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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Weekend Rewind

The short answer is it was far from exciting. That lovely little cold I picked up last week? Yeah, well, it decided to go crazy this weekend, leading Jim to ask at one point "How are you getting worse?!?" I was home on the couch from late Friday night until Tuesday morning, when I finally drug myself back into work. And it's taken me until this morning to finally feel somewhat normal. It's the cold from hell.

Before I became permanently attached to my couch this weekend, I did have a fun Friday night. Jim and I decided to have dinner at the Farmer's Market at the Grove, but since I get off of work before him, I went early and did a little shopping. Mainly, this was an excuse to swing by Victoria's Secret to see Heidi Klum who was doing makeovers there for 2 hours to promote her new make-up line. I love Project Runway and was quite excited to see her up close. Stupid me forgot my camera, but I did grab a couple of camera-phone pics.

She is so pretty and seems so sweet! She was all dolled up, but wow --- the girl has some really good genes going on there. They had other professional make-up artists at the event as well doing free make-overs, so I took advantage of it. My artist said that Heidi is just a genuinely nice person and a lot of fun. Always nice to hear.

After getting my Heidi fix, I headed over to the Apple store to pick up a protective case for my new computer. And wouldn't you know... I bought a pink neoprene one! The store was packed to the gills with folks because it was the launch of their new operating system. My one observation was that the store had quite the funky smell --- I'll let you come to your own conclusions on why that might be....

Jim finally met me for dinner around 8ish and we scored a table outside. We started off with soup, lobster bisque for me, corn chowder for him, and then he had the meatloaf and I had the chicken greek salad. All of the food hit the spot. As we were waiting for the check, a couple started walking in the restaurant, I looked up and thought "Hmmm, that guy looks familiar". Well, that would be because it was Mr. and Mrs. Pearl! They stopped and we chatted for a bit, but they were just getting ready for a meal and we were past done with ours, so we weren't able to combine our dinners. :( But, it's always fun to run into friends unexpectedly.

The rest of the weekend was spent on the couch with hubs watching sports 24/7. I apologized for being so boring to which he responded "What are you talking about? I've had yummy food (re: junk food), beer and watched a ton of sports. What is boring about that?!" Men.

This weekend I'm flying to my Mom's house to spend the weekend with her and help her clean/organize the house. And then I'm flying back on Sunday morning in time for lunch for my mother-in-law's birthday. Lots of family stuff this weekend, but it should be fun!

Friday, October 26, 2007

It's been a looong week

And I'm guessing that most of the Southern California area would probably agree with me. Unless you've been hiding under a rock, then you know that many areas of Southern California were ablaze this week, fueled on by those handy-dandy Santa Ana winds and a severe lack of rain in our not so distant past. Hubs and I were not directly affected, but one of my besties, her parents and in-laws as well as my other besties' parents and in-laws were all evacuated from their homes earlier this week and I had several other friends who were close to having to do the same. I'm drained from watching and reading all of the coverage, and yet, just like 9/11, I just couldn't seem to turn it off. I can only imagine how stressful this week was for those that were directly affected. No one we know lost their home, but sadly, many people did this week. So very sad. Thankfully, it appears that the firefighters are starting to get a handle on things as the weather is cooling off and the winds are dying down, but it's going to be a long time before things get back to normal for a lot of people.

In other news, I managed to catch a cold this week --- yes, I know it was like 94 degrees here, ugh -- but nonetheless, I've been sick since Tuesday night. Lovely. I've been coming home after work and just laying around like a slug, but I'm hoping to be all better by the end of this weekend.

The hubs has had a pretty good week though; the Sox won the ALCS Sunday night to advance to the World Series, then routed Colorado during Game 1 and pulled out a close win during Game 2. I am only a baseball during the post-season (you know, when games actually mean something), so I've been enjoying the Red Sox run to the World Series as well. Go Sox!!!

To try to sweeten up the week a little, I hit up Starbucks on my way into work this morning and grabbed a pumpkin scone --- soooo good! --- and plan on making a stop after work for a pumpkin spice latte as well. I'm ready to put this week to bed and get on with the weekend already....

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How you like them apples

As much as I try to prep for holidays in advance, it always seems like I have holiday projects on my to-do list that never seem to get done in time. That said, this year I am really making an effort to prep well in-advance. The first holiday-ish project on said list is caramel apples. Since I've never made these before, I thought I'd go the easy route --- using store-bought soft caramels --- instead of making the caramel from scratch. Brach's was my candy of choice and conveniently came with the sticks included.

The recipe is really simple --- basically melt a bag of caramels with a little milk --- but unwrapping the caramels took forever. Jim felt bad and offered to help, however, after the first bag, it got too tedious for him and he went back to watching football.

I prepped the apples, melted the caramel and started dipping. After coating the apples in caramel, I rolled them in chopped peanuts and put them in the fridge to harden.

To add another layer of sugary goodness, after the caramel had set, I drizzled melted chocolate over the top.

A cellophane treat bag and a bit of orange gingham ribbon added the final touch.

I am really happy with the way they turned out and can't wait to give them to my co-workers tomorrow morning. I am lucky in that I work with a great group of people, many of whom I consider friends, and they are most appreciative of sugary treats... especially those of the homemade or semi-homemade variety.

Longshore for President!

Yesterday, Jim and I woke up at the crack of dawn to meet our friends to tailgate before the UCLA-Cal game. The game was a sell-out so cars were stacked 3 deep and most everyone arrived early to have plenty of time to eat, drink and be merry before the game started. And let's be honest, for us UCLA fans, the tailgate party could very well have been the highlight of the day. The last home game was a crushing loss to Notre Dame, we were playing a team that had been ranked #2 in country 2 weeks ago and well, our offense just sucked.

After finally getting a parking spot, breakfast burritos, muffins, mimosas and bloody marys were enjoyed by all. A pre-medication strategy was being employed by most of us --- if you're tipsy enough, a loss just wouldn't hurt as much... or at least that was the general thought. Around 11:45 or so, we finally made our way over to the stadium, took our seats and settled in for a long, hot day at the Rose Bowl. We are lucky enough (insert sarcastic tone) to have our season seats right next to the visitor section. To say that the Cal fans were obnoxious would be an understatement. Jim and I were already annoyed before the game had even started. Thankfully, we had a lot of fired up UCLA fans around us, which made the day much better.

The game started fairly well for us. Thankfully, we had our 2nd string QB back from a knee injury and he was playing well. Our offense didn't look nearly as bad as they have in past games and our defense was still playing great, as to be expected. At the half, the score was 14-13 Cal, keeping us still very much within reach. Nice!

Entering the field at the beginning of the 2nd half

Both teams scored TDs in the 3rd quarter and we started the 4th quarter still only down by 1 point. Late in the 4th quarter, UCLA capped off an 11-play drive with a field goal, putting us ahead by 2. Ugh, Cal got the ball back and made it down to our 30 yard line with very little time left. They only needed a field goal to win and it looked like they were going to be in a good position to get it. The only thing they couldn't do was turn the ball over. 3rd down and Longshore throws the ball to the left looking for his wide-receiver.... BUT NO!!! Interception! UCLA's DB Verner catches it and runs it back 76 yards for a UCLA TOUCHDOWN!!!!!!!!

The crowd going nuts!

Very happy Bruin fans

I don't remember screaming this loud in recent memory. The crowd just went crazy and amazingly, those obnoxious Cal fans got reallllly quiet. CAl got the ball back with 2 minutes left, but a lob downfield by Longshore led to another UCLA interception and that was the ballgame!
The beautiful final score

Jim and I are both sun-burned, have no voices and massive headaches, but it was so worth it!! UCLA is now tied for #1 in the Pac-10 (unbelievable) and if Cowan can stay healthy, we might actually be in good shape for the rest of the season. There is nothing else to say really except


Friday, October 19, 2007

Frenzied Friday

I didn't have to work today, which is always a good thing, but I had a to-do list a mile long. But, I was confident I could get it all done, it was just gonna be a hectic day.

During breakfast, I caught up on last night's episode of ER (very good), jumped in the shower, got ready and then I was off. First stop, DHL to pick up this little beauty

I'm waiting for Jim to come home to start her up because I don't want to do it incorrectly. But YAY! I love her and can't wait to start playing :)

After picking up the computer, the errands continued:

  • UCLA to get Jim a hat for tomorrow's game
  • Target to return a couple of things and pickup a new alarm clock (the numbers on ours are no longer lighting up)
  • BevMo for "mermosa" ingredients for tomorrow's incredibly early tailgate
  • Ralphs for groceries, lots and lots of groceries

By the time I got home it was 3pm and the dinner I was supposed to be making tonight should have already been in the slow-cooker. Crap! I've never unloaded a car and prepped a meal as quickly as I did this afternoon. The french style braised beef dish was in the slow-cooker by 4pm and is now happily simmering away filling the apartment with a lovely aroma of beef, onions and wine.

After getting dinner going, I then turned my attention to muffins. I wanted to bring a fun breakfast treat for the tailgate tomorrow as our friends are providing the rest of the food and thought pumpkin muffins would be yummy and seasonal. I used the recipe on Kate's blog, but on her recommendation, also sought out a recipe for cream-cheese filling to kick them up a notch. I stumbled upon this site and thought the recipe looked easy and tasty. Neither recipe took long to put together and the final product looks like this

I've already had one and they are so good! A huge thanks to Kate for the filling tip. :)

And the icing on this crazy day... hubs called to say that the hearing he was scheduled to be at on Monday was cancelled, which means he actually has some free time for us to hang out this weekend! I am beyond excited because while we've been to several football games since being back from vacation, we haven't really had a chance to spend time together just the two of us. He is swinging by the store as I'm typing this to pick up mixers for pre-dinner cocktails, cheese and crackers for an appetizer and pie for dessert. The rest of the night we are eating, drinking and just generally enjoying each others company. :D

And there you have it, my crazy fun Friday. And to think, the weekend has only just begun!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm loving...**

  • the weather. It is finally starting to cool off and feel like fall --- or at least a Southern California "fall" (it's all relative). I've had to pull out my sweaters, long pants and boots and it's such a nice change from flip flops and tank tops.
  • pumpkin foods. This is absolutely the best time of year for sweet treats. Everywhere you look there are pumpkin goodies to be had --- ice cream, cheesecake, cookies, muffins and my all time favorite, the Pumpkin-Spice latte at Starbucks. Oh, how I heart you PSL!
  • the jackson fit pant at Banana Republic. Finally a pant that fits in the waist and yet accomodates hips, thighs and a bit of booty. They keep expanding the colors, fabric and style details so there are a lot of options. I feel like I'm collecting the whole set.
  • being part of my husband's fantasy football team. This was the best decision I made earlier in the summer. My husband and I co-own a team in a league with his work pals and we've done pretty well so far (tied for first right now--thank you Randy Moss, you crazy WR you). Besides getting even more sucked in to football than I was last year, I also love being cc'd on all of crap-talking emails sent back and forth among league members. Girls don't do this the same way guys do and it is hilarious to me to see the ribbing the goes on on a near daily basis. So great!

** I had this post all ready to go and then caught Wan's latest post and realized it looks like I'm totally biting off of her. Oops! But, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? :)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Happy 30th Birthday T!

Last night we attended a 30th birthday party for our friend T. Her husband, M, organized a big group dinner for her at Falcon in Hollywood. The place is very chic with lots of dark wood, simplistic furniture, and candlelight. We had a room reserved just for our group, which is where we enjoyed dinner and then after-dinner bottle service.

Dinner started with a simple green salad with balsamic vinegrette (delish) and then we had our choice of either wild salmon, chicken breast or petite filet mignon. Jim and I both chose the chose the filet (as did most of the group), which was accompanied with parmesan puree, crisped onions, a parmesan chip and port reduction. The food was really good! The steak was cooked perfectly and the port reduction was a sweet and savory and complemented the steak nicely. Those who ordered the fish and chicken also had good things to say about their meals. For dessert, we were presented with a mini molten chocolate cake and a small scoop of ice cream -- delicious.

T, while we sang Happy Birthday and her blowing out the candle.

After dinner, bottles of Grey Goose were brought to the table along with plenty of mixers, including Red Bull, a special request by the birthday girl. The rest of the night was spent talking and drinking. It was great to catch up with freinds we haven't seen in awhile and just hang out with everyone. Having our own private room for the entire night was great as we were not jostled by the other patrons and were able to talk to each other without having to yell over the drone of the rest of the lounge.

M did a great job putting this together for T and I'd say the night was very successful. Happy 30th birthday T! Hope you had a great night! :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Our Hawaii Vacation: Wailea (Part 2 of 3)

*** So, as I was looking through my pictures for this part of the trip I realized that, well, there weren't all that many. I think I was getting in full vacation mode at this point and just forgot to capture things on film. Needless to say, this part of the recap is going to be quite light in the picture department. ***

After taking a very quick flight from Kauai, we landed at the Kahalui airport around 2pm in the afternoon. Per our usual routine, Jim ran to get the rental car while I stayed at baggage claim to get our bags. And they actually came out quickly -- wonders never cease!

Usually when we vacation on Maui, we stay in Ka'anapali, but to shake things up a bit, we decided to stay for 3 nights in Wailea. Then we would spend the last 5 nights of our trip in Ka'anapali. Jim and I had attended a friend's wedding last year at the Grand Wailea and Jim was dying to go back and actually stay at the hotel for a few days. So, thanks to the help of our american express travel points, we booked a 3 night stay there --- without having to auction off a kidney ;)

The Grand Wailea is a huge resort and spa that sits on Wailea Beach in the southern part of Maui. "Over-the-top" is a perfect description for this resort. The entrance is jaw-droppingly beautiful and the common areas are over-run with lush landscaping and water features. You really can feel the stress just melting away when you walk in.

Once we picked our jaws up off the floor, we made our way to reservations, got our room key and schlepped our way out to our room. See, the hotel is huge, so it takes a while to figure out how everything is laid out and how to navigate the maze of hallways and elevators. But, we were not disappointed once we finally found our room.

We dropped off our bags, quickly changed into bathing suits and then hit the pool! Which is a treat in and of itself; 3 major waterslides, water elevator, lazy river, multiple levels of pools connected by mini-slides, several hot tubs, pool bar... basically a water playground right there on property. And the best part -- most of the kids were already back in school so it was mainly just adults using the facilities. Beyond fun! We don't usually utilize the pool much while in Hawaii (hello! the ocean is right there), but this one was so elaborate, we had to take advantage of it. (images below from trip advisor)

We got to the pool so late, that we only had about an hour or so before the slides and most of the pool area was closed for the evening. We headed back up to the room to shower and get ready for dinner. Both of us were in the mood for steak, so we snagged an early reservation at Ruths Chris Steakhouse located at the shopping center next door to the hotel. We've always heard good reviews about the place and and wow! It did not disappoint. I sadly don't have pictures of the food (sorry!), but it was mouth-wateringly good. We started with stuffed mushroom caps (we could not get over how perfect they were), I had the petite filet, Jim had the new york strip steak and we shared roasted asparagus and gratin potatoes. The meal was just amazing!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and had after-dinner drinks and dessert at Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (say that 3 times fast!). The restaurant sits on top of an open-air saltwater aquarium, which had Jim absolutely mesmorized. We opted not to have dinner there as we had heard that the food had gone down in quality over the past few years. Our cocktails and my ice cream was good, but the peach creme brulee that Jim ordered was meh. We thought we made the right decision regarding dinner.

The next morning we woke up early, grabbed a quick bite at a cafeteria style cafe in the hotel and then headed down to Makena Beach (aka Big Beach) for the morning. Makena is really popular with boogie boarders and sand surfers and it never fails so see a bunch of local kids there showing off their crazy skills. This time we even saw an amateur photographer there taking pictures of the kids and then offering to send them the jpegs once he got back to the mainland. It was really cool to see these young kids all excited about the prospect of having professional-style pictures of themselves doing flips and tricks on the water.

After a few hours, we headed back up the coast for lunch at Maui Tacos (great food, very decent prices), rented snorkel gear then tried to find a hidden little beach -- Po'olenalena Beach -- close to our hotel that my father-in-law suggested. After several misses, we finally found it. A long gorgeous strip of white sand that was practically deserted. There wasn't much shade there -- a bummer for little casper white me -- but we eventually found a little patch of tree cover that I was able to tuck myself in to keep from burning to a crisp. The snorkeling was really good; tons of tropical fish, brightly colored coral and a sea turtle that gave us a weary look but still swam right next to us. So cool!

For dinner, we had made reservations for Nick's Fish Market, about which we had heard fantastic things. The service was out of control good; Jim ordered a mai tai and I kid you not it was one the table 2 minutes later, perfectly concocted. The food, however, was just okay. Considering this was a pretty expensive place, we were expecting a lot more. The salad we had as an appetizer was the best part of our meal, but my lobster tail and Jim's fish was nothing special. The strawberries flambe for dessert was impressive in looks, but was under-whelming in taste.

The walk back to the hotel that night was hilarious. For some reason, the cliffside pathwas connecting all of the hotels in Wailea has no lights and let's just say we were really tipsy. I couldn't stop giggling because we couldn't see a darn thing and were lucky to be able to stay on the path at all. Ha!

Our last full day in Wailea was centered around relaxation, pure and simple. After a small breakfast at an outdoor cafe, we made our way to Spa Grande for massages. Jim had had a massage there last year as part of the pre-wedding activities for the groomsmen and after seeing how amazing it was, made sure we scheduled a trip there for our vacation. The best part of Spa Grande -- the 1-hour hydrotherapy that comes standard with any spa treatment. Spa patrons are granted 1 hour of access to the 3 hydrotherapy rooms that contain: a roman jacuzzi tub, cold plunge pool, 3 waterfall massage tubs, series of 5 aromatic baths, japanese furo bath, swiss jet shower, redwood sauna and eucalyptus steam room. In addition, each person is treated to a complimentary honey mango exfoliation scrub.

I cannot say enough about his place. It is so relaxing and totally gets your body ready for whatever treatment you have booked. Of course, the hour goes by much too quickly, but it is a really great experience. After the hydrotheraphy, you are taken to a co-ed outdoor lanai overlooking the hibiscus pool and the ocean to await your spa treatment. I saw Jim there for a brief minute and he looked as blissed out as I felt. Both of our massages were quite enjoyable as well, but really, the hydrotherapy was by far the best part of the spa experience.

View from the lanai

In the afternoon, we went back to the pool area to lounge around, read and take advantage of the waterpark-like pools and waterslides. Rough, I know. ;) For dinner, we ate at a bistro on the hotel property which was pretty good. Afterwards, we changed back into our suits and took an evening dip in the adults-only hibiscus pool. Aside from a teen-aged boy (why he was there, I'm not really sure), we had the pool to ourselves. A perfect end to a great stay at the Grand Wailea.

General Thoughts:

  • Our room at the hotel was very nice and clean, however, we realized after the first night that the room was quite damp and it never really dried out. On top of that we found several mosquitos hanging out in our room and we did get a few extra bites from them. Looking back, we should have complained to the front desk and have them move us, but I think we were so blissed out by that point that it never crossed our mind to say anything. We would to stay here again, but would ask for a room not on the ground floor and if there was a problem, we'd say something.

  • I have heard that the pool area is quite obnoxious during the summer because it is just overrun with screaming children. This is the beauty of be able to vacation during the school-year -- no kids to deal with! I'm not sure we would have had as much fun if we had been there at the peak of summer.

  • Like I mentioned earlier, Nick's Fish Market is great for service, but the food is just okay. I don't think we'd eat there again for a full meal, instead we'd try another one of the restaurants in the area.

  • Overall, we really enjoyed staying in Wailea as it made visiting the beaches in southern Maui much easier for us.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Because I obviously don't have enough to do...

Earlier this year I decided to join the local alumnae group for the sorority I was part of in college. Sometime after the first meeting I was contacted by the president and asked if I would be their delegate to the local alumnae panhellenic council. Sure, sounds like fun -- get to meet other women, stay involved in the greek organization, etc, etc. Wednesday night was the first meeting and it went well. I'm quite happy with my position.

However, at the beginning of the meeting, they went over recruitment numbers for each chapter at each of the local colleges. I looked at the numbers for my old collegiate chapter and was shocked --- they weren't good. I was never the crazed sorority girl that ate, lived and breathed greek life, but the sorority was something I really enjoyed being apart of and was where I met my 2 best friends. Hard to put a price-tag on something like that. After speaking with several panhellenic reps from the school, I realized that the house could really use some help. Yesterday I fired off an email to the alumnae president asking how I can get involved.

After several emails back and forth, I'm now in contact with the main alumnae advisor for my old collegiate chapter and am on my way to becoming a chapter advisor in some capacity or other. Sure, I have a lot of other things going on in my life, but the idea being able to help the house and work with the current collegiate members one-on-one is pretty exciting to me. I know I could have sat back and just said "eh, not my problem", but if everyone did that, well, nothing would get done. And I would hate to see the chapter I loved so much in college eventually have to shut down because no one bothered to step in and help when it was needed. I'm nervous, but also excited to see how the next few weeks progress with this and can't wait to start lending my assistance.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I swung by the grocery store this morning to pick up something semi-healthy for lunch and as I was standing in line to pay, I saw this:

Really? REALLY?

All we have heard for the past several months is how Angelina has been grieving the loss of her mother and this had led to severe weight loss. Now, I firmly believe that this really isn't any of our business in the first place, but it is what it is I guess. And now all of the sudden b/c she has gained some weight and appears to look a little healthier, she must be pregnant? Are you kidding me? How about maybe she is finally dealing with her grief, is getting her life back in order and oh, I don't know, felt like a cheeseburger... or three!

I am so over all the magazines following celebrities and their weight with almost hourly updates.

"Oh, there she is, eating frozen yogurt. She must be gearing up for a binge!"

"Look, she threw away her ice-blended before she finished it. Is she starving herself again?!?"

Enough already! I get that celebrities put themselves out there in the limelight, but this obsession with their weight and appearance has got to stop. And we wonder why our young women are so body-obsessed and that the rate of eating disorders just keeps climbing.

Ugh. Something has got to give.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

home sick

Started having that icky feeling in the back of my throat Sunday night and by yesterday morning I felt seriously yucky. Thankfully Monday was a holiday for me so I just laid around on the couch and dozed/watched tv/caught up on my blog reading. Sadly, I'm not feeling much better today, so I'm having a repeat performance --- though it's definitely not a holiday today, it's a full-fledged sick day. Booo!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Our Hawaii Vacation: Kauai (Part 1 of 3)

Okay, so I don't yet have the new pink laptop, but my old computer was refurbished and while it looks like it's going to die a final death here soon, I think it should hold out until the new beauty arrives. So, that means it's picture and story time! :)

I'm splitting the vacation up into 3 parts, which is how the trip was structured. We spent our first 3 nights at The Princeville Resort in Kauai, the next 3 nights at the Grand Wailea Hotel in Wailea and the last 5 nights at the Sheraton Maui on Ka'anapali Beach. Sorry in advance b/c it's going to be long and picture filled.

We flew into Lihue, Kauai at around noon on September 1st. After picking up the rental car we started on the approximate 45 minute drive up the coast to the Princeveille Resort. I made the mistake of not eating something before we left the airport and wound up getting very car sick on the drive. So, no pictures of the beautiful drive. I seem to recall the foliage was amazing, but I was too sick to capture any of it on film. Oops.

After getting to the resort, we checked with the valet staff and after greeting us with leis we made our way into the lobby. Um, wow. The picture doesn't do the place justice.

Since we were early and our room wasn't ready yet, we went to the poolside cafe for lunch and then a quick walk on the beach.

After lunch, we were able to check into our room. [Side note: I had signed up for a "free limited-time upgrade to Gold level" for my Starwood Preferred Guest membership at the beginning of the year that was only supposed to be good through the end of March '07. Well, somehow this was never removed from my account so when we checked in, I was listed as a Gold Level guest and we were automatically upgraded to an Ocean View room. Suhweet!]

The "magic window" in the bathroom that goes from opaque to clear with flip of a switch! Conceivably you could take a shower while having a view of the ocean. Interesting concept, but not something we really took advantage of.

And the view from the bed. Amazing.

We got settled and then hurriedly got into our swimsuits and spent the next few hours at the pool enjoying the sun and the swim-up bar. Like a little piece of heaven. That night, we had a casual dinner at the hotel lounge where we accidently wound up sitting next to 2 very drunk men who didn't quite understand the concept of inside voices. Thankfully, they didn't stay long. The sushi was decent albeit expensive. I think we were passed out by about 7:30ish.

Monday morning, after a quick breakfast at the hotel, we were off to Ke'e Beach for some snorkeling and laying around on the sand. We were there for a few hours and were planning on beach-hopping the rest of the day, but the fact that it was Labor Day made finding parking more of a hassle than we cared for. So, back to the hotel we went. But not before a quick stop at the Hanalei Lookout to see the taro fields. Pretty cool.

That afternoon it was lunch at the poolside cafe again and more pool time. Rough, I know. ;)That night I was starting to feel sort of "off" again, so dinner was a bit of a solemn affair. Jim and I only remember the food being ho-hum although I don't know if I was the best judge that night.

Tuesday morning we woke up to a downpour, but it was actually really relaxing eating outside under a covered patio while watching the rain come down. While most of the rain had let up by the time we were done eating, the skies were still dreary on our drive up the coast to Tunnels Beach.

Our first hour or so at Tunnels was filled with grey skies and drizzle, but by the time the sky cleared up, we realized what an absolutely gorgeous beach it was! Granted, the snorkeling was just meh, but the weather was perfect, the sand warm and it was large enough to not feel crowded even though there were a lot of people there. Not a bad morning.

That afternoon we had lunch at Bubba's Burgers, which was suprisingly yummy and downright cheap compared to the food prices at the hotel! And what trip to Hawaii is complete without a stop for shave ice? I was super bummed that the most popular place on the North Shore (Wishing Well Shave Ice) was closed, but we tried the 2nd favorite place instead. In my haste to eat the thing before it melted, I forgot to take pictures. Oops! But, let me tell you, macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom is so.freaking.good.

After we woke up from our lunch induced food-coma, we decided to have one last adventure before going back to the hotel. Just about a half mile from the hotel is the entrance to Queen's Bath -- a natural pool located on a lava bench that is constantly refreshed with ocean water. I'm not the most adventerous person out there, but Jim really wanted to go and it was so close to our hotel, I gave in. After a hike through some jungle and then another short walk across lava rock, you stumble upon this beautiful natural swimming pool right there on the side of the cliffs. Ah-mazing. Took me a few minutes to work up the courage to go in, but it was so refreshing and gorgeous once I took a dip. Again, pictures don't really do it justice.

On the way back up to the car, my brilliant hubby thought it would be a good idea to stop at the freshwater waterfall to clean off (did I mention that our hotel was literally a 2 minute drive from this place?). Let's just say the mosquitos had a little feast. Boooo!

That night we had dinner at La Cascata -- the hotel's Italian inspired restaurant. Since we still hadn't adjusted to the time difference, making silly early reservations allowed us a window seat and a perfect view of the sunset. So nice.

We both ordered the Shrimp with gazpacho for an appetizer and the seafood linguine for dinner. The appetizer was so good-- perfectly cooked prawns sitting in a little glass of slighly spicy yellow gazpacho. However, the linguine fell a bit short for both of us. The sauce was not that flavorful and the seafood (shrimp, lobster, scallops and sea bass) were all slightly over-cooked. One of us should have obviously ordered something else, but oh well.

For dessert, I opted for the gelato (chocolate and coffee, both very tasty) and Jim ordered the tiramisu (one of his favorite desserts, but he said it was just meh). Overall the dinner was just okay, but the view was pretty spectacular.

The next morning we got up early, grabbed a quick breakfast and started back to the airport for our afternoon flight to Maui. Before dropping off the rental car though, we made a detour up into Lihue to see Wailua Falls. One of the easiest waterfalls to get to (you just drive up a long road, park and you're there!) it is taller than Niagra Falls (albeit not nearly as powerful). We were one of only 2 couples there and it was so peaceful and beautiful.

After 20 minutes or so of gawking and taking pictures, it was time to head back down the moutain, turn in the rental car and take the puddle-jumper over to Maui!

A few general thoughts:
  • We usually vacation on Maui, so going to Kauai for a few days was a nice change of pace for us. It's much greener than Maui and moves at a slower pace. I think Maui is still our favorite island, but Kauai was a lot of fun for a change.
  • The Princeville Resort is huge, the common areas are gorgeous and the location is paradise. The rooms themselves, however, are not worth what the hotel charges for them. Our room was clean and spacious, but not overly "luxurious" and somewhat in need of a face-lift. We specifically stayed at this resort because we got a killer deal through my retirement association (almost 70% off), so we felt like we got the room for a steal. However, if we had paid rack rate for the room we would have been pretty upset. I have read that St. Regis has purchased this hotel and over the next 2 years or so will be making major rennovations and turning it into one of the Starwood Luxury Collection resorts. I would be interested to see what the resort looks like at that time.
  • Princeville is very isolated from other major tourist areas on Kauai and for that reason, the food choices are severly limited. For ease, we ate at the hotel for most of our meals, but it is very very expensive to do so. While the food isn't bad, for what you're paying, we expected more. Something to keep in mind for anyone considering staying here.