Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Annoying Neighbor

Guest post of the week by Val Flores
A new neighbor moved in across the street from us, and she is kind of annoying. I know I should be welcoming and sweet to her, but I just don’t have the time for her nonsense. She comes over unannounced a few times a week, and asks me for help all the time. The other day she came over to ask me how she can get direct tv in Garland Texas, and then would not leave. I am friendly with most of my neighbors, but we have all known each other for years, and they are all busy most of the time too. This lady is taking friendly to a new level. I know her husband works a lot, and she is probably just lonely, but I have three kids and a husband to worry about. When I get home from work the last thing I want to do is hang out with her for an hour. I have asked a few of the other neighbors on our street about her and they say she does the same thing to them. I hope that I don’t have to have an awkward conversation with her about this problem. Hopefully she will take the hint when I don’t invite her in the next time she comes over.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hawaiian Vacation Pt. 3 (Last day)

Ok where was I? Our last day in Hawaii was a free day! Most of our group had already left and we were on our own. I signed up for a yoga class on the beach first thing in the morning. I used to teach yoga when I lived in Florida (assistant, technically) and beach yoga was always my favorite. It had been years since I'd done it, so I was pretty excited! I headed over to the beach around 7:30 and was the first one there. I had the whole beach to myself. It was so peaceful and relaxing I almost didn't need to take the yoga class...
Found these perfect bird tracks right near my yoga towel.
I must confess that I don't think the woman teaching the class was the best beach yoga teacher. She tried to have us do things that just weren't possible on sand and it was a little awkward. I wasn't fully disappointed though, the balance and relaxation parts were nice. Normally I prefer harder yoga routines but considering we were on an abandoned beach in Hawaii, slow relaxation was perfect. Afterwards I headed over to breakfast and we got changed so we could spend our last day at the beach. We went snorkeling which I had never done before in warm water. It was phenomenal! We saw huge tropical fish and a ton of huge sea turtles. After a bit of sun and one last stop at the beach bar we went back to the room to shower and change before heading up the road to a few shops. The shops were pretty fun, we found a big grocery store and got some awesome Hawaiian foods. We also saw the craziest trees I've ever seen:
Soon our tummies were rumbling so we went back to the resort to finally eat at the awesome sushi place, Norio's, that we had been salivating over since we arrived. It was definitely well worth the wait! 
Salmon skin roll. Oops, I couldn't wait to eat that one piece haha.
Scallops Napoleon! This may be the best dish I have ever had. EVER.
 After dinner, the roommate/bestie was sleepy so she turned in early and I went on one last long walk. The next morning was the last time that we would be waking up in beautiful Hawaii. It was very bittersweet. 
I headed down to enjoy one last breakfast in the sunshine (portuguese sausage,egg &cheese and a chocolate-macadamia latte) while I sat by the pool and filled out a few last minute postcards. 
We took a last walk around the grounds before heading to the airport. 
Just had to write this name in rocks on the beach before we left!
Goodbye Fairmont Orchid!
Goodbye ridiculously amazing centerpiece in the hallway.
Goodbye fun bathroom signs.
Goodbye outdoor airport... Goodbye paradise.
It was super hard to leave Hawaii. Part of me wanted to stay forever.
But... there was one thing I was looking forward to...
Oh, hello Aurora!!
Two days after we got back the box of souvenirs I shipped home arrived! 
(We bought too much for to fit in our suitcases! Oops.
Thank heavens for Priority Mail!
Here's a peek:
Awesome foods! Yes... those are Spam flavored macadamias. 
Fun stuff for baby. Check out that bathing suit!! I can't wait for summer!!!
Well, that's it! Our amazing Hawaiian vacation in a nutshell!
(Ok, ok, fine... it was three nutshells.)
Hope you all enjoyed coming along with me!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hawaiian Vacation Pt. 2 (Day 3)

Before I talk about our third day I have to mention how good our luck on this trip was... We had planned to stay one day beyond the itinerary so we could have a little more free time. After breakfast on our second day one of the coordinators came up to us and told us that the company was going to pick up the bill for our extra night a the hotel! They felt bad that we had missed our first day there. The funny part of that is we only missed the dinner which we would've been late for and one group activity. In it's place we got a free day! Even more good luck: I found out our original plane from LAX was delayed twice. The one we actually took the next day was exactly on time. Score another point for us!

Ok... where was I? Oh yeah, the SPA. The hotel's spa is the Spa Without Walls. Apparently it's pretty famous and written up in travel magazines often. Let me just say... I can see why! I've never seen anything like this in my entire life. It was incredible. Get ready for another picture overload:
Locker/changing area. I hit that steam room first!
This is the WAITING area, No joke.
Another shadier waiting area.
Little reading/relaxing nook.
 So my appointment was for reflexology. I had a massage as a Christmas present a few weeks earlier and wanted to try something a little different. Once I got into my massage hut (near a freaking waterfall, mind you) I almost regretted my decision. Why? 
Because of what I saw at the end of the table:
This, my friends,  is a cut out in the floor so you can watch the Koi!
You see, reflexology takes place face up. 
So the awesome koi-watching feature was lost on me.
Doesn't matter though, I still had my hands and feet rubbed for an hour with a breeze coming over me and the sound of a waterfall just nearby. It was heaven. Relaxing doesn't begin to describe it. 
My massage hut.
Here's another view. I wasn't joking about the waterfall!!
After our appointments we decided to walk around a bit, and go exploring. 
Among many other things, we found a hidden whirlpool behind the spa! 
After a quick lunch we decided to hit the pool! 
That's the beach in the background. Just 20 yards away! 
Then we took a walk to the beach bar for the best margaritas ever!
That powder on the edge is made from sour plums. SO good!
Then we headed back to our room to get gussied up for the awards dinner where we ate more awesome food and hung out with some of the other people from her company. Plus roommate/bestie got her award!
Pretty centerpiece.
Salad with the best goat cheese I have EVER had.
Desert! Torte with raspberries and pistachio creme.
After dinner we had a few drinks and then headed to the hot tub and the pool for some late night swimming! In the morning... yoga! (For me anyway.)

To be continued... just one last time I promise!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hawaiian Vacation Pt. 1 (Days 1&2)

I know I've kept you guys waiting for this one... I was trying to figure out the best way to write this post because I have SO many pictures I wanted to share! I have no choice but to split it up... So, here's the first two days of our vacation!
Um... where to start? Oh yeah, we missed our flight in! Hahaha.  Our flight was scheduled for 6am. We were all packed, at the airport and ready to go (decently early since I had already checked us in online) we checked our bags... easy. Then came security. NIGHTMARE. Took forever to get through. We ended up being cleared to fly three minutes AFTER our plane finished boarding. The people at Delta were super nice about it and offered to fly us into LA where we could wait to take a connection to Hawaii the next evening OR we could just try again the next day. We opted to just go home and come back rather than being stuck in LA, since the airport is really close to our house.  Good start, right?
My view of the Pacific for the 1st time.
So the next day we did it all over again... got there SUPER early this time just in case. Wouldn't you know it, security was a breeze. Now we had a two hour wait... Of course.
So my first plane ride was about 2 hours and change from RI to Georgia. It was pretty scary taking off and landing but the actual trip just felt like a bus ride so I didn't freak out too much. The Georgia airport is pretty nuts. An underground train just for the terminals and an indoor smoking lounge? Only in the south.
We grabbed some breakfast at the Samuel Adams Bar and Grill (funny because Samuel Adams is from Boston and has nothing to do with Georgia) and on to our second stop, LAX.
 Nothing but rude people and crappy fast food. Good thing we were only there for about 25 minutes before boarding our flight to Kona. I may have said and done some very un-vacation-like things if we were there much longer.  I got a window seat for the flight to the island. This was something I had been avoiding because I thought it would be scarier, turns out I was wrong. Taking off is less scary when you can see what's happening (turning sucks though) It was actually nice to see the Pacific under us, plus I got to see the whole island as we approached.
The difference between grey, gloomy (this time of year at least) RI and bright and beautiful Hawaii was instantly apparent when we landed.
First of all, the Kona airport is OUTSIDE!
Somehow, this is an airport. I'm still in disbelief. 
These three hula dancers welcomed us to the island!
Once we landed we took a shuttle to our home for the next four nights, The Fairmont Orchid. We got there around dusk and met up with the coordinator who set us up with our room and our itinerary. 
 After a quick shower and spruce up we headed to the hotel lounge for a couple cocktails before bed. 
The view? Incredible. Even at night:
We were pretty exhausted, so our first night was a very short one. 
Plus we had to wake early for our first activity!
I am not a morning person. AT ALL. But I think I could learn if I lived here. It's beautiful even at 7am. 
That's a waterfall and koi pond below our deck by the way...
After our first amazing (and free) breakfast buffet we headed to the ballroom to hear about our upcoming scavenger hunt! Technically it was a 'team building exercise' but also a great idea to help us see the island.
We were each assigned a rental car and iPads that had our goals programmed in and we were off!
Drive around in a Mustang convertible for the day? OK!
I'm trying really hard not to go too nuts with the pictures but this was the most scenic day by far.
Here's a few of the highlights from our four hour drive around the Big Island: 
Petroglyphs! Wish we got to see more... 
My first up close view of the Pacific!
Historic house!
Head in the clouds!
Can you see the horses?
Great lunch by the beach to end our hunt!
After, we had some free time and went exploring Kona.
I saw my first Hula Dancer, she was awesome!
We found a farmer's market where I bought a bird of paradise for dollar! It's one of my absolute favorite flowers, they are so expensive to buy here that I never get them. We were thirsty so we found a little restaurant with a deck and enjoyed some MaiTais and my first Hawaiian sunset!

When we got back to the hotel we found ourselves in the lounge again because everything closes early. 
It's okay, they had these awesome Ahi tacos! Even the cucumber stands were delicious haha!
Afterwards, we went back to our room for a delicious glass of pineapple wine!
Not pineapple flavored, MADE from pineapples! SO good!
Then we hung out in the hot tub for a bit before heading to bed. 
After all, in the morning we had our spa appointments!

To be continued....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm off to Hawaii!!

Just got back from dropping Aura off at her Nana Poo's house (SO hard) Our flight leaves at 6a.m. so I have quite a bit of time to kill. I've been occupying myself with little games like "How many things can I possibly fit in my one quart baggie of liquids/gels. The answer? 
Everything I could possibly need:
Finally! My sample-size hoarding has come in handy!!
Yep, it's all in there.

I'll tell you guys everything I managed to cram in there when I get back! 
Have a good week everyone!! <3
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