Monday, January 31, 2011


“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”

I love that quote.  And I am amazed today at the people who have come in and out of my life and the purpose they served for me.  Just last week, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself thinking about all of my Mendon friends who appear to have moved on.  We've reached the 6 month point.  It's inevitable, I know, but I'm always sad and disappointed when it happens.  I seem to always be the one who hangs on longer than anyone else.   

But doors close all the time, and then others open...

Most recently I've added a new mom, an aunt, and two sisters to the list of people who amaze and inspire me.  I'm sure their influence and support will come in and out of my life in the coming years.  I'm so grateful to have them.  

Shortly after we moved here, I deleted my Facebook account.  But even with a very small window of opportunity, I happened to find someone unexpected...the sister missionary who taught me the discussions when I was in college in 1993!  She happens to live less than a mile away from me.  We went to lunch shortly after finding each other on FB and since then have become very good friends.  I'm certain that it was not an accident that our paths have crossed again.  I'm not sure what purpose that friendship will have in my life, but it has been a pleasure to reminisce with her and to be reminded of the way I felt when I was first investigating the Church.

When we lived in Seattle, I had a friend who would come over and keep me company when my husband traveled.  I thoroughly enjoyed talking and scrapbooking with her, and even though I've told her, she will never really know how much I appreciated her company on those long nights.  After we moved back to Atlanta, we kept in touch for the standard 6 months and then lost contact.  But recently, our paths have crossed again.  We seem to be in the same place in our lives and I love the connection that I feel with her again even though we still live so far away.

In Mendon, it took a LONG time for me to establish solid friendships.  The closest friendships I had were ones that I made shortly before we moved.  (Why does that always happen??)  They were the kinds of friends who asked questions and then stayed to hear the answers.  They were the ones who had confidence in me when I didn't.  They encouraged and supported and lifted me when I needed it the most.  They made a difference then and they have made a lasting impression in my life.  They have busy lives, and unfortunately the miles have taken their toll, but I'm sure that our paths will cross again.

There is currently a wonderful woman in my ward who I met shortly after we moved to Allen.  She is smart and funny and beautiful and she has the most amazing family.  I felt an instant connection with her.  I haven't spent as much time with her as I would like because   But she is an inspiration to me in so many ways.  I am attaching a link to her most recent blog post because she explains the details of her life so much better than I ever could.  I wish I could introduce her to every person I have ever met.  It is an honor for me to be numbered among her friends. 

Allie's Blog 

I am so grateful to know her.  She inspires me to be better, to appreciate the blessings and the people around me, and to remember Heavenly Father's hand in every aspect of my life.  I'm convinced that there is a very specific purpose for our friendship and that it is, once again, not an accident that we met when we did.  

I am grateful for the memorable people who have come in and out of my life...and for the person that I've become because of their "footprints". 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Organ

About a month ago, word got out that I can play the organ.  The regular organist apparently doesn't get breaks very often, so she was excited when she confirmed that information with me.  I told her that I would be happy to substitute for her anytime she needed me.  So last week, she ASKED ME to play for her!!  Hooray!!

I was the organist in our ward in Mendon for a couple of years and (like everything else), I didn't realize how much I loved it until after we moved and I didn't have the opportunity to play anymore.   When I was first given that calling, I definitely didn't love it.  I remember each time I played one of the hymns, I would write the date that I played it in my hymnbook.  I had made a personal commitment to try the organ for one year, or until I had played every hymn in the book during Sacrament.  When I started to repeat hymns, I started hinting (to the powers that were) that my turn was up and that it was time to release me.  Of course, they didn't.  So I just stayed there, and eventually, I gained enough confidence in my ability and had enough of a repertoire that I could play even without practicing.  But it's been 6 months since I've played an organ and I wasn't sure how much practice I would need to be ready for actual playing in front of people.  This week I went to the church in the middle of the week to reacquaint myself with the organ and guess what!  I CAN STILL PLAY!!  

By the way, I'm a total organist imposter... completely fake.  I'm a pianist who can play the organ...definitely NOT a true organist.  I don't use the foot pedals at all except occasionally at the very end of the song for effect with ONE FOOT on ONE PEDAL.  I don't know how to set any of the stops.  I just play around with the settings that someone else has already preset until I find ONE that is suitable for prelude music and Sacrament hymns and ONE that is suitable for everything else.  That's it...two settings.  (In Mendon it was #3 and it was #5 and #8)  One time, though, I did insert chimes into the third verse of a hymn because it sort of called for them.  
Just to make sure that I'm not giving anyone the wrong impression...I can play here...
but definitely NOT HERE...

Today I got to church early and walked right up to the organ just like I used to in Mendon.  The building we're currently attending looks exactly like our building in Mendon, so it was a very familiar feeling to be sitting up there today.   I played prelude for about 10 minutes and then the Bishop stood up to open the meeting.  In Mendon, I had a system worked out with a couple of the members of the Bishopric.  They would give me a few seconds notice that they were going to stand up and then I would have time to finish playing.  Not all of them did that, but I appreciated the ones who did.  Today I panicked slightly when I looked up and realized the Bishop was already standing at the podium.  Fortunately it was a short hymn, and I wrapped it up quickly so he didn't have to wait long.  
Oh how quickly you forget all the subtle little details of a calling when you don't have it anymore.

Just after the Sacrament prayer, I set all of my stops in preparation for the closing hymn, and slid toward the end of the bench to sit in my soft chair for the remainder of the meeting (just like I used to in Mendon).  Unfortunately, I remembered too late that I don't usually wear shoes when I play the organ (not because I need my feet to play anything, but because I'm always worried that my shoes are going to slip off and accidentally hit one of the pedals). 

See that wood frame that borders the end of the foot pedals?  Well, WITHOUT shoes on, I can tell the difference between the frame and a pedal.  WITH shoes ON, I can't!!!  (totally embarrassing...but just for a second)

The rest of the meeting was uneventful.  And after it ended I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to play again.  I hope she asks me to sub for her again SOON!

These are the hymns that I played this morning...

136  I Know That My Redeemer Lives
191  Behold the Great Redeemer Die
166  Abide with Me


Friday, January 28, 2011

The Book of Mormon

This is bold for totally out of character BOLD!  But after today...and this month...and the last 6 months, I really can't have a blog entitled Stuff I Love and not include this.  
In October, our Stake President spoke in our ward.  He is a very direct man...kind of like how I imagine King Benjamin (only not as old)...But really, what Stake President isn't direct?  Probably it's the calling and not the man.  Anyway, he gave an incredible talk which included several things we should be doing personally, but then he also gave us a challenge as a Stake to read the Book of Mormon in it's entirety by the next Stake Conference (February 5-6).  

I have been given challenges like that many times in the 17+ years that I've been a member of this Church.  Sometimes I've been successful and other times, not so much.  But every other time I have taken on the challenge just for the sake of the challenge...because everyone else was doing it, because I wanted to make the challenger happy, because I didn't think it was an option not to take that kind of a challenge.  There is never a BAD reason to read the Book of Mormon.  And even if your intentions aren't exactly where they should be, just the very act of being IN the scriptures is beneficial.  But this time, I wanted to really READ the scriptures...not just get to the end in the allotted period of time.  So I found the Book of Mormon CDs and started listening to one a day (usually three days a week) sometime in the beginning of November.  Each CD lasts about an hour and covers about 10 chapters.  

As of this morning, I have 4 CDs left and one week until Stake Conference.  I am thrilled to have (almost) accomplished the goal of reading the entire Book of Mormon, but I'm even more excited about my testimony that has increased because I've REALLY read it.   
I just finished 3 Ne 6-16 today...the account of the Savior's visit to the Nephites.  I can't imagine that anyone could read that and not believe more completely in the Savior and recognize his hand in all things.  I am grateful for those faithful people who believed first, and then got to SEE and FEEL and KNOW that what they had believed in and hoped for was actually true.  I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and that through Him we have the opportunity to magnify our callings, live to our fullest potential, and receive indescribable joy. 

I have never read the entire Book of Mormon in such a short time.  I don't remember ever reading it with as much clarity and understanding.   And I certainly don't remember ever having such a strong testimony about it's truthfulness. 
"It is a reality known to every student of the scriptures that when we read the scriptures searchingly and prayerfully, we feel the presence of the Lord."  (Dallin H. Oaks, "Studying the Scriptures" Nov. 24, 1985
"There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the Book of Mormon.  You will find greater power to resist temptation.  You will find the power to avoid deception.  You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path."  (President Ezra Taft Benson, Nov 1986)

I am grateful for the time that I have during the day to devote to studying the scriptures.  The blessings have been immense.  My prayers are different.  My perspective is different.  My motivation is different.  
I am grateful for the increased testimony that I have of the Savior and his teachings.  And I'm especially grateful that we have a loving Heavenly Father who knows us.  
"...for your Father in Heaven knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him" (3 Ne 13:8)

I wrote this today because I know that the Book of Mormon is true.  I don't know if I really knew that before this experience, but it is one of those things that is forever sealed now.  Once again, I am grateful for the ability that we are given to change our minds and to change our hearts. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Red Velvet Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory...serious yum!
Nope, it wasn't vegan...but I only had half a piece, so I haven't completely fallen off the wagon.  
And it was totally worth it!
Tomorrow I'll get back on.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Visiting Teaching

I could feel the collective gasp of all of my friends just now when I wrote the title of this post.  I know that in the past, I may not have loved visiting teaching...but today I sort of love everything, and I went visiting teaching and LOVED it, so I thought I'd capitalize on the moment. 

"Visiting teaching is the heart and soul of Relief Society. The purposes of visiting teaching are to build caring relationships with each sister and to offer support, comfort, and friendship. In visiting teaching, both the giver and the receiver are blessed and strengthened in their Church activity by their caring concern for one another.",17884,4691-1,00.html
I haven't always embraced the idea of visiting teaching.  It is my nature to be social, comforting, friendly, but I have on occasion squawked loudly about being "assigned" to do this...and being expected to do it monthly.  But today, I think I might have caught the vision for the first time in 18 years!
I realized that I have had great visiting teaching experiences.  My first memorable experience with Visiting Teaching happened just after I got married, when we were living in Atlanta.  I was assigned a visiting teaching route and for some reason had some difficulty getting my companion to go with me, so the VT Supervisor offered to be my companion anytime I needed her.  So I needed her the very next month!   Her offer turned into an amazing, lasting friendship and she is still one of my very closest friends.  

Eventually I think they actually made us companions (since we were sort of inseparable anyway) and we visited a wonderful 80 yr old sister named Rosemary.  Oh, how I loved Rosemary!  She was one of those unforgettable women.  She was a tiny little thing...she couln't have been more than 4'11".  She was a convert to the Church, a former teacher at a Catholic school, a widow for over almost 40 years...and still teaching Primary and attending the Temple weekly at 80 years old!!!   I was her visiting teacher, but I learned much more from her than she ever learned from me. 

I visited a sister in Mendon who was memorable for me also.  We were close to the same age, but we definitely didn't swim in the same circles.  In fact, we barely spoke outside of my monthly visits to her house.  But when I was there, something about her home was always calming for me.  I always left there feeling better than I did when I got there.  She was always so content.  I've really never met anyone like her.  At the time she was in that "unattainable" category for me.  She was wise beyond her years, and quietly faithful, confident but not showy, and I wish now that I had flown more closely in her radar when I had the opportunity because I'm sure I could have learned a lot more from her than I did.  When we moved here and I thought about the kind of person I wanted to be, she was the first person who came to mind.

Today, I went to visit a 23 year old, newly married sister with no kids.   I wouldn't have guessed that we would have anything in common.  (For Pete's sake, I'm almost old enough to be her mother...her very cool, very young and very fashionable mother...but her MOTHER nonetheless!)  But after visiting for AN HOUR, I discovered that she is quite possibly the most interesting person I have met in a very long time!  She has experienced more in 23 years than most people experience in a lifetime.  The time went by so quickly that I was disappointed to leave.  I am definitely looking forward to going back next month.

Today I realized that even though it's not always the most convenient thing to make a monthly visit to someone you barely know, it is an amazing opportunity to meet people we might never have met under other circumstances.  I am grateful for that handful of sisters who have left a lasting impression on me because of visiting teaching.  And I am grateful for the opportunity we have to change our hearts and change our minds.       

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My New Phone

Do you think I'll jinx it if I post about the phone of my dreams before I actually have it in my hand??  
I suppose there's a slight chance that I won't love it once I actually own it, but I seriously doubt it.  
(I mean, really...just look at it.  Totally sexy, don't you think?)
HTC Droid Incredible
I've been petitioning the cellphone decision maker in our home for an iPhone for months...once I realized that ALL OF MY FRIENDS have one! (ugh...I sound like my 8th grader)   But a phone is a NEED, not a want, right?  And how can I possibly magnify my calling as wife and mother without one of these???
(I know the picture up there isn't an iPhone...hang on...)

After weeks of persuasion, I finally managed to drag my husband into a Verizon store to look at phones and talk to the phone guy about the iPhone that is being released on February 10th.  
But guess what!  After much polling the audience, and asking questions, and Googling, it turns out that I actually liked the Droid better than the iPhone.  
And guess what again!  With our current plan, we qualified for a screaming deal on it, too.  

So instead of waiting until my birthday...I will have the phone of my dreams by the end of the week!
...access to WEATHER INFO at all times! to hold ALL of my FAVORITE SONGS
...PANDORA when I get tired of my favorite songs (when does that ever happen??
...that Angry Birds app
...oh yeah, and unlimited calling and texting!
and I have no idea what else...but it's so beautiful, who cares?  Can you be in love with a cellphone?  I'll let you know when it gets here.  

Now I just need a cool case for it!



Monday, January 24, 2011


Awhile ago, I read a book that made me think about the food I was eating and what it was doing to my body and my head...because at post-40, I really don't have the luxury of being careless about food anymore.   The book mostly professes a totally vegan diet which I felt was a little too drastic for me, but I thought the meat-free part of it was worth exploring.  So just before Thanksgiving, I decided to try it.   I gave up all red meat and poultry (except for that bite of turkey that I had in Hilton Head on Thanksgiving) and limited my animal intake to fish.  I totally haven't missed it at all.  I've become well acquainted with my local Whole Foods store, and it turns out that tons of fruits and veggies, organic snacks, and a few well planned protein substitutes are a satisfying alternative to the way I used to eat.    

Last week was officially Detox Week for me.  As blissful as it was to experience every eating opportunity imaginable in Hawaii, it definitely took it's toll.  I felt crappy after we got back.  Vacation eating cannot translate to everyday eating without some serious consequences.  

Here was my plan of attack last week...
  • WATER WATER WATER!!! (no more POG...sniff)  
  • no meat
  • more fruits and veggies
  • Green Tea and fruit for breakfast
It helped that I had some MAJOR dental work done on Tuesday and I couldn't feel my mouth for 36 hours!

Green Tea
I have always loved Green Tea.  There's something extremely comforting about having a warm drink in the morning...especially in January (although in some western states, the mornings are brisk enough to drink Green Tea year round).  My other favorite warm drink is hot chocolate with generous amounts of REAL whipped cream floating on top, but that's a little much for everyday.  Fortunately Green Tea comes in decaf, so I'm not walking around with that caffeine buzz that I used to get from that other drink I love which shall remain nameless.  (It's amazing how much difference I've noticed in my clarity of thought since giving up caffeinated drinks.  I'm still sad about that, but apparently it's necessary.)  

Here are the immediate benefits I've noticed... 
  • My clothes fit better (and it's not because I'm not starving myself.  I've tried that and it's effective, but not sustainable.  I eat A LOT of food.  I just eat mass quantities of GOOD STUFF now instead of crap.)
  • Good hair days.  Do you think that's possible??  Can the stuff I've been putting into my body really affect the way my hair looks?  If that's the case, I should've started this vegan thing YEARS ago, because my hair is shiny and thick and healthy looking lately, and that makes me exceedingly happy.
  • Control.  Being in control of my food (instead of the FOOD controlling me) has ALWAYS been an issue.  I feel totally in control lately.  It's nice to eat for fuel instead of eating to satisfy a craving, or an emotion. 
  • Clarity of Thought.  I mentioned this up there already, but what if it's an actual thing?  Like what if eating "cleaner" also helps you think more clearly?  It's a respectable desire, don't you think?
This week, I'm feeling adventurous and confident and I'm going to try the rest of the vegan plan in the book which means...
  • all of the above stuff, plus...
  • no dairy
  • no eggs
  • no white flour
  • no refined sugar
...think I can do it???  :)

green tea, mass quantities of honeydew melon, and a banana

whole wheat fusili pasta, tomatoes, pinto beans (because there are people who worry about the amount of protein I may or may not be getting), and fresh oregano with a little olive oil and s/p (salt and pepper)
OK maybe there was more than a little salt because I'm a salt-a-holic!

whole wheat tortillas with Earth Balance (that's vegan butter) and cinnamon sugar

Chipotle's Vegetarian Bowl with cilantro lime rice and tons of veggies!

This is a totally personal decision with totally personal benefits.  I'm not trying to save the planet or stop global warming or make a statement about animal rights.  But I feel better and I look better and if I save a few chickens and cows in the process, I'm ok with that...just don't tell my cattle rancher friends.  

And look how yummy everything was that I ate today!  I'm totally not feeling the slightest bit deprived.

Mid Afternoon Walks

I have a friend who I walk with fairly regularly.  Unfortunately because of holiday craziness, vacations, and weather, we haven't walked in A LONG TIME!  So I texted her about an hour ago and asked her if she wanted to walk tomorrow morning.  She texted back and said, "Wanna go right now!?"  I have to say, I was a little thrown off.  I've already gotten dressed and ready for the day (including hair and make up) and I typically walk IN THE MORNING.  But it was only 2:00 and I didn't have anything else pressing, and the weather is absolutely PERFECT, so I texted her back and said "SURE!"  I threw on a pair of sweats and did something I've NEVER done before...I went for walk in the middle of the afternoon.  That's crazy, isn't it??...that I haven't ever thought to do that.  It's 24 degrees at 8am, but it's 51 degrees right now.  Why would I walk in the morning!??    

Anyway, it was the perfect break in the day...the perfect way to warm up...the perfect way to keep from wandering into the kitchen for a snack.  I might have to make this afternoon walking thing a habit!


Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Twilight Bark

Have you seen the part in 101 Dalmations when the puppies go missing and Pongo and Perdita use their network of canine friends to find them?  Even Scotland Yard couldn't find those puppies, but the Twilight Barkers did!  Sometimes it's like that, isn't it?  One small network of really good people with really good intentions can move mountains.

"it's the very fastest way to send news..." 

I have discovered recently that I have a network just like this.  I've always had it...I just didn't realize it.  Sometimes it's just a "gossip chain", but other times it has been that force that has come to my rescue when I've needed it the most.

Today I used The Twilight Bark to look for an hourglass for a church lesson tomorrow.  I blasted out 10 texts to friends in the area, and poof! in less than ten minutes, an hourglass appeared.

A few weeks ago when those two sweet boys from Mendon were in that terrible car accident, the "Twilight Bark" started at 6pm on the very night of the accident and continued through the week.  I heard about everything...the accident, the family, their teachers, their classmates, the funeral.  It was as if I still lived there.  I had worried when we first moved, that things would happen in Mendon without me and I would never know about them.   I don't worry about that anymore.  It was the most comforting feeling to know that I was still connected to my friends even though we were so far away.      

In May, when I was alone in a hospital with my dad, The Twilight Bark was the lifeline that kept me afloat when everything else was completely overwhelming.  I knew I was just a text or an email away from the people who loved me and I could feel their support from both coasts and everywhere in between, thousands of miles away.  Even though they couldn't be in the hospital with me, I could FEEL them.  On the day I got there, I received the most amazing email from my best friend telling me how brave I was to have gone to Houston alone to face what we all knew would be extremely difficult.  Amazing and brave were the last things I was feeling, but that email kept me going when the days were long and difficult.  Ten days later, when my dad passed away, I sent three texts and the "Twilight Barkers" did the rest.  And when I finally came home from that exhausting trip, the Mendon "barkers" were all there, already informed and ready to help me pick up the pieces.  

When we were in Hawaii last week, I felt that love and support again.  I had told a handful of people about the details of the trip before I left, and then the week's activities kept all of us busy.  I didn't have time to tell everyone, and I didn't really talk to any of them right before we left (and not at all while we were gone), but as soon as I got home, I immediately received texts and phone calls and emails from concerned friends wondering how everything had gone.  I am overwhelmed at the sincerity of the people who surround, in Mendon, in Hawaii, everywhere.  I am abundantly blessed to have such good friends and such an amazing family.      

There have been many things in my life, both big and small, that have required the Twilight Bark.  There is no doubt in my mind that I will have to rely on my network again and again in the years to come.  I am grateful today for all of those people who support me and come to my rescue when I need them.  Thanks for finding my life interesting and letting me pour out the details of it to you.    


I decided to wear my black leggings today because it was freezing and they sounded warm.  
I typically wear these with black flats (like in the picture), but it was COLD I thought boots would be a better choice.  I have 3" brown leather boots and 4" black leather boots...neither of which would have been appropriate with leggings.  BUT then I remembered the downstairs extension of my closet my daughter's closet has a pair of brown fake Uggs which would look REALLY cute with leggings.
So I wandered down to her closet.  But then the flowery black top I had picked out didn't quite go with the boots, so I looked to see if anything in HER closet inspired me.  I happened to find one of MY dresses in there.  It's actually a bathing suit cover up, but when she borrows it, she wears it with a t-shirt and calls it a dress.  So guess what I did!  I put it on over my black long sleeved t-shirt and it was adorable with the leggings and the boots! 
...EXCEPT then it was a little too much black.  I looked a little bit like a nun with brown Uggs...not exactly the look I was going for.  I needed a scarf or a sweater or I fished around some more and guess what!  She happened to have a tan sweater that went perfectly with the outfit...and it was ANOTHER layer for warmth!
it's this same style, only think TAN instead of green...and think HAUNANI instead of that blonde girl
All I needed to do was go back up to MY closet and find some accessories.  Long gold necklace with brown beaded charm and gold earrings!  PERFECT!  I was thrilled to have put together a totally new and different outfit with clothes I already owned (well, WE already owned)  I wore it to run errands this afternoon and loved it because it was warm.  I don't know if it looked as good as I felt, but I liked it anyway.  And I knew my husband and I had plans for the night, so I planned to wear it to dinner and the movie later.  (Because the thing about leggings and boots is that they're comfortable AND fashionable...the perfect combination!)

Then I picked up my daughter from school...

Me:  How was school?
D:    Good...
        HEY!  What the heck...?  Did you raid my closet!?
(darn!  I was hoping she wouldn't notice)
Me:  Well, technically, no because this is MY dress!  I just found it when I was borrowing your boots.
D:    Well, it looks dumb with that sweater.  
I have been a teenager mom long enough to know what she actually meant was "darn, why didn't I think to put that together???"
And this whole experience will come back to haunt me because she's like an elephant.  In a month, she'll be the one helping herself to something in MY closet and she'll remind me that I OWE it to her because I borrowed HER always happens.

Later tonight, I drove her to her friend's birthday party and met both the friend AND the friend's mom for the first time, as well as a bunch of other girls.  After the party, I found out that when I left, they all said, "You look JUST like your mom!"  And she said, "That's because she's wearing ALL of MY clothes!!" 

One of the greatest benefits of having a teenage daughter is that we can share stuff!  Usually it's just shoes and jewelry, but today I was creative.  I definitely wasn't trying to be a teenager again, and I DEFINITELY didn't look like one, but it was fun to rummage around in my fashionista daughter's stuff.  

I consider it the greatest compliment when people think we look alike.  She's amazing and beautiful and I am grateful that I get to be her mom.      

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The FOOD in Hawaii

We had some seriously amazing food while we were in Hawaii, so it definitely required it's own post.  Pretty much ALL the food in Hawaii is, except for poi...ew!  (Unfortunately, if you combine all that amazing food with the previous month of holiday treats, I'll be lucky if I fit into anything but stretchy pants anytime soon.)   

The night we arrived, my mom had filled our hotel room with tons of treats.   She must have known we would be starving...even though it was after midnight Central Time.  

There was a red box filled with about a million of these little cookies...I had to restrain myself so that 4 of them made it home to the kids.  (It was hard and ONLY 4 made it home!  I ate the other 999,996.)
Lilikoi Shortbread Cookies from The Cookie Corner

Another box was filled with my childhood favorite...
They're like sandwiches, sort of...they're baked or steamed dough filled with char siu (which is a Chinese way of cooking pork that has a totally different flavor than any other kind of pork.)  It's a little like BBQ but not really.  These were my favorite thing to eat when I was a little girl, and just the smell alone brought back floods of memories!    

When we got to Kona, my Auntie and Uncle gave us the most detailed, thorough tour EVER and then brought us back to their house for a real Hawaiian dinner!  
Chicken Long Rice
Lomi Lomi Salmon
Lau Laus - pork and sometimes fish wrapped inside taro leaves and steamed

and rice...of course!

The next day while we were out in the "tourist-y" part of Kona, we had my all-time favorite thing on the planet (besides Diet DP)...
Hawaiian Shaved Ice
This is SO NOT a sno cone!  If you've never had the Hawaiian kind, you haven't experienced the divine potential of ice!  I'm a huge fan of anything slushy and ice-y anyway, so this is like heaven in a cup for me!  It's way better than my frozen Vitamin Water!  :)  
look at all those syrup choices!!
They shave the ice so finely that it just melts in your mouth.  They pile it into a huge cup and pack it so that it looks like a snowball.  And THEN you get to pick three flavors of syrup to add to it.  I picked banana, coconut, that order so that the white coconut stripe was down the middle and I could tell the yellows apart...I know, I'm a dork.  And guess what else you can do!!!...You can have them put ICE CREAM in the middle before they pack it.  So they fill the cup, then put a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle, and then pack more shaved ice around it, and THEN pour the syrup of your dreams all over it.  That was a little over the top for me, but my uncle had one and it looked amazing!

For breakfast we had these...
...they're like sugar donuts, but oh so much better!  They're melty and dough-y and covered in sugar and I can't believe I have to wait until next July to have another one.  serious YUM!  
POG - Passion Orange Guava Juice

On our last day in Kona, the whole family went to Genki Sushi.    

It's the most unassuming little place, stuffed between a Subway and a Panda Express in a strip mall.  You think you're going in for fast food...and it is sort of fast food because it's ready the minute you sit down...but it's totally not what you think!

The little sushi makers are in the center of the restaurant where you can watch them make the fresh sushi and put it on a CONVEYOR BELT that "delivers" it to the surrounding tables....brilliant!! 
So when you sit down, you have instant and total access to a million tempting little plates of sushi  floating right next to you.   It didn't take us long to realize that all that accessibility might not be such a good thing.  They charge by the plate (price is determined by the plate color), and by the end of our indulgence we had quite a few stacks of each color!

It was totally worth it, though, and for our last meal in Hawaii, it was a great choice.  We didn't have to eat until the next day...when we were back at home!

So after a week of total and complete food nirvana, reality has set back in and I've realized that I actually have to fit into a skirt on Sunday.  Back to Whole Foods and my pre-December lifestyle...more fruits and veggies, WATER, whole wheat flour, less meat and no caffeine!   By next month, I should be ready for the next adventure...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


When I was a little girl, my grandmother and I spent the summers in Hawaii with a million aunts, uncles and cousins.  We worked, played, and never seemed to run out of food!  From early June until late July we were completely immersed in their lives and in the Hawaiian culture.  
I ate POI for the first time on one of those trips...which turned out NOT to be the chocolate pudding it was disguised as...HUGE disappointment.  
I ate an entire box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts one unbelievably sick and NEVER ATE ANOTHER ONE AGAIN!  In fact, just writing the word macadamia is making me a little queasy right now...!  
I helped pull a net full of fish out of the ocean once, and scaled a few of them.  
I pried shellfish (opihi) off the rocks with a spoon and ATE the contents....right there on the beach!  
I slept in a tent on the beach for 5 days every summer!  (see how adventurous I was when I was a kid!
I drank Coke out of a bottle.  
My Uncle Greg always had his ukulele available for spontaneous backyard concerts.  
My Uncle Albert roasted several pigs in the pit (imu) in his backyard.  
My cousins and I, and the little girls across the street collected Strawberry Shortcake dolls and played in the middle of their driveway for hours.  And then we came home and played Space Invaders and Asteroids on their Atari system (which I did not have at my house!)  
We had SPAM and eggs for breakfast and rice with every meal.  
And when I came home from those long summers in Hawaii, my parents would have to deprogram the "pigeon English" I had picked up from my cousins. 

It was an amazing childhood.  (But I have come to realize lately that there is very little about my life that hasn't been amazing.

In the summer of 1984, my family moved from San Diego to Houston and my trips to Hawaii were over.   
It took 27 years to get back there...

Here are the highlights of our most recent trip...

Pearl Harbor...too windy to ride the little ferry out there
Laie, HI Temple
Polynesian Cultural Center
Our friends, Elder and Sister Rumsey from HOU who are serving a mission at PCC
view from our cabin in Waimanalo
Luau at the Park in Kona
Higashihara Park, Kona, HI
Mauna Kea...13,000 ft and snowy!
Rainbow Falls, Hilo, HI
Lili'uokalani Park, Hilo, HI
Halemaumau Crater, Kilauea, Volcanoes National Park
Lava Tube, Volcanoes National Park
Lava Tube exit...Can you believe I went in there????
Glow at night from Halemaumau Crater...that's actual lava!!
Beach at Waikoloa Hilton, Kona, HI

Hilton Waikoloa

 And this is my favorite one...
...this is how I know that even though it's been 27 years, this is home...