Monday, March 31, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

Sunday, I made some cinnamon rolls and thought that maybe you just might want the recipe too! This is the bread recipe that has become my "no-fail." I use it all the time and it always works. So get those pencils sharpened, find a recipe card and lets begin!

Andrew's Favorite Rolls:
6-7 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 tsp yeast (quick active dry)
1/2 cup shortening (butter flavor Crisco)
1 cup milk (warmed in the microwave for 40 seconds)
1 cup warm water
2 eggs ( I like to put mine (whole, not cracked) in a warm cup of water for a few minutes so they are not so shocking to the yeast)

Put 4 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl, and add the sugar, salt, yeast and shortening. Mix until shortening is worked in. Add the milk, water and eggs. Mix until all are combined and dough is soft. Add remaining flour once cup at a time. Do not add too much flour. You want the dough to be soft (just barely past the sticky stage). Let dough rise in a greased bowl and cover with a towel or wrap for about 2 hours. Punch down and form into rolls, loaves or cinnamon rolls. Let the dough rise again for at least 30 minutes, near the warm oven. Bake rolls in a 400 degree oven for 9-11 minutes or until brown. Brush the tops with butter(real butter people!).

So for cinnimon rolls, I like to divide the dough in half before I roll it out. That way I get about 24 average sized rolls instead of 12 gigantic beasts.

Generously spread softened butter on the dough. Then liberally sprikle on a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Then roll up the dough and prepare to slice it. Apparently, you are supposed to do this part with string so you get a nice even cut. I don't do this. I just pull out my enormous and very sharp serrated knife and saw away. It works.

Now, let these babies rise for just a little bit. Place them on top of the stove or somewhere near your warm oven. Cover them.

Oh wow! I can almost smell these (again!).

Our favorite frosting for these rolls is:

1 brick cream cheese
1 cube butter
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups of powdered sugar

Soften the cream cheese and butter then whip with your hand beater until smooth. Add the vanilla. Slowly work in the powdered sugar. Now, lick your beaters (unplug the mixer first...ack!).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Girls Day Out, Final Stop...Kokusai Street

They had these nifty bike taxis on Kokusai, we didn't try it but should have just for the experience of it. Kokusai is a mile long road with tons of food, vendors and markets.

I LOVE the sanshin. When I first heard the sound it creates, I was a little put off. But now, I really like it. It is a bit "twangy" but so relaxing. I believe that it is distinct to Okinawa and most of the time, covered with Habu skin (like this one).

Mango Kit Kats?!! Who knew?

I found these yummy looking hot dog thing-a-ma-jiggers at a gas station we took a quick peek into; hungry?

A sashimi and seafood market off one of the side streets of Kokusai.

A cute little grandma pushing her wheelbarrow filled with ripe juicy apples to sell.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Josh-ism

Anyone who knows our family at all, knows that our boys (all of them) are VERY into transformers. I buy them, but draw the line at knowing how to transform all of those bad boys.

Anyway, the Easter Bunny brought baskets laden with transformers for the kids (smart bunny). Josh was so excited to see "Scorponok" (the bad scorpion transformer from the movie) laying in his basket. "Mom, look!" he says, "it is Port-a-snok!" That had us all rolling. Ahh, we love that kid. Josh was happy the rest of the day with his "Port-a-snok" and "Trammers".

Girls Day Out, Stop #2! Fukushuen Garden

Ok, this post is going to be picture heavy, but this garden was AMAZING! It is in downtown Naha and will be one of the "must see places" if we have any visitors while we are here.

Fukushuen (pronounced Foo-Coo-shoe-in) Garden is styled after a Chinese garden and is a symbol of the "friendship" that Okinawa and China have together (at least,that was my interpretation). It is beautiful and serene. I think that many more pictures will be taken here in the next couple of years.

So, enjoy the pictures...better yet, come visit us and we will take you there!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Girls Day Out, Stop #1!

The long awaited and much anticipated "Girls Day Out" had arrived! And where is the best place to start a day like this, you ask? Cactus Eatrip of course!

It is just a little "hole in the wall" but goodness, it is incredible.

The menu had many tasty options. I went with the roast chicken sandwich..SO.DARN.GOOD!

I found this interesting. Here we are in this little quaint cafe, surrounded by "funky" decorations and bottles of Kirkland Brand olive oil...Costco! Ohhhhh, how I miss Costco!

Anyway, we chose these nifty beatup armchairs in the back to sit on, very ugly and sooooo comfy.

Let me just tell you one thing about these bagels...PERFECTION! The best darn bagel I have ever had! Slight crunch of the outer layer and then pure lucious, chewy and warm goodness for the rest of the bite. INCREDIBLE! After our sandwiches, we split a caramel cheesecake, just wow. And then on our way out they were pulling these gems out of the oven, of course we had to have one of those as well! Natural raw sugar sprinkled on the top of these perfect orbes of bread made them well, perfect!

Thanks Cactus Eatrip...and please, please PLEASE don't EVER go away!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mommy's Knight in Shining Armor

I know I am in the middle of needing to edit the rest of the pictures of Toguchi Beach, but I must post about a different topic tonight.

It finally happened. I was finally just too sick to get up in the morning and take Andrew to the bus stop. Sure, I have felt fairly under-the-weather several times over the past two years of having to get my oldest to school on time, but today takes the cake. I don't know if it was due to the fact that I hadn't slept at all the night prior or because I took a FULL dose of Nyquil or a little of both but I was out for the count this morning. Dana had already left for work so he was unavailable. Anyway, 7:30 rolls around, I am STILL in bed and Andrew comes in to check on me. He is my knight, err, well penguin at the moment.

So, he comes in and I tell him that I just can't do it, and I need his help today. "So, you mean, I don't have to go to school?" he asks as his eyes are lighting up. "Right, no school if you can be my really big helper today," and he was! He poured three bowls of cereal for himself and his brothers, put a movie on and I even vaguely remember him redirecting little brothers out of my bedroom for an hour or so. I am so blessed to have a son, who is responsible, tenderhearted and caring.

He also pulled the paints out and painted me this great picture. I found it laying on the pillow next to me. What a sweety. I love it, and will keep it in his "rememberance book."

So that no one panics thinking that I am a horrible mother that just stays in bed all day, I will have you know that I did finally pull myself out of bed. Of course, then we just drove on over to Rebecca's house and crashed their while I dozed in the chair and she helped my kids. I am surrounded by love!

The day ended well. The kids had a great time today, playing so nicely with each other. My house was trashed, but my kids were happy so who cares about the mess(its all cleaned up now anyway).

Thanks Andrew and Rebecca for saving me today!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Toguchi Beach

Toguchi Beach and Playground is a gem tucked away in a small corner of Yomitan Village. They have a great cement slide that is fast and according to my boys "the best ever!"

The Japanese know how to make FUN kid parks. These kids were flying down this slide.

The beach was also near by. The kids could not wait to get into the water.

Logan was delerious after a day at the park and the beach. Do you know what happens to him when he is REALLY tired? He gets silly!

He thought that the jello cups that the "kids meal" from CoCo Curry House includes were hilarious. I couldn't stop snapping pictures of him because he was being so much fun.

I have many other pictures from Toguchi Beach to post but need to edit them. This is the beach that our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) does baptisms at as well. A beautiful setting. I will post more pics as soon as I get a chance to do a little editing!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Bus Route

An everyday happening...

Here comes the bus! Yay! Andrew is almost home and his brothers couldn't be any happier.

Almost off and bracing for his enthusiastic brothers to greet him.

Told ya, they were excited!

Of course, we have to stop at the vending machine and ask mom for the 100th time why she doesn't have any yen with her to buy a drink. Okinawa REALLY has a deep and abiding love for vending machines! This one offers cold and hot drinks year 'round.

Almost home, and the race is on to see who can reach the security number pad first to type in the "secret code" and get to the elevator.

Ahh, another day in the life of the Jensen Family. :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008


A few days ago, I had the opportunity to learn a little bit about the Japanese written language Katakana. A lady that goes to my church is from the island and is a wonderful teacher (patient too!). We had lots of fun and she even helped us do a little bit of writing. Now, I am sure that to a local person, these characters look quite "kindergarten-ish," but it was fun! The Japanese have several forms of these characters...somewhat like Uppercase, Lowercase and Cursive to our language. They have Kanji, which is beautiful and artistic, Hiragana that is less ornate and then Katakana which is much more simplified. I have been told that their are over 3000 charaters of Japanese language that children have to learn in school! Makes our 26 not look so bad, eh? I would give you a link to Wikipedia on the matter but for the life of me, I can't get blogger to allow me to do that correctly. So, if you are interested in learning more..head on over!

On the top left that is "Dana" on the top right is "Cathryn" in the middle is "Jensen" then the three underneath that are staggered are "Andrew, Logan and Joshua."

Andrew has been trying to write "Japanese" since we walked off the plane. He was excited to have some real characters to work with now! I think he did a great job trying to copy what mom had learned.

The Japanese language is as beautiful as their culture!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My favorite flower...

Sure, a girl can love roses and orchids. I was always the tulip and iris type of girl. But, I have come to a new phase in my life. A phase that has created an afinity for an unlikely golden gem; the dandelion.

Though I have been gently handed dozens if not a hundred of these precious tokens of love throughout the past couple of years, it still melts my heart. My three sweet boys diligently search any patch of grass they can find for a "flower for mommy." Each time I recieve this tangible evidence of their unconditional love I am reminded of how precious these little men are in my life. The dandelion is always recieved with a smile, a kiss on the cheek to the "giver" and then I tuck it behind my ear. It is not until that flower is placed in its rightful position (behind the ear)does my sweet benefactor run off and back to the business of being a kid. Often, I forget about these treasures behind my ear and find a wilty flower falling out of my hair and onto my pillow at night...but even then it still brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

I love my sons! Thank you boys, for showing me just how beautiful and priceless a dandelion can be.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What to Post?

When I began this blog I had high aspirations for daily posts. I have come to the conclusion that my life is a bit to dull to post something exciting everyday! I tried, I really did! But goodness, I need to find some excitement somewhere.

So, here is where I need your help...

What do YOU want to see? What would be of interest to you? Let me know!

On another note, I have been trying to load some pictures on here for a couple of posts and Google is not allowing me to do that right now...*shrug*. So, I will keep trying.

I hope to hear some inspiring comments! Ready...Set...GO!

Friday, March 7, 2008

That Sneaky Gecko!

I must preface this post with mentioning how lucky I am to have my dearest friend live on this island with me. A twist of fate, divine intervention or pure luck whichever it may be is working for us here! Anyway, Rebecca and I cannot seem to go about any task and not have a good laugh; today was no exception!

We had our youngest sons, Josh and Jake, playing in her backyard in the warm and perfect weather today. Rebecca noticed one of her sons jackets laying in a pile of leaves so she snatched it up, shook it and then tossed it over her shoulder as she walked back towards me. I then notice something clinging for dear life on her back. "Wait!" I yelled, "don't move, let me grab your camera!" as I quickly ran into her house.
Here is the little cliffhanger.

After snapping a few pictures this little critter decides it has had enough of the photo-shoot and heads south, just south enough to come to the end of her shirt. Within a matter of seconds he had gone from cute little rascal to an invader! Of course the panic sets in as Rebecca's eyes get large and wide and she feels the creepy-crawly frantically looking for a way out of her shirt. She is screaming, I am screaming, we both are jumping around and laughing hysterically throughout it all. In the meantime, our shocked and confused 2 year olds are looking concerned to see both "mommies" in such an up-roar. Thankfully, after a few tense moments, he peaked out the bottom of her shirt on the other side. *Whew* Crisis averted!

Well, not two seconds after scrambling through her shirt to find an escape he fully emerges and scampers down her leg full speed ahead. What does he do? Yep, you guessed it! He goes under the lip of her pant leg! If we weren't making a scene with the shirt fiasco, we surely were now! The screaming commenced, just louder this time. Rebecca is yelling for me to do something and I am yelling, "what am I supposed to do??!!" and of course crying now that I am laughing so hard. The two year olds are backing up now...they are scared and want no part of this!
Fortunately , the sneaky gecko didn't make it past her ankle before he dropped onto the grass. Now, Rebecca being the brave and good mom that she is, scoops the critter up and proceeds to try and now untraumatize our sons. No easy feat. Notice her holding the cuffs of her sleeves closed...we were NOT going through that again!

It took a few minutes, but the gecko, boys and even Rebecca's heart rates all returned to normal. Ahh, another day in the life of Cathryn and Rebecca. :)

To read Rebecca's post on her site go here!!.html

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Katsuren Castle

So, we haven't been able to go and do anything exciting lately. I am pouring over my files of pictures to try and find something of interest to post.

These pictures are of Katsuren castle; so neat! The boys(Dana included)loved exploring the ruins and climbing the walls (yes, I was having a heart attack!) to see the view of the ocean and city below. Breathtaking.

Here is your history lesson of the day. I think what is most interesting to me from this story is that the lord of this castle attacked Shuri Castle. You can see pictures of Shuri Castle (jo-means castle in Japanese, I think) in an earlier post. Shuri Castle has quite the fortress around it, attacking it was a bold attempt. To read the story, click on the picture so it enlarges.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Ok, first off I am sorry I have not been posting as regular as I was in the begining. Remember that I have been sick? Well, now my entire family is as well so you know how much rest mom gets when the household is in need of extra care. Sick family = lots of hours during the night rocking coughing and sad boys back to sleep. Anyway, I will try and get back to posting on a more regular schedule.

On a better note, as of this morning we are a free (almost) people again today! Hallelujah! The base gets mighty small and confining quick when that is the only area you are allowed to roam freely. We are now free to do as we will once again except that AD must be in the base or at home off base by 10pm and no drinking of alcohol off base at all (this, I like!). What did I learn from this experience? That not having any freedom to go to a store, restaurant or park that I want with my kids is no fun at all. Hopefully lessons of having a greater respect for a host country were learned by all...basically, do not anger the locals! It is not fun!

As this is a somewhat boring post I thought I would post a couple of pics of my kids that are some of my will enjoy them but "blog stalkers" might be a little bored. :) I will try and come up with a more creative post in the near future (once I have actually had a couple of full nights sleep in a row and can logicallly think!).

I am off to take my kids for a much needed walk out into the once again free land to roam. :)