Hi there. How are ya? It’s only been 7 months since I’ve bothered to talk to you. I guess that’s my new thing. It’s called the 7 month need-to-blog itch.

Arm full of Kittens.

For the heck of it …Arm full of Kittens. Arm provided by my friend’s husband.

Here’s the update: I’ve been married for over 3 years now.  This thing called marriage definitely has its ups and downs. We’ve been working on ourselves and we still have more work to do but I will say that we’re in a better place now than we were 2 years ago.

TG and Dante

Maybe it’s easier when you’re younger. Or maybe it’s easier if you have two (or even 1) non type A personality in the relationship. We are both Type A but I’m more Type A-er. LoL.

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I’ve always wanted kids. Since I was a little girl .. blah blah .. you know the story. But it’s totally true!

Well, we’ve been trying for a couple of years now with no success. We’ve tried the regular way (duh) and we’ve done several rounds of IUI. We even (meaning I .. meaning My Mom) bought Chinese medicine from a Korean doctor. A 4 month supply is a lot pricier than you’d think.

What it all comes down to is we are now thinking of going the IVF route. I’ve read up on the stats and they say after 37 the probability of having a successful pregnancy really drops after this year. I guess my age has made my decision for me.

Bottom line is we’ve already invested hundreds of dollars in the other methods and they haven’t panned out. So what’s a few (x3) thousand more than that? I think I should be thankful that I am married to a man in the military and this won’t cost us as much as it would if we were civilians. I sure wish it was as easy as getting knocked up “accidentally.”

Besties

Besties. Dante doesn’t like too many animals but I’d say Relay definitely holds a place in his heart. Or the fact that Relay just walks away when Dante gets ornery.

I don’t think it’s a matter of “Should we even bother or not” but if it doesn’t work out .. if, let’s say, having children isn’t in God’s plan for me .. then I am more than happy that Dante came into my life almost 5 years ago and that TG is in our lives now.

Cutest Dog EVER

Cutest Dog EVER

I decided to finally post something on my blog because .. well .. it’s the end the world. These will be my last words to the universe. Not really but in my mind the universe actually reads this thing.

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This year went by quick. We moved to Norfolk, Virginia from my beautiful island home of Hawaii and the transition hasn’t been too bad. I say that now but it has been 7 months. I’m sure my tone would’ve been different at month 2. I’ve managed to make some good friends here through the Yelp community and one of my neighbors (now a friend) who actually watches Dante for us when we’re out.

We’re heading to California tomorrow (that is if the world doesn’t end while we’re asleep tonight) to celebrate Christmas with family.  I’m really excited to spend the holidays with them.

I will miss Dante though. I can’t remember spending a Christmas without him since he’s come into my life almost 5 years ago. I know he’ll be cared for while we’re gone. I just hope he doesn’t cause too much trouble. Because as you all know .. My kid is the biter. He’s the kid in preschool that always gets in trouble for biting the other kids because he doesn’t know how to use his words. But only with other animals. He’s a perfect angel to the humans.

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On another note, Dante and I started volunteering. He was certified as a Therapy Dog earlier this year (before I left Hawaii). He’s pretty popular at the USO where all the Sailors and Marines coming back from a long deployment hang out until they get to go home. He’s even more popular with the kids at the elementary school we volunteer at on a weekly basis for the Listening Ears program.

ListeningEars

This little girl stole my heart and sometimes my laptop. She’s so damn cute and she’ll be going to a wonderful family who has a cat and will love her to pieces. The story is long and sad .. and though I would prefer never to live it again nor talk about it, I will say that there are some Veterinarians in this world who’s bottom line isn’t saving lives as much as it is money.

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We went to New York to visit my sister and her husband over Thanksgiving. We spent a good long week there and it was wonderful. TG had never been to NYC and I was more than happy to play tour guide. Though I had to tell him often to stop “acting like a tourist.” HA!

My little fur niece and nephew (Dante’s son) are so cute. And no .. they didn’t actually drink the beer. They just sat there like good little chickens.

NieceNephew

I also made cookies again this year though not as many as I have in the years past. I did manage to make 8 varieties though and only take pictures of 2. Haven’t you learned anything from past food posts?

I made a Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodle and wow does this cookie have a kick. I think I may have added more cayenne than the recipe called for because I like the pain. Not really .. They’re actually a little too spicy for me but I’m sure someone likes them.

Snickerdoodles

The second cookie pictured is a cranberry pistachio almond biscotti and those turned out great. Really buttery and noms. Plus I don’t bake and bake until they’re super dry and hard. They really are kind of perfect.

Biscotti

TG got me a new lense for Christmas and I’ve been taking pictures like crazy.

Poinsettias

Reduction

We invited another couple over for dinner and I decorated the table and just got Holiday Fancy. I LOVE the new lense and I adore my Holiday table, too.

Table

I guess that pretty much sums up the last 7 months. We’re doing well. TG loves his job. I love my job. Dante is as grumpy as ever. HAHAHA.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderfully prosperous New Year! From our Family to Yours. Don’t mind that look of utter disdain on Dante .. he really is Joyful.

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I left Hawaii on a Wednesday morning at the most ungodly hour of 7 AM.

What this means is that I actually woke up at 3 AM to walk Dante for 2.5 miles and then medicate him in hopes that he wouldn’t get me kicked out of my first class seat. We were out the door by 5 AM and headed to Honolulu International Airport. Just me, Dante and Mom and Dad.

The best parents in the world. In case you were wondering.

Oh yeah. I forgot about that smog.

The 5 days I spent in Los Angeles were filled with resting (I finally came down with that cold that had threatened to attack me the whole month prior to my leaving) and walking into the beautiful little city of Sierra Madre to have breakfast, lunch and/or dinner with friends.

Have you ever tried to gather 5 friends together to have dinner? Sure. No problem, right?

Ok. Well, have you ever gathered 5 friends with 5 dogs owned/babysat by said friends for dinner?

If you’ve never done this and you live in a city that you can, I would highly recommend it.

First, getting to meet up with some of your closest friends for an evening of laughs, food and wine (or iced tea for Carol) is already pretty awesome.

Throw in all the dogs and all of a sudden your evening becomes hilarious.

The restaurant we went to is in Sierra Madre and is called Sierra Bistro. Their outdoor area accommodates your furry kids and they even have a doggy menu, complete with chicken breast, hamburger and even hot dogs.

We had a Dante (Bichon Poodle), Darby (Shih tzu), Cecil (Pictured above … Terrier mix .. he’s 14 but has the energy of a 3 year old guys), Clair (I believe a Mix, but she was so sweet and Dante nearly killed her because he’s kind of a jerk when it comes to other dogs in his space.. ugh) and finally Cleo (the Teacup Chihuahua).

We tried to get them to take a group photo. We tried to get them all to sit in a perfect little line. They had other plans.

Pets are fun.

Oh My Gosh guys. I met Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman! She just came out with her newest cookbook and I went to Vromans in Pasadena for her book signing. I stood in line (well .. we … my friend Christine came with me) for 4 hours. Totally worth it. She was so nice and I gave her some Hawaiian Salt and then totally freaked when she asked me what she could make with it. Seriously. All I could come up with Kalua Pork. And then I proceeded to tell the wife of a cattle rancher that pork is the best meat. OMG .. what is wrong with me???

So .. talking about Kalua Pork. It happens to be the one requested item my friend Anne likes for me to make when ever we see each other. This time WE made it and she saw how incredibly easy it is. I also gifted her with a bag of Hawaiian salt but didn’t get tongue tied like I did with Ree.  That’ll be another post. BUT .. I did want to mention, Anne’s daughter, Bailey (who I’ve known since she was 4) is now 12 and super helpful in the kitchen. She helped me make spam musubi and we also made california rolls.

Ok. I’ve decided if I ever have a kid .. I sure hope it’s a girl. Actually, I’ll just take Bailey or hope that my kid is anything like Bailey. She really is the best kid guys.

Poor Darby had to deal with Dante the bully for a whole 5 days. And don’t even get me started on poor Tigrishka (Anne’s cat). Sorry Tigrishka. Dante is such a beast. heh…

Dante was able to fly with me in cabin from Hawaii to Los Angeles. It was a great flight and though Dante may have been slightly anxious, I’d say it was much better than having to put him in Cargo (which is what I ended up doing on the flights from Los Angeles to Virginia). I’m sure we were both horribly traumatized.

I did take a picture of Dante on the flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles, unfortunately half of  his body was out of the bag and under my legs.

But I did take some photos of him before he went to Cargo.  And after we left him, I proceeded to cry the next two hours because I felt so awful.

He did make it to Virginia where TG picked him up from Delta Cargo. The people at the Los Angeles facility were really great and super nice so I felt sort of good about it.

Not really. But it wasn’t their fault.

Los Angeles was great. Meeting up with friends was truly amazing. I’m glad we had time to stop over.

We’re in Virginia now. TG and I are trying to buy a house.

What? I KNOW!?!?!

Well, we’ve started the process. I’ll keep you guys updated.

We just had our very last hosted party earlier this month. Why our last? Because the United States Navy has decided we (TG & I) need to move to Virginia.

ASAP.

Oh Boy. This means that I will be leaving my home. My family and the wonderful friends I have here in Hawaii.

I took one picture. Using my iPhone because it is currently my only reliable camera.

Mostly because I have it on me all the time.

My friends have better cameras and/or they know how to use them.

So I’ve had to rely on the amazing photos they have provided to me.

The menu was fairly extensive but not as overwhelming as it had been done before. Plus lots of my friends brought food.

Photos were taken by SJ and Nan. And that very first picture?

Julia’s iPhone. heh.

Spending time with Friends.

Nothing can beat that.

Aloha friends! Until we meet again!

After the military clinic denying me a direct path to an orthopedic doctor (they tried to get me to go to physical therapy), I went to my civilian PCP and he (Dr. Au .. probably one of the best BEST PCP’s I’ve ever had) referred me right away. I’m talking the next day, people.

Today I went and got a cortisone shot in my wrist. It had been hurting for several months now and I honestly have no idea how or exactly when it happened.

I was told by everyone I know that the shot is super painful but right after you feel so much better. Well, I’m still waiting for the so much better. It feels ok. Almost the same really. And the shot itself didn’t hurt.

Like at all.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t rainbows and unicorns but it wasn’t this horrible searing pain that was described to me either.

That being said, I think I feel a little jipped on the whole experience.

I should probably shut my face and be thankful I didn’t pass out from the pain. (Which I hear actually happens to some people! .. see!? Jipped!!)

Lastly, check out my nifty brace. It’s from a company called wrist widget. Made in Hawai`i!

I take a lot of random pictures. Granted mostly of Dante but I do take photos of food I make/bake, too. Though I rarely take photos of the process that it takes to get to the final product.

Because I’m lame and forgetful. Mostly.

Here are some random photos I took last week.

Not all of Dante.

Mostly not all of Dante.

My friend went to an event and won a stick on mustache as one of her prizes. She graciously gave me the stache.

And then I realized just how much I look like my dad.

I made some banana nut cupcakes and decided I wanted to cover them in ganache. I didn’t want to do one type of ganache. So I did a glaze (dipped) and whipped. I’m partial to the whipped but really .. you can’t go wrong with chocolate.

Dante has started jumping up on the bed to sleep. I should probably stop him but he’s so cute and cuddly. I make TG do it instead!

I finally used the cooling rack that TG got me for Christmas. And I made these amazing cookies using boxed cake mix. Reeses chips and walnuts.

I doubted but I was corrected. Thank you KK for such an amazing idea! Total winner in my semi-home made repertoire.

Next up. Spam.

I’m talking about the processed pork (maybe) that comes in a tin rectangular can. I love that stuff.

I made an eggs benedict (sorta .. not really) with it. Instead of ham/canadian bacon I used spam. Instead of hollandaise sauce I used creamed spinach spiked with cream cheese.  Of course it also had a perfectly poached egg under the creamy creamed spinach.  All this goodness layered on top of a butter toasted sliced baguette, sitting in a pool of cream of asparagus soup.

Leftovers from a steak dinner I had made the night before.

And uhh .. the obvious, half a slice of bacon. duh. Crispy because that’s the way I like my bacon.

Dante got a mohawk. He totally rocks it.

We had a fundraising silent auction for Aloha United Way. It’s our big charity that we do in the office.

I have donated cupcakes 2 years in a row . The first year I donated 2 dozen. This year, I decided to split it up and donate (2) 1 dozen cupcakes. Brought in double the money!

I’ve been madly inlove with the maple buttercream and bacon crumbles on a cupcake since I first had one. The not cloyingly sweetness and subtle flavor of the maple buttercream coupled with the salty smokey bacon crumbles is simply a flavor explosion in your mouth.

Seriously guys. FLAVOR explosion. Sounds weird. Sounds intimidating? But it’s for real.

And then ..I decided to drizzle them with caramel before sprinkling on the bacon.

Nothing else to see here folks.

Move along.

I also made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Sprinkled some sugar balls (note: not dragees! These won’t break your teeth when you bite into them) and some gold sugar chrystals. I was going for fancy and opulent. Gold and glittery balls of sugar speak on all kinds of level of opulence.

But especially on Valentines Day!

Hope you have a day filled with pink fondant hearts, red velvet cupcakes with adornments of gold and glittery balls of sugar (for opulence sake, that is)!

Happy Valentines Day!

This year, we decided not to have a Super Bowl Party (“SB”).

Especially with TG no longer drinking (future PSA ..), we didn’t feel it necessary to have one.

But here’s the thing. I LOVE Super Bowl food. It’s bar food, essentially. Only you get to control what gets served.

Typically, if I have a SB party, I serve wings and various other “mandatory” SB foods. This time, because it was just going to be me, TG and a couple of my friends (who were more interested in eating than the game), I decided to scale back. A lot.

I made pico de gallo and guacamole. (Not pictured .. don’t ask why .. I just didn’t take a picture of it).

* I’d also like to mention that another reason I will miss living in Hawaii is because you don’t get year round avocados on the east coast. I know this for fact. I’ve lived on the east coast.

And no one has an avocado tree where during avocado season you are given way too many… but who cares because it was free and you are never without the luciousy-buttery-avocadoy awesomeness of the beautiful green fruit.  Oh Hawaii, how I will miss your wonderous fruits!

Umm.. what was I talking about?

Oh right. SB 2012 Menu.

I made Sesame Sea Salt soft pretzels. I know. It was so super easy! And TG’s favorite.

I think I might’ve used the wrong type of yeast but they still turned out really good!

I also made potato skins. But instead of bacon bits I put in chopped portugese sausage. Then I decided I wanted more color so I added some chopped red bell pepper.  Local style potato skins.

I didn’t make wings but I did make ribs. Fall of the bone (maybe too much falling) super moist, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. First attempt. Wow. So good.

Even though we didn’t opt to have an actual party, I’m so glad I decided to make SB food anyway.

And how about them NY Giants!  Woo Hoo!

Last year I watched Master Chef with Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot. I wanted to be on the show. I still might want to be on it but I don’t think I can handle that type of pressure.

In the very first episode where the contestants create their signature dish for the judges, one of them used a few drops of white truffle oil, in what I believe might’ve been, risotto.  The reaction to the oil was so incredibly painful. The judges went on and on about how neophyte using truffle oil was.

So I stopped using it myself. Because, God forbid, I was grouped into “that” category.

Even though it went so well with my fluffy pillows of sweet potato gnocchi and drizzled atop my super creamy mushroom risotto.

Well, that ended last week when I decided to fry up some crispy french fries. I couldn’t just top them with salt. I couldn’t just top them with some parmesan cheese. Oh no .. not even a little parsley was going to satisfy me.

If I was going to go out of my way to make my own crispy french fries, then I was going to top them with some white truffle oil.

Gosh darn it.

I did. And it was awesome.

I don’t care what Gordon, Joe or Graham said.  I’d tell them to their faces, too.

No. No, I probably wouldn’t.

But I would totally secretly continue to use my truffle oil.

So there.

There is most definitely a very good reason there is no “After” picture of the stew I made this weekend.

I started out really good though. I mean, I actually bothered to set everything up. I took pictures.

I took a lot of pictures.

I DID NOT take a picture of the wine. Or the water. Because they were after thoughts.

Right? Wine? After thought? Ok. Seriously.

The only reason any wine went into the stew was because I wanted a glass. To drink.

And it just felt better sharing my libation with the pot of stew I was making.

I’m super thoughtful, guys.

I chopped up potatoes, carrots and onions in a large dice.

I started browning off the meat. Removed. Then went in to brown the veges.

A large pinch of salt (had to add more later) and several (aka: lots and lots) turns of the good ol peppermill.

Stirred it around. Added the meat back in to the pot. Then went in with the liquids.

Now this is the reason I don’t have pictures of the finished product.

I’ve made stew a couple of times. The last time was probably 5 or 6 years ago. But I’ve been cooking long enough to know that potatoes will not stand up to long cook times without turning into semi mush.

And yet. That is exactly what I did.

I wanted the meat to get nice and tender. I wanted the potatoes and carrots to keep their shape. I wanted it to be a wonderful wintry flavorful beef stew.  And I wanted it to look pretty.

Well, at least it tasted good.

TG loved it. I even served it to him with a disclaimer about it not being right ..  the potatoes and the carrots were mooshy and the meat wasn’t all fall apart tender because I couldn’t cook it any longer or the potatoes and carrots would’ve totally disintegrated.

and I suck at making stew …

But TG really enjoyed it. He even said it was made perfectly.

I guess it’s because he likes mooshy potatoes.

It’s true. About beans, that is.

They are super yummy and totally healthy!

1/2-cup serving of pinto beans provides 100 calories, along with 6g of fiber, 6g of protein and no fat. This serving of pinto beans also contains 20 percent of the daily value for folate, 10 percent of the daily value for iron and phosphorus, 8 percent of the daily value for thiamine and magnesium, 6 percent of the daily value for calcium and zinc, 4 percent of the daily value for vitamin B-6 and riboflavin and 2 percent of the daily value for vitamin C and niacin. They are also a good source of potassium.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/318260-pinto-beans-nutrition/#ixzz1iWoNSZq4

TG likes my blog. In fact, he likes it so much that he insists I blog about every single thing I make or do.

It’s kind of cute.

So when the opportunity came about to have him contribute, he jumped at the chance.

This recipe is from TG’s mom. Written down in a little green note pad. So it’s totally a family secret. (Shhh!!!)

You want to start by cleaning the beans out pretty good to make sure you get rid of the bad ones and any rocks that may have landed in the bag. Dice up the onion and sautee. Add some salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin and then a little dash of worcestershire sauce. Then go in with the water, beans and ham hocks.

Let it cook.

Forever.

After several hours on the stove at a steady simmer (and when the beans are nice and tender) you can take the ham hock out of the pot. Go ahead and chop up the meat and throw it back into the pot.

I don’t necessarily condone ham hock bones for dogs but Dante is pretty good about not choking on things like that. So if your pup is like mine, just wash it off and let your pup go to town.

Then go make yourself a bowl.

Serve it up with some buttered bread.

Or buttered cheesy bread.

Or cornbread.

Or garlic bread.

Anything to scoop up the beany goodness.

Leftover ideas: Make Bean & Cheese Burritos. Bean and cheese omelets.  Beans for your tacos.

“Beans, beans, the magical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So we have beans at every meal!”

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