Sunday, March 30, 2008

Recipe of the Day

We've finally perfected it.

Nearly two years ago, the Hubster's dad ordered a Lava Flow at the Hale Koa luau. We all sampled it and agreed on its deliciousness.

It's been mentioned a few times since then, but a few months ago the Hubster and I set out on our mission to recreate that deliciousness. Each weekend we would try a new recipe, or tweak one we had already tried, all in an attempt to get it right.

All of our tweaking, sampling, and research led to this, which makes two LARGE servings, three above average servings, or four luau-sized servings:

A few hours ahead of time freeze the following ingredients separately: Two bananas, 1/2 cup strawberry syrup (the type used for Margaritas), and 1 cup pineapple juice.

In your blender, mix 1 cup frozen sliced strawberries, the frozen strawberry syrup, and 1/2 cup light rum. Blend until smooth, then pour into a cup and stick it in the freezer while you finish the recipe.

Rinse and dry blender, then toss in the frozen bananas, frozen pineapple juice, 1/2 cup cream of coconut (we keep it refrigerated), and 1 cup (or so) of coconut rum. Blend well, then gradually add 4 cups of ice (16 large cubes).

(The key is to work with frozen/chilled ingredients as much as possible, and work quickly before anything begins to melt.)

Pour 1/3 of the strawberry mixture into each of two LARGE glasses. Slowly add the banana mixture, pouring along the side of the glass to prevent it from mixing with the strawberry layer. Split the remaining 1/3 cup of strawberry mixture between the two glasses, adding it as a top 'lava' layer.

Enjoy.

Notes:

The LARGE servings are very large! Think Jamba Juice sized.

This is a dessert-type drink. It's more like a smoothie than a "drink". Don't attempt it on a full stomach.

I don't like banana flavored foods or pineapple, and am not a huge fan of coconut.....but this is yummy!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ignorance is Bliss

Or at the very least, it makes my life less complicated.

In early 1990 the Hubster got his first real set of military orders. He and I, with toddler Diva in tow, headed to the nearest military installation (two hours away) and went through the process of arranging our first official military move (PCS, in military terms).

There have been eleven moves since then, and I've arranged them without assistance from the Hubster. Not that he's slacking or anything, he just had a real job and other places to be. No big deal.

So, we're now working on move number 13.

When I called to make an appointment to ship our household goods, I was informed that we had to attend a mandatory PCS seminar. I literally laughed out loud.....I've done this a dozen times, and NOW they are requiring lessons?

The annoyed voice on the other end of the phone line said that either my husband or I would have to attend the four-hour seminar.

So, after finding out that I couldn't get Destructo into the drop-in center the day of the seminar, it was decided that the Hubster would fulfil our mandatory PCS seminar obligation.

B-I-G Mistake.

He came home with a binder full of 'useful' information and a look of panic in his eyes.

He went on to inform me that we rated two 'moves' (HHG and 'express') and I needed to arrange them separately, limit the express to 1,000 pounds, and separate those items before the packers arrive. He also explained the process for shipping our vehicles, and let me know that they each have to be arranged separately. Then there was the issue of the dog. And did I know we could hand-carry our medical records? I needed to file paperwork for that. Also, it would be a good idea to get the Wildcard's school records before we left, and research schools in the new area before we got there. Oh, and did I know that I had to arrange for Aloha (Flintstone) furniture after they took our HHGs? This went on for a good fifteen minutes, while he passed along his newly acquired expertise in all things move-related.

(Yawn.)

His binder included checklists and timelines, and a handy, dandy calendar so we could sit down and calculate all the important dates and make sure we met all deadlines.

(Yawn.)

When he was finished, I got my Day Planner that I keep by the phone and write everything in. I pointed out the dates where I had written "Packout", "Express", "Notify Housing", etc.

He looked at me and said, "Oh. You've done this before?"

Ummmm......yeah. Without any official training.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Someone Needs a Hobby

Or perhaps a different hobby.

The Hubster bumped into a long-lost colleague the other day, and they spent a good hour catching up. He learned that this particular guy is now married with children, and is living very near where we will be once they pry us off this island.

The Colleague then mentioned that his wife loves to entertain. Not that she 'enjoys' it, but she actually 'LOVES' it. To her, it is an artform and a science, with a bit of therapy thrown in.

He warned us that we will be invited to his house for dinner.

Then he went on to explain.

As hostess, his wife appears to be flitting about, chatting with guests, and making sure the evening goes off without a hitch. However, in the back of her brain, she is constantly making mental notes about the visit.

After we leave, his wife will clean the house spotless, then sit down at the computer and type up an after-action report detailing what worked and what didn't work throughout the evening.

And then it gets really weird.

A file will be created for each of us. In that file she will include highlights of our conversations and make notes about our meal preferences, just for future reference.

Example?

If I choose Italian dressing for my salad and avoid the olives, notes will be made. The next time we visit, the Italian dressing will be waiting, and there will be no olives on the salad.

If the Hubster mentions that the texture of the cheesecake is "different", she will not serve it to us again.

If we mention our love of Jamaican reggae, next time we visit she will bring out the Bob Marley and be sporting a rasta wig while ganja simmers in the potpourri burners.

(Okay, I'm really not 100% certain on the wig.)


That's just too much pressure.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fun With Phonics

A few days ago the Wildcard and Destructo were playing in their room when something went terribly wrong, at least from the perspective of Destructo.

I didn't hear the conversation, but the Wildcard's version went something like this:

"We were playing with Legos and Destructo's tower broke. He said the F-Word. Don't worry though. After he said it, I lectured him about saying the F-Word, and now he knows that it's a bad word. He won't be saying the F-word again."


So, flash forward to this afternoon.

The Hubster and I were taking the Wildcard and Destructo for Slurpees.

In spite of being a total control freak, I decided to let the Hubster drive. The boys were buckled in the back seat of my Race Car and I took my place in the passenger seat. The Hubster opened the car door and attempted to fit his 6' self into the driver's seat, where I had everything adjusted for my 5'3" self.

As he squeezed behind the wheel, he let out a loud "Ooouuuhhhffffffffffffff!!"

Destructo immediately piped up from the back seat:

"Ohhhhh......Dad said the F-Word!!!""

The Wildcard quickly corrected him by saying that "Oooouuuuuhhhfffff!" wasn't the F-Word.

Destructo was determined to prove his point.

"Yes. It. Is. Listen to me: OoooouuuuuuhhhhfffffFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!! That's an F-Word. You said F-Words are bad."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mistakes That Worked

My kids have a book titled "Mistakes That Worked". It is full of fun facts about failed experiments which led to unexpected, surprisingly successful results.

That was my weekend.

The Wildcard was supposed to attend an event on the Big Island this weekend. Unfortunately(?), last week we learned that the people in charge hadn't submitted the paperwork in time for the deadline. This left me with non-refundable plane tickets for the two of us to the Big Island this weekend.

We had planned to go to the Big Island with the Wildcard and Destructo before we left Hawaii, but unfortunately(?) this weekend didn't work for the Hubster. He said he would stay home with Destructo while the Wildcard and I went away for the weekend.

Initially, I felt a twinge of guilt. This was supposed to be a sort-of family trip, and now he and Destructo wouldn't be able to come with us.

As the week went on, the big story on the local news was the active lava flow on the Big Island. The lava would soon be reaching the ocean, and they were working fast and furious to open up a viewing area for the public. On Thursday they announced that the area would be open to the public beginning on Saturday.

My twinge of guilt went away as I began packing my camera bag.

The Wildcard and I flew over on Saturday morning, and spent a big part of the day exploring Volcanoes National Park. The last time we were there was many years ago, and the Wildcard doesn't remember much of it. It was awesome, in spite of the closure of a big part of the park due to hazardous volcanic gas. We did a lot of hiking, took tons of pictures/videos, and ate too many snacky, junky foods.

(And yes, I am a freakin' genius. One day I am complaining about the vog on Oahu, a few days later I am going directly to the source.)

So, anyway, our plan was to get to the viewing area just before sunset so I could get daylight pictures and after-dark pictures. (Okay, it wasn't really "our" plan. It was my plan and the Wildcard had no choice.)

The lava flow was just outside Volcanoes National Park, but because lava had crossed the road years ago, the only way to access it was to leave the park and circle around to the other side....a 70 minute drive.

As we neared the viewing area, traffic was pretty heavy (by Big Island standards!). We spotted a sign informing us that the viewing area was 2 miles ahead. Because I'm a freakin' genius, I immediately began looking for a parking space. It took about a mile, in stop-and-go traffic before I found one, then pulled in and was so excited that I had found a close space.

We gathered our supplies (camera, tripod, video camera, camel pack) and started off on the remaining mile to the viewing area.

After walking a mile, we came to a gate with a sign reading "Parking for volcano viewing. Viewing area 2.2 miles."

So much for genius. We walked another 2.2 miles down a narrow gravel/dirt road before we finally reached the lava fields. That's 3.2 miles, one-way. And that's after spending the earlier part of the day hiking at Volcanoes Park.

The Wildcard was a trooper. He didn't complain a bit, but was concerned that we may be disappointed after walking 3.2 miles. I wasn't much help with that one, because I had the same concern. If I walk that far, each way, it better be amazing!


It was.


The area where the lava was flowing used to be a subdivision. Few houses were spared.

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This is the lava flow coming directly at us. It was moving slowly, but steadily.

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I was surprised how close they let us get. It was really quite dangerous, and people are idiots. We saw people doing a lot of stupid things while we were out there.

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This was another area, where the lava was approaching some trees and brush. Whenever it reached the trees or brush, they burst into flames for a few brief seconds, then were gone. Everyone was waiting for that large tree to go. We waited about 20 minutes, then moved on. About half an hour later we saw it go up in flames from a distance. Amazing.

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This was just some random brush burning.

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Lava flow after dark. I was SO glad I had my tripod, or none of these would have turned out. The ground was so hot from the lava beneath it that the rubber 'feet' on my tripod were turning to mush. And for the record, I'm annoyed that the lady on the other side used a flash and ruined my picture.

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More after-dark photos. The steam in the distance is where the lava was flowing into the ocean. No one was allowed near that....apparently it releases hydrochloric acid and other fun stuff, so they thought it was best to declare it off-limits. Personally, I think they should have posted the warning then let the idiots make the choice to go out there.....but that's just me.

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It was totally worth the trek out there, and the walk back in total, pitch-black darkness.

They weren't sure how long the observation area would be open to the public, and I'm so glad we had the opportunity to go out there on Saturday. On Sunday, the area was open but the lava had stopped flowing. There really was nothing to see anymore.


So.............the timing couldn't have been better. If Destructo had been with us, we never could have made the hike out there. Definitely a mistake that worked!!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I Wonder....

Is it bad if you go island hopping for the weekend and your camera bag weighs more than your other bag?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

On a Clear Day....

On a normal, clear day we have awesome views of the mountains:

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The past few weeks we have had a lot of days with light Kona winds, which blow in vog (volcanic smog) from the volcano on the Big Island. It was some of the worst I have ever seen. These were taken looking in the same direction as the three previous pictures:

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Our mountains have disappeared!!

It's no wonder I've been feeling icky lately.