Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for... Zesty Asparagus Pie

I meant to make Asparagus Napoleons with Goat Cheese, Chives and Lemon Zest, a recipe that I found on Tasty Kitchen.  I even had most of the ingredients - except frozen puff pastry.   

Well, the only frozen puff pastry that I found at the grocery store was seven dollars!  Maybe I'm a little thrifty, but seven dollars?  That's Hawaii for you.  In order to be a cook in Hawaii, you have to be very flexible with your ingredients.  

Instead of the overpriced puff pastry, I opted for the $2.99 flour.  I used some of the ingredients from Tasty Kitchen and added some of my own.  Here's what I came up with - Zesty Asparagus Pie.  Next time I will definitely cut the asparagus up a bit more. Nevertheless, it was pretty tasty.  The recipe is below.

Pie (or Pizza) Crust

1/2 package active yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus an additional 1/2 tablespoon 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
1-2 tablespoons quinoa or cornmeal

  1. Mix yeast with warm water in a large mixing bowl.  Stir until dissolved.  
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the additional olive oil and knead for about two minutes, until blended and soft.  
  3. Roll into a ball and place in the base of mixing bowl.  Drizzle with remaining olive oil and cover. Let rest for about ten minutes.
  4. While dough is resting, preheat oven to 400 degrees. And begin making the filling (see below).
  5. Spread either quinoa or cornmeal evenly on pizza stone
  6. Roll out pizza dough into a round shape.
  7. Place on pizza stone (on top of quinoa or cornmeal) and pinch up the edges to make a border.
  8. Spread Zesty Asparagus Filling evenly on top of dough.
  9. Cover with toppings.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust begins to brown around the edges and isn't doughy in the middle.

Zesty Asparagus Filling

(Mix all ingredients in a small bowl)
1/2 cup goat cheese
1-2 tablespoons chives
1 teaspoon salt
zest from one lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, whole
2 cups asparagus, chopped
1 tomato, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
mushrooms, sliced



Y is for... Yellow Bookshelves

... or soon-to-be yellow bookshelves.  I think I may have mentioned that we are renovating our townhouse. It's a hefty chore, but with the help of some very good friends, we've managed to get quite a bit accomplished.  In fact, my son's room is nearly complete.  We're lacking crown molding (which will probably come at a much later time), window treatments, and a few pieces of furniture and accessories. 

I've been trying to find some nice bookshelves for his growing library, and I haven't had much luck.  So, I decided to build some myself - from pallets.  I found a very detailed tutorial (with photos!) at SAS Interiors.  Saturday I began the project, but got very distracted by nice lunches and dinners with friends.  However, my goal is to sand them down and paint them yellow before the end of the week - if not tomorrow.  I'll keep you updated.  Here are some before and midway photos.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y Postponed

This morning I started a project for Y but got sidetracked by a beautiful lunch at a friend's place.  We lingered for too long at the pool, soaking in the sun and relaxing with the little man.   I hope to finish and post for Y tomorrow.  For now, enjoy some photos of our view from lunch.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for... XYZin

My Friday ritual includes a good piece of cheese, a bottle of red wine, several pieces of dark chocolate and Grimm.
What's your Friday night ritual?

W is for... Waikiki

Waikiki is Hawaiian for "place of spouting waters".  It was once a wetland, where Native Hawaiians built fishponds and farmed taro.  It is said that the Ali`i, or Hawaiian chiefs, surfed an "endless wave" that broke all the way across the Waikiki coast.  

Once "development" began, the wetlands were drained, the reefs were blasted, and the "endless wave" no longer existed. Sand was brought in to make beaches, and hotels slowly began to line the coast.  Today, Waikiki is a major tourist destination.

 Our family doesn't visit Waikiki much.  Yet, occasionally, I like to brave the crowds and spend an evening eating dinner on the beach and watching the sunset.  Tonight I took my son, and we had a lovely time.

We stayed out a little later than we should have, but we were rewarded with a spectacular sunset.  

Want to know more about the history of Waikiki?  

Check out Down Wind Productions.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for... Volcano

U is for... When Things Get Ugly, Phuket

Life is not always pretty in paradise.  In fact, it can get ugly every now and then. Stress builds, and instead of keeping things in check, ugly words fly.  Over time, I have learned that when I reach my breaking point, it's best for me to leave and take a breather.  Logistically, this does not always happen, but tonight, I was able to get some much needed alone time.`

It may sound strange to some, but every once in a while, I crave a dinner out by myself.  I think treating myself to a special dinner helps me to reconnect with my soul.  My mind can wander wherever it wants.  I can breath and decompress.

Tonight, I chose to unwind by way of a nice green seafood curry at Phuket Thai- a restaurant that has great food, a relaxing atmosphere, and outside seating.  It was a rare treat that I was able to sit outside, completely alone, taking in the cool evening breeze and listening to cheesy eighties love songs.  Whatever ugly words were said will eventually have to be dealt with, but, for now, their sting has started to subside.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

S is for... Sister, Socktopi, and Sauerkraut


Getting ready to watch the Royal Wedding, 2012

My sister and I are especially close.  Unfortunately, we don't get to hang out together much, but when we do, it's a rare occasion when we aren't laughing so hard that our sides hurt.  If it's making up silly dance routines to Big Band hits, playing dress-up like ten year old girls, or pretending to be fashion critics at the mall, we are laughing.  It's this part of our relationship that I miss on a daily basis.


I make sock creatures.  They are all hand stitched and named.  It's kind of an obsession.  I also make sock monkeys and monsters.  


Sauerkraut Soup

This is one of my favorite soups.  It's a family recipe.  Hope you enjoy!


4 Potatoes, Cubed
8 Cups of Salted Water
1 lb. Smoked Kielbasa Sausage, Cubed
1 Tbs. Caraway Seed
2 Cans Sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
1 Pt. Sour Cream, with 2 Tsp reserved
1 Tbs. Flour
Salt and Pepper to Taste  

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Boil potatoes for 10 minutes. 
  3. Reduce heat and add the kielbasa, sauerkraut, salt, pepper, and caraway seed. 
  4. Allow soup to cook at a gentle boil for 20 minutes.
  5. Slowly add sour cream, and stir regularly until mixed.  (Keep 2 Tsp. reserved).
  6. Mix flour and reserved sour cream until it becomes a paste.  
  7. Slowly add flour/sour cream mixture to the soup, stirring constantly until dissolved.  
  8. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  9. Serve hot with slices of rye or pumpernickel bread.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for... My Little Redhead

Growing up, I was teased relentlessly about my red hair and freckles.  I'm not sure that people meant to hurt my feelings, but after a lifetime of hearing comments like - I'd rather be dead in the bed than red on the head; Beaten like a redheaded stepchild; Wow!  Look at that fiery temper! - I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me.  I wished that I was tan with blond, brown, or black hair (anything but red).  It sounds silly now, but I thought that I could never be beautiful because I was different. 

Luckily, my mother and sister both have red hair, so I wasn't totally alone.  My mother, too, endured teasing, and she was the only redhead in her family.   Despite this, she is very proud of her two redheaded daughters, and she worked hard to change my perspective about what I thought was a curse. It took many years, but I eventually began to appreciate and then love my red hair and freckles.

Now, I have a little redhead of my own, and he's absolutely beautiful!  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Work in Progress

If you haven't noticed, I've been tinkering with my blog. Being a newbie, I haven't quite got the hang of things.  Thanks for your patience and if you have any suggestions, please, please, please feel free to share them.

Q is for... Memorable Student Quotes

Over the years, I've heard my students utter some fairly interesting comments.  I wish I would have written them all down.  Here are some that I remember. 

What's a furnace?  Is that a type of plant?

Why do you have so many spots?

CPS [Child Protective Services] came to our house last night.

No, my parents didn't just visit the Montel Williams show, they were guests on the show!  My dad was in the studio and my mom was on via satellite from prison.

I hate Mother's Day.  I don't got no mamma, you know.

I wish there really was a Hunger Games.  

Is Mount Everest near Diamond Head?

This must be something nerds like to do.  I'm not a nerd, so I don't get it.

What are some of the most memorable quotes you've heard lately?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for... Pooped (and I guess Pineapple)

I had big plans for P, but as I sit in front of my computer this evening, all I can think of is pooped.  I am pooped.  Our school is doing a big student led production for the end of the school year, and I am in charge of overseeing the costume design and creation.  I have about 30 kids to supervise with around 80 costumes to make.  I could go on, but then I would just sink into a negative venting session.  And, although I am pooped, I love do this part of my job. 

So, my plans for "Pay It Forward", where I wanted to pass on the Liebster Award that was given to me by Lisa at All Things Campbell (thank you, Lisa), and "Pineapple Turkey Burgers" will have to wait. 

I leave you with this lovely pineapple photo taken by my husband and bid you goodnight.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for... Oklahoma

I am originally from a small town in Oklahoma. Minus a few cousins, my entire family lives there, and I miss them dearly. 
Although I've been away for over ten years, I still consider myself to be an Okie, and like most Okie's I am very proud of my roots. Granted, I don't have to deal with the unbearably hot summers, long, bitterly cold winters, occasional droughts, frequent tornadoes, and as of late, earthquakes.  I usually plan my visits in the spring and fall, when the weather is nice. 

Here are just a few reasons to visit Oklahoma (and not just drive through).

Oklahoma has a great deal of water.  In fact, there are 55,646 miles of lake and pond shoreline and 167,600 miles of rivers (

Almost everyone I know has a garden in the summer (and they all share their produce).  People in Oklahoma have been eating local long before it was popular.

Drivers are generally friendly, and even strangers wave to each other.

There is an ocean of flat, rolling hills.

Oklahoma’s Native American history runs deep.

The State has dozens of quaint little towns with antique and craft shops, tea rooms, and country cafes.

Oklahoma boasts some of the Country’s most beautiful sunsets.

There is the Tall Grass Prairie (where you can see free roaming buffalo!), rodeos, and the Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Oklahoma has many interesting festivals like the Pioneer, Striped Bass, Kolache, Tumbleweed Calf Fry (Testicle Festival).

Fried catfish.  Need I say more?

The State meal is pretty tasty – black-eyed peas, biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak, fried okra, squash (or squorsh), grits, corn, strawberries, and pecan pie.  Come to Oklahoma hungry!

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for... New Necklace

Long story short - I used to make beaded jewelry on a regular basis.  Now I can hardly find the time.  But in need of an N themed post, I pulled out my dusty box of beads and put together a new necklace.  

At first, I was skeptical that I could create something worth showing on my blog.  It's probably been a year or so, and my skills are a little rusty.  Yet, as I was gleaming through my bead boxes, I happened to find a package of pretty wooden beads that I thought had potential.  Beads that I had thought would never find a purpose seemed to pop out, and it eventually all came together.

Necklace Ingredients

6 Large Dark, Wooden Beads
12 Medium Light, Natural Beads ( I used Bodhi Tree beads)
2 White Round Medium Pearls (I used plastic ones)
14 Small Round Turquoise Beads
12 Chunks of Turquoise Beads
5 Medium Golden, Wooden Beads
1 Silver Decorative Clasp
2 Crimping Beads
1 Piece of 22" Beading String (I use Beadalon)

It's simple.  I wore it today, and it made me feel good.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for... Mom's Monkey Bread

Photo taken from the Pillsbury Website (I didn't have time to make it this weekend)
Every Christmas my mom makes her version of Monkey Bread, and until we were adults, my siblings and I thought that she had invented it just for us, her special little monkeys.  However, this illusion was shattered when, a few years ago, my younger brother happened to stumble across a box of frozen Monkey Bread at the supermarket. He immediately called our mother and confronted her about it, asking her why she had lied to us all these years. 

The only consolation for us "little monkeys" is that our mom's Monkey Bread is far better than any found in a supermarket, and to us, it's still the best in the world.  I've included her recipe below.  I hope it makes sense.  Feel free to comment.




1 package frozen dinner rolls
1 cup (or more) cinnamon 
1/2 cup (or more) *butter, melted
1 cup (or more) sugar
1-2 cups lightly chopped pecans
1/4 cup heavy cream

*I prefer real butter.  My brother claims that margarine is only one molecule away from being plastic.



  1. Grease bundt pan with butter.
  2. Sprinkle pecans around the bottom of bundt pan.
  3. Melt butter in bowl.
  4. Mix cinnamon and sugar in a shallow dish or plate (continue to add more as needed)
  5. Cut the frozen dinner rolls into thirds (while still frozen).
  6. Dip one piece of dinner roll at a time into butter and then roll it in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  7. Fill the bottom of the bundt pan with several pieces.
  8. When one layer is complete, sprinkle with pecans and cinnamon/sugar mix.  Drizzle with butter.
  9. Continue adding layers of butter/cinnamon/sugar coated roll pieces and pecans, cinnamon/sugar mix and butter until all pieces have been used.
  10. Cover pan with tin foil and let it stand for at least four hours.  I usually start this process the night before and let it stand overnight. 
  11. When the rolls have risen to the top of the pan, bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
  12. Pour heavy cream over the top, cover with tin foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
  13. Once the pan is removed from the oven, immediately place a plate over the top and carefully flip the pan over.  Allow the bread to sit for about 30 minutes.  It should fall out of the pan and onto the plate in one piece.
I hope you and your little monkeys enjoy!

L is for... Lucky Live Hawaii and Likelike

This month's feature article in Honolulu Magazine is titled, "Is Hawaii Worth It?"  It's an honest question for anyone who has tried to make a life here.  Although it is arguably one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Hawaii is also crowded, isolated, expensive, and, at times, culturally tense.   

Even though, there is a saying among locals -  Lucky Live Hawaii - which affirms that the people of Hawaii are incredibly proud of their state.   Surprisingly, it has taken me quite a while to realize just how lucky I am to live in Hawaii.  Like most people from the "Mainland" or "Continental U.S.", I came here expecting to live a simple island life.  I had never considered the downside of living on a highly developed, resource limited, small island. 

Yet, over the years, I have come to love more about Hawaii than the spectacular beaches and beautiful blue Pacific water.  Here are just a few things that I love about this Aloha state.

In general, people are particularly generous and caring

Most times, the weather is wonderful.

Our family has many opportunities to be outside.

We can go on a mini-vacation to the beach every weekend.

Compared to other places in the U.S., Honolulu is very safe.

By law, women are allowed to breastfeed anywhere in public.

Employees who work 20 hours or more are entitled to health insurance benefits.

Healthy, delicious food is easy to find.

Family is a priority for most people.

I don't have to have two wardrobes. 

The air and water are clean.

What do you love most about your home?

Side Note:  

When visiting Honolulu, you may want to take the Likelike Highway across the island.  And, like some people I know, you may call up your friends and family and say, "Hey, I'm on the Like Like Highway!"  Just so you know, it is pronounced leekay leekay.



Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for... Kava, The Drink of the Pacific

Kava Plant (Piper methysticum), Vanuatu

Tanoa, Traditional Fijian Kava Bowl, Honolulu

Nakamal, Kava Bar, Vanuatu











Grinding Kava for Sakau (Kava) Ceremony, Pohnpei

Kava in Hibiscus Bark, Sakau (Kava) Ceremony, Pohnpei

Filtering Kava Liquid into Coconut Shell, Sakau (Kava) Ceremony, Pohnpei

Kava.  Not Java, folks.  Java is coffee and, as we all know, tends to make one feel stimulated and alert.  Kava, on the other hand, has quite the opposite effect.  Related to the pepper plant, kava grows throughout the Pacific.  It's calming effect has made it the drink of choice during important and potentially tense meetings throughout the history of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia.  The taste can be described as somewhat earthy, and a good coconut shell full should numb the mouth and eventually relax the body and mind.

Many scientists believe that kava, or Piper methysticum, meaning intoxicating pepper, is endemic to Vanuatu.  Indeed, it can be argued that Vanuatu is home to the strongest kava in the world.  Over time, the plant has found its way to other places in the Pacific, such as Hawaii, Fiji , Pohnpei , Samoa, and Tonga, and the drinking of kava is embedded into these local traditions. 

Like many other kava drinking societies, kava ceremonies in Vanuatu did (and still does) involve mainly men.  In many villages throughout the country, it is forbidden for women to drink.  In fact, in a few villages on the island of Tanna, women run the risk of being severely beaten for loitering in the vicinity of a ceremony. 

Another example of this strong male/kava connection is the story of the death of the ancient chief, Roi Mata.  His funeral took place on an island known as Hat Island or Artok Island, and because he was such a powerful chief, more than a handful of his very dedicated male followers chose to be buried with him, alive. Whether or not the women chose to go this way is to be debated, but it is known that the men were given very strong kava.  Photographs of the excavated burial grounds suggest that the men went rather peacefully.  The women on the other hand, were obviously frightened and endured much pain because the photograph shows them hanging on to their husbands for dear life.  Unfortunately, they were not allowed to partake in this ominous kava ceremony.

Nowadays, a handful of women (and many expats) who live in more urban areas of Vanuatu drink kava at the local kava bars, or nakamals.  It is a way to relax after a long day of work, or discuss important, controversial matters with coworkers.  Nakamals are most often found in conspicuous, dark places, where there is usually some kind of music or fire and the atmosphere is peaceful.  To me, spending an evening in the nakamal with close friends is a perfect way to end the day.

What is the perfect ending to your day?