Joint Spouses’ Conference 2012 Recap

Okay so this was awhile ago but I had such a great time and took SO many pictures I wanted to share it. Also I had forgotten my camera and had to drive home and get it so after doing all that these pictures MUST see the light of day!

The Joint Spouses’ Conference is a military spouse conference that is hosted each year by one of the branches. This year Navy had the privilege and the conference was held on Ford Island.

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We had the CO of Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam open up the conference, then a really cute little message from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Dempsey and his wife.

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I was actually second guessing my decision to go at the last minute, I was getting some major anxiety over the fact that I was going to know NO ONE! I found out the night before that one of my friends from football was going to be there so at least I had someone to eat with!

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We got great little welcome baskets and a tote bag full of more goodies. The entire conference was decorated SO well, I was very impressed! Those ladies did an awesome job!

There was a large list of workshops you could take: cooking, painting, photography, sailing, hula, lei making, business classes. You name it. I went with Lei Making, Beyond the Mai Tai, Hula and Chocolate.

First up Lei Making. I really enjoyed this and was amazed at how easy it is, just threading flowers. Tuber roses smell AMAZING! We also did a ti leaf lei which involved twisting ti leaves. It was not really complicated but my brain is old and tired! So I ended up with a ti leaf bracelet! This workshop was put on by the Hale Koa hotel which is a military hotel in downtown Waikiki. The women were great and VERY informative. Seriously I would love to take some Hawaiian studies classes!

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Sporting my new handmade lei of purple orchid and tuber rose!

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Next up was Beyond the Mai Tai, which was also hosted by the Hale Koa, but the bartenders this time. And yes it was still rather early in the day for drinking but what the heck. We had some delicious samples, got some great recipes and all got a little bit tipsy. Good times!

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Lunch was delicious! We had a ton of dessert and it was hilarious to see all of the photographers whip out their cameras to take pictures of the food. I know my husband rolls my eyes at me but it is so nice to be among like minded people!

 

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Our guest speaker was Mrs. Hawaii who happens to also be a Navy veteran and current military spouse. She was not your normal pageant queen but was really down to earth. She is doing some amazing work with childhood obesity and nutrition in Hawaii.

IMG_9907aWe also had some adorable little hula dancers but my camera was on a wonky setting and none of the pictures turned out.

After lunch it was time for Hula lessons! This was a class that was insanely out of my comfort zone. I don’t dance. Like, ever. Well maybe if I’ve had enough to drink but the mai tais had worn off by now! But this is something I really wanted to do and thankfully we had a great instructor, the same lady from the Hale Koa that taught me lei making! I don’t have any pictures because it’s pretty impossible to take photos and hula. But I had a GREAT time and actually remembered most of the steps!

Now, time for Chocolate making! This was fun basic intro to working with chocolate.

We had our ingredients laid out in front of us, ganache with some different flavorings like lavender, cocoa powder, cayenne, sea salt,  and nuts. I thought mine looked like the Hawaiian islands.

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And here I am with all of my finished truffles. And a chocolate dipped strawberry.

IMG_9919aI really liked the sea salt as well as the cayenne truffles. I accidentally gave Omar one of the cayenne ones when we got home. He was like ‘what is wrong with this, its burning my mouth!’ Sorry! My kids aren’t fans of ‘weird’ chocolates!

We wrapped up with some more food as well as a silent auction and a basket raffle and I was beat! I had a really great day and met some really nice women. Really my only complaint was that everyone had their iPhones in front of their face all day. We aren’t there to check FaceBook, we are there to meet people and have a good time. It was kind of annoying but whatever. I am really looking forward to going again next year, I think the Army will be hosting.

 

And here are just some random photos from the day:IMG_9874

 

 

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Cake Pop Tutorial! {From a novice}

Okay I have been reading Bakerella’s blog for years, I’ve bought her cake pop book and I adore her. After all, she brought cake pops into my life! While she is an expert and an artist, I am an amateur.

I’ve seen some cake pop makers in stores but they are not true cake pops, as you can see a cake pop is a mix of cake and frosting, a perfect bite.  So here are the baby steps to making your own cake pops at home, they are cheaper than the ones at Starbucks and they are GREAT for bake sales!

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Grab your ingredients, a box of cake mix and a can of frosting. You can really do any combo, I like cream cheese frosting because it’s delicious. Mckenna prefers red velvet, I’ve done strawberry for her birthday, really whatever you like. You can absolutely do homemade but the two store-bought items are the perfect ratio. Bake up your cake and let it cool – completely! When it is totally cool just crumble it up with your hands to make cake crumbs.  Dump in the can of frosting  and get to mixing. Try and get it totally mixed with no cake clumps, they will affect the integrity of the cake pop. (Ha, that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever typed)

Okay, now a tangent on the size of your cake pop. I ran into an issue today with my two different sizes I was doing. I was using the small and medium Pampered Chef dishers. (If you don’t have dishers in your kitchen put them on your Christmas list, they are invaluable). The small size worked perfect, the large ones were falling off the stick. The larger ones could have possibly worked with thicker sticks. Anyways, the small ones were a perfect bite, so when in doubt, go smaller.

 

cakepops2So using your disher scoop perfectly uniform bites onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Chill for 20-30 minutes. Come back and roll them into nice crumb free balls.  Grab some candy melts (you should be able to find these in any craft store or sometimes in a grocery store) and melt them in a double boiler. Grab your sticks and dip them into the candy melts and then stick into cake pops. Chill again just to make sure these suckers aren’t going to fall apart on you. Dip into the candy melts and tap off the excess (but not too hard or you will shake it off of the stick!) You can stick these into Styrofoam to set, but I never have that, so I stuck them into an upside down colander (or three). Perfect!

This is just the starting point, there are so many ways you can decorate them. And they are just insanely delicious!

Enjoy!

 

Commence Baking!

This month is flying and I mean FLYING by! As much as I am not ready I am being pulled into the holidays kicking and screaming. As usual I am a HUGE procrastinator when it comes to holiday stuff. My bestie Janelle reminded me that this was my make it or break it week.  Friday is the last day of school for my kids so I needed to get as much done as possible while juggling all my normal stuff as well as a gingerbread house party and two Christmas parties. No problem! I work best under pressure!

So tomorrow is the kids last day of school and I wanted to send some cookies in with their teacher gifts (I’ll post a pic as soon as they are done) so I pulled out the KitchenAid and put that bad boy to work. My favorite newish cookie, Bars Bars. I have my old standard favorites that I grew up eating and have to make every year so it feels like Christmas, but this is one I’ve only been making for 7 or 8 years. I got it from someone I used to nanny for from an old cafe recipe book she had. I love them. They have made their way into my annual cookie plates and are here to stay.  Baking this morning reminded me that this isn’t a chore I have been dreading. I love it!

Does the phrase “Cream butter and sugars together” make anyone else’s heart flutter? Because that is poetry right there.  Also, I get some sort of sick satisfaction from having obscene amounts of butter, brown sugar and chocolate chips in my pantry.

But here is a fab cookie recipe that I recommend you try. And as always if we are friends in real life I have first dibs on bringing this to any joint social function. That is the law with recipe sharing.

Bars Bars:

2C butter

4C brown sugar

4 eggs

1T vanilla

2t baking soda

4 1/2C flour

6-7C quick cook oats

Chocolate Layer:

2T butter

1 can condensed milk

1t vanilla

2C chocolate chips

 

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add vanilla & eggs. Mix well. Add flour and baking soda. Mix well. Add oats. (you guessed it) Mix well.

Spread 2/3 of the dough on a 1/2 sheet pan (12×17) (I like to line mine with parchment for easy removal/cleanup)

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Melt the ingredients for the chocolate layer in a double boiler and spread over dough.

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Drop the remaining dough over the top. Bake at 350 for about 25-30 min. These are pretty rich so you can cut them smaller than a normal bar cookie.

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These are SO SO good. So now I have cookies to send in tomorrow (should probably get started on the cake pops I promised Mckenna I would make for her party) and there should be plenty left over to send some to Omar as well. I am waiting for my Christmas cards to get here so I can start baking and giving cookies and cards to all of my local friends here.

I am rockin’ this week!

Leonard’s Malasadas

If you ever see this sign or this truck pull your vehicle over and immediately buy some freshly made malasadas. Malasadas are Portugese doughnuts, why they are so wildly popular in Hawaii? I have no clue. But they are delicious, fried dough. Enough said.

We got to sample our first ones at the pumpkin patch. (Also sorry if you hate the filter on the pictures, I was in the mood for an old school look) The line wasn’t too bad and the malasadas were being fried fresh… $1 each, we all picked cinnamon. OMG. Heaven. These would have to be eaten fast, once they got cold there is no way they would be as good. (not that I would know, we had no leftovers!)

Maybe I just need to join a commune…

Or not. I like my deodorant too much.

You may have gotten a taste of my earth-friendliness through these pages and I’m afraid the older I get, the worse I am going to be.

My husband and I were watching some Paul Rudd movie where he and his wife get stuck on a commune and he commented that he could totally see me doing something like that.

Living sustainably, off the land like that would be incredible. One thing I am really not happy with is the fact that we aren’t allowed to have chickens in this neighborhood. I am obsessed with chickens. And gardens. I am turning into a crazy person!

Two things today have made it even worse: my new cookbook and the show Doomsday Preppers.

Finally spent the last of my Barnes and Noble gift card my mom sent me for Mother’s Day (thanks mom!) on two books Homemade Pantry and Almost Amish (which I haven’t read yet). I’ve been trying to make as many of my kids snacks as possible or at least buying the big bag to reduce waste. This book just made so much sense to me. It’s beautifully written, I feel like I am sitting in her kitchen as she cooks, the pictures are stunning and the message is sincere. Making these types of foods is almost thrilling. You don’t HAVE to buy them. I am very excited to try to make cheese crackers. Crackers! Who makes their own crackers anymore?! I know. I have serious issues.

Secondly, I stumbled across the show Doomsday Preppers. Many of the people have a very different philosophy and mindset than I do, and just about everyone on the show is prepping for a different “end of the world as we know it” scenario. And while I don’t necessarily want a bunker, 150 rifles or 40 cases of Spam, I really like watching the stories about the people who are already trying to live as much off the grid as possible, in case there is suddenly no grid. So now I want an urban garden, milk goats and a rain collector. It’s an illness people!

So yeah, don’t be surprised if when my husband retires from the military in ten years I have talked him into buying a farm.

I don’t know if I should start on Almost Amish or go read Shopaholic to counteract my go green tendencies!

The one where I eat out of a trough

So yesterday we decided to be the most awesome. parents. ever!  and pick our kiddos up from school and go directly to Dave and Buster’s. D&B’s is like a big kid’s Chuck E. Cheese. They have a restaurant and then a huge video game area. We had been before on one of our day date’s we have been indulging in since the kids have been in school, but this time we decided to be nice and take the kid’s too.

We were going for a late lunch but the kids weren’t hungry so they just got milkshakes. And eat the nachos we got as an appetizer (I LOVE their nachos!)

See?! Spoiled happy kids! (pardon the cell phone pics)

So for lunch I decided to get a salad and picked one called The Lawnmower. The picture looked like a cobb type salad with a little bit of everything. My kind of salad. So imagine my surprise when this arrived at our table:

That platter is TWO FEET LONG! You know how when you order fajitas and all the plates and bowls and sizzling platters feel like you are taking up half the table? Well this thing took up half the table!! I think our entire family could have eaten comfortably off of this salad. (Also please ignore Mckenna’s super natural looking surprised face)

Anyways, the salad was good (what I could eat of it) also the stolen sips of Omar’s abandoned chocolate milkshake.

Oh, Also!!! Dave and Buster’s offers a 20% military discount! That is a seriously good discount because they have decent meal prices to start, like mainland prices, not Hawaii prices.

Life size connect four! Mckenna won, she was super excited!

So after eating we hit up the games, which was perfect because Wednesday is half price games, who knew? The kids had a great time, we won a bazillion tickets and ended up not getting home until almost 6pm (love that traffic!)

So I got to skip out on making dinner because we still weren’t really hungry so we did leftovers/scrounge in the fridge night. Perfect!

So, yeah. Don’t order The ginormous salad unless you are starving or prepared to share some of your three heads of romaine lettuce!