Thursday, August 25, 2016

Random Things About Me {52 Lists}

This weeks list will help you to learn more about me!

  • I became engaged to my husband after only one month of knowing him. We were only engaged for a month and married a week after my 20th birthday. We've been happily married now for 11 years!

  • My greatest hobby is genealogical research. I started researching my own tree in my early teens and became hooked. Now I help others with theirs. 

  • I refuse to allow a television in my bedroom. After getting married, I moved in to my husbands town home and he had a television in the master bedroom that he would leave on night. I would wake up with really bad headaches as a result from the light and noise (even if the sound was down all the way, the television still made a high pitched ringing sound that he couldn't hear, but I could).

  • I am an extreme introvert. I am most comfortable at home with my immediate family. My dad nags at me about getting out more and doesn't believe that I am completely happy right where I am.

  • While I love my time at home, I also enjoy family vacations. I prefer to drive to our destination rather than fly, as flying makes me queasy. Airplane queasiness only came about in adulthood.

  • I also get carsick. I must sit in the front seat on long car rides. This is something I have experienced since childhood and holds me back from doing things with others that involve carpooling.

  • I have anxiety when I drive in big cities, or on any freeway with more than two lanes in each direction. My husband does most of the driving when we're out of town, but his driving also makes me nervous.

  • As a child, I used to go snorkeling with my dad all the time and felt very comfortable in the ocean. As I got older, I developed anxiety in the water and am very paranoid about what lurks beneath. When I am at the beach with my children, I do not go in past my knees if I can help it (the Atlantic ocean is so murky that I can't see anything). Pools are completely fine.

  • I love reading but have a difficult time finishing a book. I have about 4-5 unfinished books sitting in my nightstand. If a book is too good, it sits on my night stand longer because I am not ready for it to be finished.

  • I am a vegan. For those that do not understand fully what this is, it means that my children and I abstain from all meat, dairy, eggs, and even honey.

  • I abstain from drinking tea, coffee, and sodas as I am very sensitive to caffeine and it disrupts my sleep schedule (even if I consume it in the morning) and makes my heart race. I will occasionally enjoy a cup of herbal tea and drink caffeine-free sodas when I am sick.

  • My first child was born via Cesarean (non-emergency), and my second and third children were VBACs. I'll take the recovery from a VBAC over a Cesarean any day.

  • When reading books to my children, I use an accent related to where the story takes place or who the author may be. Everything by Beatrix Potter is read in a proper English accent. The stories about Madeline are read in a French accent.

  • My children believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny even though I oppose them both. If I could have a do-over, I'd remove them from our holiday traditions. (As a side note, I do appreciate the story of Saint Nicholas and even early stories of Santa Claus when it was much less commercialized... I just prefer the focus being on Christ and feel that has been lost over the years.)

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

My Favorite Places to Eat Out {52 Lists}

Oh, boy! I love this weeks list! The topic this week is our favorite meals or places to eat out. I love dining out and trying new food. I also love taking pictures of food so that I can remember what it was and try to recreate it at home. I am also incapable of making a simple list, and I will need to divide my list into two sections, as what I am able to eat now is entirely different from what I used to eat. These lists are in no particular order.

My Favorite Places to Eat Out (Current)

1. BEAN Vegan Cuisine in Asheville, NC (and Charlotte, NC)

This is not your typical vegan restaurant. It is vegan comfort food (mostly Southern comfort food) and it is oh so delicious. My husband and I both like their burgers, although they have a lot of other menu items. Dessert is also a must. Our family is very much looking forward to a visit here in the fall.

2. Japanese Food

I've always loved Japanese food. Many people don't realize this, but the population of Hawaii is  almost 60% Asian and so many local restaurants serve their own variations of Asian food. Moving away was difficult. Fortunately, people on the East Coast also love Japanese food, and every now and then I will find a place that will make vegan sushi. My favorite is this aburaage (deep fried seasoned tofu) and avocado sushi.

3. Thai Food

There are a few Thai restaurants in our town and in most towns we travel to. We love it because there is often a wide variety of vegan options. My children love tofu, and I love curry (especially green curry). Thai noodles with peanuts is also a favorite. For dessert, we can always count on there being sweet coconut rice with sliced mango. 

4. Mediterranean Food

My family loves falafel and hummus. I also can't get enough stuffed grape leaves. I did not grow up eating Mediterranean food, but I am sure glad I started!

5. zpizza

This pizza chain may not be very well known, but it is worth the visit. We have been to their locations in Williamsburg, VA and Washington, DC. They sell both vegan and non-vegan pizza. I did not realize how much I missed eating pizza until I tried their Berkeley Vegan pizza. Loaded with veggies, vegan sausage crumbles, and Daiya cheese.

6. Food For Thought in Williamsburg, VA

I had my very first experience with spaghetti squash here. They topped it with a delicious pesto, fresh tomatoes, and pine nuts, placed on a bed of jasmine mushroom rice. They also serve a vegan brownie for dessert, though I was unable to try it because I ate way too much! We will be going back for our next family trip to Colonial Williamsburg.

My Favorite Places to Eat Out (Past)

The most difficult part of giving up meat and dairy was giving up my favorite go-to places. I still think of them often and have tried to recreate my favorite dishes.

1. L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

Two heaping scoops of rice, another heaping scoop of sinful macaroni salad, and a choice of meat (chicken katsu, barbecue chicken, short ribs, and kalua pig and cabbage). They have many locations in Hawaii but also a lot of locations in California, Washington, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico. I hear there is even one in Dallas, Texas, and Upstate New York!

2. Carrabba's Italian Grill 

We had to drive to Raleigh, NC to eat at Carrabba's, but it was well worth it. It is very similar to The Olive Garden, but kicked up a few notches in flavor and authenticity. We often ate our fair share of fresh bread dipped in olive oil and herbs. 

3. Logan's Roadhouse

We usually went here for the yeast rolls. Their loaded baked potato was almost a meal in itself. As a vegan, I shouldn't be promoting this, but their ribs were probably the best. I never had ribs so tender. The meat literally would fall off the bone.  

4. Buffalo Wild Wings

My co-workers and I would order a variety of flavors on our lunch break and eat them at the office. My friend Tiffany and I preferred the more spicy flavors while our friends Karen and Marilee stuck with the more mild ones. Good times. Those poor chickens. They didn't stand a chance.

5. Hilo Lunch Shop

This is a go-to okazuya place for locals in my hometown of Hilo, Hawaii. Takeout only, they have maki sushi, inarizushi, spam musubi, vegetables, nori chicken, other types of meats, and did I mention sushi?!? It is very fast-paced and you need to know what you want before you even get in line, as you have a lot of people behind you on a limited lunch break. Make sure to grab lot's of napkins, because the food is g-r-e-a-s-y!

I didn't want to add a fast food place, but I have fond memories of ordering a bucket of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw. That's all that was needed and there were always leftovers. 

That's it for this list. I could totally go overboard and double my lists, but I need to stop somewhere. 

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

New House Update #2

It has been 3 months since my last update, and that is because not much had been done on the house. The road to get to our lot was finally paved just last month. However, the month of August has finally been a productive one! 

The house was staked out (I know I am using the wrong word for this, but cannot think of the correct word) on July 30th. It was raining hard when we went to take a look.

A week later, they had laid the cinder block and brick foundation and filled the inside with dirt. The children are standing in what will be our driveway, with the garage behind them.

Here is a closeup of the brick. It's called Nottingham and has a sandy color. The cinder-blocks underneath will not be visible for much longer.

Since the 2 year old was at home with Daddy, the older two kids and I spent a little extra time at the site. We walked around to the back of the house, mostly because the kids wanted to walk around on the loose dirt. The kids are standing where our sliding glass door will be, leading to our back yard. The construction crew made this dirt ramp to fill the interior of the foundation. It will be gone soon, but the kids wanted it to stay.

A closer view of the brick foundation from the back of the house. I like the color and can't wait to see how it looks with the vinyl siding color we chose.

One last view from the front, minus the kids. Garage is on the right. To the left of that is our dining room, then the front entry, and the staircase on the far left.

Last week, we went back to the design center to discuss what we had already chosen and make sure it was still what we wanted.

these are our selections for the living room. Our current hardwood floor is about this color and we really like it, so why not put it in the new house? It will be installed throughout the entire downstairs, except for the bathroom. We're going with a beige paint in the living room, kitchen, bathrooms, foyer, and staircase. White paint will be throughout the rest of the house, which we will paint various colors later.

We are getting a gas fireplace with the mantle shown below. The off-white square below is a sample of the marble surround of the fireplace. I chose very neutral colors for much of the house, as it is a lot easier to paint the walls than it is to replace marble and tile.

One of our upgrades was to the kitchen cabinets. I love this cream colored cabinet with mocha glaze. I also chose this granite for the counter-tops. The tile at the top will be for the tile backsplash, laid diagonally. We will have bronze handles on the cabinets and and a bronze kitchen sink faucet. Appliances will be stainless steel.

This is what will be in out master bathroom. The cabinets in all of the bathrooms will be the same cream color but without the mocha glaze. Our 6' tile shower floor will be the mosaic tiles and the walls of the shower and the surround of the soaker tub will be the larger tile at the bottom. We're still undecided on whether or not to do tile flooring in our master bathroom or to go with a similar linoleum. At our current home, we have tile in the kitchen and bathrooms and it is very slippery when wet.

The downstairs guest bathroom and upstairs bathroom for the children will have cream cabinets, no mocha glaze, linoleum flooring, and the rectangle piece on the linoleum will be the color of our countertops in all bathrooms, including the master. 

Most of the interior decisions have been made and now we just wait to see it all come together. Next step will be seeing the concrete poured on the foundations, then framing will begin!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Week in Review 2016: #32


We're on the final countdown for gymnastics. We made the difficult decision not to sign up for gymnastics in the fall. The children have two classes left of the summer season, and then we're done. They're sad, I'm sad, and I still don't know what I am going to do about an extracurricular for George (Bridget will be back in ballet/tap/jazz in September). 

After gymnastics this week, we headed over to our new house to check out the progress. They are currently working on the foundation and have laid the brick. The children are standing in our future driveway in front of the garage. They are so excited about the entire thing. I took a lot more pictures and will make a separate post later with details of the house. 

We are currently sitting in limbo with everything going on. We decided to rent out our current home and will need a renter before we move in to our new home. A realtor is coming over on Monday to discuss what we will need to do to put the place up for rent (and we will be listing it with him). We preferred to rent it out privately and offer a better deal on the home ($200-$300 less than what the rest of the houses in our neighborhood rent for), but have had no success in finding someone. We will be packing up our home, putting most of our belongings into a storage unit, and renting an apartment. My husband was able to find a place that has a 3-month lease, and it is only about a mile from here. I am glad to still be close to my parents so that I can take the kids over to play in their yard, since apartment living lacks in that department.

On top of all that, I still have my regular mom/homeschooler routines. We started our new schol year last week. So far, it is going well. We're a little behind in history and science because I had house-related things to take care of (we had a meeting last week with the design center, picking out cabinets, flooring, etc., and this week I have been trying to clean and pack up our belongings). I figure I will have a lot of time on my hands living in an apartment with most of our things in storage, and will easily be able to catch up.

This little guy decided to make my job just a teensy bit harder this week. He "washed" himself with a peanut butter sandwich and I had to give him a real bath before his nap. It's a good thing he's cute. He wants to start potty training, but I really don't want to deal with the inevitable mess right now. Toddlers are so much fun, but they are a lot of work.


The highlight this week was history. We took a "magic carpet ride" through ancient Rome. The children really got into it, holding on to the magic carpet and looking at all of the sights down below.

We also played a game where the kids had to keep barbarians out of Rome. We used the blanket as "Rome" and the children were the Roman army trying to keep the barbarians out of Rome. I surrounded the blanket with stuffed animals as barbarians. Then ready, set, go, I ran around the blanket, tossing barbarians into Rome and they did their best to keep up and get them out. They saw how difficult it was and were able to explain to me how Rome eventually fell as a result of these attacks. Then they got to color one of those big, mean barbarians.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Favorite Scents {52 Lists}

This weeks list is what our favorite scents are. Easy, right?

My favorite scents take me back in time, to places and people that have been a part of my life. It is not only the scent that I remember, but the memories of being with those people and enjoying those places. Scents trigger those memories for me. Other scents just make me happy. Here are some of my favorites.

Plumerias. They are by far my favorite flower. I grew up in Hawaii and many people had plumerias trees in their yards. One aunt had a plumeria tree in her front yard that I used to climb. The plumerias were hard to reach, but even the ones that had fallen on the ground the day before were very fragrant. Another aunt lives in an apartment building, and her second story front porch had clusters of plumeria blossoms within arms reach.

Irish Spring soap. As strange as this sounds, the instant you walked in to my grandparents bathroom, you were greeted with the lovely scent of Irish Spring. I do not know how she got the smell to be so strong in there. I've wondered if she used it to wash the counters, sink, and tub with it. Whenever I smell Irish Spring soap, I am instantly transported back to my childhood, when I would spend the night with them and Grandma would let me fill up the tub and soak in there for as long as I wanted.

Freshly bathed babies. I love the smell of baby shampoo, and after their baths, I used to sit and snuggle each baby on the rocker, and smell their soft baby hair.

Homemade bread. My husband makes great bread. The aroma makes its way around the entire house. I especially like it because I wasn't the one who had to do all the work. My grandparents kitchen also smelled of fresh homemade bread (it was the only bread they ate). Grandpa wasn't much of a cook, but he knew how to use the breadmaker.

Cinnamon. There is something about the smell of cinnamon around the holidays. The candles, the pies, and even the pine cone decor that was soaked in a cinnamon/Christmas spice mixture and sprinkled with glitter. But I only like this scent around the holidays. 

Hot wassail. Since we're already on the topic of Christmas, I love this hot beverage. The smell of the cinnamon, oranges, and other spices, tickles my nose and gets me in the mood to pull out the boxes and boxes [and boxes, and more boxes] of holiday decor.

Freshly baked cookies, hot out of the oven. I don't care what type of cookie it is. Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies... the list could go on. It's a cookie.

Island air. Hawaii smells better than the "mainland". I didn't notice until I went home after a year of living away. As soon as I arrived at the Honolulu airport and left the international terminal and made my way to the inter-island terminal, I could smell it. It was sweet and fragrant, like having all of my favorite tropical flowers in one room. Trade winds keep the air moving, allowing for a fresh breath every time.

Mountain air. I now live on the east coast, about a 2 hour drive from the ocean. Each year, we try to make a trip to the mountains. It's a long 5 hour drive, but it's worth it. The area is less populated and there is wilderness all around you. The air smells clean. It's not a strong scent, but it is surely lacking in pollutants.

Coconut. Whether it's a [virgin] piƱa colada or the smell of a new shampoo, I am very drawn to the smell of sweet coconut. 

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Week in Review 2016: #31 (The First Week of School!)

It was an exciting week for us, as it was the first  week of school. Bridget is now in second grade (our second grade curriculum) and George is in pre-k (our pre-k curriculum). He has asked me every day this summer if it was time for him to start school yet. The day finally came and so far, he's loving it. Now that I have two students, I wanted to make sure I had everything planned out. Most of their subjects are separate, except for history and geography. Originally, I had planned on having them together for science, but knew that George would get lost when we did chemistry and physics, so instead George will be starting from the beginning with a special pre-k science curriculum. 

The kids got to pick their special color paper for their weekly plan and each task has a check box next to it, so we can mark it when they are done. I did this in the second half of last school year and it worked beautifully in making sure we got everything done and helps us to stay on task. 

The Friday before our first week of school, we went to the library to pick up school books and a few fun books. The children couldn't wait to dive in to their new books once we got home!

At last, the first day of school arrived. The kids were up early (on their own), dressed, fed, and were ready to begin at 8 a.m. No cutesy signs this year, but we did take this "first day of school" picture with my two students.

My youngest, who very recently turned two years old, was surprisingly well-behaved (most of the time) while I worked on school with the older two. He kept Bridget company when she did her math work, and kept busy with her math manipulatives. He got nervous when I called his name to take this picture, as he knows he's not usually allowed to play with the manipulatives, but since he was being good and quiet, I let him continue. He has done this every day this week.

For our first day of school, I cut up a pineapple to include with our lunch. Between the kids and I, we ate the entire thing. This was Liam's first taste of fresh pineapple, and he was hooked. Even when his mouth began hurting, he wanted to continue eating.

After lunch and after I put Liam down for his nap is when I like to sit on the couch with the older two and do some reading. This is when we get a lot of our history work done, and now geography. Bridget had to write her own narration, which I forgot to take a picture of, but I do have one of George coloring his narration page.

George really enjoyed his first science lesson. We worked on it while Bridget did math. We learned about observation, then went on a "science safari" in our backyard, where George told me what he could see, hear, smell, and feel.  

The week, overall, was a pleasant one. A fresh start to a new school year will do that. 

In other news, I developed strep again for the fourth time since May. I saw a new doctor, and he has determined that the strep never really went away and is somehow hiding in my throat and flaring up every few weeks (I was recently diagnosed for the third time on July 16th, and diagnosed again on August 3rd). The three different antibiotics I had been prescribed previously got rid of the symptoms, but didn't get rid of it entirely. Now I am on a new antibiotic in a different "class". I am not a candidate yet for a tonsilectomy, as the doctor feels I haven't been catching it over and over again, but that is has been resistant to the antibiotics. That was good news for me, because I do not have a history of a constant sore throat and really didn't want to have surgery. Fortunately, I got to the doctor before it got really bad, so I have not been in much pain after the first day, and have been able to eat and swallow (unlike the last 3 times), though food doesn't taste good. And on top of that and my immune system being weakened, I am also battling a cold. Thankfully, it is now the weekend and I only pray that I am better by Monday, though Sunday would be ideal. 

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