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Friday, December 27, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  It's been SO nice having you home every day while you were on leave.  I'm going to miss it too much!

2.  Thank you for helping us both have a wonderful Christmas!  I love you and I hope you will enjoy your presents!

3.  Thank you again for going with me places to run errands even when you're not really up for it.  I appreciate it a lot.

4.  Aren't you glad we got you that "therapy Schnauzer" now??  Haha.

5.  Here's to a great rest of 2013!!  :)

ily <3

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie

I hope all of you out there reading this are having a wonderful Christmas Day!  While I'm enjoying the holiday with loved ones, here's a scheduled recipe post to tide you over!  :)


I'm always on the look out for holiday recipes that can be turned into traditional staples each year.  And if I listen to my audience properly (AKA the people I feed!), this recipe is absolutely a keeper!

It's Paula Deen to the rescue this time for me, haha.  She certainly does know her good southern cooking!  Mr. L could not stop eating this and we almost couldn't tear away any leftovers from one of our friends on Thanksgiving, so I did what any sensible person would do -- I made another, and then two more after that!  If you decide to give this recipe a try, let me just go ahead and tell you to at least make a double batch because one pie will be gone in a flash!

Recipe courtesy of Food Network and Paula Deen

  • 2 cups peeled, cooked sweet potatoes (cover your potatoes with water and boil for around 45 minutes and then peel)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (my addition!)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 9-inch unbaked pie crust 


Using a mixer, combine the potatoes, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, salt, and the three spices.  Mix thoroughly, making sure to break up any chunks of potatoes that may still be intact.

Add in the cup of milk and continue to mix until well incorporated.

Pour the filling into your pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for around 35 to 45 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (I've found 40 minutes to be just about perfect for my oven).  Pull out of the oven and allow to cool on a wire baking rack.

You also have the option of adding a meringue to the top of the pie like the original recipe says to do, but I opt to leave it off and keep a can of whipped cream handy for a quick and easy topping.

What's one of your favorite holiday pies?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Getting to Know Hawaii: Aloun Farms Pumpkin Patch

The Need to Knows:
  • The Aloun Farms Pumpkin Patch is located at 91-1440 Farrington Hwy, Kapolei, HI 96707 (helpful signs are posted along the way after the H1 exit).  It's exact location can be found here:
  • The patch is normally open almost every weekend in October from 8:30 AM to 5 PM, but be sure to check their website to make sure.
  • Admission is $2 per person (ages 2 and under are free).  They typically have one day labeled as a military appreciation day where all military I.D. cardholders can get in for free.
  • Small pumpkins will cost about $4 each, medium pumpkins around $6, large pumpkins $8, and giant pumpkins around $15 if I remember correctly.  Since pricing is liable to change every year, keep an eye out for signs with updated information at the event.  It is also CASH ONLY, but there are ATMs provided for you to use.
  • I would recommend wearing closed toe shoes since it gets pretty dusty when you're out in the fields choosing your pumpkin and also sunscreen since you'll be in the middle of a field most of the time.
  • It's also obviously a great kid-friendly experience -- just make sure your strollers can handle going over uneven, dusty terrain!

Beautiful views facing toward Honolulu and Diamond Head
I know I am completely late with this post with it being the middle of December and all, but I really wanted to at least do a recap of some pumpkin picking Mr. L and I did with some friends back in October!

Adorable friends of ours at the entrance to the patch
You may be surprised to learn that although Hawaii never gets a true "fall" season, we do still have pumpkin patches, which is totally awesome!  As far as I know, Aloun Farms is the only farm on Oahu that has actual grown-in-the-ground pumpkins that you can choose and cut yourself.  There are other patches, but they bring in the pumpkins from elsewhere and set them in a field for you to pick, which wasn't exactly my idea of a true pumpkin patch.  To each their own, though!

While the farm's main attraction is the pumpkin picking, there are also a ton of other activities to partake in, especially if you bring your kids.  There are rides, games, yummy food, live music, and a hayride as well as pick-your-own sweet corn, string bean, kabocha (an Asian variety of winter squash), and sunflowers.  You could easily make an afternoon out of your trip here and have a lot of fun while doing it.

Pretty neat rock wall!
One of the games they had set up -- looked like fun!
Sunflower field
We visited the farm on its second open weekend in the early afternoon, and although there were a lot of people around, it didn't feel too crowded, at least to me.  After a quick snack of some delicious Ewa sweet corn (so good!), we made our way into the patch and picked out our pumpkins.  And of course by we, I mean the boys did the harvesting and the girls did the ordering around while we checked out the scenery!  :)

Searching for the perfect pumpkin
I loved how pretty it was here!
My beautiful friend and her pumpkin!  :)
Mr. L with our pumpkins!
We didn't stay for too long after because we intended on getting back to the house and watching a Halloween movie before bedtime (Sunday night meant work in the morning!), but when we got back, we decided to just dive in and start carving our newly purchased pumpkins.  Because what else are you going to do right after choosing the perfect pumpkins besides making fabulously carved works of art?!

Our pumpkins -- Jack Skellington, Frankenpumpkin, Drunken Sailor, and Pumpkin Pi!
Unfortunately they just didn't last long at all -- two or three days tops before mold completely sabotaged them.  That's what we get for living in Hawaii, though.  There's got to be a downside, I suppose!  Plus we'll always have the pictures, haha.

Do you enjoy visiting a pumpkin patch during the fall?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Forgotten Chicken

When you're right smack dab in the middle of the holidays, you start doing what everyone else starts doing -- craving comfort food.  If you're overloaded on turkey and dressing but still want a dish for dinner that's got the same kind of vibe, look no further than right here!

I pinned this recipe for-e-ver ago over on Pinterest (thanks to Brie at Darling Doodles!) and it hit the spot one night a few weeks ago!  I would highly recommend it (especially with a load of veggies to go on the side to kind of balance out all the carbs!) and Mr. L really seemed to enjoy it too.  I'll most likely be making this again soon, especially with how easy it was, and you should give it a try too!

Recipe courtesy of Darling Doodles


  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 3 which totaled about 1.5 lbs)
  • 2 cups minute rice, uncooked
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • Water
  • 1 packet Lipton Onion Soup Mix

Mix together the two cans of soup, one can's worth of water, the two cups of rice, and the onion soup mix.

Butter a 9x13 baking dish thoroughly.

Add your rice mixture to the pan, spreading evenly.

Lay your chicken breasts directly on top of the rice mixture.

Make sure to cover well with aluminum foil too.

Then pop it in your oven that's been preheated to a low temperature, around 250 degrees, and bake for approximately three hours.  Alternatively, you can turn the oven up higher to around 350 degrees and bake for between an hour and an hour and a half.

After it's finished, the rice on the edges will be nice and crispy but soft in the middle.  Pile it up on your plate and don't forget to enjoy!  :)

Other than the classics, what kinds of comfort food do you enjoy during the holiday season?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Getting to Know Hawaii: USS Oklahoma Memorial

The Need to Knows:
  • The USS Oklahoma Memorial is located at the corner of Langley Avenue and Cowpens Street on Ford Island in front of the entrance to the Battleship Missouri Memorial.  It's exact location is here:
  • This memorial is located on an active military base, so if you don't have proper identification, you'll need to take the shuttle bus provided at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center for $3 per person.  It runs about every 10-15 minutes.  If you drive here yourself, parking is available across the street in the same area where you would park for the Mighty Mo.
  • There is no admission fee for the USS Oklahoma Memorial.
  • Since this is also a small memorial like the USS Utah Memorial, you'll most likely only need a few minutes to view it.  The best idea would be to spend a little time here before you go and visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial.
  • If you'd like any more information on the memorial, be sure to check out their website.
Two of the lesser known memorials from the attack on Pearl Harbor are the USS Utah and the USS Oklahoma Memorials.  Both memorials honor men and ships that were also lost during the attack.  Since I previously talked about the USS Utah Memorial, today I'll be covering the USS Oklahoma Memorial.

Many people are likely to have seen the USS Oklahoma Memorial because it's located right outside of the entrance to visit the USS Missouri, which I mentioned briefly in my Getting to Know Hawaii: Battleship Missouri Memorial post.  This makes giving the memorial a brief visit before heading on to the Mighty Mo a great choice during your visit to Ford Island.

What some people might not realize is that many of the ships that were sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor were actually able to be raised and utilized somehow by the Navy, whether by entering the fleet once again or by being used for scrap metal and parts.  Even parts of the USS Arizona were raised and re-used to support the war effort.  The USS Oklahoma was one of these ships, although it was unfortunately too badly damaged to ever enter the fleet again.  Instead it was raised and some parts were salvaged, and when she was in dry dock the hull was repaired to make her watertight once again.  She was decommissioned in 1944, sold in 1946, and while being towed to San Francisco in 1947 was lost in a storm 500 miles away from Hawaii.

The memorial here on Ford Island wasn't erected until December 7, 2007, the 66th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It was placed here since the Battleship Missouri is moored where the Oklahoma was in 1941.  Each white pillar represents a lost crewman, 429 in all, forever "manning the rails" of the Oklahoma.

Like the other memorials on Oahu, the USS Oklahoma Memorial stands not only as a way to honor and remember those who were lost, but also as a reminder of the actions and their consequences of this period of our country's and the world's history.   I highly recommend stopping and giving this memorial a visit, especially if you are already going to see the Mighty Mo!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  I'm glad you're not super nosy about your gifts!  I know I would have been figured out so many times by now if you were, haha.

2.  And speaking of gifts, we are DONE shopping!  :)

3.  Read that book I loaned you!!

4.  Hey, it's my birthday next week!  :)

5.  I'm so glad you start your Christmas leave today!!  Yay!!

ily <3

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Sweet Tea

One of my and Mr. L's favorite holiday traditions is breaking out our "special" sweet tea, which we've affectionately nicknamed our Holiday Sweet Tea.

Now, this is definitely a relatively new tradition.  We both grew up drinking traditional, normal sweet tea.  There were no frills to it and it got the job done!  While we still love our regular sweet tea, we also love breaking out a new blend when the holidays roll around that just seems more festive to us!



Grab a small pot and fill it with water almost all the way full.  The water will need to come to a boil, so don't fill it with too much water.  Throw in your tea bags, bring the water to a rolling boil, and let the tea seep for about 10 minutes or so.

Grab a 2 gallon pitcher and add the 1 cup of sugar to the bottom.  Take your hot tea and pour it in the pitcher, making sure to stir the contents to help dissolve the sugar more evenly and quickly.  Fill the pitcher with water until full.  Let chill for at least 30 mins to an hour (the longer the better, I've found) and serve over ice.

You can also make this just as easily in a fantastic little appliance I just can't live without -- an iced tea maker (this is the model I own which you might have seen in my coffee printables post).  I am completely in love with mine and use it all the time.  Making tea is never as easy as it is with a tea maker!

What's one of your special holiday traditions?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Getting to Know Hawaii: USS Utah Memorial

The Need to Knows:
  • The USS Utah is located on Ford Island, near the intersection of Saratoga Blvd and Yorktown Blvd (past the Navy Lodge).  A small lot is available for parking.  It's exact location can be found here:
  • Since this memorial is located on an active military base, if you don't have the proper identification, you can only visit it if you are sponsored by someone with the appropriate credentials.  The shuttle from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center unfortunately does not stop here.
  • There is no cost associated with visiting the memorial.
  • Because the memorial is small, you don't need much time here (unless you feel compelled to, then by all means, do!)  When we visit with friends and family, we combine it on the same day with the USS Arizona, the USS Bowfin, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum, so we probably spend about 15-20 minutes lingering here.
Looking onto the memorial and the wreckage behind the trees
Two of the lesser known memorials from the attack on Pearl Harbor are the USS Utah and the USS Oklahoma Memorials.  Both memorials honor men and ships that were also lost during the attack.  Today I'll be covering the USS Utah Memorial, and next time I'll talk about the USS Oklahoma Memorial.

The USS Utah Memorial isn't exactly easily accessible.  It's tucked away on Ford Island close to some officer housing, so it may be difficult for those of you without base access to see this memorial.  Although the shuttle bus from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center will take you to the USS Oklahoma (it's right in front of the Battleship Missouri Memorial), it doesn't go to the Utah and you have to be able to drive yourself there instead.  However, if you are by chance able to go, whether with your own ID or by being sponsored by someone with a military/DOD ID,  I highly recommend it.

Only small portions of the Utah are actually above water.  The rest are submerged in the channel.
The USS Utah Memorial is oftentimes empty, leaving you with what I personally feel is a very intimate experience.  There are a few plaques to tell you a little bit about what happened here, but it may be good to brush up on the Utah's history, which I'll help you with below.  I know it's mentioned in the fantastic movie presented right before your boat tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, which is why visiting the Utah in conjunction with the USS Arizona Memorial is a great idea.

Lei with the Utah in the background
The Utah is one of only two ships still submerged from the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the other being, of course, the Arizona.  She had been converted from a battleship into a combined training and target ship and, thanks to wooden planking covering her deck, was possibly mistaken by the Japanese for an aircraft carrier.  She was struck by two torpedoes that caused heavy flooding and she began to list to the side.  Only 11 minutes after initially being hit, she capsized.  Although the ship's captain was able to rescue four men by physically cutting them out of her hull and a vast majority of the crew did survive, 64 men total were killed and they remain entombed within the Utah to this day, making the ship an official war grave.

Incredible image of the Utah capsizing off Ford Island (
This memorial is one I always make a point to take my guests to when they come in for a visit.  It's definitely doable alongside the other big historic military attractions (USS Arizona, the Mighty Mo, the Pacific Aviation Museum, etc.) as long as you pay attention to your timeline.  Although there isn't much fanfare over here, I believe it's haunting and beautiful in its own way and will help you grasp the full scale of the attack that happened in this very spot.

Panorama of the wreckage with the Waianae Mountains in the background
The USS Utah Memorial may be a simple memorial, but I believe it is absolutely worth visiting.  Just go with a respectful mindset and a refresher of its history and you will be reminded of another side of the scars we as a nation were left with 72 years ago this past weekend.

View looking back onto Ford Island