What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

Life's a Luau!

We just spent three gorgeous days at the Hale Koa Hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. The Hale Koa is a resort owned by the US government for use by active duty or retired military personnel and their families. What an incredible opportunity we had to stay at such a nice resort at a very affordable rate.

There are good reasons that Waikiki is the most famous beach in the world. The sunbathing, water sports, shopping, dining, and entertainment are spectacular. The cool breeze off the ocean is a constant at all hours of the day and night. We slept with the doors to our ninth story balcony open each night!

Last evening we attended a luau at the Hale Koa. I'm so happy that we were able to enjoy that totally Hawaiian cultural experience...fantastic food, great entertainment, and delightful new friends to chat with over dinner.

We enjoyed every minute of our three days on Waikiki.

A Day at the Lagoon

We spent the day at the Ko'Olina Resort lagoon. I am now forever spoiled. I don't think any other beach will ever compare with Hawaii. It is beautiful beyond my wildest dreams.

We're Here!

Aloha! We tired and heading to bed soon. Just wanted to let everyone know we got here safely. Tomorrow we're off to spend the day at the Ko'olina Resort lagoons.

Getting Ready

The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house, all that cold, cold wet day.

And packed for Hawaii!

Two more days and we're outta here.

Thing One and Thing Two are busy packing their bags. That would be Abby and her friend Kaylee, who are coming to Hawaii with us. Both these girls are homeschooled and this is their senior trip. Let's just say they are slightly excited. The Cat in the Hat won't be joining us.

The three youngest cuties are staying with their Oma and Opa in the north Georgia mountains. If I were a good mother, I'd be nervous about leaving them. But I'm obviously not a good mother, because I'm not going to worry about them one whit. Staying with Oma is akin to staying with Mary Poppins. And Tom's sister Lynn and her dog are coming over to help her for a few days. So imagine being babysat by Mary Poppins and her lovely assistant and loyal Labrador retriever, all in the Hundred-Acre Woods...or something more fun than that.

Brad and Bella, our ferocious watch dog who loves to eat people, will be holding down the fort here. (Just a warning for you crazed blog lurkers just waiting to break in and steal all our worthless stuff while we're gone.)

I'm just looking forward to spending 12 days with my thug-wannabe honey in a tropical paradise.

Back to packing.....

Laura Lee

Black Beans and Rice

Lest you become concerned that all I do is bake cakes, pies, cookies and other decadent desserts....

Here is a quick and easy recipe for beans and rice that I hope you'll like. I found this in a Mollie Katzen (of Moosewood fame) cookbook a few years back. I ran across this while copying recipes in Barnes and Noble one day. I believe the actual cookbook was called Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. This is regular lunchtime fare for the girls and me, guaranteed to bring the question, "What smells so good in there, Mom?" I love a good vegetarian lunch and the girls could eat their weight in rice (imagine that...) So it satisfies our collective tastebuds and just hits the spot.

Often I will halve this if I only have one can of beans on hand; but if I make the whole recipe, there are gleeful noises coming from at least one little girl at breakfast the next morning. You can read about her other strange breakfast rituals here.

I make one minor change: I omit the bell pepper. Sacrilege, I know. I just don't care for them, and I think they overpower most dishes. But you go ahead and include that bell pepper if it makes you happy, you hear? And do use brown rice. It takes a little longer to cook, but it is so much better for you than the white stuff... B vitamins, iron, fiber, you get the idea. The beans and brown rice really do make this a complete protein. Healthful, hearty deliciousness in no time flat!

Mmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it....

My favorite rice. I make it in a rice simple.

Saute' the onions and garlic and toss in the spices. It smells heavenly!

Dump in the canned tomatoes and beans.

Let it simmer away while you wait for the rice to finish.
Your stomach will probably be growling at this point, but hang in there.

Bat Girl loves this.

And so does her side-kick, Cat Woman.
I just love putting smiles on those little faces.

Black Beans and Rice

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 16 ounce can tomatoes w/juice
  • 2 16 ounce cans black beans, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • hot, cooked brown rice
  • grated cheddar cheese
Saute' onion, pepper, and garlic in oil. Stir in cumin and mustard. Add tomatoes and beans. Simmer for 15 minutes. Server over rice. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese.

An Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Vacation

Have I told you that I'll be taking a teeny little blogity break starting next weekend?

Well, if not, here is your fair warning. I know that for some of you, my blog has become your latest addiction. Just admit it: you find it difficult to start your day before you've checked in to see what is up in our neck of the woods.

It's OK. I understand completely. I know our lives keep you riveted to your computer in breathless anticipation of my latest post. Perfectly excusable.

I just need a break. Stardom has taken it's toll. I'm picturing blue skies, pillowy clouds, soft tropical breezes, warm sunshine. Ahh, and sand between my toes.

So-o-o-o, we decided to take a teeny-weeny little vacation.


Seriously, this has been in the works for months. I've always wanted to visit Hawaii. This being our 25th anniversary year, and the fact that I happen to have a brother and sister-in-law stationed in Hawaii, could only mean one thing.

This is our year to visit the Aloha State.

One week and counting down....

Happy Valentine's Day

Did your day begin on a lovely note? Mine did. I awoke to breakfast in bed, courtesy of Lacy. Thank you, Lacy. But, I Loved You First.

I hope your day is filled to overflowing with LOVE.

Help yourself to a chocolate...

Happy Valentine's Day!

Laura Lee

Love is in the Air

Holly and Maggie participated in a Valentine Swap through the mail this year with other homeschooled children from China. They were in girly-girl crafty heaven with all the ribbon, stickers, glitter, and gel pens.

One big sis got in on the action.

The other couldn't drag herself away from her book....

Seventy Valentines to 18 families total. Whew, what an undertaking. However, they are LOVING the rewards. Their "loot" is starting to roll in. Valentines, candy, stickers, photographs, you name it.

Sweet childhood memories in the making.

Holy Cow! (or The Best Cake in the World!)

Yep, it's that time again. More than two or three days go by and I know you are all dying for a good recipe to try.

Don't deny it. You know it's true.

OK, so this cake is awesome. I found it in a church cookbook five years ago, right around Ryan's 16th birthday and I knew it would be right up his alley.

After he tasted it, he had one comment, "I want this EVERY year!" So while most of the clan requests the ice cream sandwich torte, Ryan holds out for this decadent and gooey, chocolaty sugar-load.

I must admit that it took me a while to figure out the name of this cake. At first I thought, "Oh, it's just so good you say, 'Holy Cow!'" Then, it dawned on me that two of the ingredients are milk based, so that explained the "cow" part. Finally today, five years later, I realized why it is "Holy."

You poke holes in it!


I'm slow like that.....

Normally I prepare this in a 9 X 13" pan. But I needed a small one to take to Ryan, so I did it in two separate pans.

Oh, it is so good. Trust me when I say it is very rich and a small piece it all you'll be able to consume.

Assemble the players and bake the cake according to box directions.

Poke LOTS of holes in the cake.

I love my handy dandy lid popper.

Drizzle the condensed milk.

Drizzle the caramel. Now let that all sit and soak in for a while.

Top with Cool Whip and crushed Butterfingers.

Haul the cake and the family 150 miles to your son's dorm room
and have a belated birthday party!

Holy Cow Cake

  • 1 German Chocolate cake mix, prepared as directed in 9 X 13" pan
  • 1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 jar caramel ice cream topping
  • 4 crushed Butterfinger candy bars
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip
When cake is removed from oven, poke as many holes with a fork as possible. Pour condensed milk over cake. Pour caramel topping over cake. Refrigerate until cool. Top with Cool Whip and candy. Serve cold.