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Friday, February 29, 2008

The North Shore and South Pacific

Thursday we went to the famous Matsumoto's for shave ice. It was good, but I couldn't finish it because it was way to sweet.
Then Mel decided that after a week practicing his surfing skills on Waikiki beach, it was time to take it to the next level. So, while we were at the North Shore, he rented a surf board and took to the ocean. Hang ten!
Dum Dum Want Gum Gum

We call these the rump shakas. The day finished at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Wow! What an amazing educational experience that was. These dancers were from Tahiti. They had by far the most popular performances out of all the islands. Those girls could move.

Now, we're off to do one last thing before we head back home. We're going snorkeling. Don't be jealous this time-the water's freezing. I am not looking forward to it. I'm only doing it because I don't want Mel to go alone. I'm such a good wife!

(DISCLAIMER: No actual Minnicks caught waves during this vacation.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

AHHHHHHH this is the life

Yeah, this is what I did for a while yesterday and what I'm about to go do today. It's great. I have a couple of books I'm reading too. I could get used to this.
I usually frown upon this sort of behavior, but I can't help it! I can't very well come back home from a trip to Hawaii and not be tanned.

Oh, and I still haven't taken pictures of my, um, butt in those jeans. Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I got LUCKY!!!

Ok. I know that I am in Hawaii and that's great and all, but I really got Lucky today. I didn't really go anywhere except for to the beach and shopping. Mel had to work today, so while he was at work, I decided to go shopping. I was just wandering in and out of stores, when I got pulled into the Lucky Brand jeans store. I was curious about these jeans they call Lucky. So, I figured what the heck? It wouldn't hurt anyone if I tried on a pair. So I did. And I fell in love. I mean head over heels in love. I have never had such an emotional reaction to an article of clothing before in my life. Until today. I can't explain it. I swear, these jeans were meant just for me. It was like a reunion.

  • Jeans: Hello butt.

  • Butt: Hello Jeans.

  • Jeans: Where have you been? I've been waiting for you?

  • Butt: I've been wandering around looking for you. I am so glad we finally found each other. (Jeans and Butt walk off into the sunset)
I know, they aren't cheap. But they are an investment (that's what the salesgirl told me). And since I am such a frugal shopper anyway, I consider it like a reward for all of the money I save by buying clothes on SUPER clearance all the time.

So there you go. That was my highlight for today. Oh! And we went to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse for dinner. Yummy PRIME beef. I enjoyed it. Mel loved it more. We love good food. I love my new jeans. I am going to wear them like everyday for the next two weeks. They deserve to be happy.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Indiana Jones has nothing on us!

This morning when we woke up, we decided we needed some adventure. First, we hiked up the volcano that has been calling to us since we got here on Friday.
Next, we got chased by a giant killer snail at the Dole Pineapple Plantation.

And after tackling volcanoes and killer snails, we treated ourselves to a fun-but-tacky dinner cruise and sailed off into the cloudy sunset.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The USS Arizona

Today, we went to Pearl Harbor to see the USS Arizona memorial. We really enjoyed being able to experience such an important part of U.S. history.

First, we watched a movie about the attack. Then we were shuttled across the harbor to the memorial. The feeing of reverence we felt was amazing as we stepped off the boat and walked into the memorial.

As I looked down and saw the remains of the ship underwater, I felt a deep sense of gratitude toward those men who were there that morning who died while serving our country.

I love my country.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

We're Here!!

We got off to an icy start this morning and got to the airport in the nick of time. I think we were one of the last people to board the plane. We got up at about 4am Eastern time, and I am still up at 9pm Hawaii time. That's 22 hours! I am bonkers.

Our hotel is beautiful! I can't believe that the government is paying for us to stay here. Mel said something really cool tonight as we were sitting at the pool eating dinner listening to three Hawaiian dudes sing. He said, "This is one of those times when things turn out better than you thought it would, and it's wonderful." It really is! I can't wait to see this place during the daytime.

We are right in the middle of all the action. In the back of the hotel is the beach, and in front of the hotel we have all the shopping we could possibly want. I think over the weekend we are going to travel around the island and soak up the culture. On Monday when Mel goes to work, I am going to go shopping. I will probably just window shop. Maybe I'll go to the Chanel store and try something on there.
The pillow is calling my name. I can't ignore it anymore. I am going to go for now. I'll be in touch soon!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Countdown

Everyone in my house is counting down the days until our Hawaii trip. The kids are all so excited about getting to spend a week with their friends. SLEEPING OVER!!!

Mimi and her 'sister', Isabel are the most excited. If we didn't have a general rule against sleepovers in my family, I know without a doubt that those two would have sleepovers every week. That's why I am so glad that Suzan agreed to let her stay while we are on vacation. But, she didn't only agree to take Mimi, she also is keeping Vivian. Isn't she great??

Trystan is spending the week with his other 'brother', Chase. I know they have already planned to stay up way too late playing video games. I am so thankful that Misty is letting Trystan stay with them. She is a great next door neighbor and friend.

And Patricia gets to go to Kylee's house! They have been friends since they were 2 years old. The cool thing about her going to Kylee's house is that she is missing a week from school to stay with Kylee. Well, I guess she's not really missing school since she's homeschooled. Brie has agreed to boss her around and make her do all her work just like I would. Truth be told, she'll probably do a better job than I normally do. She's so organized.

You know what's the weirdest thing about all of it? Each one of my friends who have taken on this task are doing it without husbands. All of their husbands are going to be out of town the whole time my kids are at their houses. Do I have great friends or what?

Oh yeah, and I'm counting down too. I think I've been mostly packed since Saturday night. I'm just a little excited. YA THINK?

Friday, February 15, 2008

A New V-day Tradition

Last night, we started our new Valentine's Day tradition. I don't know if everyone else in my family is on board with the idea of it being a family tradition, but since I pretty much decide those things anyway, it is. Oh, and since I am starting the tradition you know it has to do with food.

We went to Pei Wei for dinner first. For any of you who have not ever been there, you gotta go. It's owned by the same company as P.F. Chang's. I like to call it a fast food version of P.F. Changs. But it doesn't taste like fast food. You know, like the kind of Chinese food you get at the food court at the mall? It's nothing like that. Our huge family got two appetizers (yes, we got the lettuce wraps), four entrees, and five drinks for $50. It's a good deal especially because everyone ate during the entire time we were seated (even Vivian didn't stop eating), and we have leftovers. Lots of them.

Then afterward, we went to Cold Stone for ice cream. Mel and I didn't get any. We were both too stuffed after eating all that yummy food. The kids loved it! Cold Stone is a special treat for them.

I like doing V-day this way. It's a special time for us to show our kids how much we enjoy going out with them. So, there you have it. Our new tradition. If any of you are around next year and wan to join in on the fun, let me know. We'd love to have you along for the fun.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

the cookie monster strikes again

I am such a nice mommy. Last night while I was vacation clothes shopping, I got a call from Patricia. She was in crisis mode. She hadn't made any Valentine's for her teachers. She needed cards and candy for her three teachers. My first instinct was to say too bad you should have mentioned this during the day, not at 9:30 at night. But I held my tongue. I smelled an opportunity brewing. I had extra cards for her to use and offered to do what any normal chocolate chip cookie fiend would do. I, ever so unselfishly, decided that the best thing do would be to send her to school with yummy baked goods. So, guess what I did? I whipped up ANOTHER batch of my delicious chocolate chip cookies.

I wanted to rush home to bake cookies, but I needed two very important ingredients; butter and of course the chocolate chips. Wal-mart had the butter, but they were devoid of chocolate chips. Can you believe that? So, I improvised. I used two giant Hershey's bars. I had a Symphony bar and a dark chocolate bar. I am good at improvising when it comes to missing ingredients. It usually turns out well.

So, I made the cookies when I got home. I stayed up until 12:30 baking. I only ate about five cookies last night. I won't be eating more because I bagged up all of them in cute little Valentine's Day bags to give away. If you are lucky, you or your kids will get some. I mean, you might not because there are only so many to give away. So, don't get all offended if you don't get cookies, ok? I still love you.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Girlfriends are Great

I love being a girl. I love that I have so many choices when it comes to clothing. I love all the fun things that I get to do, like get manicures and put on makeup. I love that it's perfectly acceptable for me to announce, "I need a hot bubble bath tonight after my kids go to sleep to help me unwind." (In 12 years, I have never heard my husband say that.) I love that I was able to give my kids something that no one else can give - life. What I don't like is what they gave me in return: STRETCH MARKS!!!

Most of you know that I have lost a lot of weight over the past 6 months. You probably also know that I workout 5 days a week. You might also know that I am going to Hawaii next week. Because those three events came together at precisely the right time, I decided that I needed to buy a bikini. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't even think about wearing a bikini, but how many times in my life will I go on vacation in Hawaii? And like all women I know, I have some body image issues. So, that's why I decided to bring a second (honest) opinion with me on my hunt for a bikini. Are you wondering what my issues are? Cellulite? No. Tummy rolls? No. It's that gift my 4 kids gave me. STRETCH MARKS. But it's not only stretch marks, it's a saggy, baggy belly button too. (TMI? Maybe. But you chose to read it.) So, we went. I tried. I failed. I guess it's comforting to know that it's not all in my head (though I was hoping I was just crazy). My best girlfriend thinks my saggy, baggy skin is gross too. She didn't tell me that. What she said was,"Maybe a bikini isn't the best choice for you. A really sexy one-piece is definitely the way to go." Isn't she great?

And that's why I think girlfriends are great. I am blessed to have some of the greatest friends in the world. Each one of them is unique and, for lack of a better explanation, serve a unique purpose in my life. I have the girlfriend that I call when I am having a crappy day and need a good laugh and a little perspective. I have the girlfriend I call when I am in a spiritual slump and need someone to gently remind me to pray for help. I have the girlfriend that I go to when I am frustrated about something and need someone to listen to me rant (cuss). But last night, I needed the girlfriend that I know would give me her honest to goodness opinion. She did and I am thankful I won't be sitting on the beach in Hawaii thinking I look good in my bikini and really looking EEEEEW.

You girls know who you are. I love you.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We're eatin' like kings now

Mel's home now and today I've more than made up for last week's cooking drought. I made an AWESOME breakfast of eggs, bacon, and blueberry muffins (recipe follows). And dinner was nothing to sneeze at either - spicy roast pork tacos with all the fixins, black beans and rice. The grand finale was a yummy dessert I made at Christmas: fresh pineapple upside down cake (no boxes involved) YUMMMMM. I am glad I am wearing my stretchy pants tonight.

Here is my blueberry muffin recipe. Well, it's actually Alton Brown's recipe. He doesn't mind me sharing it with you. Here are a few tips:

  1. Use 2 1/2 cups flour.

  2. If you don't have yogurt you can use sour cream, but blueberry yogurt tastes best.

  3. Make extra sure you don't overmix the batter; only mix it as much as the recipe calls for.

  4. These are even better the next day so don't eat all of them the first day.

I'll include another blueberry recipe that is not a whole lot better for you, but since it uses whole wheat flour, you can trick yourself into thinking it's better for you.

Whole wheat pancakes - thanks Brie for this recipe

(Don't be fooled by the name, they are actually light and fluffy and good.)

2 cups milk

3 eggs, separated

2 tbsp. honey

1/2 cup veg. oil

2 cups whole wheat flour

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

  1. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  2. In a large bowl, combine milk, yolks, honey, and oil. Combine dry ingredients. Add to wet ingredients and mix well. Gently fold in egg whites.
  3. Cook on lightly greased hot griddle.

(You may add blueberries to step 2 after you have folded in egg whites)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Cookies and smiles (a shout out to the gate guards)

On Tuesday night at church, we decorated Valentine's Day cookies to give away. To whom, you ask? We gave them to the police, firefighters, and gate guards. Well, technically, I gave them to those people, but everyone else decorated them.

Vivian accompanied me on Wednesday morning on this goodwill mission to fatten up the public safety professionals of Ft. Meade. As you might expect, she had a hard time with the concept that we weren't going to eat any of the cookies. She didn't mind the fact that we were sharing them with everyone, she just couldn't wrap her head around the fact that we weren't eating them while sharing them.

We delivered to the Police station and the Fire station first, then hit the gate guards. Hit? That sounds sinister, doesn't it? Ok, we didn't hit them, we drove in and out of post sharing our cookies with them. The coolest thing was the way their faces lit up as I handed them the box of beautifully decorated cookies as they handed me my ID card back. I could tell they were genuinely appreciative of the thoughtfulness and love that went into making all those cookies. I think I might make a habit of this. They deserve it. They stand out there freezing their cookies off all winter checking ID cards, and all summer they fry outside in the sun just to keep us safe on post.

So, here's my shout out to all the gate guards of Ft. Meade. You guys are great! We appreciate you. And next time I pass out cookies, I'll do it in the afternoon so you afternoon guys don't feel left out.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

This one's for you, Jamie

I'm not going to lie. I consider myself a good cook. I can put a couple random ingredients together and create a yummy meal. I can read a recipe and taste it. So, when I read this recipe, I knew it was a good one. When I made it and my kids went crazy for it, I knew it was a keeper! I hope you guys like it. Don't let all the ingredients prevent you from making this recipe. It's super easy and fast to make. If anyone can tell me a better way to post recipes or if you have any recipe requests, please let me know.

Handy tip: Marinate the shrimp first before you start making the rice. Don't cook the shrimp until after you add the peas to the rice. Don't overcook the shrimp unless you like eating rubber. If you don't like shrimp, you can substitute 1 inch chunks of chicken tenderloins.

Spiced Shrimp
3 scallions
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (Optional if you have little kids. Tastes great without it also)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 lbs. large p&d shrimp, tails on
3 tbs veg. oil
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1. In plastic bag, mix together half the scallions, garlic, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and turmeric. Add shrimp and squish the bag to coat. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. In a large skillet, heat oil over med-high heat. Add shrimp and cook, stirring constantly and seasoning with salt until nearly opaque, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice and continue frying until shrimp are cooked through, about 1 minute more. Top with remaining scallions.

Peas Pullao (rice dish)
2 tbs veg. oil
1 onion, thinly slices
1/4 tsp garam masala (Indian spice you can buy in bulk at most organic grocery stores)
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1. In large heavy saucepan, heat the oil over med-high heat. Add onion and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garam masala and turmeric and stir to combine. Stir in 3 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add rice and salt and stir briefly to break up any clumps. Lower heat, cover pan and simmer. Do not disturb pan until all the water is absorbed and rice is cooked through, about 18 minutes.
2. Uncover pan and mix peas while fluffing rice with a fork; cover ans set aside for 5 minutes, until the peas are heated through. (This is when you cook the shrimp.)

Thank you, Everyday with Rachael Ray.

like mother, like daughter

This could only be more like me if she was talking on the phone and drinking diet coke.

Monday, February 4, 2008

When the husband's away...

...the kids eat junk food for dinner.

I mean, what's my motivation to cook? Ok, maybe healthy kids-but besides that? The great thing about cooking dinner when Mel is home is that he cleans up. Or at least his presence in the home motivates me to clean up. But when it's only the kids and I, there's no motivation to do much of anything least of all dishes. They don't care that the sink is piled high with dirty dishes and cups. I think they make a sport of seeing who can pile dishes the highest. What's that game...Topple?

What's more, they don't even eat what I cook. Patricia does because she likes lots of different foods, and she will even eat something that she doesn't like just to be nice. But the other three!?!? Forget it! In her cute little elf voice Vivian says,"I don't like this dinner mommy. It's not very good." Mimi whines,"Do I have to eat the broccoli? tortellini? chicken?" And Trystan just pushes his food around his plate and sneaks away from the table while I am busy yelling at Vivian for throwing her food to the dog.

So that's why I just feed them junk food for dinner. Because they'll eat it. And I can serve it on paper plates. And they don't need forks. And I don't have to wash pots and pans. I usually eat a giant salad and if I tell them that they can't have any, they they'll want some too. So at least they are getting something green.

I know it's taking the easy route, but it helps them not miss their dad while he's away. Mel's gone for the week, and we've planned at least two dinners out. Oh, and I have also planned to make cookies and cupcakes. We still have to eat breakfast, you know.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The newest Covergirls

A couple of weeks ago, I went away for the annual scrapbook weekend with a bunch of girlfriends. Technically, it was called a 'scrapbook weekend', but since I don't scrapbook it was just a get away from the kids weekend for me. As you might expect, we shared some pretty deep secrets about ourselves like, 'I have bought outfits to match my scrapbook paper' and 'I haven't touched a scrapbook since last year'. Since I don't scrapbook, I didn't understand why they would go through such pains to get the perfect pictures for the perfect layout.

That is, until I started this blog. I haven't gone so far as coordinating outfits (yet), but I did take advantage of a great photo opportunity and I even *gasp* staged some pictures just so I could post them today. Is that normal? Do you bloggers do that? I mean, after I wrote my entry yesterday, I was already planning what I was going to write about today. I think I need help.

Now for the picture: I used to be so anti-makeup on little kids. Until Vivian came along. I have realized that some things just aren't worth taking a stand for if they occupy your kids so you can get some quiet time. Makeup is one of those things. I gave Mimi and Vivian the cheapo eye shadow I bought for Halloween and here is what they came up with! Pretty good, huh? Not really, but who cares? It was a 'fun mommy' moment. Watch out Drew Barrymore, we're the newest CoverGirls!
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Friday, February 1, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

WARNING: This recipe makes tons of yummy, irresistible cookies.

1 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

4 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 pkgs (24 oz. total) semi sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375. In large bowl, beat sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs; blend well. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Using small scoop, drop cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets (stone). Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until just barely brown if you like crispy on the edges and chewey in the middle cookies (yum). Cook a minute or two longer if you like them all the way crispy (eeeew).

Makes at least 6 dozen so give some away don't eat them all like me!

Hello People!!

So, now I am totally excited by the idea that I have a blog now. Intimidated too. Especially because some of you already have them, and I am so sure mine won't be nearly as cute or witty or have great pictures, BUT I figure that I spend enough time on the internet, I might as well do something semi-creative and constructive.

I decided on the title 'Cookies 4 Breakfast', because I can justify anything for breakfast, even cookies. Want to know how? Anything is better for you than a donut. Even cookies. At least they're not deep fried. I am finally over my temporary chocolate chip cookie obsession (thank goodness). For two weeks, I ate those yummy things like crazy. I will get the recipe and post it for all of you as soon as I learn how to do that. I guess that's my homework for tonight! Have a great day.