So a few years ago, the doorbell rang and this dude was there. The kids named him Jingle. He shows up around Thanksgiving and disappears on Christmas eve. He keeps a pretty good watch out on the kids to report to Santa. Problem is, he’s a great watcher but he often forgets to report back to the North Pole. 

He brought the kids a North Pole Communicator. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get the darn video to upload from my phone. Bria and Jack are pretty excited with the prospect of talking to elves and reindeer daily. Does anyone else live at the North Pole?

Our elf has done some pretty naughty things, especially for an elf that is supposed to be a GIANT TATTLE TALE! Most of his antics happened in year’s past. I’m hoping he’s officially as tired and lazy as I am. He probably is considering he’s been back like 3 days and already forgot one night’s report. He’s definitely not as naughty as some other elves…



You get the idea. We’re on night number 3 and Jingle has already started to creep me out a little. This is how we found him this morning…


If this is the beginning… I wonder what the till turd will do tonight… I hope he just forgets to make his report…again. 

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May Or May Not Monday

It may or may not be Monday. I may or may not try to make this a regular thing.

I may or may not love my little ‘hood. My new neighbors may or may not speak much English by they sure deliver fun treats!


We may or may not have a new device that speaks directly to the North Pole. We may also have an elf that is as lazy as me. He often forgets to report to the North Pole and return to a different spot.


I may or may not lead a rough life when this is my view from my front porch.


I may or may not have had a hard time not cracking up when Bria told me about an incident at school. She said that they were reading an older Rudolph book when she said “Rudolph the old red-nosed reindeer…” when her friend Leila added, “with a really big dingaling!” Oh my word! I really didn’t know how to respond.

Names may or may not have been changed to protect the guilty. innocent.

I may or may not be back tomorrow…

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Black Friday

I maybe a little bit crazy. There was that whole up at 6 in the morning to make Thanksgiving dinner for 23 people, clean the house, pick up the yard, etc. (It was pot luck so not so bad. I need a little cheese with my wine.) I feel like I didn’t stop until little people were in bed and the house was reasonably picked up. I sat on the lanai caught my breath and then… We went shopping.

I left my house around 10. This moment was captured around 2 a.m.


My big kids were stoked to be out so late…until they weren’t. Pretty bad when they say they’re ready to go home before the old lady.

I have a few thoughts. First, I have awesome kids. They walked around excited without whining, genuinely happy to be allowed the privilege. Don’t get me wrong, toward the end they wore down and were ready for the car. They had great attitudes unlike a few of the teens that were in line around me.

I was shocked at how entitled a few of them acted. Yes, I was eavesdropping. That Bath and Body Works line was a little tight. In fact, let me say I recognized some girls in line in front of me. They were sweet and polite and gracious. The child behind me… well, at the very least she needed to be sent home IMMEDIATELY! She was insistent that they would go _______ and purchase_________. My expect my kids to ask me to do something, not tell me. My girls were browsing together while I waited in the never ending line. I noticed the girls in front of me were asking their Mom if they could go to whatever store. Mom said yes. They said thank you. Everyone was smiling and having fun. Behind me the teen was getting almost belligerent with her list of places to go and things to buy. Mom was suggesting that they slow down, check the funds, etc. they were both mad as hornets.

Anyway my short story is getting long. I pointed out to my girls that it is so nice to be out with them having a good time because they were being kind and respectful of me and each other. If they had acted like the holy terror behind me in line for at least 20 minutes, our next stop would be home and the next Black Friday, that’s where they would be.

Another observation…I saw no pushing and grabbing or blocking people off. There was lots of aloha. Maneuvering carts so people could get through, hanging out laughing in long lines. It is a much different Black Friday experience here considering all the different cultures. I will miss it.

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This afternoon, I was scanning through Facebook while waiting in the car line. My feed is still filled with all things Fergueson. As someone who spent a good deal of time studying criminal justice and as the sister of a former police officer, my mind was screaming. Of course, that came to a halt when I picked Bria up. She had a thankful bag for Jack filled with various dry goods shared by his class. (Jack missed school today.) Of course she suggested that they share the bag since her thankful fruit cup was long gone. They laughed in the back seat as she found gummies in the shape of letters, “T” and “D.” They then made up their own “T.D.” song. Awesome sauce. Screaming it out at the top of their lungs. Here’s hoping everyone who heard them as we pulled off with the windows down assumed they were excited about Thanksgiving football. Unfortunately two little ones screaming those letters out of the back of the minivan sounded more to me like a young drunk on his first trip out to a strip club. I’m a good mom though so I didn’t point it out. It put a quick stop to me thinking I could save the world of our social ills anyway.

At home, I’ve started our Thanksgiving meal. I swear I think our kids like the night before as much as the day of Thanksgiving. It means movies and pizza while crazy mom makes a giant mess and sane Dad walks behind cleaning up the mess. This year, on the last island Thanksgiving, I’m feeling nostalgic. Arleigh has been helping me make Gran’s broccoli cheese rice casserole. She wanted to practice for her home ec class. (I do not need to hear from my mother or Susan Higdon about what I missed out on by taking media instead of home ec. I’m aware…) Anyway, it made me run to get the old brown apron out that is much shorter on me than it was on Gran. I’m also in bare feet running from here to there, talking to myself asking Arleigh if she understands what I’m doing and why just like she used to do for me. Saying things like, “The green broccoli and the red pimento just looks like Christmas.” That casserole, as horrible for you as it is, is my holiday comfort food. 

Since I have this handy phone, I thought I would share the recipe with you. It has changed a bit from the Cheez whiz and cream of everything soup that Gran used. That happens when 6 years of your life has been spent on islands and things aren’t always readily available. This is what works for us. 

I start with 3 cups of this stuff…


Put it in 3 cups of boiling water and you somehow magically get 6 cups of cooked rice, exactly what you need in 5 minutes.

While the rice is settling, I dice and onion and a green pepper and saute it in butter. Arleigh was a little horrified by the amount…a stick but it mixes in with the rest of the casserole so it’s okay?


As it gets tender and sweet in the pan, I pop a large bag of chopped broccoli in the microwave. About six minutes knocks the frost off.


So, when the rice is cooked and onions and peppers are soft, I dump it all into my biggest stainless steel bowl. It doesn’t have to be a stainless steel bowl but it will taste better because that’s how Gran did it. Her favorite stainless steel bowl is now a sink in my mother’s house. (Sigh.) I’ll let you know how I feel about that another day. It is cute holding babies for first pictures but it’s hard to believe that no one will ever take corn off a cob in it again. Anyway, everyone in the pool with a few of my other favorite friends. 

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That would be a large jar of pimentos, drained; a small block of velveeta cheese hunked, and about 1/3 cup of cream. I also add some season salt and garlic powder to taste. I told you it’s not good for you. 

Mix it up. It’s heavy and you’ll get a workout. Then dump it into a 3-qt casserole that’s been sprayed with Pam. The final touch…I dump a sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers on top. 

Tomorrow I’ll bake this at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the top looks brown and bubbly. Because it will be in the fridge, it takes longer. If I wanted it tonight, it would be about 30 minutes. If you dare to make it on a weeknight, add some cubed chicken and it’s a delicious and very unhealthy meal. So good on a cold night with a green salad though. 

Today I’m thankful for my little ohana. I thankful for my kiddos that cook with me and help me clean up. I’m thankful I was blessed to have a grandmother who was patient enough to teach me to cook. I’m super thankful for this inanimate object…


It’s Gran’s recipe box. My Dee-Di made it. I’m from the south. Don’t judge my grandfather by what we called him. He was so super talented and the recipes that fill it make me happy. There are some in Gran’s handwriting, some in my Mom’s and some in mine when I had just learned to print. I hope one day my children will be just as thankful for it.

So I’m curious, what dish has to be on your Thanksgiving table? 


Gran's Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole
Serves 8
It's a rich side dish perfect for any and every holiday meal.
Write a review
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
  1. 6 cups prepared white rice
  2. 1 large bag of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  3. 1 stick of butter
  4. 1 onion, diced
  5. 1 green pepper, diced
  6. 1 large jar pimento, chopped
  7. 1 small block velveeta cheese, hunked
  8. 1/3 c heavy cream
  9. 1/4 t salt
  10. 1/4 t garlic powder
  11. 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
  1. Melt butter in a large skillet, add onion and pepper and cook until soft. Add all ingredients except Ritz crackers to a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Spray a 3-quart casserole dish. Put mixture in, top with crushed crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top is brown and bubbly.
Okkar Lif http://www.stifffamily.com/
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Monday May Or May Not

Over the weekend I was thinking about a may or may not post. Like I may or may not post a “May Or May Not Monday” post every Monday. Monday may or may not have gotten away from me. So I may or may not be posting on a Tuesday… you see where I’m going with this. Anyway, I think I’ll give it a try.

Ray thinks Haole is dumber than a box of rocks. I think Haole may or may not be brilliant because she may or may not have jumped off the back of the sofa, landed on a remote and changed the channel off of High School Musical. In fact I think she may be brilliant!

Our fridge may or may not be broken the week of Thanksgiving. No. Seriously. It might be, we’re trying to decide if the maintained temperature is stable. I may or may not be hosting 25 people for Thanksgiving. This may or may not be a serious issue. I may or may not be freaking out over here a bit.

We may or may not have broken out sweatshirts because the temp dipped to 75 this morning. You may or may feel sorry for us.

This may or may not be my new favorite meme…

I may or may not pay for that dearly when I’m sitting in a frozen tundra next year. Sigh….

I may or may not have taken my favorite teenager (I can only say that for a few more months) to the premier of Mockingjay. Another bonus of island life is that premiers happen at 8 p.m. on a Thursday instead of midnight. Arleigh may or may not soon realize that she won’t be able to go to the next premier. 

Jack may or may not be singing “The Hanging Tree” from the new Mockingjay movie ALL THE TIME. It may or may not also be stuck in my head. “Are you, are you comin’ to the tree…” If you’ve seen the movie it may or may not now be stuck in your head too. 

I may or may not have threatened repeatedly to wear a shirt that says “I’m Finnicky” to the movie with a bag of sugar cubes. Arleigh may or may not have been completely disturbed. If you don’t understand this statement you may or may not need to read the books. 

Christmas may or may not have come early this year. I may or may not have lost my mind a little. Sweet friends waited in line to surprise our little ohana with a poster signed by Eddie Aikau’s family. I may or may not have lost it a little when I opened it. 

I may or may not have nearly teared up when I was telling Ray about it, thinking about hanging it in our new house. I may or may not be a dork. There may or may not be surf in D.C. (There is not and I am sad.) I may or may not have this to look at and sigh remembering three years spent in paradise. 

I may or may not have just let it out of the bag…our orders will not be sending us back to Tidewater like we expected. Ray will be going to BUMED in D.C. I may or may not have a lot of research to do. 

You may or may not have liked this post. You may or may not want to comment to tell me so you may or may not read more like them…

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When Tire Rotations Are A Blessing

I am currently sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my tires to be rotated. I planned ahead. I have my coffee, my Southern Living and my iPad. I’m ready to tackle Thanksgiving. I know. It’s a hard life.

Sitting here texting a friend, I’ve decided I need to forget Southern Living and Coastal Living. I need my own magazine… Military/Redneck Living. I promise I can whip up a meal that will make you want to go back for seconds and dare I say, thirds. My pie will not look like this.


My friend who happens to be in charge of pies says no Yankee can make that. Apparently rednecks can’t either.

I won’t be keeping a side dish playbook but I can explain at length how to group text a bunch of military spouses to find out what their Thanksgiving strength is and show you how to put together a meal fit for royalty.

What the heck is this squash casserole that kids will want to eat.

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While I might be tempted to try it, that would not fool my kids. In spite of my best efforts yellow squash is in Bria’s words, “squishy” and the best I can hope for is that they choke it down. I love squash. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but an artful display of goldfish would not a delicious side make in my children’s eyes.

That 1-800 number at the top… Yeah I could’ve used that 18 years ago. It was the first time I made Thanksgiving dinner and it was a hot mess! Just ask my mother. I stayed up all night making a homemade bread cornucopia filled with ham biscuits and struggled with a turkey. I made the worst stuffing that has ever been made. I was up at 4 a.m. and therefore evil. Seriously. I was the devil. Bless my parents and Ray. They choked it all down and then we went to a movie. I think I was in bed by 8 and happy as a clam on Black Friday.

Anyway, that 1-800 number is for amateurs. It’s for your first few Thanksgivings navigating rough waters. The number to call for a seasoned Thanksgiving cook is 1-800 CPT MRGN. You might have heard of the 1-800 MOR WINE number but it always causes headaches.

Navy families have an average of 4-6 kids. That means Thanksgiving is a Lord Of The Flies scenario. You must be prepared for children and single sailors. I got this.

Roasted garlic cauliflower soup with tureens and bowls aren’t happening. Pimento cheese on celery stalks is a much for feasible appetizer. You can pop it in your mouth and catch a football.

So I’m off to plan our last Hawaiian Thanksgiving. Sigh. It will be child and single sailor friendly. There will lots of pop up tables and pie. Football is a must. It will be perfect for us. I’ve learned in my old age that when it comes to holiday gatherings it’s best to set a bar, but not to high. A low bar means our little navy ohana can soar over it. Wish me luck!

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