Makapu'u Point { Lighthouse } Trail

On our previous "extended vacation" to Oahu, Hubs and I went on a little 4-day getaway to the Windward side of the island. While we were there, we took a hike on the Makapu'u Point Trail.  The stunning vistas were breathtaking!
All photos © Journeys With Juju (jlb) 2010
The trail is paved and is about a 2-mile round trip from the parking area/ trailhead. It is located in the Kaiwi State Senic Shoreline, and you can find directions HERE for when you visit.
It is suggested that you allow plenty of time to enjoy the beauty and scenic vistas; we were there for about 2 hours, which gave us ample photography time as well as for rest & water breaks.
All photos © Journeys With Juju (jlb) 2010

Now, as you can tell by my photos of the cactus above, this is a dry area, so we both took water with us, (and then discovered that there are no restrooms on the trail). We wore our sunscreen, but I would also suggest wearing a hat, since there is no shade, and the sun beats down on the exposed trail.  Everyone is asked to please pack out all trash...nope, there are no trash cans, either.
All photos © Journeys With Juju (jlb) 2010

We were well rewarded with gorgeous, sweeping views of the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean. Sometimes, from about November until May, you can even spot Humpback Whales!  Check out my photos in the first collage ñ. Those offshore islets {rock islands} of Mānana (Rabbit Island), and Kāohikaipu are wildlife seabird sanctuaries.  In the distance we could see the smaller islands of Moloka'i and Lana'i, and since it was a clear day, we could see Maui!

Unfortunately, the historic 1909 red-roofed lighthouse is closed to the public. We got a really good look at from the trail, so I took lots of photos!  It's so charming, and takes you back to an earlier time.

Are you making your "Hawaii Bucket List" yet?  Be sure to add the Makapu'u Point { Lighthouse } Trail, and I'm sure you won't be sorry!

Teriyaki Pineapple Burger

Hubs and I love going to Red Robin {yum!} and ordering their Bonsai Burger. It's so big, and comes with fries, so we always split it.  We don't have Red Robin here on Oahu, so I've come up with a tasty "copy-cat" recipe that works for us!

Serves 4

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 to 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (I use Kikkoman Less Sodium)
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 whole egg or 2 egg whites
1 small can pineapple slices, in it's own juice (you will need 4 slices)

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ground beef, 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, breadcrumbs, and egg. Use your hands to mix it well.
Form 4 equal sized patties, about 1/4 lb each.
Cook patties in a skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
I always check the burgers for doneness with a thermometer; it should read from 160° to 165° F.
(If desired, pour additional teriyaki sauce over the burgers near the end of the cooking time.)

Allow the patties to rest in the pan with the heat off, for about 3-5 minutes. This allows the juices to sink into the meat, and gives you the best flavor.

(If you are using buns, now is the time to ready them for the juicy burgers!)

Plate up the burgers and place one pineapple slice on top. If you like you can add a slice of cheddar cheese, too. (I use Tillamook slices, yummy!)
We like to skip the bun (eating low-carb around here), and cook up a sweet potato to share. A nice green salad on the side rounds out the meal.

When you try this recipe, be sure to leave me a comment on how you liked it!

Thankful Tuesday - "Life" Friends

"In everything Give Thanks..." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

{This post honors six of my closet friends, and how they have impacted my life.}

Isn't it wonderful to have friends that "do life" with you? Sometimes, with all of our moves in the Air Force, it's been hard to keep up with friends.  But, then again, there are those "Life" friends that make a difference in your life and always are in your heart..
Happy Birthday, Christine!
Christine is probably one of the funniest, and most honest people I know!  We first met in Altus, Oklahoma (where we lived for just one year) and went to the same church. We met again in  2005, in Abilene, Texas (again at church)  and actually became friends because Christine was honest with me about why we were not friends before. This beautiful lady approached the subject with humor, but it impacted my life enough to change some behaviors that I wasn't aware were offending to other people.
My buddy Christine is a very talented artist when it comes to cakes, cookies and other yummy baked goods. She made both of our daughter's bridal shower cakes, and our youngest daughter's wedding cake, too! Her oldest daughter was a bridesmaid in that wedding, as well.
I am so thankful to be sharing some time together this week with her, and once again, my sides will be aching from all the laughter!

Beautiful Dori and I met at church when we were had our first transfer from California to Germany. She and her hubby immediately took us under their wing and gave us a sense of belonging and purpose for being there.  We've enjoyed meals together {Dori, I miss your Lumpia!}, softball games, banquets, and serving together on the women's board. When they were leaving Germany, our family of 5 had their family of 5 as guests in our 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 4th floor (stairs-only) apartment for 5 days! Everything went great, even with 2 working hubbys and 6 school kids!
I love her Godly, kind and gentle guidance that she gives.  It's been a real blessing for me to be able to ask Dori {and most of these other friends as well} to partner in prayer for needs that may arise.  I have my Prayer Warriors list, and Dori is at the top! I know that she does not casually say that she will pray for me, but she actually types out the prayer and sends it to me!
We are hoping to see one another again soon, maybe sharing some "Aloha time" here in Hawaii !

After being a stay-at-home wife & mom for 16 years, we were in Rio Rancho, New Mexico when I finally ventured out into the working world, scared stiff during my first job interview.  The precious lady on the other side of that table was Patricia.  Later that day, she called me and offered me the job! Patricia became my supervisor, and gradually my very good friend.  We shared a tiny office together, and at first of course, we would have our ups and downs, but we became a team and worked very well together; I learned so much from her. We also shared a lot of laughs and fun times (I still have that photo, know the one!).
Our friendship became cemented when we experienced the sudden loss of our boss and friend, Gary; during that same time period, the shock of the events of 9/11/2001 also occurred.  Huge life events like this show us how important the people around us really are.
After we had been transferred, we kept in touch and visited each other when we could. She and her hubby flew down to Houston when our son got married! She also came to our home for a "girlfriend" weekend the next year! What a wonderful {but brief} reunion!
One day, I called up Patricia out of the blue and asked, "May we use your beautiful backyard for K's wedding in June?"  Without stopping to breathe, the answer was, "Yes!".
That's the kind of friend Patricia is! We invaded her home, and she was gracious, smiling and loving as always. It was beautiful event, and her backyard was the perfect backdrop.  Just like our abiding friendship is in my life.

My life is filled with lovely friends that bring me much-needed laughter, and Kelly is no exception.  When I asked her what name she wanted me to use for this post, {real or nickname} she said, "I love to be called Cupcake, but Kelly will do."  I laughed for a good 2 minutes!
Kelly and I met at church in Germany when our little girls were starting Kindergarten together. We began meeting for coffee, sharing our love of Polish Pottery, and we made a few trips to DRMO sales together {the military's version of a yard sale}. We both still have some furniture pieces we bought there.
This was the first time as an Air Force wife that I was saying good-bye to my Hubs a LOT, because of TDYs {temporary duty} assignments. I became depressed and bitter. I blamed the Air Force for putting our family into a foreign country and then taking my Hubs away, making me a "single mom".  Kelly would hear me talking like that, and see how low I was. But, instead of using words that would pacify me, she looked me in the eye and said firmly, "Listen, we are all in this boat together. My husband has the exact same job as your husband. I have kids, you have kids. You've gotta learn to deal with it." (basically, "Suck it up, Buttercup") WOW. I went home, cried a little bit, and lived by Kelly's words from then on.  Our experience in Germany became the BEST experience of our military life, and my friendship with Kelly has deepened, even though distance separates us.
I was able to surprise Kelly in April 2012, when I went cross-country with my youngest daughter from our home in Idaho to her home in North Carolina. We had not seen each other in 15 years, and when we arrived at the front door of the church on Sunday morning, Kelly grabbed me into a bear hug, screaming into my ear for about 5 minutes! It was the BEST surprise ever!

Bobbi and I met at church in Portland, Oregon when I was in the 8th grade and she was the beautiful high school girl that I looked up to.  We sang next to each other in the choir, she loaned me a red velvet dress for a family portrait, and gave me a sewing kit for freshman sewing class. {I still have it.}  But, more importantly, we bonded better-than-sisters. We were both dating sailors at the time, (and I was way too young) so Bobbi was there for me when I went through my first experiencing with breaking up with a guy.
Over the years, we've both had some different life experiences, and it's probably made us closer. We can share together from different points of view, and Bobbi's words add a richness to my life.
She's also the friend that opened her home to our family more than once when we were visiting Portland; she loaned me a car, asked me & K to stay at her house, and held me long and tight when my mom passed away.  Thank you for being there for my hardest journey, Bobbi.
We love to stay up late {like grown-ups!} and talk far into the night.  She introduced me to Kettle Corn, shopped half the day with me for clothes, and in 2010 came to have a fun adventure with us in Oahu!
I love Bobbi like she was my own sister, and I still look up to my beautiful friend, just like when I was back in the 8th grade.

My Sister of the Heart, Starr and I met when we were kids, I was 11 and she was 9.  I had a single mom, and she & her sister were being raised by their single grandmother, whom they called "Tutu"{the Hawaiian word for Grandmother}. Tutu didn't drive anymore, so our family would pick up their family for church every Sunday and on Wednesday night.  Tutu and Mom became best friends, and Starr and I became best friends. She blossomed into a bubbly, bright, and awesomely fun woman.

Starr honored me by posting this on her Facebook:
"It is such a rare, precious gift to have a close, lifelong friendship with someone who has known you from childhood, shared all your hopes and dreams, highs and lows, accepted, cherished and loved you for exactly who you are...knowing to the core who you really are embracing that is even more incredible to have a friend like that be able to be all that from at times thousands of miles away thru almost 40 years of time. Thank you Juju for being that amazing friend. Our friendship grows even deeper every time I get to see you!
I am in awe of the amazing gift God has given me in you!
Can't wait till we get together again!!!!"

Starr, through 42 years we have shared, lived, loved, laughed and cried together {and mostly far apart in distance}. You loved my babies before you had your own, and you still treat them like they are your nieces and nephew. You shared your Tutu with me, and she became the Grandmother I never had.  I have watched your girls from infancy to womanhood, emulating their beautiful mother in everything they do. You've done So well with them, bringing them up to be women who put their faith in the Lord.  {It's hard to believe that when you were a teenager you said you might not want kids.} 
Every time we are together it's like time has stopped for us, and we just start up the conversation of life as if we never left off.  Thank you for being my forever friend.  <<HUGS>>

Thank you all - Christine, Dori, Patricia, Kelly, Bobbi and Starr- for being my Life Friends.  I hope in some small way I have honored you and our friendship with my words. 

There are many more friends that I would have liked to talk about today. All of them have made a difference in my life, and I am a better person for knowing them. Beth in Abilene; Sharon in Fairfield; Patricia in Alaska; Laurie in Washington; Elaina in Texas; Amy in Vermont; the list goes on.
How about you?  Has this made you think of your own "life" friends? {I pretty much bawled while writing this post, since I miss my friends so much!}

Limeade by the Glass

It's Foodie Friday! Whoo-hoo!

My wonderful friend, Starr { who gave us the enormously popular Refreshing Watermelon Drink } has also enlightened me in the ways of Limeade!

Super-simple and Oh-so-thirst-quenching!

1. Fill a LARGE glass with crushed ice. { You can use ice cubes. I won't tell Starr. }

2. Fill the glass almost to the top with cold water.

3. Squirt in some lime juice (bottled or fresh). This is going to take some trial & error on your part to find out how much you like!

4. Now, add in your favorite sweetener.  { Starr uses Splenda, I use Truvia. You can use sugar. } Again, you'll have to taste and judge the sweetness to your own taste. Keep adjusting the lime and the sweetener until you are satisfied.

Now, sip. Relax. Cool off.

Hawaiian Railway

Welcome back to Sightseeing Saturday!

A few months back, Hubs and I visited The Hawaiian Railway Society
located in nearby Ewa.
The train route goes along a historic stretch of track west of old Ewa.  The train operators give a narrative during your trip, and you will learn about Hawaii's rich railway history.

We rode this wonderful open-air car, with 360 degree views
Kids will love this ride on a real choo-choo train

A stop at Kahe Point on the Leeward side of Oahu.
Leeward is the drier and sunnier side of the island.
The train's route also passes directly through Ko Olina Resort
and you might see some of the famous black swans

The sun was spotlighting an area of the ocean,
and I wish this photo could have captured
how glorious it really was.

This was a day to "relax and enjoy the ride"
as the train travels along for 90 minutes at a pulse-racing 15 miles per hour.
It is the only active, historic railway on Oahu.
Visit for more information.
If you enjoy train travel and nostalgia, leave me a comment below.

     Blessings, Juju

{ Low-Sugar } Pumpkin Brownies

Remember 2-Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins?  This is a similar take, using a brownie mix {in this case, I used a sugar-free mix}.  Quick and easy - these brownies are VERY moist, so keep a napkin handy!

Makes 8 to 12 brownies, depending on how large you want 'em!

1 box brownie mix (I used sugar-free)
1 can (15 oz.) solid pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)

Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Line a square 9 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine the brownie mix and the can of pumpkin, and mix until smooth.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes. Use a toothpick or cake tester to test for doneness, it should come out clean.

If you need more time, don't hesitate to continue baking at 5 minute intervals until they are done.  {Baking in a humid climate, mine took nearly an hour!}

Cool pan on a wire rack. Now you can lift it out using the parchment paper, and cut it into squares.

* Note: if you are not using a sugar-free brownie mix, use the family sized box, however, you'll still bake them in a 9 x 9-inch pan.

Bathroom Remodel #1

The story you are about to see is true, the names have been changed to protect the re-modelers. The toilet, sinks, tile, and bathtub were changed to protect anyone from having to look at them again!

After our youngest daughter got married (and by doing so, made Hubs and I part of the "empty-nesters" club), we knew it was time to remodel the front bathroom. Remodeling keeps you busy, so you don't miss your kids as much. At least that's what we kept telling ourselves.

(Let me take this moment to apologize to our two daughters that had to use this bathroom while they lived here with us. Sorry, Girls)

Ed removed all the moisture-damaged sheet rock that was behind the old tiles, and replaced it with tile backer board, where needed.  (We also found evidence of old termite damage that we repaired.) The new fiberglass tub/shower surround went directly onto the studs.

Before Ed could do his Hulk impression and SMASH on the cast iron tub to remove it, he first scored the old caulking to prevent wall damage.

What you can't see in the before photo: the tiles are caved in and broken, allowing water to penetrate behind them. Oh, and the toilet was actually replaced twice. It was yellow before- aren't you glad I didn't take a picture of that?

Photo on the left shows the old, non-operational wall heater, and the ugly wallpaper border and paint that I thought might look good with the rest of the yellow. Don't judge...
We gained a much-needed wall outlet, and I found a soothing blue paint that was much easier on the eyes!

We removed the old built-in sink cabinet and added easy to apply wainscoting to the lower walls.
We were delighted to find this pretty double-sink base and seamless counter top with built-in sinks on SALE (my favorite word). We re-used the faucets, since they matched and were in great shape.

(Disclaimer: this photo was taken when I couldn't figure out which TP holder I wanted to use.)
Here's the new white toilet that didn't rock! As for the flooring, we didn't have to replace it, instead blending it with a new tile border under the new sink vanity.

The old, chipped, wall-to-wall mirror went out, and two silver-framed mirrors from Kirtland's came in! The old lighting was actually a temporary "fix" until we found the right replacement, shown above.

This was a much more soothing bathroom to walk into. When we ended up selling the house a year later, our Realtor advertised the bathroom as a spa-like retreat, and "the homeowner's pride and joy."

This bathroom was the most challenging DIY project we had done up to that point, and thankfully we had the help and guidance of our friend, Chris who is a professional handyman.

Would you like to share about your own DIY adventures?  Leave me a comment below or follow me on social media!

Ko Olina "A Place of Joy" - Ulua Lagoon 4

If you've ever wanted to feel like you were visiting a luxury hotel resort, {without having to pay upwards of $400 per night} then you need to visit Ko Olina!

Hubs and I were looking to check something off of our Hawaii Bucket List, and at random choose to visit
Ko Olina for the day.  We couldn't have made a better choice! And the nice thing is, we can go back any time without a fee {except perhaps parking, which I'll get to later on}.


How To Get There:

Take a drive along the H-1, going towards the Leeward side of Oahu {signs will say Waianae}, just past Barber's Point and Kapolei. Take the KoOlina exit, and just follow the road. A "security guard" will wave you the "shaka" sign {Hawaiian's use it to convey the "Aloha Spirit"} as you continue on. Drive past the entrances to all those high-priced resorts, and turn right onto Waipahe Place, towards the marina. Go to the end, and turn left into the parking area. If you are lucky {and more commonly, if it's a week day and not a weekend}, you can snag a free parking place. {If not, pay the $10.00 fee for all-day parking at the marina parking lot.} Secure your belongings into the trunk, never out in the open. It may be paradise, but you don't want to take any chances.  Oh, and here's a map to make it a little easier!

Now, the free fun can begin! We took our own beach chairs, towels, etc. and easily staked out a spot. Because it was a weekday, it wasn't very crowded. This is the lagoon called Ulua that the "locals" use, and so we saw families, and Mommies with "keiki" {kids}, but just a sprinkling of obvious tourists.

We applied our sunblock, and allowed it to dry for a few minutes while we scoped out the lagoon. Hubs had brought his snorkeling gear, but it was obvious that only the mask and snorkel would be needed.  The lagoons are man-made, fairly shallow, and have virtually no waves. This makes them perfect for beginning snorkelers like ourselves, and also for those keiki -- they can easily splash and play in the water without fear of being knocked over by a wave.

Once in the water, we started seeing fish right away, but mostly as we moved out toward the rocks. Be careful! I bumped my big toe onto a rock, and ended up with a scrape.  We had fun trading the mask back & forth to watch fish; I got some exercise, too since I could actually swim instead of being bounced around by waves. It's like being in a big, salty swimming pool.

After we had enough time in the water, we took a short walk along the natural shoreline. I snapped a few photos of the dramatic waves as they crashed on the lava rock.

We returned to our chairs, re-applied the sunblock, and settled in for a little reading while we let our swimsuits dry off. Hubs alerted me to a Green Sea Turtle lazily cruising around the outside roped off area. Unfortunately, since I only had my phone with me, I wasn't able to capture a photo of this wonderful creature.

If You Plan on Visiting Ko Olina:

1. Use sunscreen. You don't want to ruin your vacation memories by flying home with a sunburn.
2. Bring chairs, a towel or a blanket. The resorts provide those things, but this is the locals lagoon.
3. Invest in some water shoes, if you can. Walmart even has them from about $10 and up.  I really could have used them to prevent getting my toe bashed! 
3. Bring a camera! Get one of the underwater kind, if you can, and have those fishies say "cheese"!
4. Learn the proper way to use the "shaka" sign, and also how to say the name of the Hawaiian State Fish: Humuhumunukunukuapua'a. You'll likely see some of them out there in the lagoon, and you want to know how to greet him properly! {Actually, you can just call him "Humuhumu" for short, Brah!}

Let me know if you've visited Ko Olina, or Oahu, or the state of Hawaii -- or the USA, um, well Ah, how about just leaving me a comment if you liked this blog!

Aloha,  Juju

{ Bakery-Style } Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins on a Sunday morning with coffee and conversation - Now that's a great start to the week!

Makes 12 large muffins {or 15 average size muffins}

Muffin batter:

2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
2/3 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen, but not thawed)

Streusel Topping:

1/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter, firm

Preheat your oven to 400° F.
Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix by hand all batter ingredients {except blueberries} just until combined, but don't overmix. The batter will be thick. If it's too thick to stir, add about 2 tablespoons of milk.
Fold in the blueberries.
Fill each cup about 3/4 full.
In a small bowl, cut the butter into the rest of the streusel ingredients. It should look like coarse sand.
Sprinkle the Streusel topping over each muffin.

Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes. {Test with a toothpick or cake tester - it should come out clean.}
Cool on a wire rack, and enjoy!

DIY Fireplace Makeover & Tutorial {Texas 2009}

Welcome to Throwback Thursday!
Here's where I'll be sharing some previous DIY projects from before I started blogging.
**I'll occasionally throw in a flashback picture of family members, so watch out family! <wink>

Our home in Texas had a favorite feature, a wood-burning fireplace, and we loved it!  However, what I didn't love was the brassy fireplace doors.
We were at our favorite home improvement store, looking at new doors, and they were way out of our budget!  Honestly, I didn't need an entire new fireplace, just some doors....
As I was wandering around, disappointed, I came across a can of high-temperature black spray paint with a photo of a barbecue grill on it.  I snatched it up, and read that it was okay for using on fireplace surrounds, too! FIVE BUCKS! Yeah, baby!

Here's How We Did It:

That afternoon, Hubs pulled out the surround/ doors for me, and kept himself busy cleaning out the fire box while I tackled this easy project outdoors.

1. Rub the metal with dry, fine gauge steel wool. This gives the paint a better adhesion.
2. Clean the part you want to paint. I used non-ammonia glass spray and paper towels.
3. Tape off, and cover with newspaper, the glass and any other areas you don't want to paint.
4. Our on the back patio, I laid out some cardboard, laid the surround on top of that, and started shaking the can of spray paint.
{Even though I had not done much spray painting before, I read the directions, and it was easy-peasy.}
5. Lightly spray the exposed metal, keeping back about 8-inches and using a sweeping motion.
6. Apply about 3 light coats, making sure each coat is dry, before applying the next coat.
7. Peel off the tape & newspaper, clean the glass and re-install the doors!

{If your surround/ doors don't come out easily, you can do this project with them in place, just cover EVERYTHING around with drop-cloths, newspaper, cardboard, or whatever. AND make sure you open the windows and doors for ventilation.}

We were SO pleased with the look of our fireplace, and we received lots of compliments on it!
If you have outdated doors on your fireplace, I encourage you to give this inexpensive and easy project a try, and let me know how it turned out!

  Blessings, Juju