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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Homemade Sloppy Joes

Hey guys!  Mrs. L here.  I just wanted to bring to your attention the new "Printable Recipe" buttons I've included not only in this blog post, but in the rest of my cooking posts as well!  Hopefully this will make things much easier on you if you decide to try to print one of the recipes I've blogged about.  So feel free to click away!  =)


Mr. L is a huge fan of sloppy joes.  Like, huuuge!  So one night, instead of getting the same old canned sloppy joe mix stuff, I decided to try a homemade version.  I Googled for a recipe and I came across one sandwiched in a post on Deb's Tastefully Simple Recipes (it's the third recipe listed).  The ingredients list was very simple, so I gave it a shot!

It actually came out pretty good!  Next time I think I'll add some chopped onions instead of the onion powder I threw on the ground beef as well as some chopped bell peppers (or maybe a can of Rotel, per Mr. L's suggestion) to give it a little more body.  Otherwise I'll definitely make this my go-to sloppy joe recipe in the future -- yay for no more cans!

  • 1 lb ground beef (season as desired -- I used onion and garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 3/4 c ketchup
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Brown hamburger meat and drain remaining fat; season to your liking.

Stir in 1 tsp mustard, 3/4 c ketchup, 1 tsp seasoned salt, and 1/4 tbsp brown sugar.

Mix thoroughly.

Simmer for 30 minutes; serve on toasted buns with toppings and sides of your choice.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Five for Friday

If you've clicked over from reader or just clicked the site directly, I hope you've noticed (and are liking!) the new blog design!  I love to change things up every now and then =)  A big thanks to The Cutest Blog on the Block for the adorable backgrounds and headers!


1.  I can't believe we've gotten as far as we have through BSG.  It's been awesome so far!

2.  Thank you for helping me fold some of the clothes tonight.

3.  It's nice when we agree on big decisions, and I'm sorry if it ever seems like I disregard your input -- I promise, I'm absolutely not doing that.

4.  Movies this weekend, perhaps?!

5.  I can't wait for Saturday -- I hope you're excited too!

ily <3

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Getting to Know Hawaii: Battleship Missouri Memorial

The Need to Knows:
  • The Battleship Missouri Memorial is located on Ford Island on Oahu; if you are military/DoD and have the appropriate identification, you may drive on to Ford Island and park in the designated areas at the memorial itself.  Otherwise, there is a shuttle that periodically leaves from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to Ford Island to allow access to the Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum for $3 (unfortunately visitation to the USS Utah is restricted to those with military identification).  Here is the location of the ship itself on Google Maps:

View Larger Map
  • The Mighty Mo is open from 8AM to 5PM June through August and 8PM to 4PM September through May, and is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
  •  Adult admission (with choice of optional tour) is $22/person; Child admission (also with choice of optional tour) is $11.  Military/kama'aina rates are available.
  • If you are planning on seeing the USS Bowfin, the USS Arizona Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum as well as the Mighty Mo, it may best suit you to purchase either the One Day Passport to Pearl Harbor tour or the Two Day Passport to Pearl Harbor tour (more information can be found here).
  • There are four different tours for the Mighty Mo; more information on each tour can be found here.  (We picked the iPod Touch tour, but weren't thrilled with it -- I'll explain below.)
  • I don't think it's a requirement, but I would opt for closed toe shoes to explore the battleship.  There are lots of places that could leave you with stubbed toes, so be careful and watch your step!

The Battleship Missouri is perhaps the most triumphant part of the "Pearl Harbor" experience.  It was, after all, on the decks of the Mighty Mo where the treaty was signed that officially ended the last great war this world has seen.

The exact spot where Japan signed the treaty that ended WWII.
With that in mind, it is certainly no coincidence that the USS Missouri now floats mere feet away from the underwater burial grounds of some of those killed in the attacks that pulled America into World War II.

The USS Missouri is an Iowa-class battleship, ordered in 1940 and commissioned in 1944.  She fought in WWII (Iwo Jima and Okinawa were among the battles she fought) and the Korean War before she was decommissioned in 1955; however, in the 1980s, she was reactivated, modernized, and called to duty during Desert Storm.  She didn't actually make it to Hawaii until she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association as a museum ship in 1998.

On this particular day, my friends and I visited the USS Arizona Memorial first, and then headed over to Ford Island to check out just how "mighty" the Missouri really is.  When we arrived at the ship we were able to choose what kind of tour we'd like to do (from what I can understand, a tour of your choice is included with your ticket price), so we opted to try out the iPod Touch tour.  To be honest we weren't really impressed.  It was difficult to pay attention to both the iPod and our surroundings, so for 99% of the time we didn't use them at all.  Plus in order to use them, you have to leave one picture ID at the booth with an employee.  It felt odd to me at first when the employee asked for it, but I can understand the logic behind it.

Otherwise, the Mighty Mo was a great experience.  We got to explore out on the decks as well as inside the ship, and we were able to go at our own leisure.  They also had guided tours available with a volunteer at no extra charge, from what I was able to understand, which also would have been a great option (given that the volunteer is knowledgeable, of course).  It was fun for me to see how excited my friends were to discover the inner workings of a battleship.  Plus the views from the ship were pretty amazing, and we even got to see a destroyer pull into Pearl Harbor, which is always fun to watch.

View of Diamond Head from the Missouri.

The Mighty Mo actually was not my first battleship experience.  Growing up in Mobile, Alabama provided me with many, many opportunities to become intimately acquainted with another ship, the USS Alabama, a South Dakota-class battleship.  Mr. L even had his first reenlistment ceremony on board the Alabama.

So personally, while visiting this ship was just as awe-inspiring (perhaps more, with all of that gorgeous scenery surrounding us!) as any trip to see the Alabama, it did feel like an incredibly similar experience to the ones I've had many times back home.  In that regard, I probably wasn't as impressed as I could have been.  But it didn't detract from my enjoyment at all -- I had a great time touring this beautiful ship.  And it wasn't exactly the same anyways; imagine my surprise to see computers and TVs on board when I'm used to seeing a ship that was converted to a museum in 1964!

If you do decide to check out the Missouri, be sure to take a few moments to view the USS Oklahoma Memorial that honors those that perished aboard the USS Oklahoma, located right outside the entrance to the Missouri...

And don't forget to enjoy yourself aboard the Mighty Mo!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Five for Friday

1.  Teamwork while cooking dinner always makes me happy =)

2.  We are probably crazy for taking on this new life event (challenge?), but take it on we will!

3.  I can't believe I've already booked my plane ticket home for Thanksgiving!!  I just wish with all my heart you could come with me though =(

4.  I really hope you're able to go to California before your next deployment!  <fingers crossed>

5.  Even 2 years and 2 months past our wedding date, I am still beyond excited about our future together!  =)

ily <3

Monday, July 16, 2012

Getting to Know Hawaii: Sunrise at Lanikai Beach

The Need to Knows:
  • Lanikai Beach is located in Kailua, HI on the windward side of Oahu.  Beach access is in the neighborhood of Lanikai, just past Kailua Beach Park.  There is no designated parking area; you basically just have to park on the side of the road near one of the beach passageways.  Please be respectful of the neighborhood residents and do not park in their yards and driveways!  I'd recommend parking along Mokulua Drive at Kaiolena Dr, Haokea Dr, or Kuailimi Dr.  Check out this Google Maps link for more info:

View Larger Map
  • If you are attempting to catch the sunrise, be sure to research beforehand just what time the sun rises on the day you want to go.  Plan to get to Lanikai at least thirty minutes before that time in order to fully experience the beauty of the sunrise.  We often wake up between 4 and 5 (depending on the time of the year) in order to make it on time; from our home near the airport, it normally takes about a 20-25 minute drive taking the H-3, depending on how fast we want to drive on the freeway =)
  • Lanikai Beach is dog-friendly, so if your pup is on island with you, take him (and his leash!) with you!
  • As with all Hawaiian beaches,  the beach is open to the public and yours to explore, as long as you don't trespass on private property and only use the designated beach access passageways.  There is also obviously no charge to visit Lanikai.  Spend the day here snorkeling, kayaking out to the Mokulua Islands, swimming, or just lying on the beach and getting some sun!
Lanikai Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with National Geographic ranking it at #5 of its Top Ten Beaches list, and describing it as so:

 "Half a mile of sparkling sand, palm trees swaying over a white beach, lush tropical plants, and endless sunshine make Lanikai one of Hawaii’s most scenic beaches. The shore is protected by a nearby coral reef, which keeps the surf relatively calm. The water is always deep green and postcard-perfect." 
- National Geographic's Top Ten Beaches

The crystal-clear blue-green waters, powdery-fine white sandy beach, and breathtaking view of the Mokulua Mountains are among the many assets that make Lanikai so stunning.

Mr. L and I have been lucky enough to watch this beautiful sunrise three times so far -- once with our friend Joe, once on Easter morning, and once with our friends Shawn and Tayvia.  It's been gorgeous each time, and it's something that we hope to bring all of our family and friends to soak it all in when they visit!

I love how different the skies, water, and sunlight look each time we go; every time is unique unto itself, which is pretty fascinating.  Sharing this experience at Lanikai has become a very special activity for Mr. L and I, so we will for sure be going many more times before we're forced to part ways with this beautiful island.

If you're feeling extra adventurous, there is a hike nearby called the Lanikai Pillboxes Hike.  You climb up the hills behind Lanikai Beach (in the complete dark, so bring a flashlight!) and check out the amazing panoramic views of the sunrise, the Mokulua Islands, Lanikai Beach, Bellows Beach, Kailua Beach, MCBH (Marine Corps Base Hawaii) and beyond.  Mr. L and I have yet to do this hike, but it is definitely on our Hawaii Bucket List!  If you'd like more information, check out the Yelp link here.  My favorite picture a user uploaded to Yelp is this one (albeit taken during the daytime instead of at sunrise):

Um, hello, is that water GORGEOUS or what?!
Where's your favorite place to watch a sunrise or sunset?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Five for Friday

According to my Blogger post count, this week marks the one year anniversary that I started writing Five for Fridays to Mr. L.  (I looked back, and technically I began them on July 7th, 2011, but this is the 52nd Five for Friday so I'll mark this as the one year anniversary instead of last week, haha.) I figured for this post, I'd recap exactly what Five for Fridays are in case anyone was curious!  =)

I was inspired to start writing these theme posts after I saw Jessica over at Jessica Lynn Writes doing them every week, and she in turn was inspired by His Birdie's Nest.  It seemed like a super cute way of reminding Mr. L (and sometimes myself!) why I love him, and it rolled on from there.  Now it's a bit of a ritual for Mr. L to check for a new F4F post, and I began including them in emails when he started deploying this year.  Hopefully I'll still be keeping at it for a long time, and eventually I'd love to do some kind of awesome book compilation like Jessica did for her husband.  Click the link to check out what an amazing job she did!

Anyways, now back to our regularly scheduled programming =)

1.  Thank you for letting me talk.  And talk.  And talk.

2.  It makes me happy when I see you start randomly playing with Liam.  I'm pretty sure that dog adores you.

3.  Kayaking this weekend?!  Yes please!

4.  I'm beyond excited for our Big Island trip.  It can't get here fast enough!

5.  I love how you smell.  (Is that weird?  It's probably weird.  Oh well!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Six for Saturday

Oops I did it again!  Oh well, you know you love the extra reason why I love you =)

1.  Even though it may have taken you away for the whole day today, I'm really happy you've found a hobby you enjoy so much.

2.  I'm sorry I'm starting to call "wife privileges" on your time lately!

3.  I love how good and kind you are.

4.  I'm so excited for the opportunities that will be coming up for you in the next few months!

5.  I hope we continue to be as excited about kayaking as we have been, and that we can go next weekend out on Kaneohe Bay!

6.  You're too daggum cute for me to stand.  =)

ily <3

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Getting to Know Hawaii: The USS Arizona Memorial

The Need to Knows:
  • The USS Arizona Memorial is located at 1 Arizona Memorial Road, Honolulu, HI 96818.  The Google Maps link is here:

View Larger Map
  • It is open from 7AM to 5PM daily and closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
  • Bags are not allowed within Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.  However, storage lockers are available for use for a fee -- I think it's around $3.00 a locker, but I didn't use them, so I'm not 100% sure on that. The storage facility is open from 6:30AM to 5:30PM daily.
  • The tour itself lasts approximately an hour and fifteen minutes.  It includes a brief introduction, a 23-minute documentary on the events leading up to and on the day of December 7, 1941, a shuttle boat ride to the Memorial, and time to experience the Memorial itself.  I would allow for more time to explore the grounds and the various museums as well.
  • I strongly recommend reserving tickets in advance for the Memorial.  When I went, I'd reserved tickets for the 9AM tour on a Friday, and I was able to pick them up at 7:30AM (you must pick up your tickets one hour in advance at the latest or they will be redistributed back into circulation for the general walk-in public) and have time to explore the museums and walk the grounds before the 22-minute movie and boat ride began.  A friend of mine mentioned that when she went, she and her husband waited in line for about an hour and a half for tickets -- yikes!   The only way to reserve tickets is to visit; the link to the USS Arizona Memorial tour page is here.  There is a reservation fee at $1.50 per ticket.  If you plan on seeing the USS Missouri, the USS Bowfin, and the Pacific Aviation Museum, the tour page also offers a "Passport to Pearl Harbor" tour in which you can purchase your entrance fees to those sites in advance.
  • Each program has a capacity of 150 people, and programs run every 15 minutes -- the first begins at 8AM, and the last begins at 3PM.  If you don't reserve tickets, be prepared to get there early and wait in line! 
  • Please, please be quiet, respectful, and courteous while at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center as well as when you are on the USS Arizona Memorial itself.  The Memorial is considered a burial ground, just like the National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) or Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, so behave accordingly.
  • For more information, please visit the USS Arizona Memorial website via the National Park Service.

From the moment Mr. L and I found out that we would be moving to Hawaii, we both knew that visiting the USS Arizona Memorial would be at the top of our "must see" list, not only because of our current and family members' past military involvement, but also because we are big history fans, especially of the World War II era.

Unfortunately due to complications at work, Mr. L was unable to join us this time to see the Memorial.  (Don't worry, we'll be back many times, I'm sure!)  So I took a friend and our two houseguests that were in for the week and we set off bright and early to go pick up our reserved tickets at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

Since we arrived fairly early, a little before 7:30AM, we were able to find parking very easily, and even at that time the ticket lines were relatively short.  Luckily we were able to get our tickets immediately from the reserved counter and we proceeded to wander the grounds of the visitor center.

View of Ford Island from the Visitor Center -- you can see the Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri behind it.
Neat sign that shows you just how far away from everything we are in Hawaii.
We took some time to view one of the open-air museums, which detailed not only what happened on December 7th, 1941 and the aftermath, but also the events leading up to that day and how the attack was put into motion.  It was incredibly informative, but at times also heartbreaking, especially when you see pictures of the dead and dying after the Japanese began the attack.  That portion of the exhibit definitely brought me to tears.

After passing through the museum, we headed outside to see some of the various memorials along the grounds and make our way towards the theater for the documentary film.

Bridge to Ford Island in the background
We found this really neat map of Oahu that I enjoyed checking out:

You can see Koko Head and Hanauma Bay as well as the eastern side of the island in the foreground, and the west side of the island (the Waianae Mountains) in the background.
Where we were!
From this area you could also see the USS Bowfin submarine off to our right:

We opted to not tour the submarine that day, but I will most certainly be back to check it out in the future!  If you're interested in touring it, tickets can be purchased at the entrance of the Visitor Center, the same area where you would purchase tickets for the Arizona, the USS Missouri, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

When it was time for our documentary showing to begin, we entered the theater and watched a very enlightening yet emotional film on the attacks that I feel complemented the museum exhibit nicely.  After it was over, we boarded the Navy boat and made our way out to the Memorial itself.

View to one side of some of the ships at Pearl Harbor that Mr. L and I drive by nearly every day.  It definitely made things hit home for me to realize how close all of this was together!
We stepped onto the Memorial and were immediately greeted by the beautiful architectural details over our heads...

...a memorial plaque on the wall...

...and then the view to our immediate right of one of Arizona's hulls.

It's a little difficult to describe exactly what I was feeling, but I was definitely emotional.  It was a little haunting, and you could read the sorrow on some of the other people's faces around me.  At one point I saw a man so affected he was openly weeping, and it was quite moving.  While I was pondering the somber scene, I looked up and saw this flag waving in the wind with beautiful blue skies behind it (from the other pictures you can tell it was an overcast morning), and I felt a little more at peace.

We continued to walk down the right side of the memorial, looking out at the views and this plaque dedicating the memorial:

At the center of the memorial you can look down and see the Arizona (as well as various kinds of fish) sitting below us:

On the far side of the memorial is the wall engraved with all of the men's names who were entombed within the battleship.

And this was a separate marble plaque listing the men who escaped the Arizona's sinking only to be returned here upon their deaths to be with their fellow shipmates:

We spent a few minutes silently honoring and remembering these men, and proceeded to the other side of the memorial where we could see where other ships had been docked, as well as the USS Missouri, the battleship on which WWII ended.

Here you can see the oil that is still currently leaking from the wreckage of the Arizona, even to this day.
If you look towards the USS Missouri, you can see a small white buoy indicating one end of the USS Arizona.  You can see the other buoy showing the other end in the first picture of the hull, and it really lets you understand just how massive this ship was.
The USS Missouri, representing the end of WWII right next to what was the beginning of WWII for the United States.
All in all, I highly recommend visiting this attraction if you ever find yourself on this beautiful island.  It's so important to remember our history, and this memorial is a real and tangible way for us to not only connect with our past, but it is also a way to put faces and names on the sacrifices made so long ago for our nation.