Sunday, November 23, 2014



Friday, November 21, 2014

The Best Mashed Potatoes Ever

I love me some mashed potatoes! If it was up to me, I'd eat them everyday. However, my mashed potatoes are pretty killer, and I should probably limit it to once a month. Maybe twice. You see, what makes these mashed potatoes so killer is the tons of yummy goodness that I add into them. Basically, most dairy products from my fridge end up in this recipe.

With Thanksgiving coming up, I figured I'd share this recipe that makes it way to my table for most holiday celebrations. It's relatively easy to make, so it's perfect for when you have other dishes that you have to focus on.

  • 4 pounds Russet Potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter
  • 8 oz (1 block) Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup Sour Cream (or Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup Half & Half
  • Salt
  • Water
  1. Add the potatoes to a large pot and add enough water to cover them. Salt the water liberally and bring the water to a boil.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, quarter the butter and cream cheese, then add them and the cheese, sour cream and heavy cream to a large mixing bowl.
  3. When the potatoes are tender (15-20 minutes), drain well and add them while still hot to the mixing bowl. Whip until smooth. I prefer to use my KitchenAid stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
  4. If the potatoes are too thick, slowly add more half and half (or milk) until they reach the desired consistency.
Serves: 6

The best part about these potatoes is that my dad said they taste better than the ones my mom makes, and mom makes some rockin' potatoes!

Are mashed potatoes your favorite Thanksgiving side dish too? 

    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    Juliana - Four Months Old

    My littlest baby is getting so big! I'm constantly telling John that I wish she would stay this little. But, as she grows each day, more and more of her sweet personality starts to show. She's so funny and I can't help but to smile whenever she smiles.

    At 24 inches long and 14 pounds, 4 ounces, Juliana finally fits comfortably into cloth diapers, so that what we've been using about 90% of the time. If we leave the house, I'll usually switch her into disposables, just to not have to deal with changing cloth while we're out.

    She's still exclusively breastfed and will probably remain that way until six months. At that point, I plan to do Baby Led Weaning again since it was such a huge success with Adri.

    She's finally accepted the fact that she can't be with mom 24/7 and is adapting well to being set down for short periods. She does well with self-soothing, as she's learned to stick her thumb in her mouth. It's the most adorable thing!

    We've had a couple of back to tummy rolls since last month, but nothing too consistent yet. She is however, pretty solid on the tummy to back rolls. Juli is also reaching for her toys. We have this elephant on her car seat that she's constantly trying to grab and stuff in her mouth. 

    Veronica and Adriana are now sharing a room, which left an entire room for Juli. She naps during the day in there and is able nap for four to five-ish hours at a time. At night, she starts off in her bassinet in our room and then transitions to our bed when she wakes up to eat. There is nothing that I love more than snuggling my tiny angel.

    As you can see, the eyes are still in the blue realm. Daddy loves to call her his "light eyes." Everyone keeps telling me that if they've stayed light for this long, they're probably going to stay that way. Let's hope so!

    Tuesday, November 18, 2014

    Paradise Cove Luau vs Hale Koa Luau

    Luaus are one of those big touristy attractions near the top of everyone's lists when it comes to things to do in Hawaii. After living on Oahu for a year, we've been to two luaus. Both times were when we had friends visiting. Our goal is to try to go to all of the luaus that the island has to offer to see which we like best. For now, this is a comparison of the Paradise Cove luau and the luau at the Hale Koa hotel.

    The Basics
    Paradise Cove: I bought the standard tickets for $49.00/adult and $37.00/child 4-12 through the Leisure and Travel office on post. Each ticket included entrance to the luau, a shell lei, mai tai greeting, credit for two alcoholic drinks, activities, entertainment and dinner. Luaus at Paradise Cove (in Ko'Olina) happen seven days a week from 5:00-9:00pm.
    Hale Koa: Since the Hale Koa, in Waikiki, is strictly for military, I was able to buy the tickets online for the same price as they would have been had I gone to the Leisure and Travel office. Both Veronica and Adriana could have gone for free, but I decided that an extra $10.00 each would be worth it for them to have their own seat and plate. Each ticket at the Hale Koa included everything that Paradise Cove offered, minus the drink credits. The luau lasted from 5:30-8:30pm and only happens on Mondays and Thursday.

    Paradise Cove: Since I bought the cheapest package, our seating was off to the side. Seating was first come, first serve, which worked in our favor since we were there pretty early. Although our seats were off to the side of the main stage, we still had a great view. The only down side to our seats was that they were uncovered. Not sure what would have happened in the event of rain, but with the sun blazing, it was pretty toasty.
    Hale Koa: Seating for this luau was assigned when I purchased the tickets. The website automatically gives you the best possible seats for your group, although you have the option to change them. I'm pretty sure that all tickets for the Hale Koa luau are the same price, however there is a lower section closest to the stage and a slightly elevated section behind it.

    Pre-Dinner Activities
    Paradise Cove: I thought Paradise Cove had far more activities prior to dinner to choose from. There was a canoe trip, spear throwing, lei making, tattoos, palm crowns. There were also a ton more people at Paradise Cove, so sometimes the wait got to be annoying. For the Imu Ceremony (where they take the roasted pig out of the ground), we sat in a large theater type thing and they brought the pig around for everyone to see.
    Hale Koa: We made crowns and orchid bracelets before sitting on mats on a large grassy area for some entertainment. The guy running things was pretty funny. After he climbed the palm tree, we were directed back to the Imu Ceremony where we were able to stand and watch before heading to our tables for dinner.

    Paradise Cove: With the standard tickets, dinner was buffet style. Each row of tables was released one at a time to go get food. On the menu was: salad (green, macaroni, potato), rolls, fish, pork, rice and probably a few other things that I'm forgetting. Plus a dessert table with a bunch of assorted treats.
    Hale Koa: Dinner at the Hale Koa was delivered by a waitress. We started off with three different salads and fresh pineapple at the table. Then, we were each brought out a plate which included: the best Kalua pork I've ever had, fish, chicken, beef, rice, potato, and this awesome fried banana thing. For dessert we each got a coconut custard thing and a piece of coconut cake.

    Paradise Cove: The shows at both luaus highlighted the culture and dancing of the Polynesian Islands. The show was a little long for our liking and the kids were ready to go by the end.
    Hale Koa: We enjoyed the shorter highlights of each different culture. At the end of the show, they did a really touching tribute to the troops. Overall, we enjoyed the show part at the Hale Koa better.

    We really weren't able to choose which luau we preferred. We loved both of them for different reasons. With the kids though, the Hale Koa is probably the better option. We have a few more visitors lined up, so we'll see how other island luaus compare.

    Have you ever been to a luau?

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Monday Mornings

    Monday mornings around these parts aren't the prettiest. I mean yeah, it's Monday, which means John has to go back to work and I'm on my own at home with the three girls. But really, Mondays are pretty ugly.

    Ya see, I tend not to do too much cleaning over the weekend. Since Hubster is home, we try to spend time doing stuff or going places together. A lot of the time, our time is spent on the couch watching TV, but it's together. No interruptions for dishes or any of that boring stuff. Dishes pile up, the dog hair piles up, Adri's pants are scattered all over the place. And it all gets left until Monday morning.

    So, this morning, I'll do my usual Monday morning cleaning routine in order to get the house back in shape for the week. I contemplated sharing a photo of the kitchen, but it's bad. Instead, I'll share a few shots from our weekend.

    Side note: I make pretty people (:

    How was your weekend?!

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

    eShakti Dress Review

    I received this product complimentary for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

    I am a huge planner. HUGE! I like to have a plan for everything. EVERYTHING! It helps me feel in control when I know exactly what is going on.

    To give you an idea of how crazy I am when it comes to planning take this one situation that I have already started planning for. John's Change of Command ceremony. We're thinking it might be around June 2015. Maybe. So what are we, like seven full months away? Yep. I've already started thinking about what kind of food I want to serve and everything. Believe me, any time I read a CoC blog post, I'm taking notes.

    Another item I've been on the lookout for: my dress! All along I've known that I wanted to wear a classicish dress. Something pretty that will reflect positively on my husband. Searching through, there were so many great options to choose from. Finally, I decided to go with the Valerie dress.

    The really cool part about eShakti is that their items are customizable. I was able to change the sleeve type and the length of the dress I chose. Because I mostly like the way it was, I only made minor changes. First, the sleeves had to be shortened just a tad. They could have been fine as-is, but we're in Hawaii, so why not show a sliver more. The second change was to the length. I like to think I have nice legs, but to keep it conservative, I went with a knee-length.

    My absolute favorite part of the dress though, has to be the pockets. I love dresses with pockets! It gives me a place to put my phone or just somewhere to hide my nervous hands.

    I think I found the perfect dress! Now all I need to do is accessorize and we should be ready to party!

    Friday, November 14, 2014

    The Family Gallery Wall

    Except for one missing photo, our family photo wall has been complete for some time now. After the comments on my Instagram photo yesterday, I figured I would finally share the entire wall.

    This wall started out with just a couple picture frames and has expanded to a full gallery wall. Originally, I started with some black and white photos with black frames and decided to continue with that theme.

    When my mom was here the first time, we took a trip to Target to stock up on a few frames. When the parentals returned after Juli's birth, we took a second trip to Target to gather a few more frames. There has been a ton of adjusting along with countless little holes in the wall, but I'm pleased with how the gallery wall turned out.

    I plan on leaving it as is for now, and might consider an addition frame or two once Juli grows a bit.

    Thursday, November 13, 2014


    I'm so thrilled that I have absolutely nothing that I have to accomplish today. NOTHING! I went to boot camp this morning, but now, the rest of the day belongs completely to me.

    The girls were sick over the weekend and V wasn't feeling great this morning, so she stayed home from school today.  I'm still waiting on John to come home for lunch, then once he heads back to work we're going to go hit up some stores. Woo!

    I'm thinking I'm going to go drop our recycling off to get some cash and then buy some craft supplies to get our Christmas gifts started. I'd like to hopefully have the gifts done in time for when our Christmas cards come, so that I can send the gifts and cards together. You know, to save a little on postage.

    Speaking of Christmas cards, I'm kinda more in love with Shutterfly after the amazing customer service I received from them! Somehow, FedEx managed to damage our Christmas cards in transit, making them undeliverable. When I woke up this morning, I had an email from Shutterfly letting me know that my new cards were being worked on! SO impressed! I'm crossing my fingers for an express delivery, but either way, they'll be here pretty soon.

    Aside from that, not much happening in these part. John's mom will be here in a week and a half, so I should probably start preparing for that, although I'm a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to guests. We are thinking about trying a pallet project for our guest room.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

    Happy Veterans Day!

    Happy Veterans Day to all of the veterans that have helped keep this great country free. Thank you for your service!

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Our First Year in Hawaii

    Exactly one year ago, after several delays and a long day of travel, our family landed at the Honolulu airport. It felt like a dream. We were one of the lucky military families that was actually going to get the chance to live in paradise for the next few years.

    Driving around, I was in awe of how beautiful the island of Oahu was. The blue water was some of the clearest I've seen in my life. Everywhere we stopped, the sand was powdery and white. The swaying palm trees against the background of the bright blue sky was unlike anything I had ever seen before.

    Palm trees at the Koolina Lagoons, Oahu, Hawaii

    In our first year, we've explored quite a bit. I've been able to knock a good amount of items off of my Hawaiian Bucket List, but we still have plenty left to do while we're here.

    We spent 45 days living in the Schofield Inn, the hotel on post. It wasn't the greatest, but it could have been worse!

    Our view at the Schofield Inn for 45 days

    On one of our first mornings on island, we explored some of the beaches on the north side of the island.

    Waimea Bay Beach Park quickly became one of our favorite hangout spots.

    Waimea Bay Beach park

    So far, I've been on one hike, the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse. The hike proved just how out of shape I am.

    Makapu'u Point Lighthouse

    We've been to two different luaus, which I still need to post a comparison of.

    This sweet little bundle was born at Tripler Army Medical Center. Probably my favorite birthing experience out of the three.

    We've had lots of family and friends visit, and we're still expecting a few more visitors before the end of the year.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    Christmas Card Out-Takes

    Since I have a few Shutterfly coupon codes, I decided to hurry up and use them to order our Christmas cards for this year. That, and it takes me like a month to get them stamped, addressed and sent out, so better to get an early start.

    I booked a family photo shoot with a photographer here on the island, but unfortunately, she's booked until mid-December, which wouldn't leave me with enough time to get the cards ordered and then sent out. Remember, it takes me a while to get the ball rolling. So, I took matters into my own hands and attempted to get some Christmas card-worth shots of the girls. It was a challenge, but I finally managed to get one photo of the girls to use on our card.

    Here are the some of the many that didn't make the cut. As per the usual, Adri is being a clown.

    Do you send out photo cards for the holidays?

    *This post contains affiliate links*

    Tuesday, November 4, 2014

    That Time I Shaved My Head

    The really cool thing about having a hairdresser as a good friend is that sometimes, Sunday dinners turn into haircut sessions. Not too long ago, said friend was over and gave my hair a trim. I loved it except for one thing: I hate my hair. Honestly, there is just too much of it, and it's too thick. On good hair days, my new do looked amazing, but mostly, it was trapped in a messy knot on the top of my head.

    Finally, I decided that I needed to do something drastic and chop off a good chunk of hair. It's just too hot in Hawaii to deal with the mop that I was dealing with. After some searching, I discovered the undercut. A recently popluar version of this features the sides of the head shaved. I'm not that brave. Instead, I opted to shave the back of my head. It's much less noticeable, and I can cover it up by putting my hair down.

    The sound of the clippers buzzing in my ear was terrifying yet exhilarating. I love how it turned out, and how much lighter my hair feels. Since this was a test run, I left the hair a little bit on the longer side. I think next time, I might shave it down a little lower and possibly get crazy with some of the designs I saw on Pinterest.

    What do you think? Am I totally crazy?

    Monday, November 3, 2014

    Trick or Treating

    After you have kids, everything you once knew about celebrating holidays changes. Where Halloween was once all about dressing up as a sexy cop and getting drunk in Miami Beach, it has now become all about holding hands and walking past the scary houses with my Disney princesses.

    Halloween 2014 was by far the best Halloween I've ever had. It completely beat out my high school and college experiences and helping my two munchkins collect their own candy was far more rewarding than having my own pillow cases filled with sweets.

    Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Mommy and Daddy (who was on patrol duty) set out exactly at 6:00, the start time for trick or treating on post. It was rainy and crappy, but nothing that we couldn't brave for the sake of free candy. There were TONS of kids out on the street. We paraded around our neighborhood for precisely and hour before V got too itchy in her costume and we returned home.

    After a quick change, we were out on our front porch passing out candy. Something I learned about our neighborhood is that if you weren't sitting outside, the trick or treaters weren't going to waste time knocking on your door.

    Veronica probably had the most fun sitting outside with us and passing out candy for two hours. I was incredibly proud that for once, she wasn't trying to hoard it all for herself and was actually sharing with others. I was also pretty surprised by how courteous all of the neighborhood teenagers were. The grand majority were great about saying "thank you."

    How was your Halloween? Did you see any creative costumes?