Just for You... Reviews by Lissete



Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I started this post a while back to summarize our last trip Hawai'i and also to offer up some tips & suggestion. But in true form, I got distracted. In just 40 days, we will once again have the pleasure of visiting 3 islands in Hawai'i. So you will be subjected to more soon.

In the meantime, here is the last part of our 2007 trip.

We arrive in Oahu for our last four days in Hawai'i. At this point, we could not believe how fast the last 11 days flew by. We are both already dreaming of buying a place in Maui. A place where we can eventually spend our retirement. I guess we'll keep dreaming for now. Unless I win the lottery soon.

Our last 4 days were spent in a vacation rental that I found on VRBO, which was across from Kailua Beach. The unit was comfortable and close to the beautiful beaches of Kailua & Lanikai. The only problem with this unit was that the bedroom window faced the main road and it is right above the home's garage. Whenever the owner opened the garage we felt it. No biggie though. They weren't opening it in the middle of the night or anything. Price-wise, we probably could have done better.
We got up early on our first morning in Oahu and made our way to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. We arrived at around 6:30 AM and were about 10th in line.I suggest you go early. I've heard that they sell out of tickets sometimes, especially during peak. When I say "sell" out I mean that they have a limited number. There is no charge to visit the memorial or the Visitor's Center. The only charge is for the optional audio tour and for lockers, if you need one. We were on the first boat out and were done by about 9:30 or so.

From the Memorial we went to the Aloha Swap Meet to buy some inexpensive souvenirs. The prices were better than at the shops but almost every booth had the same exact things at the same prices. I'm not a very good haggler, so I left that part to D. If you don't make it to the Swap Meet, the International Marketplace has reasonable prices as well.

We are into historic houses, mansions & castles. So a visit to the Iolani Palace was in order. The history associated with the palace is very interesting. Period furnishings & artifacts are minimal, due to said history. We did the audio tour since we went later in the afternoon and really enjoyed it.

It doesn't take much to make me happy! Matsumoto Shave Ice is my obsession!

Tell me he does not look happy! He loves those shrimp trucks!

One of the reasons that I bought the Entertainment book, was because there was a $40 coupon for the Polynesian Cultural Center. I reserved it online right about the same time that I booked our luau in Maui. Since it was our first time, we chose the Ambassador package because it included a tour guide. We went with the prime rib buffet instead of the Ali'i Luau. More laid back and less crowds! It was the perfect choice for us. The food was quite good and we were able to have a nice quiet dinner. As far as the tour guide, well lets just say that our guide just wasn't quite on the ball. We arrived late to most shows and ended up not getting a good view of most of the shows or we had to stand all the way in the back. Fortunately, our pass included admission for 3 extra days. We took advantage of this option and were able to see what we missed.

Our seats for the evening show were spectacular! We were right in the center, 2nd row. The show itself was amazing. At the time, the show was Horizons, they now have a new production called Ha Breath of Life. I highly recommend the PCC for a fun and interesting day. We are planning on going again this year. Primarily to see the new production.

I have more pictures from this trip here, in case you're interested.

Like I said, we will be returning to Hawai'i soon. I purchased the Entertainment Book earlier this year when it was on sale. The coupon for the PCC is $45. I used CashBaq to buy which brought the total for the book to $4. I have also scored Priceline cars for half the amount of what I had originally booked for. We will once again be staying in condos & cottages. IMHO, this is the only way to go. Or at least, the only way for us.

Stay tuned for Hawai'i 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Big Island of Hawaii

Next up on our trip is the Big Island. We only spent 4 nts here. We split up our stay with 2 nts in Kohala & 2 nts in Volcano. Kona Airport

We flew in to Kona on Island Air. Ok. I have to vent about Island Air. We had confirmed reservations for a 12:30PM departure from Maui since April. At 7AM on the day that we were to fly out, I log on to their website to see if I could check in on line. Imagine my shock when I see us on a 4:30PM departure. I immediately call and they say that they had to reschedule us due to “mechanical problems”. Ok, so this just came up. A last minute delay. We had to check out by 11 AM and return the car . So we would be carless & homeless until 4:30PM so I asked to be put on the now defunct Aloha’s 12PM flight. They told me sorry, can’t place you on Aloha period. Best they could do was the 4:30, the 9:30AM or refund my money. We decided to get our rears in gear & make the 9:30AM. Mind you, at this point it is about 7:30AM & we are in Kihei. Fortunately, we were able to pack, return our condo keys, return the car, and get to the airport in just over an hour. Danny dropped me off at the airport with our bags. A nice man came, checked our bags & checked us in. And we were set. I freaked a bit on the tiny prop plane, but I survived. I later find out that Island Air had stopped flying the 12:30 flight on Sept 2nd, 27 days earlier, and they never notified us!
Out of necessity & because of scheduling, I might have to book with them again this year for our Maui-Kauai flight, we'll see. One funny thing about inter-island flights, the flight attendants walk up the aisle hurling juice cups at you. Then they walk back down the aisle collecting the trash. Then we arrive. Oh, and I really liked the airport in Kona! It's all outdoors. All cutesy and what I would imagine an island airport to look like. I guess it wouldn't be so cute in the rain.
We rented a compact car at Alamo through Costco. they really tried to upsell here. Everything from insurance, gas, & upgrade. We ended up with a free upgrade because they were out of compacts. Maybe they should have paid me for the extra gas charges incurred??? Hmmm.

Bamboo Suite @ Hale Ho’onanea
Our first two nights were spent at Hale Ho’onanea in the Bamboo Suite. The unit was very comfortable and the owner was friendly & informative. a basket with snacks and juice is delivered every day. The view from the lanai was of the ocean in the distance. Since it faced West, we also had a view of the amazing sunsets. I would not hesitate to recommend this House of Relaxation.

City of Refuge

We didn't do a whole lot while here. We did drive around. A LOT. We also snorkeled. A LOT. We visited the City of Refuge and snorkeled at an amazing spot adjacent to the park. We also drove to Southpoint where we watched folks fishing on a cliff in flip flops! Crazy!

Our next two nights would be spent in Volcano. The drive from the Kohala coast to Hilo is an attraction in & of itself. We made several stops on the way including Waipi'o Valley, Rainbow Falls, Boiling Pots, and Akaka Falls to name a few.

Kate's Volcano Places: Kahi Malu

We stayed at Kate’s Kahi Malu in the middle of the rainforest. Outstanding. I can’t say enough about this cottage & about Kate. She is an excellent host and the cottage was stocked with everything imaginable. The cottage had a small fireplace that we did use since it did get pretty cold. We were not more than 5 minutes from Volcano National Park. HIGHLY recommended.

During this time, I risked my life and boarded a freakin' helicopter! Mind you, I had just gotten on an airplane for the 1st time just 2 years earlier. Anyhoo, we took the Fire & Falls tour with Paradise Helicopter. When we arrived, they upgraded us to doors off. What???? Are you crazy? It's enough that I'm getting on the darn thing. But D really wanted to do doors off so they sat me between D & the pilot. I did not move during the entire trip. I was afraid that I would knock D right off or even worse, the pilot! I have to admit though, that the views were AMAZING! I might even be convinced to do it again! Maybe.
A trip back to the Big Island is definitely in our future.

I'll stop here for now. Next up: Oahu

Today's Outing

Total before coupons= $65.24
Total after coupons= $22.73

It might not seem like an amazing deal for the pros, but I am a very happy camper. The Covergirl foundations alone are $13.89 each and the mascara is normally $11.99, so everything else is a bonus!

I also picked up Norton Internet Security at Staples for $49.99 less a $40 rebate. Great deal at $9.99!

April 22nd is Earth Day. Walgreens will refill you ink cartridge for just ONE DOLLAR! I have never done this so at just a buck, it's a great way to try it out!

Oh, and also in honor of Earth Week, I picked up these little beauties at Home Depot yesterday. They were B1G1. Let's see how long it will take for me to kill them!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Maui 2007

Aloha! As promised, I will be posting details from our last trip to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. Mind you, our trip was in 2007 and some things may have changed since then but you can always get up to date reviews on Tripadvisor.Everything here is just my personal opinion based on my personal experience. So without any further ado...

A visit to Hawaii has been on my bucket list since around the age of six. My cousin & I would play "The Price is Right" and our grand prizes would always be a car or a trip to Hawaii. Oh, and a fur coat because you know, it gets really cold here in S. Florida... but that's another story. Oops, off on a tangent again. Story of my life. We all know I have A.D.D.

Anyhoo, we chose October because the rates appeared cheaper and the crowds would be less. In other words, off-season. We were blessed with fantastic weather during our entire trip. We were away for 20 days total, which included 4 days in L.A. I would not be able to handle a full day of flying, so I chose to break it up. Three days L.A., 7 days Maui, 4 days Big Island, 4 days Oahu, 2 days L.A. I bought and use the Maui Revealed book, which was very helpful. I will just say to use common sense and your own judgment. When I first looked into Hawaii, flights from Miami were running (and still are) about $1K per person. Including airfare, car rentals, gas, accommodations, inter-island flights, tours & activities we spent a total of about $5,500 for all 20 days. We're spending way less than that this year and are going for 26 days!

We flew to and from the mainland on Hawaiian Airlines. We had a very good experience on both flights. Planes were clean & well maintained. Service was good and flights were on time. Can't ask for more.

With all the travel & baggage restrictions, we will be packing much lighter for our upcoming trip. We will be away for 26 days but plan on packing for 7 days max since we will have a washer & dryer available in units during our stays. All toiletries and stuff we purchase once we arrive.

Our first stop was Maui. We rented a condo directly from the owner on VRBO. The best way to save money and get more bang for your buck is by renting a self-catering unit. Meaning a kitchen. Not that I cook or anything during vacation, but we have breakfast in and make sandwiches for lunch. We also stocked up on water, sodas, beer, snacks etc. too. The condo was a 2 BR unit located in the Maui Banyan Condo in South Kihei. The price was the same as a 1 BR and this way I would have a kick out room for when the snoring got to be too much. The unit was very clean and included all the necessary kitchen tools. It is not oceanfront, but if you go out on the lanai and stretch your neck out, you might get a glimpse of the ocean, which is right across the street from the complex.

We rented a car on each island, and in my opinion, you definitely need a car. Alamo seems to have the best prices. You can also check Discount Hawaii Car Rentals. If you are a member of Costco or BJ's, check them for discounts. An added benefit of using them is no charge for a 2nd driver. Also, Costco has the best fuel prices. Don't expect pristine cars from any rental company in Hawaii. At least we didn't see any. The ones that we rented were in decent shape though. I always book the cars as soon as my dates are set and I check for price drops as the trip nears.

So what did we do in Maui?

Well, we spent a lot of time just laying on a beach, snorkeling, reading & sightseeing in general. Here are some of our most notable experiences:

Haleakala Sunrise

While we were still on East Coast time, we were popping awake at around 3 AM. So we took advantage of that on our first few days and headed out to see the sunrise at Haleakala Crater. We had packed our heavy jackets just for this occasion. When I say that it was freezing, I am not exaggerating! This was an AMAZING experience! There are no words to describe the beauty of watching the sunrise while you are looking at the clouds below you! I have some more pictures here.

The next morning, we again woke up early and took the Road to Hana. This took the entire day because we stopped a lot along the way. I wore my Relief Band for the drive. I don't know if I really needed it or not, but I did not get car sick. I guess, it also helped that we had a convertible. We will be doing this & the sunrise again this year. Can't wait!

Old Lahaina Luau

Since this was our first visit to Hawaii, we decided to do a luau. We chose the Old Lahaina Luau, and were not disappointed. The earlier you book, the better your seat. I booked about 6 months out and we had the best conventional seats in the house. I say conventional, because they also have traditional seating. Traditional seating is on mats with no backrest and they are right up front. We were practically right up front as well, only we had back support :-) I found this luau to be very well organized and the staff was really friendly. The food was good and the drinks were plentiful.

We chose to do the Discover Molokini excursion with Trilogy. The crew was top notch and learned everyone's name right away. The vessel only takes out a small number of guests, which allows you more room to spread out. They served breakfast, lunch & ice cream. If the water had been a bit calmer, I would have enjoyed this excursion 100% more. We stopped at 2 sites for snorkeling then we sailed back to Ma‘alaea to the sounds of a crewmember playing the ukulele. I highly recommend Trilogy and if we choose to go out this year, we will definitely go with them! It did not hurt one bit that one of the crew members looked like Matthew McConaughey!

As for dining, we basically lived on Da' Kitchen for dinners. One Big Braddah plate fed both of us and sometimes we had left overs. We also ate at Moose McGilucuddy's, ok for pupu's and drinks. Bada Bing’s, which was so-so, I don't know if they're still in business. Service was lacking here.

This has gotten very long, I'll continue later.
Next up: The Big Island

Thursday, April 08, 2010

FREEBIES for 4/09/2010

FREE bagel at Einstein Brothers Bagels. Become a fan on Facebook and print your coupon from the offers tab. Go in tomorrow, get your FREE bagel & Enjoy!

Edit: The coupon states that you can re-use it once a day until 5/22/2010

TODAY only! FREE 8x10 print at Walgreens. Order online and pick up in store. Can't get any easier. Photos always make great Mother's Day gifts!
Coupon Code BIG8X10

These offers are only good on Friday, April 9, 2010

I promise, I am not a hoarder!

This is a result of 2 Kmart double coupons run and 1 Target run. That 5 coupons per day limit at Kmart sucks! I was able to drag my DH along so that saved me a trip or 2.

Combined total: $25.84 after coupons

I received a $5 Target GC for the Schick & Gillette Purchase

Plus I will receive an $8.99 rebate from Olay

Grand total: $11.85

Let's Get This Party Started!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

My name is Lissete, and here is a little bit about me.

If you are here for the party, WElCOME to my madness! I can't wait to meet some new friends! If you don't know what I'm talking about. Or are thinking to yourself, "What party?" or "How come I wasn't invited?" Head on over to 5 Minutes for Mom and add yourself to the list. Everyone is welcome and there are PRIZES to be won!

I have my sights set on several Prizes. I never win anyhing, so it's really wishful thinking. But it's always fun to wish. So I'm supposed to post my top prize choices.

Aside from thenGRAND PRIZE? The Toshiba Satellite L505D-ES5025?

Well, if I don't win the laptop, I particularly would like:

US 101 $450 Human Touch Foot and Calf Massager that is being given away by Still Blonde after All These Years!, a blog for women over 45.Provided by: Still Blonde After All These Years!

US39 -Be My Guest certificate ($250 value) for one lucky winner, (2 night stay for a family of four) at any Hilton Garden Inn.Provided by: Hilton Garden Inn

US40- One winner will receive a 3 day 2 night stay from Holiday Inn Main Gate East in Kissimmee, FL (less than 2 miles from Disney World) a value of $250.Provided by: Holiday Inn Main Gate
(This prize would also be great for one of our Disney ventures)

US20 – $50.00 in jewelry from Cookie Lee for 2 winners.Provided by: Kelley Clayton

I would also be quite happy with any of the many Target or Amazon cards that are up for grabs!

I'm glad that you stopped by! Kick off your shoes and join us out back. Since we are here in Florida, I hope you'll join us out by the pool. The basket of sunscreen is on the table and is mandatory. My husband will be whipping up Pina Colada and firing up the grill soon. Consider him your Cabana boy for the day. I was going to hire one of those gorgeous cabana boys for the party, but my DH works for free so that trumped over gorgeous. We'll have to settle.

In the meantime, enjoy some snacks. My favorite are the little smokie thingies. Grab 'em while you can. They always go fast!

Little Smokies Thingies

1 (16 ounce) package little smokie sausages
1 pound bacon ( I use center cut)
1 cup brown sugar, or to taste


Cut bacon into thirds and wrap each strip around a little sausage. ( I dredge the bacon in brown sugar before wrapping)

Place the wrapped sausages on wooden skewers, several to a skewer. (makes it easier to turn)

(I prefer to put these w/ more brown sugar in a ziplock over night in the fridge)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Place skewers on a broiler pan. (I cover both broiler & drip pans in foil for easy clean up and cut slits in the broiler part for the fat to drip down)

If you didn't marinade them overnight, you can sprinkle them with more brown sugar.

Bake until bacon is crisp. Usually 15 mins on each side. (Or more, depends how crispy you like them)

Be sure to have one or 10 before they disappear!

Enjoy the party and come back any time!!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Let the countdown begin!

I have my air, car rentals & accomodations all booked for our trip to Hawaii in October! All I need to do is figure out my two inter-island flights and we'll be all set! Somehow, this trip went from 23 days to 26. But the cost pretty much remained the same. I'm that good! LOL

I still have to figure out my non-ref costs and see if it is worth getting travel insurance this time. We are traveling during hurricane season and that is a major concern for me. Except for one inter-island, I'm using my miles for our flights.

Within the next few days I will hopefully be able to review our 2007 trip.

Aloha for now!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Anniversary Trip cont.

My posts are all out of whack and I'm jumping from one thing to another. This post is a continuation of our last trip which began in St. Augustine.

Danny & I have tickets for Disney that are due to expire in early May. We decided to take advantage of those & go to Epcot for the Flower & Garden Festival.

Totally forgot that it was Spring Break time and that the parks would be mad crazy. It didn't help that we did not have the Magic Fast Pass from the Disney Social Media Conference! We did ok at Epcot, but holy moley Mickey, I didn't know that so many people could fit in the Magic Kingdom!

We got our Anniversary badges at Epcot and I made Danny wore it proudly.
I'm not going to bore you with details of our day but I do want to mention one little thing. when we entered the American Pavillion a CM asked for our last name and where we were from. He told us that we had a phone call and to just pick up the phone in the secret box and dial 4 to be connected. It was Mickey calling especially for us, to wish us a Happy Anniversary! When the call ended the CM gave us this certificate: We had lunch at Les Chefs de France. They have a prix fixe menu for $20 each that is really good. Danny had the Lobster Bisque & I had the French Onion Soup. We both had the Croque monsieur, which is just a ham & cheese sandwich but it was very good. It is served with a very small green salad.This deal also includes a choice from three dessert. We ordered the Creme Brulee and the Profiteroles au chocolat. We even got a visit from Chef Remy! In all honesty, this would normally freak me out, but I guess animatronics, don't have that kind of effect on me!

This being a budget trip, we opted to stay off-site. I had vouchers for The Galleria Palms in Kissimmee. This hotel sits off the main road so noise is not a problem It is surrounded by kitschy souvenir shops and many dining options. I was a bit concerned about this stay since I really do not care for the area.

My worries were basically for nothing. The hotel is SUPER clean and seems to have been recently updated in a boutique-y design. They also have FREE breakfast in the morning which includes a few hot options. The only problem is that breakfast ends at exactly 9:00AM. Get there at 9:01 and you're S.O.L.(S Outta Luck). For a budget hotel, I give it an A+

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