine. I didn't measure up to my ASVAB score (which was a 96), but my scores are high enough to qualify me for any officer position I could apply for. I have been told that most officer candidates bring quantitative scores that range anywhere from the 30's to the 60's to the table—and mine were considerably higher than that, so I'm very pleased. I have no plans to take the test again to try to improve my score. I passed and ended up with an above-average and competitive score, so it's all good! In fact, I'm just glad it's over!

So the next steps? Hurry up and wait—since I'm not quite sure this is the avenue I'd like to pursue, I'm in no rush to make any huge decisions. In addition, in the Air Guard, you can't commission until a job opens up, and then you have to apply for it along with everyone else and their cousin who are going after it with hungry, hungry eyes. Most officer positions at our base are the traditional type, so I could still maintain my civilian job at the hospital and then just be an officer one weekend a month with the Air Guard. Sounds like a win/win to me! Not only would commissioning be a huge honor, but it would also be an amazing career path that could lead to many doors being opened in the future. Plus, with babies coming along someday, this could bring a wonderful opportunity to be able to, well, have more choices about which direction we'd like to go with jobs/income/etc. when that time finally comes.

So that's life at the moment. It's stinkin' awesome! No big plans, no big changes. We're just waiting, planning, dreaming—and loving every minute!

PS / / This post isn't intended to be a tell-all or study guide for the AFOQT. If you'd like an awesome breakdown of the AFOQT and tips on how to take it from a military blogger who I admire and look to for all my questions, check out Aim High Erin.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Quick, Easy & Healthy Recipes

Quick and Easy Recipes, Healthy Recipes for Bulk Meal Planning and Prep, Robert Rothschild Farm Healthy Recipes

As part of my dairy-free and healthy-eating initiative, I've started planning out my work-week meals, prepping them in bulk, and living out of tupperware containers. I pretty much eat the same things for the first four meals of the day, and then have something fun for dinner. Breakfast = oatmeal, snack = fruit or protein rice cake, lunch = protein + veggies, snack = veggies or nuts, dinner = TBD.

Here are three of my favorite work-week recipes that help keep my body fueled and my calories on track. To keep it low-maintenance, I typically take one of the basic recipes below and sub ingredients to create new combinations. It helps keep my menu fresh while keeping my time spent in the kitchen to a minimum.

Fruit and Cinnamon Quick Oats

Fruit & Cinnamon Quick Oats

  1. 1/4c Quaker Quick Oats
  2. 1/4c water or milk
  3. 1/8c raisins
  4. 1 tbsp Stone Fruit Preserves
  5. 1 tsp cinnamon
Directions: Add hot water to oats (or microwave oats + liquid). Add toppings. Enjoy.

Serves: 1

Approximate calories per serving: 175

Tip: Can be made in bulk and/or as overnight oats! I also sometimes add peanut butter, powdered protein, Cheerios (yes, Cheerios—Chocolate and Peanut Butter Whole Grain Cheerios are the best!) and/or nuts. I eat oatmeal for breakfast every single day (and depending on my workout, sometimes opt for a 1/2c instead of 1/4c).

Sriracha Teriyaki Slow Cooker Chicken and Vegetables

Sriracha Teriyaki Chicken & Veggies

  1. 6 frozen chicken breasts
  2. 1 cup Sriracha Teriyaki Sauce
  3. 1 sliced green pepper
  4. 1c green beans 
  5. Dash of garlic salt
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-hours. Portion out into containers and enjoy with a side of fresh veggies.

Serves: 8

Approximate calories per serving: 204

Tip: If your planning meals for you and a significant other, this is a great one to put over rice, noodles or on a bun for those who require a higher daily caloric intake. You can also sub the cup of sauce for a salsa or marinade to switch up the flavors and theme of the meal.

Chia Seed Pudding with Coconut Milk and Fruit Preserve Topping

Chia Seed Pudding

  1. 1/3c chia seeds
  2. 1 1/3c almond milk (or your preference)
  3. 1 tbsp sweetener
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1/8c coconut milk (optional)
  6. 1 tbsp Mixed Berry Preserves (optional)
  7. Dash of cinnamon (optional)
Directions: Mix ingredients together with whisk. Refrigerate. Mix again in 10 minutes (helps remove tapioca-like clumps). Portion into containers and refrigerate overnight. When ready to eat, top with coconut milk, preserves and cinnamon.

Serves: 3

Approximate calories per serving: 169

The credit from this recipe goes to my cousin Kristen!
A big thanks goes out to Robert Rothschild Farm, who provided all of the delicious sauces and fruit preserves to make these recipes possible! I've experimented with many of their organic sauces and found that I can modify my recipes just slightly to accommodate any of their sauces into a delicious recipe. And it doesn't stop there—their sauces double as dips (Pineapple Habanero pictured with my steak above) and salad dressings (Blueberry Balsamic over my spinach & peach salad) too!

Healthy eating doesn't have to be hard or take hours in the kitchen. If you take the few minutes to prep your meals over the weekend and portion them out for the week, you're putting yourself on that path to a healthy body & healthy lifestyle.

PS / / I was interviewed over at the Dansko blog, Word of Foot, about how to kickstart your daily routine & incorporate healthy living all day long. Read the feature here!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Seattle Road Trip

Seattle Road Trip Video Diary, Whidbey Island Trip

As I shared last week, we took a road trip to Washington to visit family over Labor Day weekend. We had so much fun. We rode the Mukilteo Ferry, took long beach walks and found several agates to add to our collections, ate amazingly delicious food (Village Pizzeria, Ivars and/or Molly Moon's anyone?), toured downtown Seattle, and spent quality time with my family.

I captured the best moments of this trip through a video diary—my favorite way to share my story. I feel like seeing life through my eyes says so much more than a single photo and words ever can express. You get raw emotions (3:51—ha!), hilarious dancing (if you're watching one of my videos, anyway), outtakes & bloopers (with my family, there are always a lot!), and a whole different perspective that delves into each scene and moment in time. You also get to see just how much we love each other. Watch the video & dance along to two of my favorite songs below.

See more photos from our trip here. I'd love to know, what's your favorite shot from the video?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Whidbey Island 2014

Whidbey Island beach

My favorite place in the entire world is Whidbey Island in Washington. I'm not sure if it's because that's where my grandparents live, or if it's because we spent every summer there as kids, or if it's because family agate hunting trips make for the most enjoyable memories. I think it's a little bit of all of it.

Daniel and I visited Washington over Labor Day weekend and stayed a couple days on Whidbey and a couple days in Seattle. Typically on our vacations, I take a ton of photos—and this time I only took about 15! I think last year I ended up with at least ten times that many. This trip, I focused on making a video diary of our time spent there, so stay tuned for that next week. You can see photos from last year's Washington trip here: Whidbey Island, Maxwelton Beach, the 4th of July, Pike Place Market, and Seattle.

Here are some of the few photos from our trip, all of which were from our days spent on Whidbey. Sadly, I don't have any Seattle photos this year. Bummer!

Ivars ice cream cone in Mukilteo Washington
After all of my raving about Ivars' clam chowder and soft serve swirl cones, Daniel knew he had to try both out while we waited to board the ferry over to Whidbey. Ivars, you have a new fan!
Maxwelton Ferry, Kittitas Ferry ride
Aboard the Mulkilteo Ferry, overlooking the Puget Sound.Whidbey Island 2014 Trip
Nanny and Papa—my grandparents (on my mom's side)—and lights of my life!
Maxwelton Beach on Whidbey Island
Exploring Maxwelton Beach.
Beach House on Maxwelton Beach on Whidbey Island
The beach house my grandparents used to live in. It's so classic and brings back the best memories.
Finding crabs on Maxwelton Beach on Whidbey Island
Daniel was all about the tide flats and catching crabs.
Maxwelton Beach on Whidbey Island
Agate Hunting on Maxwelton Beach on Whidbey Island
A small, glowing agate. We found three one day and ten the next—we will be showing them off in the video to come.
Love spelled in driftwood, Whidbey Island Love
We stumbled upon this beautiful piece of beach art.
Whidbey Island Trip 2014
Honestly, they're so cool. I love my grandparents so much!
Maxwelton Ferry, Kittitas Ferry Ride
On the Mukilteo Ferry heading to Seattle.

This trip was so much fun. I got to spend some quality time with my sister, go for two long (like 4 hours!) and perfect-weather beach walks, work out at the country club's gym each day, got to go for an early-morning run with my mom, and got to eat the most heavenly slice of pizza ever created at Village Pizzeria in Langley. No trip to Whidbey is complete without stopping at the Village Pizzeria for a slice of pesto and finishing it off with a little shopping at the Star Store!

You can also watch a video diary of our entire trip—complete with family, beach walks, agates, games, sights of Washington, delicious food, laughter and so much love. These trips always make me wonder—why do we only go once a year? My new mission is to change that!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Healthy Changes, Healthy Life

Annelise Rowe, healthy living blogger, dairy free lifestyle

Since returning from BMT, I've been on a quest to transform my lifestyle and eating habits. A rather healthy person all-around, I was already working out 7-days a week and eating—for the most part—pretty well. But after returning from BMT, I was hitting up ice cream shops, pizza joints and fast food far more often than I would have liked. And my body paid for it. I gained back roughly 10 pounds very quickly and while I still maintained my level of fitness, I could see and feel the difference my food choices were making.

In addition, after returning home I began breaking out all over my chest, neck and face. I couldn't figure it out—I've never had any type of acne and never had any unusual skin problems... but this was bad. I had big, painful blemishes all over my chest and neck and small red pimples all over my face. I didn't know what was wrong! I started thinking about why it would have started after BMT. My stress was gone (for the most part) and I was back into the swing of my normal routine. And then it hit me—the ice cream, cereal, yogurt, etc. DAIRY! I ate dairy maybe 2-3 times over the 8-weeks I was down at BMT and my skin didn't seem to have any problems. When I came home and began indulging in daily ice cream trips, yogurts at snack times, cereal for breakfast, and pizza for dinner—that's what did it. I experimented with several different things (laying off perfume, changing my body wash/detergent/shampoo) and while none of it worked, after giving up dairy—just to see if it was the culprit—after one week my skin was clear. ONE WEEK! I couldn't believe that it had been dairy the whole time.

I've been dairy-free now since the middle of August. It's not quite as hard as I thought it would be, though I do miss a good Blizzard every now and then. But with dairy—since my only aversions to it seem to be acne and upset stomach aches, if I truly want it—I'm going to have it (like a slice of pizza every now and then!). Although, I'm becoming a big fan of other healthy-minded desserts like chia seed pudding, banana "ice cream," and small servings of sorbet. And cereal is still on my menu—I just enjoy it with unsweetened almond milk instead—and let me tell you... it's really good!

I've also started making other small changes in my diet. I no longer eat with the intention to fill my stomach to the brim (which was my mea culpa before). I now eat sensible portions and try to cook and prepare my weekly workday meals ahead of time. I've been living out of tupperware lately, selecting the day's lunch (like this) from the assortment that is piled high in the fridge. I can cook an entire week's worth of meals in the slow cooker, divide it up into lunches for Daniel and myself and then customize each one from there—like adding a tortilla, sour cream and cheese to his and some fresh veggies to mine.

Of all the changes I've made lately—my favorite is the new outlook I have on food. I'm seeing it as fuel, not a fill-me-up. I'm enjoying it. I'm creating new recipes with it that not only will nourish my body, but ones that taste good, too. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be hard. It is all about how you look at it. I don't have to live a healthy lifestyle... I get to—and have fun with it!

Annelise Rowe, healthy living blogger, dairy free lifestyle

While I'm trying to incorporate more "healthy living" style posts into this blog, you can always click-over and find all of my day-to-day recipes, healthy dessert ideas, and fitness routines on my Instagram. I post as I go there and find that it's a really great resource for sharing my simple-to-prepare, healthy meals & treats. Here's to being healthy & happy!