Accountability, Speed: Glad I Joined Now!

This past weekend was my second ever experience with the new running group I’m in.  And let me just be very clear: Week two was markedly, crazily, way better than week 1!

I still got lost, but at least this time I wasn’t lost alone, haha.  I actually made the acquaintance of some really nice ladies and jogged near and at times, with, them!  The added advantages are not only social and navigational.  Turns out that when running with people, my pace time improves like woah.  Yeah, I may have shed about 20 minutes off my 8 mile time.  Ha!  How’s that for crazy?  Turns out when left to my own devices I dawdle, who’d have thought!

Anyways, aside from running faster, I also felt much stronger.  I completed the run feeling strong and the soreness has been minimal now in my post-run days.  So, all in all, really nice and I’m just so pleased with my current progress and commitment.  It feels good to be sticking with it.

In other news, we stumbled across this INCREDIBLE hippie neigborhood.  I met my peoples!  I was just running along, and I noticed the signs started to feature buzzwords that caught my eye:

“co-op”

run… run… run… 

“local produce”

running still… 

“yoga”

“organic”

“music shop”

“handmade”

“repurposed”

FREAK OUT!!! 

It was just so much, I could have exploded.  MY PEOPLE!  So after the run, Duggs and I headed over there for brunch and to scope out the area.  After a tasty meal and some nice conversation, we made our way over to the Farmer’s Market.  It was AWESOME.  They take EBT/Food Stamps at the Farmer’s Market!  It was all too rad, I cannot wait till next Saturday now.

I did have my phone with me, but I was in a very in-the-moment kinda mood and I just hardly so much as snapped a pic.  I do promise that next weekend we’ll bring the good camera and actually take some nice photos of the area.  Man oh man, downtown Buffalo totally stole my heart this weekend!

The rest of our time was spent with relaxing, stretching, some cleaning and organizing, light chores – nothing major really, but the lazy down time was much needed.  It rained a lot of Sunday morning – but by mid-afternoon it was blazing hot and sunny again.  I even got a couple hours on the lounge chair out back with a good book.  I’m telling you, yesterday was luxuriously lazy!   I was hoping for more rain though, our garden ain’t looking so good these days… Ugh.  Oh well, time will tell what’s to be!

I hope y’all had a great weekend too.

As always, thanks for reading!! xoxo, hhr

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Lots of Dogs and Even More Love in the Relaxing, Peaceful Lake House at Camp Curtis – Pottersville, NY

This stop on our New York state road trip has been a real treat!

leaving the city and heading upstate!

holding sweet jay in the car ride on sunday

My little sister and her boyfriend Jared just relocated from Florida on up to NY as well.  Crazy, right?  That we both, my sister and I, moved from the warm and sunny states to woods of New York.  She left Florida the same day I left Hawaii in fact!  We’re such sisters, always on the same wavelength.

we’re kinda birds of a feather as it is, ya know!

Luckily for us, the timing just fell in to place for a nice two-night visit along our eat to west route.  So after seeing the McKay and Duggan side of the fam and our eastern-NY pals, we headed toward Albany.

Pottersville, where Valentine Pond is, is about 45 minutes (maybe even an hour) outside/north of Albany.  I haven’t seen my sister in over year, not since I was in Florida last March.  So this reunion was long overdue!

a crappy pic, but you get the idea – me and my seester!!

And what a place for a reunion to occur.

the background of camp curtis, the pretty valentine pond

Camp Curtis is the rustic and luxurious country home of the Curtis family; Jared, Anna’s boyfriend is a Curtis.  His Dad and Uncle both have houses on the property and the backdrop is the clean, serene upstate beauty all around us.  Valentine Pond (which is more like a small lake), the woods, and the clean air make this family camp a wonderful retreat.

The Curtis clan is great!  Warm, wacky, inviting and very hospitable, they welcomed us right in and we’ve spent a few days here eating with them, sharing music (guitars, basses, and banjos galore!)… we’ve been trading stories and hanging out.

all around the dinner table in uncle paul and aunt margaret’s house next door

uncle paul marches to the beat of his own drum! with his wife, aunt margaret on the left. great people, it was lovely to have met them!

camp feat our first night here, grilled pork chops, venison, fresh trout pasta, spinach, brussel sprouts, bread and more… this was just all i could fit on my plate!

Not to mention that amongst all of us “kids” there are enough Apple products to open our own Genius Bar.

another view of the pond

The only thing possibly outnumbering our fancy electronics is the pets!  The Curtis Family are pet-lovers for sure!  Our little JJ has had the best time ever.  He hasn’t even been scared!  He just got right in with the other pooches and he’s been playing, cuddling, running around.  He’s even been walking on the hardwood floors.  (Trust me, I’m just as shocked as you are).

anna holding stewart

josie, cousin evan’s sweet pup

aunt margaret’s pooch, parker! love the sweetie pie – looks like a bear, loves like a lamb

zoey the pretty kitty cat, my sister’s cat

bell is the shy and sweet pretty princess

anna’s dog, puppy, is a sweet old man.

stewart again, he’s just so wacky and cute!

of course, our jayjers!

how to make friends around here!

It’s just one more reason why Duggs and I need to expand our fur family when the time is right.  Jayjers just does better with more doggies around!  So Anna and Jared have their blended fur fam, and then the Uncle and Cousins up here for the weekend had a couple pooches with them too.  It was way too fun being on the pond, feeling the cool clean air, and just seeing oodles of wagging tails and running paws.

Spending a few days here has really allowed me to re-charge my batteries.  I’m still sick, don’t worry.  But mentally – I feel a peace that’s been long overdue.  I think part is just being around my sister.  Going so long being so far away from her just tugs at my heart.  Matthew’s family is amazing and wonderful, and being with them was long overdue too – they make me feel like one of the fam for sure.  But nothing beats being with your own sis, right?

the pond at dusk, so peaceful. i love it here!

I’m so happy to know mine will only be a six hour drive away from here on out!  Woohoo!

The pics in this post are all my iPhone snap shots.  At some point I’ll have to make a real nice photo post of pics from our good camera from the trip.  We’ve had a lot of fun taking some nice shots, and I can’t wait to get them uploaded and have a look.  We have some awesome shots of the boys and Anna all jamming out together, all of the animals going nuts, it’s just been an awesome time – I love when a bunch of redneck music-geeks get together for some hang out time.  For now the quickies will do and they at least give you an idea of what camp life has been like.

 

We’re moving on from here to Buffalo (Fredonia, NY) – FINALLY!  YAY!

We’ll get to our last stop on the road trip and get to see my cousins, aunts, uncles and so on.  We’ll be living with my cousin Nick and his son Austin – so finally getting there and starting to get acquainted with our new home will be awesome.   The rambling phase will come to an end and we can finally feel able to settle down.  Homeless, no more!

i like balls

I like balls, Military Balls that is!

If you’re still thinking dirty (I mean, my husband is a Marine so I see where you could be going with this):  I’m talking about Military Birthday Balls! 

My hubs and I have had a busy Ball Season, attending a Navy Day Ball last month and his unit’s Marine Corps Birthday Ball this month.  We had a good time at both events, but for very different reasons.

The Navy Day Ball was at Turtle Bay, a beautiful and epic venue with amazing views and such good food.  We were also there with our great friends, the Tanners, and we stayed the night in the resort.  We just let loose and had so much fun.

The USMC Ball was nice, too.  It was our last one, ever, so it was a landmark event.  The venue wasn’t nearly as nice as the Navy Ball… the food not nearly as good, and there wasn’t any birthday cake at all. Ugh.  We didn’t stay all night and dance or party down, we just basically came for the ceremony and the dinner.  But, that said, we still had a nice evening and got all dressed up and enjoyed being out and together.

So here’s a random mishmash of ball pics, enjoy!

 

banana nut steel cut oatmeal = vegan love in a crockpot

I’ve recently jumped on the whole steel cut oats bandwagon.  Eating a breakfast of steel cut oats I feel so fitness-y and powerful, like a lean mean healthy machine.  For my first attempt at turning oats into edible gruel, I googled around to see what the good folks of the world wide web were doing to prepare said oats.  Turns out tossing them in the slow cooker overnight is a totally legit method.  I studied some oat-to-liquid ratios and then began inventing my own recipes.

My first try involved some dairy.  And by some I mean I had half-and-half going on in there. Whew. The oatmeal was delicious, but I was worried that simmering those hardcore oats in milk fat for ten hours was kinda defeating the purpose.   (I’ll put the recipe for my first attempt at the end of this post.)

Banana Nut (steel cut oat)-meal  

This recipe is vegan, vegetarian, super healthy and yummy.   [edit: I added nutrition info towards the bottom of the post, 269 cals per serving – not bad!]

don't you feel healthy just looking at this stuff?

Ingredients:

  • steel cut oats
  • one or two bananas, ripe/ near ’bout mushy
  • brown sugar
  • water
  • almond “milk”  (Almond Breeze, vanilla flavor)
  • chopped walnuts
  • cinnamon
  • a slow cooker
Directions:  Dump ingredients into a slow cooker and let ‘er ride on low for about eight to ten hours, basically just overnight.  Eat as-is, or maybe garnish with a little maple syrup, maybe some additional nuts or chopped banana?
How I did:
I’m doing the steel cut oats with about a 4:1 ratio of liquid:oats, so to get about six decent servings I did a cup and half of oats and about six cups of liquid.  I broke it up as 4 cups water and 2 cups of the Almond Breeze.   I dumped all that oats and liquid into my slow cooker.

vanilla flavor is pretty dope

I had a couple bananas sitting around that were just too soft to eat.  Totally ready for banana bread.

this photo is just all class: old fruit + booze + booze. nice!

I took one of these soft banans and just mashed it up.

just like baby food

Add that mashy ‘nanner into the glop in the crock pot.   Next: I found a little packet of chopped walnuts.  I got the idea for this recipe because I needed to use up those bananas before they were useless.  As I was brainstorming for other flavors/items to compliment the banana, walnuts seemed the natural choice:  it’s just like banana bread, yeah?  It turns out, we actually had walnuts in the house, and they were ready to go.  It was fate!  I took my nice pre-chopped packet, and I added the whole thing in with my other porridge-wannabe ingredients.

duggs bought these for a diff recipe, but ended up not using them. so i totally scored - these were the perfect size for this oatmeal.

I added a nice spoonful of brown sugar.  Maybe it was a tablespoon?  I’m not sure.  Sorry, I never really measure things – I’m one of those cooks who just kinda knows how much of what goes where by eye-balling it.  So umm… put a little brown sugar in there.  However much you feel comfy with.  Then do the samesies with some cinnamon.  Just sprinkle generously some ground cinnamon on top and mix it in.

winnie the pooh: honey :: happyhippierose : brown sugar sack

Wisk it up so everything gets mixed together.

all mixed up and ready to slooooow cook

Put the lid on.  Sleep all night long and have sweet banana nut dreams.  (Make sure you keep the slowcooker on low for eight to ten hours).    When I woke up, I gave it a little stir and voila, it was ready to serve!  I divvied it up into six servings.

breakfast to go!

oh yes yes yes

I served my husband a bowl with a little more cinnamon and a small dollop of maple syrup mixed in.  For myself, I ate it straight up!  Both ways were delicious.  Walnuts are pretty soft anyways, but after cooking all that time they do soften down a bit more.  They still lend to the texture of the oatmeal, but there’s no big crunch in there.  The bananas totally mix in.    There is a little skin that occurs, btw.  I just work around it.  I think next time I’ll double up on the banana for the amount of oatmeal I made.  I totally recommend using two.    The Almond Dream was an excellent choice!! I’m using that instead of dairy in my oats, from now on.

For clean up:  this go round, I scooped out as much oatmeal as I could right away, put it in tupperware.  That way, I soaked the slow cooker pot asap so I could get off the sticky part that gooes to the walls of the pot.  (Last time I let it sit too long before soaking, and it was hard to remove).

ENJOY! 

If you make this recipe: please give me feedback!  How did your’s come out?  Was it gooooood?  What did you do differently?

 

NUTRITION INFO

Based on nutrition labels from the specific ingredients I used: oats, brown sugar, almond breeze (vanilla flavor), walnuts, banana, and water.    The entire pot made six servings for me; I just did the simple calculations to come up with this nutritional data.

per serving              whole crock pot

Calories                                   269                              1615

Fat                                            10 grams                   60 grams

Sugar                                       10 grams                   60 grams

Protein                                    7.1 grams                  43 grams

 

……………………………..

My First Attempt:  Berries ‘n’ Cream Steel Cut Oats

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • maple syrup
  • frozen berries   ~1 cup
  • a packet (or two) of splenda
I chopped up the frozen berries (I bought a mixed bag and those blackberries are too big not to chop up! Same with some strawberry pieces).  So I chopped up the fruit and essentially just mixed/whisked everything together and let it cook on low overnight.   It made five-ish servings, and was really tasty!  The dairy taste was just a bit heavy for me.

my first steel cut batch - berries n cream

chicken chili cilantro lime crockpot yumminess

You have to make my newest crockpot invention – its healthy, tasty and versatile!  Oh, and super easy too.

Word on the street is that Chili’s has some Green Chili Lime Soup that’s all the rage.   Amongst my friends this recipe for a DIY healthy knock-off of the Chili’s soup has been passed around a lot lately, and its been getting rave reviews.   So, I decided I wanted to harness the flavors of this chili lime craze, but in a thicker way.  A non-soup way, if you will.

So I concocted a dish that’s the consistency of chili.  It works well alone, served over rice, eaten as a dip with chips.  You decide!

I didn’t calculate the nutritional info for this.  But if you think about the ingredients used – its low cal, low fat, and high in protein. Depending on how you jazz it up, the carbs could go either way.

Ingredients:

  • chicken boobies (i used 2)
  • chicken broth
  • EVOO
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • splash of orange juice
  • fresh limes – i think i went through 3 or 4
  • fresh cilantro
  • 2 cans of chopped green chilis
  • 5 cans of beans – i did 2 cans kidney, 2 cans lima and 1 can butter beans.
  • 1 bell pepper (you could do 2, honestly)
  • garlic – minced and/or powder
  • flour, optional
  • heat – if you like hot sauce, you may want to incorporate that.  i did not use any during the cooking

let's do this

Step One: Cook the Chicken

I put the chicken in the crock pot, set it to low.  I added just enough broth to cover the breasts.  I squeezed the juice of half a lime in there, and I added one can of green chilis.  I also splashed some Worcestershire sauce, OJ, and EVOO in there.  I gave it a little salt and pepper sprinkle and sprinkled some garlic in there as well.

chicken breasts ready to a-simmer

Once the chicken was fully cooked, I removed it and shredded it.   I do cut off any remaining fat and get rid of that during the shredding process, fyi.

cooked chickens

shredded! so beautiful, and it makes so much.

Step Two: Put it All Together

So I threw the shredded chicken right back into the crock pot; I kept all the flavorful awesome juices in there.  I added another splash of the broth.  I added the juice of the half lime I already had out, and added another.  I dumped all five cans of beans in there too (drained! I drained all of the beans before I added them).

i love beans. i know canned beans aren't preferred... but they are so easy to use.

I chopped up a yellow bell pepper and added this into the mix now too.

i'm not really a great chopper, so i'm kinda impressed with my knife skills on this pepper

Then I ripped up some cilantro and put that in there as well.

I let this mixture just meld and simmer for a little bit.  I wanted the pepper to get kinda soft, and I just wanted the liquid to cook off and things thicken up.  Maybe it was an hour?  Not too sure.

When I was ready to try it. it was kind of thin, so I actually added a heaping tablespoon of flour.   Once pulled off the heat, it thickened significantly.

I just want to reiterate that I didn’t add so much broth that it was soupy, not at all.  I used just enough broth to keep things from turning to paste.

ta-daa

finished product, with fresh cilantro on top

Step Three: Serving

Adding fresh lime juice and more fresh cilantro right before serving is clutch.  Everyt ime I ate or served this, I would put in fistfuls of cilantro.  (I can’t get enough of it though, its one of my favorite flavors for sure).

1. I ate this meal just on its own, scooped right out of the crock pot.  It was like a stew, or a chili.  I liked it plain.  I added a little hot sauce at one point, and it was awesome.

2.  When I went to re-heat some, I added cheddar cheese and then served it over Spanish rice.  THIS WAS THE BOMB.  This also slaughters the healthy factor, but hey – tasty is tasty.

3.  I served it like a dip – with tortilla chips, crackers, and even some crisp bread.

So, its pretty versatile and can be used in a number of ways.   If I had any more leftover, I’ try adding cheese and some sour cream to it, and using it like a dip.   That sounds delicious!

these tasted good with it!

so did these, yummy!!!!

ENJOY!!! And if you make any modifications, let me know.  I know I’ll be doing this, or something similar, again and again!

daytona beach (and i don’t mean spring break)

After Sasha’s wedding I flew back to Florida the evening of March 6th and visited with my Mom’s side of the fam (including my little sister) until March 10th.   My Mom, my Sister Anna, my Aunt Sheila and Uncle Tim, their kids (my cousins) Justin and Nicole, and my Unlce’s dad, “Grandpa Lyle” (aka: Pop Pop) – all live in Volusia County, near trashy classy Daytona Beach, Florida.   I got there just in time for Bike Week, and the beginnings of Spring Break. Fab.

Sunday Night

My sister picked me up for the Orlando airport Sunday night and she brought her doggie with her!  Puppy, my sister’s dog, is so sweet.  I was starting to really miss my pooch – so I was glad to have a little furry friend to be in the car with me.

puppy singing, "come on and jump in my car, i wanna take you home."

We had a nice amount of time in the car to chit chat and catch up.  I hadn’t seen her since she came to Hawaii to visit me last September.  My sis and I are really close, so being with her is just so nice.  We also stopped at POLLO TROPICAL.  I got a pork tropichop and covered it in guava BBQ sauce and it was amazing.  It was the first of much food-related happiness I’d enjoy during my Daytona time.

We got home and decided we wanted to watch a movie.   My sister thought it would be a great idea to try and disconnect then reconnect any and every DVD-playing device in the house to every TV and hope that one combination would eventually work.  To help motivate my sister to work more efficiently, I thought it would be nice to play “Stereo Love.”  On repeat.  And I couldn’t stop dancing.  (Have you heard that song?  Have I already mentioned in an earlier entry how contagious and great that song is?  The accordion, and the trance and the awesomeness. Ahhh.)

Anyways, so I just danced a bunch while she made a mess of wires and DVD players and what-not and after an hour or so we realized we were SOL.  Then… her roomie Isaac came home from work and saved the day.  Yay!   No doubt used to coming home and finding such situations, Isaac quietly and quickly fixed the technology in my sister’s room and movie time was on.

We watching “Bringing Down The House.”  And even though its pretty funny, I found it to be too much.  Like too insulting with the yuck yuck jokes about different stereotypes.   It was just too over the top for me.  I fell asleep during it anyways.

Monday

So we slept in a bit, and then we went to a little place for brekky, Lake View Diner and that place is heaven on earth!  Best.  Food.  Ever.  They have scrapple on the menu!  SCRAPPLE!   Who does that in Florida?!?!?

i ate all that. biscuits and gravy, eggs and fried potatoes, and SCRAPPLE. the best breakfast meat of all time.

Chilling out around my sister’s casa is nice.  Her roomies are friendly and crack me up.  Cesar made me some coffee, which was MUCH appreciated.  And Isaac pretty much does everything around that place.  He’s so great.

zoey the cat totally communicates with the ducks and squirrels out back.

the backyard friends. (is that like a "backyardigan?" what is a "backyardigan?")

so cute she likes her outside pals.

So after that breakfast of epic proportions, I totally had to do some lounging and relaxing.  Whew.

Mid-afternoon we went over to Aunt Sheila and Uncle’s Tim’s house.  They live like 15-ish minutes away from sister, kinda in New Smyrna.   Their kids, my two cousins Justin and Nicole, are super close with my sister and me.  Living so far away from them in Hawaii has been a total bummer and I was super stoked to see them!!

Justin, who is 14 now, is almost as tall as my sister. Which isn't saying much.

my cousin nicky cole and me. she made me the tie dye shirt i'm wearing, LOVE!

i look way skinnier in that blurry pic i just posted. time to lay off the scrapple.

We ate a bunch of Italian sausage, and some hot dogs.  And we talked a lot.  I think that’s what all Italian fams do, eat and chat.  There was some booze imbibed by some; I did not, however, partake.  I’m off the sauce again, thankfully.    It was nice to just hang out and catch up and talk story and laugh.

Notice I just said talk story.  I’m so Hawaiian now!!!!!

here are nicole's silly bands. she wanted to show me them. they're pretty sweet! i wish i had that many. instead i have like 7. dommie (one of my bffs) bought me a military-themed pack and then i have a couple others i've picked up here and there.

everybody get up, its time to slam now. we got the real jam goin' down.

justin's room has been re-done, and hanging up is all of his sweet manchester united gear. my friend dickie who lives in london sent my cousin a care pack of merch a while ago, and now its all on display in the new room. yay!

Anyways, it was a night night spent with the fam and I loved just being able to hang out and catch up and enjoy their company.

Tuesday: The Secret, Publix, and a family BBQ (these are a few of my favorite things)

I spent Monday night at my sister’s house again.  Wednesday morning we woke up, made some coffee (have you deduced that I’m addicted to coffee yet?) and decided to watch the movie version of “The Secret.”  If you’ve never read it, heard the audio tape, or seen the movie – you just have to (“the Secret,” by Rhonda Byrne – it was made really famous by Oprah).  Its one of my top five life-changers, hands down.  Its probably number two, second only to The Bible.  Seriously, look into this:  THE SECRET.

The power of positive thinking is incredible, and it’s a great tool that spells out the easy steps one can take to turning any frown upside down. I feel like whenever you’re having a difficult time in life, or getting stuck in a negative rut, there’s no shame in reaching into your toolbox and using whatever you can to ratchet up your quality of life, tweak things a little.  My sister was unfamiliar with “The Secret,” and I just really wanted her to see it.  So we watched a few minutes of the movie version.  At least she knows about it and has access to it now, so she could always check it out when she has more time or feels personally motivated to learn the skills of positive thinking.

After my soapbox on thinking happy thoughts was done, we decided to grab some grub.  Time to go to Mecca: PUBLIX!!

i'm all dolled up for publix. my cousin justin made this tie dye shirt for me, awesome!

the most beautiful grocery store in the world

I love Publix.  Their motto is, “where shopping is a pleasure,” and it surely is.  The Publix bakery is divine, the deli has the world’s tastiest, bestest subs.   All of their stores are so clean and nice and bright and just… I just miss Publix so much.

We got subs for lunch and I was happy as a clam!

sammich time!

So we got the subs, went back to my sister’s crib and ate them there.

my sister's neighbors

Anna’s boyfriend Steven got off work early and met up with us.  At some point around like three or four o’clock, the three of us headed over to my Aunt’s house for a family BBQ.    My Mom was coming to my Aunt’s house too, and it was my first time getting to see my Mama since the 4th of July!  I was really looking forward to seeing her, for sure.

My Aunt marinated chicken in Chiavetta’s overnight, and then my Uncle grilled it.  (Don’t know what Chiavetta’s is? Its the world’s best marinade.  Seriously, the best.  My Mom’s whole fam is from Western New York, and Chiavetta’s is totally a Buffalo thing.  Get you some, you will not be sad: Chiavetta’s.  If you’ve ever had Spiedie’s State Fair sauce (which is more from Syracuse), its similar.  But Chiavetta’s > Spiedie’s, just sayin.

this actually isn't from the bbq we had - but this is a photo my aunt took in feb of a bbq they had, and the chicken was all done in chiavetta's. seriously, i dream of that chicken. its just the best. ever.

photo courtesy of buffalochow.com - chiavetta's chicken. how amazing crazy delicious does that look? oh yeah.

 

We also had leftover sausage from the night before, beans and slaw (that I picked up at the Dustin’s BBQ in Port Orange), fresh cut strawberries, and my mom made pasta salad.  Well, we asked mom to make pasta salad and she showed up with macaroni that had pepperoni, salami, ham, artichokes and olives in it, LOL.   Who knew we were THAT Italian?   It’s one stereotype after the other sometimes.  I love it.

nicole and i cutting up the strawberries. 3 x 16oz. packs for $5.00 at publix. that's crazy amazing, 30% the price of strawberries in hawaii right now.

cold winter = amazing strawberries. this year ain't no exception.

Even though we bought perfect and amazing sugar cookies from the Publix Bakery (yes, with sprinkles!), my sister decided to bake cookies while we were at my Aunt’s house.  She made some kind of pumpkin cookies with white chocolate chips in there.  I don’t know.  I don’t really like chocolate that much, so I wasn’t in the mood for them.  But the batter was tasty and the kids had fun helping.  And everyone else seemed to really love them. Hooray!  My sister is a great cook and baker, so I’m very sure they were awesome – I just wasn’t in the mood really.

anna and nicole baking cookies

my favorite part of any baked good = batter. and i am all about eating batter with the raw eggs. i'm 27 and it hasn't killed me so far.

busted! this is why nicole is my clone. seriously caught in the act of dippin into the batter. i love her.

justin and steven hanging out

my mom aka kanye

The BBQ was fun, and once again we had a nice time just breaking bread together as a family and talking and hanging out and being silly, relaxing, etc.  Its just nice to be with family!  Once it was the kids’ bedtime, we decided to peace out and go home too.

 

Wednesday – going to my Mom’s house in Ormond!

So I promised my Mom that while I was in Florida I’d make sure to help her out with a few things around her house.   So Anna and I got up Wednesday morning, I packed up all my junk into my big ole hiking sack and we headed out to Ormond.   On the way we swung by DD.  Yes, DD as in DUNKIN DONUTS.  I WENT TO DUNKIN DONUTS!!

be still my beating heart

duh

Being the generous gals that we are (and the fact that we had coupons) – we decided to bring Steven some donuts.  He was at work, so we got to surprise him.  How nice of us!

this "art" hangs over steven's desk at work. doesn't it totally look like the crap they hang up in a nail salon?

steven + anna

me and steven, in his office

Donuts delivered, it was finally time to go say hey to my Ma!

on the way to mom's: beachside ormond, coming over the granada bridge

So the first project we did at my mom’s house was to move her computer.  She was keeping her whole computer, printer, etc., all downstairs by her bedroom – and because of the inconvenient location she wasn’t spending any time online.  Unsat!  She has a really nicely sized desk built-in to her kitchen, so we cleared that off and moved all of her technology stuff up to the kitchen.  We set her up real good.  Now she has an awesome workspace with her computer, printer, landline phone, everything – all right in the hub of her house.  (Her kitchen is totally her hub where she cooks, watches tv, she by far spends the most time in that room, so this worked out perfectly).

The next project was going through the upstairs bedroom that used to be my sister’s.   My sister owns, or has owned, so much stuff its CRAZY.  So this vacated room that she hasn’t lived in for years is still totally full of a random assortment of left behind treasures and garbage.  Clothes, nicknacks, mementoes, just so many things.  We spent a nice amount of time sorting through the junk in there and deciding what was worth holding on to and what needed to get pitched.  I won’t call anyone out by name, but hoarding is totally in our gene pool – so I’m all about busting up that habit before we end up on that Buried Alive show.  (btw, that show makes me vomm – the hoarding show.  I cannot even handle it; hoarding is so sad and awful and gross.  next topic!).

I didn’t really take any pics during project time because, well, I was busy doing stuff.  But – I did get some great pics of my mom’s pooches before and after we were doing work!

Layla is her dalmatian, and Max is her mutt.  Layla is totally deaf, and Max is amazing and takes care of her.  When my mom gets home – if Layla is sleeping and can’t hear her come in, Max will go and gently nudge Layla and lick her ’till she wakes up.  When both doggies are outside, if my mom calls them in, Max will make sure Layla gets the memo.  My mom’s house has a pool and they LOVE to go swimming.

There’s also a cat, Mina.  Her real name is some Italian name that I don’t remember or know how to spell.  But her nickname is “Mina.”  She’s beautiful and feisty and loves to mess with the doggies.  She gets on top of her cat tower and sneakily swats those fools when the walk by.  Its hilarious.  Okay, okay, enough build up.  Here I present you, a bunch of animal photos:

layla running the pool deck

swimming times

bffs

la-lee (that's how you say her nickname. almost like lolly).

maxy!

time to dry off and come inside

anna gets a pooch smooch

mom and max. i put this in here so y'all can see how HUGE max is. according do the humane society, when he was a puppy, he was "part chihuahua." oh how they lie to get you take a dog! hahaha. he was a really tiny puppy though, and it shocked the heck out of everyone when he grew into his ginormous size. he's a gentle giant though, a total sweetheart.

close up. so handsome, that max!

you were JUST out there.

mama and mina

cats never want to be held. its so annoying. its so cat of them.

After doing projects all day, my noggin started to really hurt.  My trigeminal neuralgia stuff has been fluctuating; thank God it was manageable for most of my trip.  But starting this day (this Wednesday, second-to-last day of my travels) it just got really really bad. Debilitating bad.  So I had to take a break and chill out for a little while.  I even made a rice pack to get some nice, moise heat going on.

i look grouchy because i don't feel well. but i fastened the hot sock to my noggin with my bandanna so i could go hands free. (i fill a clean sock with rice and then nuke it in the micro, works amazingly well! and i'm a freak about going handsfree - i love handsfree anything! fanny packs ftw.)

and just to be really obscene and obnoxious, i have to display this photo of my mom's toilet. how florida is this? a fishie potty seat? omg, way too florida. way too amazing.

jack and rose, my maternal grandparents - may they rest in heaven now. i saw this pic on my mom's desk, and i had to take a pic of a pic. rose here is my namesake, and even though i never met her i love her so much. and i'm so sorry to put their photo next to a toilet photo. ugh, sorries. no disrespect!!

After relaxing and getting my noggin to feel better, Mom and I went out to dinner at her place of work: Betty’s A1A Cafe.  I love Betty’s!  The food is seriously so good.  Its about a mile away from where my mom lives, and its right across from the beach (there are no beachfront buildings in that part of Ormond-by-the-Sea, so its actually as close to the ocean as you can get).  We ordered a whole fried seafood feast, and it was delicious.  (It was Ash Wednesday, so mom was insistent on going meat-free, and I obliged).  We ordered two dinners and split them: fried lobster and the fired seafood platter.  I know, I know – fried?  But I’m still on vacay, I have gotta live it up.  And besides, their batter is light and heavenly.  Fried lobster? Dunked in drawn butter?  Why would I ever NOT order that?  Oh, and sweet potato fries. Holycrap it doesn’t get more tastier.

betty's! (some random pic i found on google image search, no idea who these people are- but that's out front of betty's alright).

One of our family friends, Joyce, met up with us and it was lovely to see her!  Joyce’s daughter, Mary, is my oldest BFF.  Mary and I grew up together, having been babies at the same time.  And my mom and Joyce have been pals just as long.  Mary lives several hours away from my mom/my hometown, so I wasn’t able to see her on this trip.  But seeing Joyce and catching up was great!  A nice time was had by all.

After Betty’s for dinner we went home and just chilled out.

its almost bed time for this little girl

i'm using max as a leg rest. he was surprisingly cooperative.

Before bed, Ma and I watched some tv together with the doggies.  And I made her a friendship bracelet.  Bracelet making is a big hobby of mine, LOVE making the bracelets.  You may have noticed from recent photos of me I have a whole wrist-full of colorful decor, that’s them. My mom and I needed matching ones, so I made them while we watched “19 Kids and Counting” on DVR.  I love the Duggars.  They make me happy.  So do doggies, making bracelets, my mom, and just being with her.  So as you can surmise, I had a lovely evening at my Mom’s house – I love you Mommy!

the bracelet i made for mommy

our matching bracelets, so cool and cute.

Now, its bed time.  We have to be up at 0500 for me to fly back towards Hawaii.  Sadtimes to leave my fam, but I was also missing my pooch and the beaches and my Hawaiian friends, so it was a mixed bag of feelings.

mina came up to my room to snuggle with me for the whole night

pretty mina

my last mina pic - i just keep posting 'em because i think her coloring is so pretty!

layla is ready to snuggle! so cute, and she is a durn good cuddler. i was sandwiched in between her and the cat all night. so cozy!

FInally, the alarm went off bright and early and it was time to get going!  Right as I was throwing my giant pack over my shoulders I went to pick up my sweatshirt, and I saw the tag.  After the nickname I’d gotten all trip long, it cracked me up.

i'm such a sherpa, carrying around that big ole pack. love it!

Next stop: Seattle!!!!!

UPDATE: I talked to my Mommy tonight, and “Mina” is named after Taormina, a beautiful Sicilian city overlooking the sea.   She said when she first adopted Mina, something about her poise and beauty reminded my mom of her most favorite place in Sicily.  The way Mina climbs up on top of her cat tower and looks out over the house – just like the stately city that peers out on the Ionian Sea.

i had a dinner date (this is a nice story)

Would you like to hear a nice story, about how strangers are still nice to each other sometimes?

So back in December, right when the miscarriage was happening, I was in rough shape.  My two bestest in-Hawaii friends were both on the mainland, my family couldn’t get to me and I couldn’t get to them, and my hubs was still in Afghan.   I needed food and supplies, so I had to take myself to the commy.

At our commissary (the grocery store on a military base) there are baggers who work for tips only.  They bag all your groceries and then help you out to the car, and load you up.   Usually I say no thanks, and do it myself.  (It doesn’t help that most of the baggers are half my size and 80 years old, I feel like a total douche making a tiny old lady carry my groceries for me.)  Well, on this particular December day I was too sick to say no – I needed the help.

So the bagger (who is young and vibrant actually, not an old grandma at all) and I are walking to my car and she just turns to me and says, “I’m sorry if I’m out of line here, but are you okay?  You don’t look okay.”

I shook my head no.  No, I wasn’t okay at all.  And, I just started crying.  I told her everything, it all just poured out:  “No, I’m not okay.  I’m miscarrying our baby right now, my husband is deployed, my family is in Florida, and its Christmas in a couple days and I’m all alone, waaaaaaaaaah.”

“Can I hug you?” she asked me.

And there we stood in the parking lot together, a total stranger holding me while I cried all over her.

It was a random act of kindness times a million.  Talk about an angel being sent in to give you some love when you need it the most.  Woah.  It was one of the most touching experiences I’ve ever had.

She invited me over for Christmas dinner at her house, gave me her phone number, and told me to call her if I need anything.  I knew she was 100% genuine too.  I ended up getting invited over to Ashley’s house for Christmas dinner, so I didn’t take my Parking Lot Angel up on her offer.   (I didn’t feel so good on Xmas either, so I wasn’t up to meeting new people, etc).

Over the last couple months we keep running into each other at the commy, we’ve been texting with plans to meet up – but our schedules have been kinda wack.   Until now.  Finally, we got together last night and she came over for a dinner date!   I hadn’t cooked for anyone in a hot minute, so I was all excited.

I cleaned my whole house:

The kitchen table looking all nice and clean

I made baked ziti with chicken, cut up a beautiful tomato and a cucumber as a salad, and I had a loaf of French bread from the commy.

ziti in the oven (kinda hard to see, lol)

beautiful!

We had a lovely evening, and I’m pretty sure I’ve made a new friend.  We had lots in common, and since we’re both chatty people – the conversation flowed easily.   Even though our first meeting was a unique experience of random kindness for me –  I have a feeling my new friend is nice to strangers all the time and that kind of stuff is just the norm for her.  She just radiates kindness and happiness, my kinda lady!   I want to be more like her.

She brought over this chocolate cake from the Commy Bakery, and it was amazing.  The best buttercream frosting I’ve had on this island for sure.

this cake is delicious, and the rest of it is ALL MINE.

See, wasn’t that a nice story?  Common decency and thoughtfulness do still exist, and I’m lucky enough to know that firsthand.   I love being the recipient of a random act of kindness.   And now I have a new friend and I had a really nice Tuesday evening.   (feeling warm and fuzzy yet?).

Next time you see a stranger having a bad day or a rough time, please think of me and pay it forward.  Even if its just a smile or a kind word, a little gesture can go such a long way.   Let’s all just be nice to each other.

 

pasta and beans

Check out this super easy meal I whipped up using a few ingredients I almost always have on hand.   Basically pasta covered with a “sauce” of tomato puree, peas, corn and kidney beans, this vegetarian meal is high in protein, low in fat and calories, and takes less than 20 minutes to make.

I came up with the idea about a week ago when I was trying to make dinner without having to go shopping or defrost anything.  Since I was pleasantly surprised with how tasty it was, I re-created it tonight.

You pretty much just throw everything together and voila.  But I’ll break it down step by step just for fun:

Ingredients:

  • pasta
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can corn (i happened to have frozen peas/corn combo available tonight, but i used a can of corn last week)
  • 1 oz. lowfat cream cheese  (or neufchatel)
  • EVOO
  • salt, pepper, powdered garlic, oregano – whatever you like to season with

Boil some pasta.  I happen to like Barilla whole grain rotini.

whole grain pasta

Combine the tomato puree, kidney beans, peas, and corn in another pan.   Stir occasionally while it gets hot and bubbly.  Give it a little splash of EVOO, and then toss in whatever seasonings you like.  I used a teensy bit of sea salt, fresh ground pepper, some garlic powder and oregano.

Once its hot, add in a dab of cream cheese (technically, i used “neufchatel cheese” – its the lowfat equivalent of cream cheese).  Use a fork to help blend the cheese into the sauce.

add in the cream cheese once its getting hot n bubbly in there

finished sauce

The reason I put cream cheese into this sauce is to help mellow out the acidity of the tomato puree.   The canned puree has a pretty harsh tart and just a small amount of cream cheese is a really fast and easy way to smooth out that tinny acid flavor.

the ingredients i used tonight

And that’s it!  Serve the sauce over a small amount of pasta.  Because of the beans, its REALLY hearty and you need less pasta to fill you up than you’d think.

tiny pasta portion is all you need

looks pretty, tastes yummy!

Nutrition info:

I cooked half a box of the pasta and that’s plenty to go with the amount of sauce this recipe yields.  I didn’t have any canned corn or peas, but I had some Green Giant “just for one” frozen peas and corn – and I used 2 servings of those (the veggies are pre-packaged as single servings; not very green because of all the packaging, but super convenient when you live alone).   FYI: The nutrition info I calculated is based off the specific/exact ingredients I used tonight.

PER SERVING: 298 calories/3.05 g fat/11.8 g protein *this is based on making 5 servings out of the whole batch, reasonable portion sizes for me

If you were to make 4 servings out of the total you’d get: 372.5 cals/3.81 g fat/14.75 g protein per serving.

TOTAL for the entire batch: 1490 cals/15.25 g fat/59 g protein

Here’s how much I had leftover after I ate my bowl tonight:

lots of leftovers!

There’s easily 4 more servings in here for me.  See what I mean?

yummy!!

ENJOY!!!!  And if you actually try this and make any modifications or changes, let me know how it comes out!

vog, pipeline, and shave ice

Today was a super Hawaiian day for us.

Carly, Ashley and I decided to venture to the North Shore for a beach day that wasn’t our same ole, same ole. (Usually we just go to the beaches here on base, which are gorgeous… but we’re on that whole quest to see more of the island, yeah).

This morning there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It seemed like it would be a perfectly amazing beach day.  Then I learned about VOG.  Vog is volcanic fog that rolls into the skies of Oahu during “winter.”   Its a kind of pollution from volcanic sulfur dioxide mixing with oxygen (according to wikipedia anyways).   Blah blah blah science talk… the bottom line is that vog is yucky and makes everything outside look yucky.  It makes it seem like the weather is crappy, when it really isn’t.  And my asthma friends are having a hard time breathing and exercising outside. Ewwy!

Our first stop was in Laie, at Hukilau Beach Park.  We got down to the sand, and then ended up turning around and going back to the car because it just not fun beach weather at all.

Looking south at Hukilau Beach Park (Laie, Oahu)

Looking north from Hukilau Beach

Hukilau Beach Park

 

So we decided to keep driving north.  As we’re passing Banzai Pipeline we see a ton of cars, and people, and we see all the stuff set up for a surf contest.  We’re thinking, so rad!

We walk up to the first tent we see and there’s a big contest sign and some brackets.  I can hear an announcer off in the distance, and some people are hawking tee shirts.  Neato!

Pipe Pro

We get a little closer and see the brackets posted.  The contest claims to be “pro” – but I don’t recognize a single name in any of the heats.  Weird. Hmm.

Contest Brackets

We get down to the beach, and we can hear the announcer calling out competitors names and what colors they’re wearing.   The caliber of the crowd is pretty small and not really as pumped as you’d think for the semi-final heats of a major pro contest; there isn’t really any fanfare or commotion going on.  There wasn’t a stage, or any music, and we only could see one photographer.

Yeah, we’re idiots.  It took us a few minutes to realize this was a pro BODYBOARDING competition.

Turns out pro boogie boarding, although pretty sweet and impressive in its own way, is not really that fun or cool to watch.  Especially not if you were expecting that maybe you were about to see pro surfers.  It was also a pretty small day for Pipeline, so that was ho-hum too.  We hung out for a bit hoping it would get sunny, but the vog got the best of us today.   The beach itself (Banzai Pipeline) is really pretty, and we had a nice time just laying down and chit chatting.  Even though it was voggy, it was still warm enough for the beach.

A small day at Pipeline

The contest crowd + judges tent

Do work!

Come on... you know you wanna come out and give me a tan (cancer).

Ashley, Carly, Rose (me) - and the doggie is Bailey, Ashley's pup!

After watching some sweet boogie action, it was time to move on.

The final stop of the day was in Haleiwa, which is a super cute town that’s totally overrun with tourists.  We decided to wait in line for some shave ice from Matsumoto Store.  Word around the aina is that it’s the best save ice on the North Shore.

Matsumoto's Line

too many flavors, so hard to choose

Shave Ice is basically a sno cone, only they call it “shave ice” in Hawaii.  I have no effing idea why its not called shaveD ice, or a sno cone.  But it is what it is.  Shave Ice.  The ice itself is super duper soft, really finely crushed.  Which I guess does make it very unlike a snow cone.  Its like powdery snow really, and there’s no biting necessary.  The flavors are crazy tropical sweet awesomeness, and totally full of very poisonous dyes.  Sometimes you gotta take a walk on the wild side though.

I chose “The Hawaiian” – banana, pineapple, and coconut.

The Hawaiian (holy deliciousness)

I chose wisely.  That janx was so tasty and sweet.  This is a SMALL (can you believe that?) and it costs like $2.  I think mine was $2.75 because I opted to add “beans.”  They literally put beans in the bottom.  I know that sounds so weird, and it kinda is… but they cook the beans (Japanese red beans, although they looks and taste just like black beans/frijoles negros) in sugar water, so they’re kinda candied.  Anyways, whatever they are, they’re also delicious and I should have gotten a picture of them because I’m sure the whole thing sounds weird and crazy (because it is).

I ate mine the fastest.  And in true Rose fashion, I got it all over myself and made a mess.  A very happy, satisfied mess.

I'm queen of the shave ice!

All in all, it was a pretty fun day with my girlies.   Vog and boogie boarders aside, we still giggled and had a good time. I always do when I’m with my gal pals!