Our Island Paradise Reality

Welcome to Monday Musings!

{A period of reflection or thought.}

When people hear that Hubs and I live in Hawaii, I get a lot of comments like:

"I'm SO jealous!"
"What I wouldn't give to live there!"
"Do you go to the beach every day?"
"You get to LIVE where other people go for vacations!"

First of all, I used to have a lot of those thoughts, too.
Back in 2009, we took our first vacation to Hawaii, {we had wanted to vacation here ever since we got married} and at that time, 2 of our grown kids lived in this state. Our son and his wife lived on Maui, and our youngest daughter and her soldier husband lived here on Oahu.  Our 3 weeks in Hawaii was everything that we wanted for a vacation, and more! Our son and his wife took us all snorkeling with turtles on Maui, and we spent quality time together.

The very next year, we lived with our youngest daughter for 5 months, while her husband was deployed to Iraq, and while our empty house in Texas was up for sale.  We did many of the "touristy" things on Oahu, and spent time at the beach getting nice deep tans. We of course also visited Maui when our son & his wife had our first grandchild!  It was a wonderful time!

Fast forward to 2013 and, SURPRISE! Hubs got a job here on Oahu.  Of course, since we had an extended vacation here in 2010, we knew some things to expect.


{the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic idea of them.}

- High cost of living.  We pay $800.00  MORE per month to rent an apartment that is less than half the size of our house in Idaho.
- Traffic!  We live on an island that has about 976, 000 "locals" {permanent residents} on a 596 square-mile island.  Add in another four and a half MILLION tourists per year and you can see why traffic is so horrible!
- High cost of food and goods.  Everything has to be flown in or brought by ship, which adds to the cost of everything.
- We are far away from our family. We have to fly to see them, rent cars, etc.
- You can't live at the beach. {Unless you are a professional surfer or something} You still have to work.
The Parking Lot they call the H-1

Here are the Positives:

{the opposite of negative}

- It's an adventure! For mainlanders, like us, to move here takes a lot of courage and a willingness to give up a lot, but we have many days that we just say, "Wow, we get to live here!"
- We are together. With Hubs and I being empty-nesters, we are re-discovering our "BFF" relationship in a new way.
- Military benefits! With Oahu having MANY military bases, and the huge Tripler Army Medical Center, we are able to see military doctors {free without co-pays}, obtain free medications, and shop tax-free and with lower costs for food and goods.
- Skype and our cell phones keep us connected with our family.  Not a day goes by that I don't hear from one or all of our kids and grandkids.  I've taken on a new appreciation for technology!

Oh, and we get to the beach about once a week {now you can be jealous}.

 Blessings,  Juju

Turtle Beach - North Shore, Oahu

Welcome to "Sightseeing Saturday"!
Watch here every Saturday for photo-tours of our lovely island of Oahu!

Laniakea Beach is well known for surfing, but also it's known as "Turtle Beach" because of the green sea turtles that come close to shore to feed on the seaweed growing on the rocks. They are also known to haul themselves up on the beach to bask in the warm Hawaiian sun!

Hubs and I took time to photograph some of the turtles in the water as well as one lady up on the sand, "basking".  It was such an awesome sight to see these creatures in their natural habitat, and not in a zoo or aquarium.
If you see a turtle on the beach, there will most likely be a red rope around it, to give the turtle some space, since some over-anxious visitors can tend to get too close.

Laniakea Beach or “Turtle Beach” is not hard to find, but it's not marked!
From the historic town of Haleiwa, travel about 1.5 miles just before Pohaku Loa Way on the Kam Highway. When you see lots of cars parked in the dirt on the right-hand side 'pull in !!!'. Across the street is Laniakea Beach.

**Please Note: Access to this parking lot is now gone, the Hawaii Tourism Authority had to put up cement 
barricades because of the lack of "designated" parking and pedestrian crosswalks . The growing popularity of this beach has contributed to increased traffic and safety concerns within the community.

If you have visited our beautiful island state, and have experienced seeing these magnificent green sea turtles, I'd love to hear about it!

Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash

A couple of months ago, our youngest daughter shared this recipe with me.
I had never attempted to make butternut squash at home, so I gave it a try
and it's become a favorite!
Hubs and I really like the savory flavor of this healthy and delicious squash dish.

What you'll need:

1 butternut squash
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste

Here's what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.  In a large bowl, combine the olive oil and minced garlic.

2. Peel, seed, and cube the squash. {This is the only time-consuming step.}

3. Toss the squash {does that rhyme?} into the bowl with the olive oil and garlic.       Make sure it gets coated evenly. Season with salt & pepper as you like.

4. Then :

5. Bake at 400° F for 25-30 minutes, until it pierces easily with a fork. 

 {I made Tilapia filets to go with our savory squash.}

If you are curious to know, about 1/2 a cup of this dish has:
61 calories, 2 grams of fat, 0 cholesterol, and 11 carbs.
and a whole lotta yummy-ness!

Revamped Built-in Bookcase

Today, I was looking back at some of the DIY projects that Hubs and I have done in some of our past homes. Each one was a labor of love, and to me, each one made a big difference in the look we were going for!
In our house in Abilene, Texas we had a BIG built-in bookcase. For a couple of years, I fought with keeping it organized and tidy...and usually failed miserably. Notice that it was so tall that I couldn't reach the top shelves! {Or maybe it was because I'm so short...}
Hubs and I decided that there was just too much display area showing. I especially didn't like the 2 lower shelves that were almost always the most cluttered with photo albums and larger books, tipping over and looking disorganized.
We took measurements to make 3 doors, purchased 3/4-inch plywood and had Lowe's cut it to size. We also purchased hinges and paint.  A friend used his router to round off the edges and cut in finger grip areas that would be hidden on the back once the doors were installed.

After sanding and painting, Hubs and I installed the doors, leveling them carefully. What a difference it made!
We were so pleased with the big impact of this little project!

Have you done a "little DIY" in your home that has made a huge difference?  I'd love to have you share about it below in the comments section!

{Slow Cooker} Rotisserie-Style Chicken

Here's a really great way to have that Rotisserie-style chicken, while saving a few bucks at the same time!
A few years back, I found this recipe on Aimee's Adventures. She still has all her recipes on the site, and you can view a photo of her slow cooked chicken.  {I don't have a photo, even though I've made this recipe probably a hundred or more times...we've always been too anxious to just dive right into this luscious and juicy chicken!}

What You'll Need:

  • Slow Cooker Liners Or non-stick spray (to make clean-up easier)
  • one whole chicken {I usually get about a 3-4 pound chicken}
  • Seasoned Salt or Mrs. Dash for Chicken
  • Foil or 3 clean, empty tuna cans
Here's Whatcha Do:

  • Place a liner in your slow cooker or spray with a non-stick spray.
  • Rinse the chicken inside and out...remove any giblets or anything inside the cavity
  • Tuck the wings back...like she's laying out getting a tan
  • Put about 6 balls of foil {about the size of ping-pong balls} in the bottom of the crock. If you have a rack that fits your crock, use that. If you want to use 2 to 3 clean, empty tuna cans, you may. 
  • Place the whole chicken on top of the balls of foil/rack/tuna cans {I usually do breast side up}
  • Sprinkle on the Seasoned Salt or Mrs. Dash on top of the chicken
  • Set the Slow Cooker on High for 4 to 6 hours.
Let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes before carving; this allows the juices to collect in the meat instead of in the well of your cutting board. {Martha Stewart quote}
The legs and wings will probably separate from the body of the chicken when you take it out.
If you are watching your calories, you can peel the skin off the chicken as you carve it.

If you try this yummy-lishious recipe, I'd love to hear what you thought of it!