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Sunday, June 29, 2014

#cakecakecake

If you don't participate in Twitter, and don't watch Little Couple, you're probably confused by the title of this post. A short explanation is Will, the four-year-old on Little Couple, loves cake and often asks for "cake cake cake." And that started the trending of #cakecakecake on Twitter, which I find timely because cakes are currently a fun St. Louis activity.

St. Louis turns 250 this year and there are a variety of activities and events taking place to celebrate. One is the placement of "cakes" in and around the city of St. Louis. (Click here to learn more.) Kudos to the person who came up with the idea, because it's turned out to be a fun activity for all ages.

The grandsons quickly got in the spirit and love getting their picture taken with the "cakes." Here's one we found with Jonah last Wednesday at Creve Coeur Park:


Last Wednesday night, in fact, was a milestone for our family. It was the first time Jonah slept over at grandma's house. Elliott started sleepovers the summer he was three, but four-year-old Jonah wasn't ready until now. As Jonah puts it, "Last year I was scared, but I'm not anymore."

Nevertheless I was fully prepared to take Jonah home in the middle of the night. For all his bravado, he is a bit of a "mommy's boy." But Jonah ended up sleeping soundly and, within minutes of waking, wanting to schedule his next sleepover.

The first time a child willingly spends the night away from his parents is a big show of independence and a significant event. Now Jonah's mom and dad can get breaks, and grandma and papa can do more bonding with their youngest grandson. Yay for everyone!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Hello 2014 Pumpkin Patch!

The weekend after we got back from Maui, hubby planted the seeds for this year's pumpkin patch. That was just two weeks ago and last weekend the patch looked like this. . .


And now they look like this!


Within just a week, hubby had to thin the crop, which I find so hard to do. I just hate deciding which plants "make the cut." Especially since, in the past, I could never grow anything from seed.

But pumpkins have to be one of the easiest fruits to grow, which makes them so much fun. And I just love watching the plants get bigger as my favorite season gets nearer. I don't hate summer, but I absolutely love fall!



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Since we've been back home, I've been steadily attacking every room in the house. May was just too crazy busy for any good "spring cleaning."

So far, the boys and hobby rooms are finished, and the master bedroom is half done. This weekend I want hubby to help me dismantle the bed so I can do a thorough cleaning under and behind the bed frame. I also want to replace the bedskirt.

I'd like to eliminate the bedskirt, but I don't think that'll happen this year. I did get rid of the bedskirt in the boys room, replacing the queen bed spread with a king to fully cover the mattress and box springs. But our bed is trickier. . .hard to explain. I just wish bedspreads were longer as well as wider to accommodate extra deep mattresses with pillow tops.

I won't get all of my "spring cleaning" done before the first day of summer this Saturday, but that's alright. I'm actually looking forward to enjoying the process throughout the rest of June and July.

Yes, I'm one of those crazy people who gets a lot of pleasure out of thoroughly cleaning my home. And I especially love doing it at a leisurely pace. Yay summertime!




Sunday, June 15, 2014

Maui Trip Report #8 - Last Day

Since our flight home didn't leave until 8:35 P.M. I secured our condo for late check-out. What I loved most about this plan was having a full day of fun the day before departure. In other words, none of our last full day was spent packing.

We started the day with breakfast on the condo complex's observation deck. This is the view that greeted us:


After breakfast, we walked to the farmers market across the street for fruit to supplement our leftovers for lunch. We then drove to Whalers Village in search of a piece of Koa wood jewelry.

I'm at a stage of life that, if I get something new, it has to be special and unique. The day before we left Maui, I happened to read about the special attributes of Koa wood found on Hawaiian islands. So I decided a piece of Koa wood jewelry would be the perfect reminder of our trip. With the help of TripAdvisor suggestions I ended up with a beautiful bangle from Martin and MacArthur.

For lunch we had papaya, leftovers, and a macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi from the local fish market, The Fish Market Maui. This was our lunch view:


We then had the luxury of a nap after packing and before heading to the airport for hours of travel.

In conclusion, Maui is unique and beautiful and we had a good visit. If I ever win or am given a trip to Hawaii, I certainly won't turn it down. But, for my money, if I have to travel over 13 hours again, I'll return to Europe or the United Kingdom before I return to Maui. Especially since, for a beach and snorkeling fix, I can be in the Riviera Maya, swimming with sea turtles, within five hours of leaving home and with no jet lag!

* * *

It's now good to be home and back to enjoying time with my grandsons. They left for Florida while we were in Maui, so we were apart for three weeks. That's the longest I've gone without their hugs and kisses. Thank goodness for the internet and FaceTime!


Happy Father's Day!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Maui Trip Report #7 - Kapalua and Maui Tropical Plantation

Our last full Maui day started with a hike on the Kapalua Coastal Trail. We took in amazing vistas, walked on volcanic rock, and observed a beach wedding.





We also discovered Oneloa Beach where, after our hike, we returned with a picnic lunch. We had finally found a bay calm enough for me to get in the water. And hubby was able to do a final snorkel.

Oneloa Beach

Later in the afternoon, we toured the Maui Tropical Plantation. We were the only two on the tour, so it was easy for me to get this video of the coconut presentation. I was also able to get shots of Maui mountains and pineapples.






A benefit of traveling off season.

From the Maui Tropical Plantation, it's just a 20-minute drive to Paia. Because hubby loved Paia Fish Market's mahi mahi, I suggested we return for our last Maui restaurant meal. Plus I wanted to visit nearby Ho'okipa Beach one last time to get another look at the sea turtles.




Friday, June 13, 2014

Maui Trip Report #6 - Upcountry Maui

Early Saturday morning we headed to the Maui Swap Meet. Our goal was to find affordable gifts for family, which we did. But we were also fortunate to find the perfect housewarming gift for my daughter and son-in-law who are currently building their forever home. They're both fond of the beach and sea turtles, which is why we liked this tapa art piece. We purchased it directly from the artist, Dean Huhane.

An original design depicting a family of sea turtles,
dad, mom, and two children (my grandsons).

I also got to meet one of my favorite YouTubers at the Swap Meet. Christine and her husband sell handmade jewelry and the Swap Meet is one of their regular venues. Christine's channel about life on Maui was instrumental in bringing hubby and me back for a second visit after 28 years.

Next it was time to go Upcountry. Our first stop was Makawao where we had brunch at Fresh Market Bistro after a stop at T Komoda Bakery to get hubby a donut stick. Besides the yummy brunch, what I remember most about Makawao are the exorbitant prices of everything in all of the shops.

We then continued our ascent into Upcountry with our next stop Ali'i Kula Lavendar, a lavender farm.

Loved the views from this Maui elevation.
It's always cooler in Upcountry.
Proteus Flower
Enormous Hydrangea Blooms!

Before leaving Upcountry and calling it a day, we stopped at the winery and general store at Ulupalakua Ranch where I got to try Maui Blanc, a semi-dry pineapple wine. Not a fan.



Feral Goat

It was hot at the Swap Meet and cool in Upcountry. That's the nice thing about Maui, within an hour or two you can drive to a sunnier location or cooler temperatures.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Maui Trip Report #5 - Paia

One of our best days was the day we went to Paia. Hubby and I had no desire to go all the way to Hana because of the required time commitment. But we did want to drive part of the famous, or infamous, road. My hope was to make it as far as the Garden of Eden, the Maui Botanical Gardens and Arboretum. I also wanted to see the rainbow eucalyptus trees.

We got to Paia in time for our second breakfast, which we ate at Cafe Mambo. (Most mornings we had a small first breakfast around 4:00 A.M., never fully adjusting to Maui time.) I had the Breakfast Quesadilla; hubby had an omelet; and we shared a Lanai Smoothie. We enjoyed everything, especially the smoothie.

Then, with bellies full, we set out on the road to Hana with Ho'okipa Beach our first stop.

I had read that seeing sea turtles at dusk is a sure thing on Ho'okipa Beach. In fact, part of the beach is called "Turtle Bedroom" because it's where many turtles come ashore for the night. But we decided to make a late morning stop just in case there were some turtles sleeping in. Eureka!








All of the above photos were take from the observation lot, but we did walk down to get a closer look and that's when I took this video. I used my iPhone so I could easily share the moment with family, but I'm thrilled with the result. Please know we kept a respectable distance as did all the people enjoying the beach that day. The experience was so incredible we had to drag ourselves away to continue our journey on the road to Hana.

But I'm happy to report we made it to the Garden of Eden without incident. By the time we arrived, however, we both had more than enough of the road to Hana. The winding road gave hubby a headache; and I found it extremely stressful due mainly to all the crazy drivers on the road.

But I'm glad we at least got as far as the Garden, which was beautifully tranquil. And I was thrilled to find the Garden included rainbow eucalyptus trees. We saw them on the side of the road, but it was impossible to stop and get a picture much less touch them.




Other highlights of the Garden were. . .

. . .the view of the opening sequence
of the film Jurassic Park and. . .
. . .a double waterfall.

After our leisurely walk through the Garden of Eden, we carefully drove back to Paia for a late lunch. Based on TripAdvisor recommendations, I picked the Paia Fish Market which turned out to be an excellent choice. Hubby is still talking about how good the "grilled to perfection" mahi mahi was!

We then decided to go back to Ho'okipa Beach, this time hoping to see surfers. And, again, luck was on our side. It was an early Friday evening and there were many windsurfers. We just sat in our beach chairs, watching windsurfers and sea turtles ride the waves. Heaven.

I can't believe I forgot to take pictures. I guess I was truly enjoying the moment. But here's a video of Paia and Ho'okipa Beach by one of my favorite YouTubers, who I actually got to meet the next day!





Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Maui Trip Report #4 - Beaches and Kihei

Our first full day on Maui was overcast in Lahaina, our home base for the trip. I checked online and the weather forecast was better for Kihei, so we headed south. We ended up on the beach in Kamaole Park II, parking on the street. I don't remember if hubby attempted any snorkeling. I do know the water was too cold for me, which was true for most of the trip. I much prefer the "no hesitation" water we find in the Gulf of Mexico (Yucatan and Sanibel) in July and August.

After getting enough sun, we had lunch at Coconut's Fish Cafe based on TripAdvisor recommendations. I had the fish and chips and hubby had the shrimp and chips. My dish included a piece of ono and a piece of mahi mahi. Neither of us were thrilled with our meal. However, I did learn I like mahi mahi and don't like ono.

We started our second day on Ka'anapali Beach near our condo and in front of The Westin Resort and Spa. We found a nice public parking area with facilities that was just a short walk to the beach. I enjoyed the view while hubby snorkeled.

No shade but a beautiful view.

The day between our two excursions began on Airport Beach. Again, we found a public parking lot and facilities near the beach. As described online, Airport Beach is great for snorkeling but the reef is so close to the beach it's not good for water lounging or play.

Lots of shade on Airport Beach,
perfect for people watching or reading.
More snorkeling for hubby.

Around lunch time, we decided to head to Makena Beach, which we read was good for wading and playing in the water. I decided we should go through Kihei to hopefully find the Keolahou Church and their Wednesday huli huli chicken, which you know from Maui Trip Report #1 we did.

By the time we got to Makena Beach, the waves were nearly five feet high. We couldn't see the water from the parking lot, but could hear the intimidating roar of the waves as we walked toward the beach. Although we were too nervous to even try getting in the water, it was worth the trip to just see and hear those waves.

Besides, by going south, we were able to get huli huli chicken and, on the way back, our second shaved ice from Ululani's Kihei location as well as lilikoi key lime pie from the bakery (Sugar Beach Bake Shop) next door. Another great Maui day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Maui Trip Report #3 - Discover Molokini Excursion

Our second excursion was Trilogy's Discover Molokini tour. Again, we lucked out with a beautiful sunny day. And, again, Trilogy offered coffee and pineapple juice upon boarding and homemade cinnamon rolls and fruit shortly after setting sail. For this tour, however, lunch was served onboard during our return trip, which was challenging. Eating off plates while the boat is violently slapping waves is nearly impossible. A handheld wrap would have been a much better idea.

On our way to Molokini, we stopped at Turtle Town
off the southern coast of Maui. Ironically, we saw no turtles.
Hubby in search of the elusive sea turtle.
Approaching Molokini.
Not many fish were found near Molokini,
but the water was incredibly clear.

All-in-all, the snorkeling part of this tour was a bust. However, we simply enjoyed being on the water and were thrilled to discover we still don't get sea sick.

I thought I'd slip in some condo shots at this point. It was our first time using VRBO and we were happy with the outcome. You can find interior shots of our condo here. My only warning would be about air conditioning. Coming from muggy St. Louis, a priority for us was to have air conditioning. The unit owner confirmed air conditioning, but then told us after our final payment it needed to be shut off at 10:00 P.M. due to the complex's ruling about noise. Fortunately, we got a nice breeze and only used the window unit a few hours our first day. But I'm not sure how this would work in July or August.

On Honokowai Beach near our complex.




A few steps from our unit was an observation deck for enjoying the tropical breezes, water views, sunrises, and sunsets. It was also a great place to just relax.

Unfortunately, there was not enough
time to do more of this.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Maui Trip Report #2 - Discover Lanai Excursion

Before leaving home, we booked two excursions for our trip, both with Trilogy. The first one was a full-day trip to the island of Lanai.

A distant view of Lanai from Lahaina's Front Street before boarding.
Another view using my camera's zoom feature.

Upon boarding, we were offered coffee and pineapple juice. Then, shortly after leaving the Lahaina Harbor, the staff served homemade cinnamon rolls and fruit. And, just before docking at the Manele Harbor on Lanai, we were offered a variety of wraps. You won't go hungry on a Trilogy excursion!

So happy we got a sunny day!
Hubby looking mighty handsome and happy.
Seeing Maui from the water.
Leaving Maui and. . .
. . .approaching Lanai.

From the dock we walked to Hulopo'e Bay for water and beach play. (A van shuttle was available for those who didn't want to walk.) The water was too rough for me, but hubby tested the snorkeling conditions. He reported there wasn't much to see because the waves were making the water too murky.

Manele Harbor
(The boat in the center is a Trilogy vessel, but not the one we took.)

Hulopo'e Beach looking deceivingly calm.

Given the not-so-good snorkeling, hubby decided to join me for the van tour of the island, which we both found fascinating. Our guide was born and raised on Lanai, and still lives there. I just can't fathom growing up on an isolated island that today only has slightly more than 3000 residents!

At the end of the tour, it was time for dinner. Sitting at picnic tables under a shelter with a water view, we were served an all-you-can-eat meal of teriyaki chicken, noodles, peas, salad, and rolls. Despite the chicken being overdone, the meal was good, especially the noodles.

Good meal served on real plates with stainless steel flatware.
Our dinner view.

On the trip back to Maui, we got a real treat. And I'm not talking about the cups of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce the staff handed out. We had only been in motion a short while when we came upon a pod of Hawaiian spinner dolphins!

There were hundreds and. . .
. . .some got extremely close to the boat.

I did my best to get some video: Spinner Dolphins 1 and Spinner Dolphins 2.

Approaching Maui and. . .
. . .getting closer.

Shortly after returning to Lahaina, we were able to check three items off our "must-or-hope-to-see" list:

The Lahaina Banyan Tree 
A Hawaii Rainbow 

A Maui Sunset

The only thing that could make this day better was our first Hawaiian shaved ice!

We had our first and last shaved ice at Ululani's Lahaina location.