Forever 21

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I have always enjoyed shopping at a Forever 21 store. Here in Honolulu there is a beautiful very large store in Waikiki. The parking lot is very far and inconvenient. However on the plus side is the fact that it is right next door to the Cheesecake Factory.Photo on 1-30-13 at 4.10 PM  Their shopping bags are easy to spot.

There has been a branch at the shopping center across the street from where I live, but it was very small and had a poor selection of clothes. So Forever 21 closed their 7000 square foot store and opened a two story 35,000 square foot one in the same mall.

It was supposed to open on Black Friday, but it didn’t. The downstairs part opened on Christmas Eve and the upstairs opened this week.

I thought it would be packed on opening day, so I waited until today to check it out. I was amazed to find the store with more sales people than customers. The check out stand had five cashiers and nobody was in line except me.

I always like their costume jewelry. Usually their styles look very expensive and yet range from $3.80 to $12.80. I bought a necklace that looked like something I saw in Vogue for $600. $12.80.Photo on 1-30-13 at 3.32 PM #2I liked it the minute I saw it. Plus I knew it would totally hide the scar from my open heart surgery.

I may go check out the Waikiki store and see if they don’t have this same necklace in another color. There was black, which would be OK, as I wear a lot of black.

As for the rest of the store, there are some severe design flaws. One is that on the walls at about seven foot height are metal racks sticking out. These have the cutest clothes, but they are totally unreachable by anyone, unless they were a professional basketball player.

Since Hawaii has a very large Oriental population, and a large Japanese tourist population, having racks so high seems ridiculous. Even for a person of average height, it would be impossible to reach.

Of course you can’t see the sizes, as the tags are buried, and so you have to find someone with a long metal hook to bring down about ten items, sort through to find your size and then go to the dressing room.

The largest size this store carries is a Large. Their large is actually a medium and the medium is a small. The small probably would fit a size 2 or 4. Waikiki carries a Woman’s Department with sizes 14/16.

I did find a cute sweatshirt @$19.80 and a nice shawl, $8.80. All their prices seem to end in .80. Wonder why?

The store has great looking purses in the $19.80-$32.80 price range. Lots of cute shoes, both very high and totally flat.

There is a men’s department that looks to be strictly for the young man crowd. Lots of denim, jackets, and narrow ties. Young, hip and skinny is a must.

I was probably the oldest person in the store, but you don’t have to be 21 to shop there. It would be a great place to shop to put together an outfit to go to a nightclub or dancing. For less than $100, you could get dress, shoes, purse, jewelry, lingerie and look great!

Also, the latest fashion for ‘spring’ is evening shorts. They have a large selection of these in ‘leather’, tweed, lace and sequins. Many cute jackets to coordinate. Again, it you are young and slender, check it out.

Split Pea Soup-Anderson’s Recipe

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For years my mother made the greatest pea soup. Now I make it the very same way.

This recipe is from Anderson’s pea soup house. Yes, that’s the one with the windmill on top. And they also sell their soup in cans, White cans with green writing.

I love to make this for a cold winter’s day. (Here in Hawaii that means the temperature dropping below seventy degrees in January).

OK. First you will need to buy a bag of dried green peas at the market. Any kind is fine. You will need three stalks of celery, one onion and two or three carrots. Now this is my addition: To make it extra good, a ham bone, ham shank or just some little pieces of cut up ham.

Sometimes it is hard to find a ham bone or ham shank, so you can use ham hocks. These are usually frozen. Take out two, defrost and cut and peel off the tough outer ‘skin’. I cut off the visible fat with a scissors.

Of course if you just happen to have made a baked ham with the bone, you are in luck. If you are a strict vegetarian, you can leave out the ham or ham bone, but I think it adds a lot of flavor.

For spices, besides salt and pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper and lot (at least one or two teaspoons) of thyme (dried, fresh or both).

Heat a little oil in a big pot. Add coarsely chopped onion, celery and carrot and stir around a couple of minutes. Add ham bone, rinsed peas and seven or eight cups of water. Salt, pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper, thyme come next. Stir together.

Bring to a boil, lower to simmer and cook for about two hours, or until peas are tender and soup is all blended and the right thickness. You can add more water if necessary.

Some people like to put the soup in a blender or food processor to make it very smooth. I prefer it slightly chunky with pieces of carrot showing. Plus it is one less thing to wash.

This makes quite a lot, so if you save some for later, you will have to add more water as you heat it up again. This turns into a big glob when you chill it.

I like to serve this with homemade croutons. To make these, take what’s left of a loaf of sourdough or french bread and cut into cubes or tear into little chunks. Before you do this spread the bread with garlic/butter. Or use left over garlic bread.

Put a little oil in a frying pan and dump in the croutons. Stir till they are nice and toasty. Turn off heat and let them crisp. That’s it. Serve a few on top of each bowl of soup, or let guests serve themselves.

To make Bulls eye soup, heat a can of tomato soup in a separate pot. Make a little circle using a folded over waxed paper strip held together with a paper clip.

If you wrap the strip around two fingers, this should be about the right size. Set the open circle in the middle of the soup bowl.

Fill the circle with a spoonful of tomato soup. Add the pea soup around the outside edge of the waxed paper to the edge of the bowl. Remove the waxed paper circle and the two colors will not run together. Bulls eye!

‘How Are You’?

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I remember when people said, ‘How Are You?’ when you met them. They may not have really meant it, but it was a form of greeting. Now everyone is just staring down at their phone and not even looking up.

People used to smile and say ‘Hello’ when you passed in the hall. Now it’s a big deal to even glance. I don’t think it has to do with getting older, it’s just the times.

I don’t know what happened to simple ‘social graces’, but about ten years ago they started disappearing. I see families at restaurants each with their own device, totally ignoring the others.

My grandson comes over for Sunday supper with earphones in his ears. We are getting to be like Dick Tracy, with his two way wrist radio.

The internet has become such a part of our lives, that it is actually possible to have an online romance with a virtual ‘woman’ who doesn’t exist. And that really happened.

I’m sure it’s not the first time, just the first time it has come to light with someone so famous. The Manti Teo story is practically old news by now. I’m sure it’s been preempted by the Super Bowl, the nightclub fire in Brazil and the Oscars.

In the paper today, it mentioned something very funny. In speaking of the Teo story, it was compared to having the same staying power as the story of the kitten that fell down the well. After a week or so, nobody really cares.

I’m sure the generation of today (is that the Y generation?) are totally used to this. Texting, iPhoning, hooking up, and whatever. It is what it is.

I’m just happy I had the experience of being invited to the school dance, being brought a corsage (or a lei in Hawaii), going on a real date, (where the boy came to the girl’s house and met her parents), having to be home at a certain time, a good night kiss and all with a real person.

Only in Hawaii

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In today’s paper was a blooper of all bloopers. The city erected the following street sign leading into downtown Honolulu from Nimitz Highway. Nimitz Highway is the main connection between the Honolulu Airport and Waikiki.ScanIt is possible that someone not from Hawaii could decide to go into downtown from this road. However Bishop Street is one way going in the opposite direction (makai) and the sign should say Alakea Street. (which runs mauka) I know this and most people born and raised in Hawaii know this automatically.

For those of you not from Hawaii, makai means toward the ocean and mauka means toward the mountains. In the photo above the ocean would be to your right.

When giving directions to someone here in Hawaii, we commonly say, it is on the mauka side or the makai side. Sort of North and South. If we are talking about the other two directions, we say Diamond Head or Ewa (two local landmarks). Sort of East and West.

When Hawaii became a state, we had some federal funding for highways. The signs put up had directions in ‘English’. North, South, East, West. Except Hawaii is ‘crooked’ and nobody who lives here uses those terms. I would always pause at a freeway on ramp to figure out whether I was going East or West.

Example: ”I’ll meet you at Starbucks on the mauka side of the shopping center at the Ewa end”. Or, I live in a building with two towers. There is the Ewa tower and the Diamond Head Tower. Very important information when calling a taxi.

Now this might not seem like a big deal, but I am wondering who designed the sign, drew it up, had it made, had it installed? Dept. of Transportation? They say it will take one month to make a new sign and replace this one.

I am thinking back to November when it was election day. Our Dept. of Elections made a big boo boo, when they underestimated the number of voters and didn’t have enough ballots to go around at twenty polling locations. When volunteers called for more, it took four or five hours to respond.

This on an island where twenty miles is a very long trip.

Maybe the head of these two departments are related to one another. I am wondering what was wrong with the ‘older’ sign which said ‘Alakea Street’, Left Turn. I do have an idea of what to do with the current sign, which will be known as the ‘old’ sign. Someone will want this as a collector’s item, like a rare flawed stamp.

There could be an auction with the sign going to the highest bidder. Or maybe a lottery, where people could buy chances to win the sign. Although that might be considered gambling, which is not allowed in Hawaii.

There are many ways this could be done. I’m sure there is some legal way.

The money raised could go to a local charity. Maybe Braille Institute?

Home Made Soup

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Today was ‘freezing’. It must have dropped to 68 degrees. That’s in Hawaii. I read where it was minus 30 in Madison, Wisconsin, with a high of minus 3.

We don’t have heaters in Hawaii. I turned the oven on to 400, opened the door and it helped to warm up the kitchen. I decided to make a big pot of soup.

A few days ago, I made some spaghetti sauce and had a leftover jar of that in the fridge. That became my ‘base’. Last night I made some beef stew and had some of that left over. I put the two together and added a few more items.

First about three cups of water, to make it more like soup than sauce. The spaghetti sauce was mostly tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Of course onions and garlic. The stew was mostly potatoes and carrots and a little meat, of course. The base had some ‘better than boulion’ in it.

Now I added a bunch of chopped up mushrooms, a few handfuls of spinach leaves, two handfuls of kale and a bunch of chopped up parsley.

Looking around my kitchen I found a can of kidney beans and a bag of barley. I rinsed the beans and added them, and then threw in about half a cup of washed barley.

I boiled this all for about an hour and a half and when I tasted it, I thought it was a little bland. So I added some thyme, salt, sugar and some chopped up green pepper.

Now it was delicious. I cooked it another hour and then had a huge helping over rice. Perfect for a cold winter’s day in Hawaii.

Next time you feel like some hearty soup, it is so much nicer to make it yourself, rather than just opening a can. If you read about the high sodium content in a can of soup, you may never have canned vegetable soup again. Plus it is a great way to use up all those veggies.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

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I love ice cream sandwiches. I like them with different kinds of ice cream, not just vanilla. And I like to control the fat and sodium content as much as I can.

These are easy to make. One box Duncan Hines devils food cake mix, two eggs, half cup oil. 1/2 cup choc. chips optional, but good. Mix and drop by small ice cream scoop on pan. Makes twenty cookies.Bake at 350 for 11-13 minutes. Cool. Fill with ice cream cut in a circle. Take block of ice cream, cut in slices with sharp knife. Cut out circles with glass about the same size as cookies. Whatever flavor you like. Or flavors? I like peppermint. Freeze. I wrap in glad wrap individually. Then put in gallon baggie.photo 1photo 2

Growing Oatmeal

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I love oatmeal for breakfast on those ‘cold’ Hawaii mornings. It is sort of hard to make one cup of oatmeal at a time as it messes up a pot and so I usually make two cups and throw out half.

And, no I don’t like instant oatmeal. Only the Old Fashioned type will do. Not even the quick one minute variety. I used to love a big bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar and real unsalted butter on top. Also some real cream.

Now I just sprinkle on a little brown sugar and some I Can’t Believe its not Butter. A little milk or fat free half and half, and it’s almost the same.

Here is a good solution that I will try, just as soon as I buy some Vanilla Almond Breeze. Thank you Hungry Girl. (Of course you could easily halve this recipe)

For those of you who don’t know, growing oatmeal is an HG oatmeal recipe that’s made with twice the ordinary amount of liquid and cooks for twice as long as average oatmeal made with old-fashioned oats — the result is a HUGE bowl of oatmeal.

HG’s Big Batch of Growing Oatmeal
1/4th of recipe (about 1 2/3 cups): 204 calories, 6g fat, 252mg sodium, 31.5g carbs, 5g fiber, 1g sugars, 6.5g protein — PointsPlus® value 5*

Ingredients:
4 cups Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze
2 cups old-fashioned oats
8 no-calorie sweetener packets (like Splenda or Truvia), or HG Alternative
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large nonstick pot. Add 4 cups water, and mix well. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.

Stirring often, cook until thick and creamy, about 25 minutes.

If you like, serve yourself a portion, and let slightly cool and thicken. Otherwise, transfer to a large container. Stirring occasionally, let cool completely, about 2 1/2 hours.

Cover and refrigerate. To serve, stir oatmeal and reheat. Enjoy!

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

HG Alternative: Use 1/3 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated) in place of the packets. Or use 1/3 cup sugar, and each serving will have 259 calories, 46g carbs, 17.5g sugars, and a PointsPlus® value of 7*.

That recipe is for our classic creamy vanilla oatmeal base. Wanna zazzle it up? Add fresh fruit like blueberries, chopped apples, mashed banana, or sliced strawberries. Stir in some sugar-free pancake syrup or low-sugar fruit preserves. You can add more decadent stuff too — mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, shredded sweetened coconut, even reduced-fat peanut butter — but watch those portions! The recipe makes four servings, so keep that in mind when adding extras. Want some more oatmeal inspiration? There’s an entire “Growing Oatmeal Bowls” chapter in HUNGRY GIRL TO THE MAX! Enjoy…

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