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Monday, September 30, 2013

Bacon Breakfast Casserole

If there's one kind of food that reminds me of home and my mom's cooking, it's definitely breakfast food.  She makes a mean pancake and overall breakfast spread, so every time I try my hand in the kitchen and make something hot and delicious in the morning, it somehow immediately comforts me!

One dish that my mom loves to make (probably because it's quick, easy, and feeds a crowd!) is a breakfast casserole.  Now, this isn't her recipe (it actually comes from this website), but it sounded equally delicious, so I opted to give it a try but with bacon instead of the sausage originally indicated.  You can't go wrong with bacon, right?!


Ingredients
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 4 eggs (I used five because I didn't have enough milk -- whoops!)
  • 1 cup baking mix
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups milk (I think I only added a cup and a half total)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cook your bacon until almost crispy; drain and set aside (I did this step the night before -- definitely saved some time!).  Crack your eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk.



Add the baking mix, cheese, milk, and salt and pepper to the eggs; whisk to combine.


Layer the bacon into the bottom of a greased 9x13 baking dish.


Pour the egg mixture evenly over the top of the bacon.


Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.


Cut into squares, serve, and enjoy!



What's your favorite breakfast casserole recipe?


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  Thank you for your continued help getting the house in order!  I really appreciate it.

2.  We sure had a scare this week with the car, didn't we?!  Yikes!  But we survived it and I love you for it!

3.  Nerf guns!

4.  I love how silly you can be.

5.  I'm so glad we're so excited about Halloween together haha.  I can't wait for it to get here!

ily <3


Monday, September 23, 2013

Housing Troubles, Part 3: In Which We Get a New House!

As some of you may recall, we had a little issue with our home here in Hawaii back in December: namely, mold (see here and here for previous posts).  And I am very, very happy to say that after nearly two years of dealing with pipe issues and flooding backups and tree roots and mold issues, we were able to move out of our old house with the move out fee completely waived!

Our new home!
Mr. L and I could not be more happy that we are in a place that doesn't have plumbing issues.  It's a wonderful little house, and although we did lose a bedroom and a little bit of square footage, it actually feels bigger!  Plus it's a newer, cleaner home, so we are definitely on cloud nine right now!

Entry way (the stairs are so cushy!)
The process getting here wasn't easy.  Last month, after about eight months of zero plumbing issues at the old house, the flooding problems reared their ugly head once again.  For months, Mr. L and I had been telling each other that although maintenance had "solved" the problem back in December, it was a temporary fix and that the backups would happen once again since tree roots were the main cause and no trees had been removed from our property.  So we were expecting it...but it still came at the worst possible time: the night before I was set to start a new job.  I was a total wreck, for sure!  I think I spent the majority of the evening cursing the stupid house and the stupid pipes and the stupid trees and the stupid everything, haha.

Very spacious 2-story living room
We had emergency maintenance come out, and the guy basically told us he was afraid the roots had actually gone and crushed the clay pipes outside.  Needless to say, we were freaked.  He said that he would get his supervisor out first thing in the morning so they could snake a camera down and determine if the pipes in the yard needed to be excavated.

Nice, large kitchen (ignored the confused hubby)
And, of course, that's where more things went wrong.  Maintenance was supposed to come out between 7AM and 9AM...and they didn't show.  They didn't show at 11AM.  They didn't show at 12PM.  After a couple of very angry phone calls to maintenance trying to figure out just what in the heck was going on, Mr. L's chain of command got involved once again and coincidentally three maintenance guys came to our house right away.  The only problem was a supervisor was nowhere in sight and neither was a snake camera.  They essentially did the same exact thing emergency maintenance had done the night before.

We actually have an automatic ice maker now, woohoo!
Mr. L and I were very upset, so we took to the internet and wrote out an ICE complaint about our experience.  Within a couple of days, we heard back from the liaison between our management company and the Navy, a retired master chief, who had read our ICE comment and was very concerned with our situation.  (Seriously, people, WRITE ICE COMMENTS.  They actually get read and can make a HUGE difference, whether they're positive or negative!!)

Finally, a laundry room with no bathroom attached!!
The liaison informed us that this issue wasn't something only we were dealing with.  Many houses on our street (and other streets in our community, as I've found out recently) are having this EXACT same issue.  Big Navy is finally getting involved in forcing our management company to deal with it, and the liaison added our names to the case list.  We told him we didn't want to move if we didn't have to, but if the issue wasn't going to get fixed, we did NOT want to stay.

The master bedroom is even bigger than our old one!
After many, many instances of back and forth between the liaison and our neighborhood community manager, we discovered that our management company's "solution" to the problem was to simply maintain the pipes every few weeks by clearing out roots indefinitely...which was the SAME EXACT situation that led to this problem in the first place when Forest City dropped the ball and didn't do any preventative maintenance.  When we heard that, Mr. L and I knew it was time to go.  We pushed to get out of the house, and after some more unsavory dealings (to sum it up, we felt like we were a huge bother to the people finding us a new place to live and that didn't sit well with us) we were finally offered a house in the same neighborhood where we were already on the wait list to move into.  Then we proceeded to move out completely and clean the entire old house in FOUR DAYS.  Yeah, that was fun.

Definitely a backyard downgrade, but I'm happy there's nary a mango tree in sight!
It's been a ridiculously long and stressful process, but I can honestly say we are happy with where we are now.  There are some cons (lost a bedroom, tiny backyard, only one full bath) but the pros and being out of the other house absolutely, 100% outweigh them.  Heck, Mr. L is so happy we're finally in a house we both love that he wants to extend his tour here, haha ;)  (Don't freak out, parents!!)  And honestly, I just hope this puts an end to our dealings with Forest City because we are sick and tired of it all.

Our own garage!!  There's a large section off to the left that's going to become Mr. L's man cave :)
Have you ever been in unsavory living conditions, whether it was in military housing or civilian housing?  If you have, I hope you got a happy ending eventually!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  Yay for our new house!!  I'm beyond thrilled that we are out of the other one :D

2.  I really hope we stick to our guns on our new routine!

3.  It's always so nice to just go out and walk with you and talk without any distractions.

4.  Hopefully we can get some stuff set up around the house this weekend!  <hint hint> ;)

5.  I also really hope everything goes perfectly for our upcoming trip, yay!!

ily <3


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  I'm excited for this weekend!  Football at Buffalo Wild Wings should be a lot of fun!

2.  I'm really, really happy that we got a new house!!  I hope this takes a lot of stress off your shoulders (eventually)!

3.  Now that your doctor prescribed a vacation, I'm ready to get started booking!  ;)

4.  I am definitely ready to get this cleaning over with, ugh!

5. Thank you for calming me down when I'm stressing over dumb crap from dumb people. You're the best!

ily <3

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Getting to Know Hawaii: Germaine's Luau


The Need to Knows:
  • Germaine's Luau is located at 91-119 Olai Street, Kapolei, HI 96707.  The Google Maps location is below:
  • According to the online reservation form, Germaine's looks to be closed on Mondays but open every other day, including holidays.
  • Tickets cost $78 for adults, $65 for junior tickets (age 14 to 20), $55 for children (age 6 to 13), and free for kids under 5.  Discounts are available for military through any of the island's ITT offices, although I am not sure if there is a kama'aina rate.  There are also websites that offer discounts, like HawaiiDiscount.com.
  • Since Germaine's is located right on the beach, wear flip flops or sandals because you'll be walking through sand.
  • With an adult ticket, you get two complimentary drink tickets, but after that, be prepared to pay for the rest of your drinks and of course souvenirs.
One of the (many) things my parents, Mr. L, and I wanted to do while they were visiting was to check out a luau.  I previously had never been to one (I was waiting for guests!), so I was really excited to see what all the fuss was about.  A friend of mine suggested Germaine's to me, and after being pretty happy with their prices via our ITT office and the menu that I saw on their website, I decided that we should definitely go to Germaine's Luau!

We arrived a little bit before 5:15 in order to arrive before the tour buses coming from Waikiki.  The luau location was somewhat easy to find, although this area isn't very pretty since it's in the industrial district of Kapolei.  But we looked past that and walked into Germaine's with an open mind.



We checked in at a little booth in the front and made our way to the table area.  We were able to pick wherever we wanted to sit (no preferred seating is available at Germaine's or different level party packages) and so we sat down and got comfortable.  With each of our (adult) tickets, we had two drink tickets available to us for free, so we all opted to get something from the bar.  They had a good little selection, although some of the drinks cost did cost two tickets.  We also had some complimentary pineapple waiting for us at our table.




At a little past six, the show began and our hostess came out to greet us with some of the night's performers.  They blew a conch shell to signal the start of the ceremonies, and after our hostess for the evening greeted us, the king and queen made their entrance.





After the introductions, we were led over to the pit area so we could see the star of the show make its debut -- the kalua pig that had been cooking since 5 o'clock that morning!  We could already smell it and let me tell you, it smelled divine.  We could not WAIT to try it!



We returned to our seats and some activities involving audience participation started while everyone waited their turn to head to the buffet table.  First up was a contest between three guys to see who could do the best hula!



We have a winner!
It was really funny to see, and you could tell the audience enjoyed the action they saw on stage, haha.  A little while later, they brought up the ladies of the crowd to learn how to do a traditional hula dance.


It looked like everyone had a blast, especially the kids!


By the time the luau demonstration was done, it was time for our table to grab some grub!  And now I really, really hate to admit this...but I took zero food pictures.  What?!  I know, I know!  I'm a terrible blogger.  So in lieu of food pictures, I'll drop this beautiful sunset with the Barber's Point Lighthouse in your lap!


The food was actually very, very yummy.  They had a variety of things from that amazing kalua pork fresh out of the ground, pineapple cole slaw (that I loved!), a chicken dish that was very tasty, salad, lomilomi salmon, poi mac salad, and a lot more.  I got to try a lot of things I've been wanting to since we got here (especially poi since I'd heard so much about it!) and we were all very satisfied and happy with our meals.  Here's a borrowed picture from Yelp to give you an idea of everything:

Source
After the meal (and me going back for seconds...I was hungry!) the rest of the night's entertainment began.  We got to see tons of traditional Hawaiian outfits and dances as well as a lot of dances from all across the Pacific islands.  And if you've ever seen a Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football game, the male dancers even performed a traditional haka, which is an ancestral war dance of the Maori people.




Traditional Maori haka
I think all of us had a really great time overall.  We weren't very sure what to expect since none of us had ever done a luau before, but the food was delicious and the entertainment was great.  We might try out some of the other luau venues on the island just so we can compare, but I'll definitely always have a soft spot for Germaine's since they were my first luau experience.

Have you ever been to a luau before?


Monday, September 9, 2013

LoveSac: A Review


Back before Mr. L and I moved to Hawaii, I took a little trip up to Maryland to visit him while he was doing some training.  We were able to play the tourist and see lots of different things around the area and I was so thrilled we were able to share in that experience.  (I just remembered that I never even recapped that trip -- eek!  Maybe I should!)  One weekend while I was there, we headed off to one of the malls close to him and wandered around for a while.

At some point in our trip, we came across a small-ish furniture store tucked in around the other stores in the mall and decided to walk in and check it out.  The store's name was LoveSac, and we quickly saw what was so awesome about the "Sactionals" style furniture -- you can rearrange them into countless different formations!


On top of that, the covers on the furniture are 100% changeable and washable.  So if we felt like having a leather couch one year and a red couch the next, we could do it a lot more cheaply than buying a whole other brand new piece of furniture -- pretty cool!  You can check out the cover selection here.

We both loved the concept, especially since we have been (and will continue to be) moving so much over the course of Mr. L's relationship with the military.  Not only is it easier to move than a traditional couch, we can set it up to fit whatever room we decide to put it in inside each new home.  It certainly didn't hurt that the Sactional arrangements we sat on were pretty dang comfy too!

Flash forward to the beginning of summer 2013: our current couch had been around for a long time (well before we got married and into Mr. L's bachelor years) and was showing a bit of wear, and we'd been told time and time again (in particular by moving companies) that it was a pretty dang big piece of furniture.  After a few weeks of thinking on the situation, we decided to take the plunge, donate our old couch, and order a Sactional 5 Series arrangement from Lovesac (4 bases, 5 sides total -- specifically this set, but it was on sale and had an extra side thrown in for free).


I'm not going to lie, it took a long time for our furniture to get here.  The shipping part was actually pretty fast (and by the way, shipping is free in the continental U.S., although sadly not for us), but unfortunately, the covers that we'd chosen, Chocolate Velvish, were on back-order, so it ended up being a couple extra months before the furniture could even be shipped to us.  We knew that going in though, so we waited patiently for our new Sactional to arrive.

Finally, UPS delivered it one afternoon, and we opened a couple of the boxes to check out our purchase (we weren't putting it together yet because we still needed to move our old couch out).  What we saw in the boxes wasn't quite what we were expecting though, unfortunately.  Instead of the Chocolate Velvish covers, we'd received boxes full of the Bidness Grey Tweed color.  While the grey is a lovely color, it wasn't what we ordered and it definitely did not go with the rest of our living room decor.


Comparison of the Bidness Tweed and the Chocolate Velvish
When we originally ordered the Sactional, we'd received an email from the client relations manager at LoveSac named Ellie who told us to contact her if we ever needed anything, so I shot her a quick little email that night to let her know what was up.  Not only did she offer to send the correct covers to us free of charge, but she said we could go ahead and keep the entire Bidness Grey Tweed set on top of it!

Needless to say, we were pretty floored since the cover sets aren't cheap.  That level of customer service was outstanding, and we really appreciated the efforts Ellie made to keep us informed (I'd sent her lots of emails throughout the entire waiting, shipping, and ordering the new covers process).  She is awesome!

While we waited for our new covers to come in, we decided to go ahead and set up the Sactional with the grey covers to make sure everything worked fine.  And I'm going to be completely honest -- setting this couch up was HARD.  In the showroom, the pieces fit pretty effortlessly together, but it wasn't until we were setting ours up that we realized it was because those pieces were all nice and broken in after months or possibly years of being arranged and rearranged.  Ours was brand spankin' new from the factory, and there were times we had to walk away and literally recovery our energy after trying to force some pieces together (it probably didn't help that we were both sick, but it was seriously TOUGH).  It can be overall very frustrating, especially when two pieces are SO CLOSE to fitting together but just won't seem to slide in and behave, but we stuck with it and managed to get that daggum thing set up!

Just starting out...
Halfway there...
My advice would be to watch the assembly video here and make sure you know exactly how you're going to arrange it first.  Otherwise, it might be a good idea to have more than two people on hand.  Three would work great!  And although LoveSac does say that you don't need tools to assemble the Sactionals, keep a hammer on hand.  It helped us bang the handles when they were too tough to go down and it helped us pull them back up after we realized we'd made a mistake, haha.  Feel free to leave a comment if you have questions about the set up.  I'd be happy to answer!


A bit more in-depth of the components
Close up of the metal clamps that help hold the furniture together
Thankfully, the couch fit perfectly in our tiny living room and we loved how it looked and sat.  It isn't the most comfortable piece of furniture you'll ever own, but it's comfy enough for us, especially when you factor in the re-arrangebility (which is hard, no doubt, but still doable) and the ability to change the covers.

After another couple of weeks, our new covers came in, but we were definitely not excited to re-cover the Sactional again since it would involve essentially taking apart the whole couch (ugh) so we put it off for a while, haha.  We also noticed that the covers sent to us this time weren't called Chocolate Velvish, but Rhinoplush instead, so we suspect that there may have been a cover mix-up in the reorder since they have another fabric called Rhinoplush.  However, the covers felt perfectly fine to us and the color was exactly what we wanted, so we were fine with keeping them.

Fabric close up

After another week or so of staring at the new covers and the old covers, we finally got fed up and just went with it!  It took a couple of hours of good, solid effort (and it was actually slightly easier than the first time, giving us hope that it'll get progressively easier each time it's reassembled) but it was actually worth it in the end.  We were absolutely reassured that the new covers were the covers for us.  They're so soft and almost velvety smooth, and they even made the couch much more comfortable to us to sit on.  I could cuddle with the cushions on that Sactional all day long!  We're in the process of finding some nice throw pillows to go with the Sactional (the smaller ones pictured will probably get recovered eventually, and I'm still feeling out the bigger ones), so hopefully we'll get it looking super snazzy soon!





And, of course, our family wouldn't be completely 100% happy with the purchase if the dogs didn't love it too.  Thankfully, they gave it their seal of approval immediately!



Liam in his favorite spot -- he can peek out the blinds from here
Overall, Mr. L and I are both really happy with our purchase from LoveSac.  I think this set of furniture will be a great addition to our home for many, many years to come, and we're excited to imagine it heading with us to each of the new places we'll be living in!

Set up with our coffee table that may or may not stay in the living room since there's not much room
Have you ever heard of LoveSac before?  What do you think of the concept?


UPDATE:  At this point in our period of LoveSac ownership (mid-October 2013), we've assembled this couch for a total of 3 times, the last time being when we moved in the new house.  For that assembly, Mr. L and a friend were able to put it together super easily and in no time at all which was a great comfort to us.  Unfortunately you still have to suffer through the first couple of assemblies, but we at least know now it will never be as bad as the first time again!

Disclaimer: This post consists entirely of my own thoughts and opinions.  No one at Lovesac encouraged me to write it or offered compensation for a post.  I'm sure they don't even know I exist aside from their wonderful client relations manager Ellie, of course!  :)