Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving at Home

Happy Thanksgiving!

Easy Thanksgiving Dishes

I know I've said it a million times, but I really do love Thanksgiving.  Here are some quick and easy meal ideas!

At home, I prepared some quick dishes to bring over to my parents home.  Although my family had already prepared a Thanksgiving dinner, I made a couple dishes I thought they might enjoy.  At any rate, the left overs would be brought to work the next day, where a "Thanksgiving left-overs" party was being held. A co-worker of mine coordinated the "party", stating that he wanted to eat Thanksgiving food and that he was counting on us to bring left-overs, none of which he would have.  (Yes, he did get hassled a bit by others, but I was glad to share).

I made cranberry sauce from scratch, fruit salad, candied yams, and blueberry pie. 

Oceanspray Cranberry Sauce Recipee

  Bruce's Yam Recipes

I also made candied yams.  I used the recipe from the back of 3 cans of Bruce's yams and made my own sweet concoction out of the following recipes: quick candied yams, mallow yams, and a yam casserole.

2 -16 oz can of Bruce's yams 
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup syrup from can
Handful of pecans
Handful of marshmallows

I boiled 1/2 cup butter, 2/3 brown sugar, and 2/3 cup syrup until thickened.  Then, I tossed in pecans.  I poured the two cans of yams into a baking dish and then poured the liquid mixture over the yams.  I baked it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Then, I added some marshmallows and baked for a couple more minutes.

It turned out sweet and delcious!  The pecans added a nice touch too. 

I also made fruit salad, a favorite. 

You'll need a can of mandarin oranges & pineapple chunks, sour cream, sweetened coconut, and marshmallows.  Normally, this type of fruit salad is called a "5 cup fruit salad," meaning you measure a cup for each ingredient for the salad. However, I like to use less sour cream, marshmallow, and coconut.  I accidentally picked up "pineapple slices" too, so to correct the problem, all I did was cut it up into chunks.

Drain & add 1 can of mandarin oranges, 1 can of pineapples.  (A little liquid will help spread the sour cream around, so no worries!)  Depending on your taste buds, add the amount of coconut, marshmallows, and sour cream necessary to meet your needs.  I normally only add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of coconut and marshmallows, while I only put about 2 - 3 spoonfuls of sour cream.

Most people might add a cup of each in this 5-cup fruit salad, but I think that much coconut, marshmallow, and sour cream is a little too much! You could also add grapes to add a little more to your fruit salad. It's all really up to you.

Finally, I also  made a quick and easy blueberry pie!  If you are on a time crunch, there's nothing like a quick pie.  Purchase 2 Pillsbury 9" pie crust and 2 cans of pie filling of your choice.  (I wouldn't recommend sugar free unless you have diabetes or some other condition where you must limit your sugar intake). 

It's easy to make pie!  It may not be the prettiest, but it sure was quick and easy. 

For more recipes, click the link below:

All I did for my pie was purchase two pie fillings and two 9" crusts.  I poured both cans into one pie crust.  Then, I took the other pie crust out from the container and added it to the top of my filled pie, meshing the crust's edges the best I could to avoid any filling from oozing (it still happened).  Then, I baked it (place it on a cookie sheet) for 15 minutes at 425 and another 30 minutes at 325.  I let my pie cool down before taking it out of the oven.

The directions on how to make the pie is on the bacvk of the cans, so it's easy as 1-2-3. =)  Although I wish I could say I made it from scratch, I didn't.  However, everyone seemed to enjoy it A LOT.  I was happy!

Although a Turkey may take up to two days to prepare, there are quick and easy recipes that can be made to save time.  Many of these recipes are very affordable too, none being over $10.00!  If you are on a time crunch, give these recipes a shot! You'll be sure to enjoy them.

Volunteering on Thanksgiving

Every Thanksgiving, I volunteer for an organization that helps provide meals for the elderly.  I could not imagine sleeping in on Thanksgiving because I feel that it's important to volunteer for a good cause.  I recently learned that my elderly neighbor is a recipient of the meals, so it means that much more to volunteer my time.

Last year, I was assigned to the parking lot, which is definitely not my forte.  However, it was a good experience and a lot of fun to see the hundreds of bikers who help out every year!  Somewhere, on someone's camera is a picture of me with a bunch of bikers.  I wish I could have that photo! 

For this Thanksgiving, however, I was able to land a spot on the tray line. I'm grateful that I could work in the trayline, scooping up green beans!  It's definitely a lot of fun!  I didn't see any bikers this year though (since I was in the kitchen the entire time), but it was nice to see a ton of familiar faces volunteering too.  We helped prepare approximately 800 plates for the elderly. 

While we were serving, all I could here was staff members reminding us, "Remember, leveled scoops!" Due to the budget cuts from a poor economy, the amount of food had to be portioned, so that enough people could be fed.  I overheard another woman say, "I can't believe we are only making 800 plates because nearly 5 years ago, we served 2,000."  Although there were only 800 plates, I'm glad that at least 800 elderly were able to enjoy a holiday meal.

The Origins of Thanksgiving

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving!

According to the History Channel, one of the most iconic images of Thanksgiving is that of the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians who celebrated a 3 day meal together in celebration of their bountiful harvest.  It was considered the first Thanksgiving noted in history.  By the 19th century, Sarah Hale, a influential magazine editor and author (who also wrote Mary had a Little Lamb), promoted the idea of Thanksgiving, which caught the attention of Abraham Lincoln who declared it a national day of Thanksgiving that would take place on the last Thursday in November.  By 1941, it had been declared a official national holiday. 

Nowadays, Thanksgiving continues to be a time of "thanks." Family and friends get together to enjoy a nice meal, usually consisting of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and more.  Many watch football or the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV, while some volunteer their time for a good cause.

Every Thanksgiving, various organizations help feed the homeless and elderly, providing them with a nice Thanksgiving meal.  With the poor economy, the amount of people attending these types of functions surely increased this year. 

It's always nice to hear that those serving abroad were also able to enjoy Thanksgiving, since being far from home for the holidays cannot be easy.  They truly pay the ultimate sacrifice.   

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to reflect on what you are grateful for, although I do feel sorry for all of the millions of Turkeys consumed! 

If you are interested in more interesting facts about Thanksgiving, follow the link below to the History Channel or click on the "The Origins of Thanksgiving" for the video.

The History of Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Golden Key International Honour Society

At first, the mail I had been receiving from Golden Key International Honour Society seemed like a scam.  I ignored the email for quite some time until a couple of days before the new member initiation ceremony, I decided to see what it was all about.  I checked out their website and decided to join.  I'm glad I did!

It seemed like GK not only stood for something positive, but the benefits available to members were quite impressive.  I felt terrible that I waited last minute to RSVP for the initiation ceremony, but luckily everything worked out great!

When I first walked in, I wasn't sure what to expect!  I also wasn't sure where I should sit.  I signed in and sat next to a young man who had been sitting alone.  My husband and I sat there for a short time not saying a word, but I knew I would eventually talk because I make it a point to be friendly to everyone because it's more fun that way.  It also makes things less akward when you are sitting on a table with complete strangers!

The man we sat next to was really interesting!  He had the same major as me and loved to study abroad.  Eventually, more people sat on our table, including a female from Belarus and a former military couple who came to the initiation ceremony for their daughter.

The initiation ceremony was extremely laid back and informal, which was nice.  There was entertainment by a Filipino club, a thought provoking speech, and great food!  There was also a slide show on all of the volunteer events the club has participated in. GK definitely does contribute a lot of time to community service I found, which I find totally awesome.

In the end, we had to take  a group photo.  It's the 20th anniversary of Golden Key, so they wanted a photo with everyone in it! (yes, it was a bit awkward). I tried to hide in the back.

I thought the initiation ceremony was very nice.   They did a great job and put a lot of hardwork and effort into making this event worthwhile for others.  I was shocked to hear that graduates may receive a $10,000 scholarship if they qualify!  And to hear that no one applied to some of these scholarships is suprising.

I look forward to being a part of GK and hope that it's not another honour society, but something much more.

BTW, my pictures definitely aren't the greatest.  I felt awkward taking pictures in the ballroom and many of the photos did not come out due to lighting.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Incredible Mountain View from H-3 Hawaii

One of my favorite drives is on the H3. There was a time when I was freaked out to drive on the H3 after the highway appeared on the show Sightings as being cursed since it was over a ancient Hawaiian burial ground.

I remember one incident in particular, where the bridge collapsed as it was being contrusted. There were several workers who complained of eery events too, such as equipment turning on by itself.

While I was a little hesitant to first drive on the H-3, it is an incredible drive through the mountains!

There's a hiking trail here called the "Stairway to Heaven."  As you can see, it's quite steep!

The mountains here are incredibly beautiful!  A picture definitely cannot describe the breathtaking view one can see while driving on the H3.  When you drive out of the tunnel and look back, the mountains are incredible.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

King's Village - Waikiki, Hawaii

While I was in Waikiki, I stopped by "King's Village" to check it out!  There are shops here, as well as restaurants.  There's also daily entertainment. 

In front of King's Village, there's a man who always brings a crowd with his spray painting show.  And at 6:15 P.M, you can see the "changing of the guards."

Tanaka of Tokyo is one of the best restaurants around!  I did not know it was located in King's Village until I took a stroll through the complex.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I walked into the King's Guard Musuem, but there was a ton of interesting, historical stuff inside!

I thought the newspapers from the past were very interesting.  I love history!

I can't remember a time when I ate or shopped at King's Village, but now that I know what's around, I'll have to stop by one of the restaurants!  There were a lot of great restaurants there.

I'm not sure how this restaurant is, but looking at the menu inside, the food was reasonably priced and there were a ton of options. It looked SO good!

I was on a time crunch and didn't have the chance to eat here, but i'll be returning.  King's Village has a lot to offer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Travel & Save A Little Cash!

I cannot believe it's almost Thanksgiving and it's hard to imagine Christmas approaching too!  It seems as if the older I get, the faster time slips by and I'm only 27 years old!  I want to make every moment count.

I've thought a lot about what I'd like to do for the holiday season.  Of course, we'll spend time with family - it's priority. But for the New Year, we definitely want to do something more than the ordinary!  At first, I was obsessed with the idea of celebrating New Year's eve in Times Square.  However, my husband didn't seem too thrilled with the idea.  The thought of crowds, hours of waiting in line, and being cold aren't his idea of having a nice New Year's eve.  We decided on a compromise.  Canada.

I would absolutely love to go to Canada!  I really hope we do, although I have a feeling we'll end up elsewhere.  We will be flying to New York City though!  I'm excited to go and  to have booked the tickets today.  We'll be spending some time with family on the East Coast.  I also saved a ton of money by shopping for the best rates through MSN.

One travel website i've always found reliable is EXPEDIA.  For the last couple of years, I've been using Expedia because I seem to get the best rates and great service too.  At the moment, there's no booking fees. I also earn "Thank You Points" whenever I book a hotel.  From time-to-time, you can also receive travel coupons.  I will receive a $200 coupon for my next travel.  However, you definitely have to shop around for these deals!  Although Expedia may work for me, it may not be the best for you.  Find what suites you the best.

For those of you who are looking to save some money, try a search engine that will allow you to compare the best rates.  Also, adjust your travel days to save money.  We are flying to New York to save costs.  In fact, we will save nearly $400 by flying to New York first.  Then, we'll have to drive to our destination, which will only take 3 hours.  It's a sweet deal.  Also, I adjusted our travel dates to find the best rates, which saved us another $500.  If you ask me, that's a lot of money saved!  I kept costs to a minimum! If not, I couldn't afford to travel.

If you go to the MSN website ( and click on the Airfare and Travel section, it will compare a number of airline prices to find you the most affordable flights around.  Then, you can decide on the travel website you like the best.  There's a ton out there!

Also, a flight that stops 1 or 2 times will save you money too.  It's all about finding the best rates with the right tips and tools.

Try it sometime!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Yard House - Waikiki, Hawaii

While at Waikiki, I had to stop at the Yard House.  I've been to the Yard House once before with family and it was great!  I knew I had to go back to indulge.

It can get very busy in the Yard House, so we called the restaurant to see what the wait time would be before heading out.  It was nearly 30-40 minutes, which was a perfect walk to the restaurant from our hotel.  Once we got to the restaurant, we didn't have to wait too long to be seated.

The Yard House has a restaurant/sports bar atmosphere.  There's a bar with 100 plus varities of beer on tap.  For you beer lovers, the Yard House is the perfect place for you to try beers from around the world.  There are even unusual beers that you cannot find anywhere else! 

There's also table seating, which will accomodate a large group of friends or family. 

During the weekend, I wanted to try something other than the usual.  I ordered the artichoke dish with "home made" chips.  The artichoke was unusual. Since I was unexperienced in eating artichoke, I had to ask the waiter for help. 

"You have to peel the leaves off.  Start from the back, peel, and eat what's on the bottom of the leaf," was his explanation on how to eat artichoke.  I felt funny eating it because I had no idea what I was suppossed to be eating.  In fact, I think I ate a ton of leaf.  It was flavorless and unusual.  Eventually, I noticed a white substance that had a different taste on the bottom of the leaves, so I'm assuming that's the "meat" of the artichoke.  It was bizzarre.  The chips and dip were great through!

Chicken wings are always yummy!  My husband wanted fire-hot wings, but there's only one type availabe.  They sure were good.  My husband was more than satisfied.

If you like blue crab, there's a blue crab sandwich at the Yard House that won't disappoint!  It was REALLY good.  My husband couldn't stop raving about the blue crab sandwich he ordered.  I'm suprised he offered me a bite.

I ordered the Jambalaya with pasta.  It's a Yard House favorite and I can see why!  Out of all the dishes I've tried, this is one of my favorite.  The flavor shocked my taste buds.  It was soooooo unbelievably good!

If you haven't been enticed to eat at the Yard House yet, check out the menu!  My mom is one of the pickiest people on the planet and even she likes the Yard House. 

Next time you're in Waikiki, you have to try the Yard House to see for yourself! I guarantee you'll love it!

*Note:  Gluten-free options are available.


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