Just for You... Reviews by Lissete



Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy THANKSgiving!

I didn't think that I would be blogging on Thanksgiving, but I have some free time while the bird is cooking. My desserts are done, I just finished making the cranberry sauce and now I'm just hoping that the turkey turns out, or we will be eating burgers. I'm cooking it an entirely different way that I normally do, so I'm a bit worried. Either way, if it turns out or not, the point of the day is to be THANKFUL for what we do have. Be it a gorgeous turkey or some grilled burgers or a cheese sandwich. We will be with our family and that is all that matters.

I am so very thankful for my family. Those that are still with me and those that are no longer with us, but I was so fortunate to have in my life. I am thankful for my health, that after so many complications, I am still around to enjoy each day. And like I always say, I am thankful for my daughters. I am thankful for being given the gift of 2 wonderful girls that have grown into beautiful women, both inside and out.

I am thankful for the opportunities that have been given to me. And although we are not rich, in the monetary sense, I am happy to be able to give to those that have much less than we do.

Fortunately, our girls learned about giving early on and I pray that they continue being as giving as they are now. Short story, when my oldest was about 7, she had a friend that had never been to Disney. To her 7 year old mind, that was a travesty. Her friend was being raised by a single mom that was struggling. Although she really didn't understand the situation, she wanted her friend to experience Disney. She asked if we could take her with us on our next trip. When I told her that I'd have to see if we had enough money to cover her expenses, my beautiful baby girl offered her birthday money. On another occasion, she asked if she could give her bike to the little girl across the street because "she has never had a bike".

So yeah, I am thankful for them, I am thankful for being their mom. I'm thankful for being alive, for my opportunities and for my family & friends. So even if I end up with a cheese sandwich, I will still be grateful. Others have much less than I do.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day! Hugs to you all!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I have been stalking Twitter & Email in my obsessive way for weeks now. It all started back on October 21st, when I get an email that started with; "A little bluebird once tweeted..." It ended with; "someday, more hints will come." Since no dates were mentioned, my neurotic obsession began. What has caused me to get into such a tizzy? Well, The Disney Social Media Moms Conference, that's what! Remember this, this, this, this, this and finally this from earlier this year? Well, the next one is scheduled for March 2011.
When I say that DisneySMMoms is the absolute best conference out there, I am not kidding! Now, this year, the competition is huge. Space is limited, just like the Seven Dwarfs cottage, just like they said in the email!

SO today was the day! They announced that registration would open on December 2nd. Problem is, we will be at Disney World. Plus, we have The Keys to the Kingdom Tour booked for, when else? December 2nd! I knew that registration would open while we were away but not on that day! What's a girl to do?

Those of you that have been around here for a while know that I LOVE Disney! My first trip to the Magic Kingdom was in Jan 1972, a mere three months after it opened. I was just 5 years old. OK, I'll wait for you to calculate how old I am. La-di-da-La-di-da. So now that you know my age, subtract the 5 and that will give you how many years I have been going to Disney. Although we are fortunate enough to live in Florida and have annual passes, we have NEVER taken a behind the scenes tour! Go figure. We go at the very least, 6 times a year. So now that I have the tour booked, it looks like I may have to cancel so that I can register for the conference. Again, fortunately we live nearby and can reschedule the tour. But I was so looking forward to it. So I called Disney to see if I could reschedule for the 1st or the 3rd. In a nutshell, it was booked solid. But in true Disney form, the cast member tried to help me find a solution to my dilemma! She even mentioned getting an air card and just taking my laptop with me. I still haven't written that option off. So if you're in the Magic Kingdom and see someone sitting in a corner, (probably next to the castle, for luck) typing away on a cute little pink laptop... come and say hi! Chances are though, that I will end up canceling the tour because I really, really want to go to the conference.

I hope that for once I am quick on the trigger and get in! I love the whole aspect of the conference. I love meeting other bloggers, I love learning more about what's in the future for Disney, I love being at the most magical place on earth... what's not to love. I'm just hoping that people who do register are actually in it for the conference and not just for the sweetheart deal. So wish me luck and send me some pixie dust. I will be wishing upon a star. Because, when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires, Will come to you.

Maybe I'll be back here with good news. Until then though, have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Epcot Food & Wine Festival

I started this post on the 14th and now finally have time to (attempt to) finish it!

Although I am not a huge foodie, I always look forward to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. For one, it's EPCOT, my favorite park. And two, there are desserts everywhere! Yes, we are not wine connoisseurs either. We just know what we like. Even if it is a $7 bottle of locally produced wine. I lean towards reds and enjoy a Zinfandel every now and then. White wine is the devil and has me on the floor after just one sip. I LOVE Sangria and I make a mighty good pitcher, if I do day so myself. But no, I'm not a wine connoisseur, I am a pretty good froo froo drink know-it-all though! D is a beer drinker...and loves trying regional beers, so he was content.

First, we would look at the menu, then hang back and watch what others would buy and see what it looked like. We would also buy just one plate to taste between the two of us. Except for desserts. I require one dessert sample all for myself. I'm greedy like that. I would offer him on tiny taste though, so I did share.

We were there for two short days. and had the most amazingly beautiful weather on both days. Crowds were light and manageable. Perfect Disney weather and conditions!

Most of the food that we tried was just ok. Nothing was WOW! Some sample portions were generous, others were downright tiny. For instance, the cheese soup from Le Cellier in the Canada Pavilion. I LOVE this soup and I love Le Cellier! The portion served was approximately 1/4 cup! Tini tiny!

Now, the Asopado in the Puerto Rico booth was way more generous plus we also had the media noche sandwich here. Go figure, we're Latin and have that stuff here.

We both enjoyed the Nurnberger sausage in a pretzel roll from Germany. And D enjoyed their beer as well.

D liked the escargots en brioche from the France booth. I don't like snails, but I tasted the garlicky bread part and it was really good! The Chocolate Creme Brulee, on the other hand, was a HUGE disappointment! It was served cold and not at all creamy. I make a killer creme brulee, so I may be a bit biased. But come on, creme brulee is not served cold. Period.

The BBQ Short Rib in South Korea was ok. Quite tasty but very fatty. Didn't care for the kimichi at all.

I love fondue, but I was just not feeling the fondue from the Charcuterie & Cheese booth. All I know that the cheese was a white cheese, as no one knew exactly what cheese or combination of cheeses was used. It also had an over powering white wine taste.

My FAVORITE booth was, surprise surprise, the Desserts & Champagne booth! YUM! I got the sampler. Three times. The sampler comes with one of each or any combination of the three.
Strawberry Angel Verrine A+
Pear Strussel Pudding Cake B+
Dark Chocolate Sensation A++

As for drinks, I really don't remember what we had. I never got around to trying the Cranberry Cosmo thingy in France. But I did have a couple of my favorite Grand Marnier Orange Slushes!

The Eat to the Beat concert was a hit. I hope not to date myself by my next comment, but back in the day, I LOVED Dr. Noah Drake. I had my Tiger Beat posters all over my walls. Right there next to Shaun Cassidy & John Travolta. So, it was no coincidence that I chose these days to go to the festival. Rick Springfield was performing and I am happy to say, that at 61 (OMG!) he still puts on a great show! There were even groupies in attendance. Albeit, middle age groupies, but groupies nonetheless!

The line for the concert started about 2 hours prior to the show and reached all the way to Germany before they started letting people in. If you really, really want to see the show, and actually get a seat, make the line. The America Gardens Theater holds a lot of people, and I can tell you that even if you're all the way to Germany, You'll get a seat! :-))

Can't wait to see what's in store fore 2011!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wrappy Hour Wrappetizer Party!

I have been chosen to host a Nasoya® Wrappy Hour Wrappetizer Party! I say Wrappetizer because I'm only making appetizers. Finger foods. Easy Peasy.

I can's wait to host this party! I already have 4 confirmed guests and am waiting on a few more. December 4th is the date and I can't wait.

I'm planning on making the Crab Rangoons. I also want to make Spinach -Feta cups with a few extra ingredients including artichokes, black olives & tomatoes. I want to make one more appetizer, but I'm not quite sure what that will be. I already have Asian & Greek , so I'm thinking maybe something Italian or Mexican. Maybe I'll just make two more recipes instead! We'll see. The easiest recipe, will be the one that we will make at the party. The others will be prepared ahead of time.

Oh, and anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE dessert. I think I will make Choc-Hazelnut Raviolis with powdered sugar. YUM!

I will post my recipes soon so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out Nasoya® and the recipes that they have on their site. Also, be sure to check out the "How To" section where they show you how to Wrap & Roll!

***To help defray the cost of the party, I am being provided with products, coupons and a gift card by Nasoya. All opinions expressed are strictly my own. Please refer to my disclosure policy on the left side bar***

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Teen Mothers is one thing...

... but this just makes me sick! How in any society this can be considered acceptable is beyond me.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Kickin' back in the North Shore

Oahu. What can I say? The traffic here is just as bad as Miami. I would not stay in Waikiki even if they paid me. Well, not really. If they paid me I would or if they paid for my trip. Or even better, if they paid for my trip AND paid me!

We decided to spend a week in the North Shore. Quieter, more laid back and less traffic.
We rented a bungalow through VRBO right by Sunset Beach. Very basic cottage with very basic amenities. I venture to guess that it's about 300 sq ft or so. No frills, but comfortable for us two. Again, no A/C and relying on the tradewinds. Two ceiling fans and one floor fan helped as well. It is situated just up the hill from Sunset Beach with a view of the ocean. The cottage is within walking distance to the beach (one block down the hill) and to Ted's bakery (about 4 blocks). Yum. Bikes are available for use as well. Owners are very nice and informative. They live upstairs, so we did occasionally hear them walking around up there.

I booked our car early on from Costco//Alamo for $130. Price was up to $180 when I last checked in late September. Can't remember what car we got, but it was clean.

Polynesian Cultural Center~ Water Pageant
We have visited the Polynesian Cultural Center before, but they have a new evening show that I wanted to see. I had the $45 coupon from the Entertainment book and I was just planning on purchasing the Gen. Admission & Show Ticket. D wanted to try the Ali'i Luau, so I booked that instead. My opinion of the luau is not a very positive one. There really isn't a show per se, they have a couple of dancers on stage as people are walking in. Then they get all the birthday people to get up and sing to them. Then all the anniversary people to go on stage for a dance. The food was not bad, but not good either. I was very underwhelmed. It was, however, fairly organized as far as getting people into the buffet line. They sold smoothies for $10 ea or 2 for $15. Sodas & juice were included. Right now they have an online special for admission & show for $60 pp and includes a free buffet dinner. I would definitely go that route, if available. Remember that this is run by the LDS. There is no alcohol served here at all. If you have issues with this, skip it. I had the pleasure of listening to a gentleman loudly complaining about this. Very obnoxious. I would hate to see him with a few drinks in him.

The villages are fun to visit and most are very entertaining & educational. Some have activities that you can take part in as well. Great for all ages. Samoa is my favorite, but they are all fun.

Now, the evening show Ha: Breath of Life, is spectacular! I LOVED it and I loved the storyline as well. Our seats were not bad, 1st row in the mid upper level. Included in the price of the tickets, was the ability to return and receive Gen. Admission for free. You can come as many times as you would like within the next 3 days. Parking was $8 and if you return within the 3 days, parking is free too. If you book online, I think it's 5 extra days. We never had the opportunity to return though.


Did I mention that I do not like traffic? We arrived in HNL from Kauai at about 2:30 PM. By the time we got our rental, picked up my script, got something to eat and got on the hwy to the North Shore it was rush hour. It took us forever to get there. It's a long drive as it is, but during rush hour it was a nightmare. So we decided to do whatever we wanted to do in Honolulu over the weekend. So we trekked out there on both Saturday & Sunday.

The place to get your souvenirs is at the Aloha Swap Meet. We purchased a bunch of crap to bring home plus another suitcase to put all of the said crap in for the journey home. We also had bought several boxes of Mac Nut Chocolates, including a few big bags of Mac Nut Kisses at Costco.
We visited the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The view are incredible, the murals are amazing, and the general aura is awe inspiring.

The solemn pride that must be yours,

to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Before our trip, I was given a pair of tickets to the Bishop Museum. It's a great place to learn about Hawaiian history. The exhibits are great and they have many hand-on exhibits for kids as well. During our trip, I became aware that they offer reciprocal privileges through my membership at our local museum. So we we received free admission through that. Which means that I still have 2 tickets available if anyone needs them, I will pay it forward. Let me know if you will be visiting before December 31st of this year.

Byodo-in Temple
Byodo-in Temple in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park was an inexpensive and lovely place to visit. $3 adults, $2 seniors & $1 child. The grounds are peaceful and serene. You need to drive through a cemetery, so be aware if you have issues with that. We don't and we actually drove all around the cemetery looking at all the different areas. I noticed many plots where people leave food, drinks and beer. I especially saw a lot in the Catholic section, which I found odd since I was raised Catholic and had never seen that before. So if anyone has any info about this, I would love to hear it.


Ted's Bakery~ One word... PIES. Yummo! They are known for their Chocolate Haupia but I also loved the regular choc. cream & the banana cream. The glazers are really good too. Actually, all the bakery stuff was fantastic. Remember, I have a slight addiction to sweets. The hot food was just ok. We had a few dinners from there because of the convenience. I can't comment on their breakfast options except to say that they were always packed during breakfast.

Impossible's Pizza must have been named as such, because it's impossible to find them! This is a food truck that we saw as we drove in on or first night. We didn't see them again til our last night. And we weren't even in the mood for pizza! We did have the lasagna though. It was suprisingly good! The pizza looked great too... maybe next time. You have your choice of cheese or sausage lasagna for $8 and it comes with a small garlic loaf. They also have salads. Supposedly they can usually be found between Waimea & Sunset Beach, Wed-Sun.

D is the shrimp junkie. I don't like shrimp. Last time we were here he really enjoyed Hono's Shrimp Truck. After this visit, he still prefers the taste of Hono's shrimps and their rice too. Romy's had HUGE shrimp and they tasted ok but they were not his favorite. Plus they served them with burnt garlic. yuck. Giovanni's (Kahuku) was ok, right between Hono's and Romy's. Short wait at both Giovanni's and Hono's. Romy's on the other hand... he waited about 20 minutes in a short line then another 30 minutes to get his food. The ladies at Hono's were really friendly and offered their service with a smile.

Matsumoto's~ One word: Fabulous... and still my favorite! I will write a full shave ice comparison soon.

When we arrived in Honolulu, I needed to p/u a script at Walgreen's. We decided to eat at Helena's while we were in the area. This place has the best and most friendly employees! The food is really ono too. We shared Pipikaula short ribs, Butterfish Collars, Kalua pork and rice. It comes with Haupia for dessert, when available. We polished everything off! Yummy! Tiny place with a tiny parking lot but sooo worth waiting for a spot. No frill, just authentic Hawaiian goodness served with Aloha.

On our way to the airport (before our flight back to the mainland) we stopped at Royal Kitchen for baked Manapuas. There was a bit of a wait when we arrived at 11 AM but it's worth it. Just grab your number and wait your turn, service is quick. My favorite is the Kalua Pig, followed by Portugese sausage. The cha siu was ok, but I did not care for the chicken manapua. They were all fresh and served right out of the oven.

So sad that our trip has ended but so happy to sleep in my own bed!
Aloha and Mahalo Nui Loa to everyone that made this trip even more memorable!

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel
until he comes home and rests
his head on his old, familiar pillow. ~Lin Yutang

The Garden Isle

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ~St. Augustine

We have visited both Maui & Oahu before, but this was our first time in Kauai. I had heard that everything was way more expensive in Kauai, but I was pleased to see that their gas was cheaper than on Maui. We averaged about $3.70 per gallon on Maui. Here on Kauai we pumped at about $3.40, plus the Costco here has a gas station. Prices for everything else was, for the most part, on par with Maui. Since it is the hub, Oahu, did have slightly better prices.

I had originally reserved a car through Costco/Alamo for $339. I lucked out on Priceline again with my bid. I received Hertz at $151 for a compact. I don't know if it's actually a compact, but we received a Chevy HHR. The car was very comfortable & roomy. It was also spotless! The cleanest and ding free car that we have ever gotten in Hawaii. I will definitely be reserving with Hertz again.

We were very lucky with the weather the entire trip. Including here in Kauai. We did get a bit of rain here and there, but mainly either overnight or early morning. I was told by a local resident that early morning is the best time for it to rain. Just get it over with and move on. Sounds good to me! As expected, we did get more rain while visiting the North Shore.

We stayed on the South Shore near Poipu. I rented a cottage through VRBO. Once again, the cottage was fully equipped and was very comfortable. No A/C, but there were ceiling fans and a floor fan as well. The cottage is surrounded by foliage, which helped keep interior from getting too hot. Very nice linens and plush towels were supplied. Arriving at night was an adventure though. D had to pull in with the passenger door right next to the front door of the cottage. Once the motion sensored light went on, I made a mad dash for the front door. Why? Because right off to the side of the driveway, there was a nightly nightclub for frogs! Remember this? And this? Need I say more? Fortunately, they did not congregate too close to the cottage.
We both found Kauai to be quite similar to Upcountry Maui. It was very quiet. No nightlife, per se, as everything shuts down pretty early. You can't go anywhere without seeing chickens & roosters. The roosters here obviously cannot tell time either. They would crow at any time. I think they figured that eventually, they would get it right. Fortunately for us, the ones near the cottage were on island time as well, so my sleep was not affected.
The best way to see the beauty of this island is by air. We did a helicopter tour over Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island, so decided on a fixed wing tour this time. We chose to fly with Wings Over Kauai, and were not disappointed. This is a family run operation and they strive to show you a good time. Bruce is the pilot and Ellen is his wife. Fabulous people, full of Aloha. I sat in the co-pilots seat. Since I suffer from motion sickness, they felt that I would do better up front. I also had my relief band, and I did very well... if I do day so myself. I didn't move a muscle though because I was afraid that I'd hit or touch something that I wasn't supposed to. The tour was AMAZING. The weather was incredible with nary a cloud in the sky. The entire tour took about 70 minutes and we circled the entire island. I do not hesitate in recommending WOK, not only for a great tour, but for customer service and attention to safety as well.

We took a day to see Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. We stopped at all the look-outs. Beautiful! We did a few of the easier hikes as well. I would suggest to anyone planning on hiking anywhere in Kauai, to bring a pair of shoes that you do not mind throwing away at the end of your trip. That red dirt is impossible to remove and you wouldn't want to ruin your brand spankin' new kicks! Depending on how long you stay at each look-out, if you just do the drive, you can probably be done in about 2.5 hours. We took a bit longer because we were in no rush plus we hiked a bit.

Waimea Canyon
We love touring historic homes and palaces. We've visited the mansions in Newport, Vizcaya in Miami, Cà d'Zan Mansion in Sarasota, Scotty's castle in Death Valley, Hearst Castle in San Simeon, The House of the Seven Gables in Salem & 'Iolani Palace in Honolulu. Now we can add Grove Farm to the list. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Our guide was very friendly and informative. We took a leisurely 2 hour tour of the main house, George's cottage & another cottage plus the gardens & grounds. I highly recommend this tour to anyone. I don't think that it's appropriate for young children though. The suggested donation is just $10 pp.
Ha'ena Beach park
As for beaches, we enjoyed Poipu Beach Park. We generally always had Keoneloa Beach all to ourselves. Except for the surfers and the boogie boarders. We enjoyed watching them too! Maha'ulepu coastline is a hidden gem So hidden, that I thought we would never get there. We had a long rough ride in our compact car and will only return if we rent a more sturdy car. I think it took us over an hour to travel just a few miles. Maybe we were just too cautious because of the rental car.

On the North Shore, we enjoyed Tunnels Beach for snorkeling thanks to the huge reef. We also liked Ha'ena Beach Park, no reef protection here so the waves are pretty forceful. We enjoyed just sitting and watching the waves or reading or napping or...you get the picture.

Dinners on Kauai were mainly just pupus during happy hour. We went to Kalapaki Joes 3x. Once to the one in Poipu and twice to the one in Kalapaki. The menu at the Kalapaki location is larger but the restaurant in Poipu is nicer. On my birthday we saw Sashamon play at the Kalapaki location. He played with a band whose name escapes me, but they were GREAT together It was a great evening! I know that the concert was put on specifically to celebrate my birthday ;-) We averaged about $30 including drinks during Happy Hour. Except on my birthday of course when we spent quite a bit more.

Pizzeta in Old Koloa Town also has a nice Happy Hour Menu. We had Large stuffed mushrooms, Mozzarella Sticks, Baby Back Ribs Appetizer, a slice of pizza, a Mai Tai & a beer for $21 plus tip!

Mark's Place is in an industrial area in Lihue. It's worth trying to find it. We were ok because D had his handy dandy GPS. Plate lunches are well priced and very good too. We ordered the Chicken Katsu and Beef Stew for less than $8 including rice & mac salad. It was more than enough for both of us.

Ok, I didn't think I would mention a hot dog. Especially a $6+ hot dog. I am not a hot dog fanatic or anything but I absolutely loved the mild sauce & mango relish at Puka Dogs! Their bun was nice and soft, their hot dog? Eh, it's a hot dog... oh wait, an Polish sausage! The Lilikoi mustard is pretty good too. They only sell Lemonade to drink. for $3 & change you get a cup packed with ice, half a lemon and water. Tasted like plain water.

I always intentionally leave something to be done, just to insure that we return. Next time, we definitely want to kayak the Wailua River. Hopefully, next time will be in the near future.


Let me start by saying that Maui was my favorite island before this trip. I am happy to say, that it still is.

We stayed at the Kaleialoha Condo in West Maui near Ka'anapali. I will say that I really am not an apartment dweller. I only lived in a condo once in my life and it was right on the beach. It can't be on the 1st floor, for paranoid reasons on my part. I booked a 3rd floor corner unit, for the extra windows. After looking at the pictures, I knew that I would love it and that I would want it! I really want to buy it! But that's another story. There's nothing like going to sleep and waking up to the sound of the surf. Anyhoo, the unit is fully equipped with upgraded kitchen & bath plus a W&D. You can practically jump from the lanai into the ocean. Practically. We watched sea turtles daily and they swam with us occasionally. You also have a direct view of Moloka'i and Lana'i .We walked to the small outdoor Farmer's Market on M/W/F. They have a great selection of locally grown produce. I loved the cream cheeses & jams/jelly. Banana Bread was really good too. They are generous with their samples, so try before you buy!

I had booked our car through Costco/Alamo for for $220 for the week for an economy but ended up getting a compact from Alamo through Priceline for $126. The cars on the Alamo lot in Maui are the dirtiest and most dinged up cars that I have ever rented. Our last rental in Maui was from Alamo as well, so we were prepared. We received a Toyota Yaris with electric nothing! Manual windows, manual door locks and powered by our feet like the Flintstones! I kid about the last one, but practically.
Haleakala Sunset
We did the Road to Hana during our last visit, so we skipped it this time. We did the Haleakala sunrise last time as well, so we decided to do the sunset this time. Although beautiful in it's own way, I find the sunrise awe inspiring and SPECTACULAR! You have less people there for the sunset but it is still freezing! Actually, it got really cold about 30 minutes before sunset. The ride back down was ok for the most part except for those that go about 65 mph and barely have time to stop before hitting the cows that graze along the road.

Since we loved where we were staying so much, we spent a lot of time there. Either out on a lounge chair, in the ocean or right on our lanai. A froo froo drink, my Nook and the fresh ocean breeze... I'm a happy camper. I guess it helps that we have done all the "must dos" in Maui, so we didn't feel like we were missing out on anything. Before driving up to the crater, we went into Paia to look around the shops, drove through upcountry and made a quick stop at Tedeschi Winery. Didn't take the tour though, so I can't comment on that.

Renting a condo helps with expenses, big time! We had breakfasts, some lunches and snacks in the condo. Danny even grilled some steaks one evening. We LOVE Da' Kitchen and were happy to see one opened in Lahaina since it's just about 15 mins from the condo. I think we ordered from there 3x during our stay. They have fried Spam Musubi! Onolicious! Entrees easily feed two plus some left over. Prices seemed in line with the Kahului location, and we find it very reasonable.

D had a hankering for pizza one night and we picked one up at Roundtable Pizza. Almost $30 for a tiny pizza and 3 garlic twists. PLUS to add insult to injury, it tasted like microwave stuff.

Eskimo Candy in Kihei had really good fresh Mahi and D loved the seafood chowder. The Fish & Chips at Paia Fish Market was good too.

If you are in town during the Maui County Fair, do yourself a favor and go! It puts our county fair to shame! Not in size, but the food is AMAZING! Plus it's affordable!

Maui is my relaxing place. I should make it the last stop from now on. Or my only stop. I'm thinking 3 or 10 weeks.

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends,
but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers.
The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

We're going back to Cali

Since we are in Florida, a direct flight to Hawaii would take 13 plus hours. I don't think that I could handle that. We fly from here to LA, then to Hawaii, and back LA before heading back home. Not only does it break up the flight, but it also helps us to adjust to the 6 hour time difference a little better. Plus, it gives us an excuse to gorge ourselves on In-n-Out!

I had reservations for an economy car at $118 for the 2 days through Costco (outrageous!) and a hotel room at $226 for 2 nights. I ended up using Hotwire for the car rental and received a compact for $52 less a $10 rebate from the Entertainment Book. We received our rental from Enterprise at LAX. Fantastic staff, quick service, and clean cars. Can't ask for more.

I decided to bid on Priceline for the hotel hoping to get the Hawthorn Suites or Residence Inn in Manhattan Beach or something similar. I bid $37 for a 2 1/2 star in the M.B or Redondo Bch area. My offer was accepted, but not for what I hoped. I was upgraded to a 3 1/2 *. I received the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach. I personally do not consider it an upgrade. My total came out to $95 including taxes. But, they charge $22 per day to park, they charge for internet, and you have to walk a mile from the parking garage to your room. We've stayed there before, it's clean, the beds are comfy and it's in a nice location. But the parking deal is really steep! Especially for the area. The Best Western across the street offers free parking, free internet and free breakfast to boot!

We did save $163 between both the car rental and hotel so that's a plus!

The second part of our LA stay worked a little different. I had booked the Hawthorn Suites in Manhattan Beach for $328 for the 3 nights. They later ran a special, so I canceled and re-booked for $228. An extra 100 bucks in my pocket!

The car I booked through Costco/Alamo. I booked it really early for $50 for the 3 days. Never went lower. Actually, it went up about an extra $60. So I was safe.
Breakfast at Tiffany's! Check out those skinny minny arms... hers, obviously, not mine ;-)
I had purchased two Groupons for Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum in Hollywood for $14 total for both. I also had two complimentary tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood from My Coke Rewards. Sweet! My Diet Coke addiction pays off!


The Metro takes you to Universal City. From the station, you cross the street to catch the free Universal Shuttle up the hill to the park. Saves you the $15 parking, gas and traffic. Park at a free Park & Ride lot and take the Red line. You can also take the Metro to the Hollywood & Highland station and save on parking too. This really only helps if you can park for free at a red line station or if a station is close to where you are staying. On the other hand, parking at H&H is $10 max. If you buy something at H&H, get your ticket validated and parking is only $2 for the first 4 hours. They nail you after that though, at $1 per 20 minutes up to the $10 max.

Mdm. Tussaud's Wax Museum was just blah. Three floors with wax figures. I think only one floor had current celebrities. I believe they normally charge $25 pp and at that price, it's a total rip-off in my opinion. Since we just paid $7 each, I didn't really feel crushed by the tourist trap.

We are in Florida and we have a Universal Studios Theme Park here in Orlando. The park in Hollywood seemed very small. The lines weren't very long, about 30 mins max which was a good thhing. Their Studio Tour totally trumps the one in Orlando, big time! Plus we drove through Wisteria Lane! The rest of the attractions are just ok. City Walk in Hollywood also beats the one in Orlando by a landslide.

Mama D's in Manhattan Beach is great! Small family-run Italian restaurant, great staff, & delicious food!

When I was a kid, we celebrated many birthdays at Farrell's. It was the best place for kids. In the early 80's, they closed the one near my house. I later learned that all Farrell's had been closed. I was so sad! During our last visit to Hawaii, I found out that there was a Farrell's at the Windward Mall, so we made sure to go. It just was not the same. The decor and the atmosphere was off and not like I remembered. Then I heard that Farrell's had opened a restaurant in Mission Viejo. So I knew we would be making the trip out there. This one was so much fun! They had tons of birthday parties and the Zoo made it's run around the restaurant several times. The food was just ok. But this was nostalgia at it's best.

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~Seneca

There are a few quotes that define me and/or my life. One of them is "I live to travel & I travel to live" Another one is "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first", but that one is not important right now. We are talking about travel today. Not my obsession with sweets.

We just returned from our vacation. Aside from my family, travel is my passion. I will be posting my thoughts on this trip. Not necessarily a trip report, just the good & not so good. What I remember of course, because I didn't take notes. Although, I may go off on a tangent...which I tend to do quite often. Just feel free to skip over my blabbering.

If you are new here, let me tell you about us. My husband and I are both 43, at least I was until midway through our trip. We've been married for 22 1/2 years. Our kids are grown, and we have recently started traveling more without them. Hurray! As I have mentioned before, we used to go strictly the resort route, but since we want to travel for longer periods of time, more often, we have decided to cut back on our sleeping place. We aren't necessarily cheap, but I do like to get the most bang for my buck. My uncle was telling me what a great deal he got in Waikiki. Seven nights for about 4K. Well, ok, I may not be at a fancy schmancy resort, but I'm getting 27 days for about the same price! Booyah!!

We are not huge foodies, but we like good food. This vacation though, unlike our trips to NYC & Boston, does not revolve around food. In Hawaii, we are content with our surroundings and a plate lunch will suffice. A mango martini here & there is nice too! :-))

Our trip consisted of 2 days in L.A., 7 days Maui, 7 days Kauai, 7 days in Oahu and 3 days back in L.A. It was actually 27 days... 648 hours. D & I were together 24/7 for 27 days, and we survived! Without killing each other!
I have found out that there ain't no surer way
to find out whether you like people or hate them
than to travel with them. ~Mark Twain

I guess it's safe to say that we like each other!

Here is a recap in numbers:

10 Take offs & Landings
5 different beds
5 rental cars
21 AMAZING sunsets
12 Rainbows
3 gallons of POG
30 Sea Turtles
(May have been the same one 30 different times, who knows!)
10 Shave Ices
2352 Photos
Several (or many) fruity umbrella drinks
A GAZILLION memories

I am always checking for deals and I think that I did really good on this trip. For car rentals and hotels, I generally book a refundable rate to be safe, and continue to check for a lower price up until the last day to cancel. Sometimes prices do drop but many times they do go up, waaaay up. So book as soon as you know your dates to be on the safe side. Occasionally, I use Hotwire and Name Your Own Price ® on Priceline .

I bought the Entertainment Book for Hawaii. It cost $7 shipped since I bought it in August. I only used a few coupons, but it was worth it. I'll explain as I go. Our total for the entire 27 day trip, including everything except food & gas, came out to $3200.

We flew roundtrip FLL to LAX on Southwest Airlines. TWO FREE checked bags per person. 'Nuff said! The seats were comfy and we had more leg room than on other budget airlines. They also offer free snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Great flights both ways!

I did pay for Early Bird Check-in™ for me, since I have to sit by a window. Danny always sits next to me in the middle so he didn't need it. If you are not familiar with Southwest's EB check-in, let me try to explain. There are no assigned seats. You are assigned a boarding number based on when you check in. With EB, they automatically check you in before everyone else that did not choose EB check in. It's great, because you line up in order and board in order. The early boarders get first choice of seats. I did want to test it, and I know that it won't always work out the same way. On our flight into L.A., I got I think A16 and I checked D in at exactly 24 hours prior to the flight, and he got A30 something. On our flight home, I got A22 and he got A24! Although, it didn't really make a difference this time, I will probably continue using Early Bird Check-in™ for me. I have issues. I may not be able to check myself in at exactly 24 hours prior. There is also the ability to check-in on the Southwest Airlines app on the iPhone, which made checking in a breeze!

All of our flights, to & from the mainland and 2 inter-island, were booked on Hawaiian Airlines. Great experience, as always. The flights to and from L.A., were on their newer Airbus A330-200 planes. The in-flight entertainment system is on the seat backs and you can purchase with a credit card right from your seat. The entertainment packages include music, movies, videos & games. Adult packages were $15 and the kid packs were $5. FANTASTIC value to keep the kids entertained! The adult package would be good too, if we both could watch the movies. Since the monitors are on the seat backs, you only get a good view from the monitor directly in front of you. With the digi-players, we could both share. The picture was crisp & clear, but for a total of $30 for the two of us, we passed. We just watched the movie that the non-cheap folks in front of us were watching and read lips! Naaaah, we had our iPods, iPhone & Nook to keep us entertained and since each seat has a USB charger, we didn't have to worry about the batteries dying out.

My only problem with any of the flights was on our flight back to L.A. I had the lady sitting in front of me on my lap for most of the flight. She did sit upright when they started serving lunch, but promptly threw her seat back once she finished eating. This caused my drink to splatter but it's okay because she was comfy. That's all that matters. When she wasn't taking a nap on my lap, she was busy making out with her guy. At one point, they both got up to use the lav at the same time :-x Whatever. At least I didn't have her in my lap for a while and I avoided the rear lav!

All flights, except for one inter-island flight, were booked completely with miles & points. HUGE savings!

Misc. Tips:
When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.
Then take half the clothes and twice the money. ~Susan Heller

* For long trips, book a place with laundry facilities. We each packed for 7 days and did laundry each week. Saved us some bucks on baggage fees too.

* Costco. If you are a member, use it! They have the best deals on gas and bulk souvenir food items (like choc. mac nut candies).

* Sign up for grocery store cards for added savings. Membership is free, so you have nothing to lose. We found Safeway to have better prices over Foodland.

* If you are visiting the islands for a long time. Food can make a huge dent in your wallet. Costco's Snack Bar has the same prices as on the Mainland. Hot Dog, Pizza, Chicken thingy etc. Their whole large pie is also $10 compared to a $17 small at Brickoven Pizza or Roundtable. So we ate on the very cheap a couple of times.

* Car Rentals. One of us stays with the luggage at the airport while the other one picks up the car. This saves us time and that way, we don't have to lug our luggage on & off the shuttle. Easy peasy. On the way back, I usually get dropped off, I do curb side check-in while D takes the car back.

* Throw away the schedule for the most part. See what each new day brings. Aside from booked activities, wing it!

The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. ~G.K. Chesterton

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