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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  I'm nervous for tomorrow!  I hope we don't end up hating each other, haha!

2.  I'm so glad we were able to have a fantastic Thanksgiving even though we had to stay in Hawaii for it.  Our friends are awesome!

3.  Thank you for helping me with the dogs today.  I can't believe how many sand spurs they got, ugh!!

4.  Thank you too for helping with all of the Thanksgiving prep and everything.  I love you!

5.  It's time to start decorating for Christmas, yay!!  I'm so excited :D

ily <3

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Getting to Know Hawaii: 'Iao Needle


The Need to Knows:
  • The 'Iao Needle is located within the 'Iao Valley State Park at the end of 'Iao Valley Road in Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii.  Its exact location is here:
  • The park is open from 7AM to 7PM daily.
  • There is a fee to enter here, which is $1 for each walker, $5 for each car, and free for kama'aina.
  • There is a 0.6 mile long paved path from the parking lot to a ridge top lookout with signage along the way describing some of the plant types and historical background.  However, since there are numerous steps, I wouldn't describe it as stroller-friendly.
  • If you plan on doing any hiking or light exploration off the beaten path, I would definitely recommend sturdy shoes, especially if it's been raining, and bug spray since this is a wooded area.  
  • If you stay on the paved path, I'd budget maybe one hour or so here.  It's short and there isn't too terribly much to see.  But if you opt to wander around and even hike, give yourself a couple of hours (or more) to fully digest the grounds.
  • I also recommend going first thing in the morning (we arrived at about 8, I think).  This way, you can at least attempt to beat the clouds before they begin hovering over the West Maui Volcano and blocking your views!




When Mr. L and I visited Maui last month, we had to scramble a little to change our plans.  You see, we were traveling right smack dab in the middle of the government shutdown and many of the things we'd planned to do involved Haleakala National Park, which was obviously closed.  Fortunately for us, Maui is awesome with or without the national park (albeit more awesome with it!) and we were able to find other things to do to fill our time, like visiting the 'Iao Needle.



The 'Iao Needle is a pretty famous landmark on Maui nestled on the side of the West Maui Volcano, close to Kahului.  It's Hawaiian name is Kuka'emoku and it stands at around 1,200 feet tall.  It may look like a pointed mountain, but it is in fact actually the back of a ridge extending off the volcano.  Also, another fun fact: it's considered to be the phallic stone of Kanaloa, the Hawaiian god of the ocean.  Interesting, huh??  Haha :)

A traditional Hawaiian building with the Needle in the background
Traditional Hawaiian offering we found at the start of one of the trails
I personally liken visiting the 'Iao Needle to visiting Waimea Valley, a place on Oahu I wrote about a while back.  Seeing the 'Iao Needle and the grounds and trails around it is a relatively relaxing experience.  You're definitely not getting some thrilling adventure here, but if you're into nature, beauty, and possibly even a bit of exercise, I would recommend you check it out, especially if you're already doing something over in this area -- for example, Mr. L and I took the opportunity to combine visiting the Needle with a trip to the Maui Ocean Center on the same day.

Some of the stunning mountain views
Collection of the many sights we saw along the path
There are four general areas along the path -- a lovely little garden featuring Hawaiian plants like taro, a bridge facing the Needle, the lookout, and the stream.  Mr. L and I probably spent close to an hour and a half or two hours enjoying ourselves.  We stayed on the main path for a little while and then explored some of the trails.  The stream that runs nearby is very pretty and I definitely recommend you walk over, sit down on a stone, and just soak in the beauty.

Don't be fooled, that water was CHILLY!
One of my attempts at long exposure photography!
Hiking trail
Overall Mr. L and I both enjoyed visiting the 'Iao Valley State Park and the Needle.  It was a great last minute addition to our itinerary and a great, low key way to spend one of our mornings!

View of the parking lot and valley below
Do you have any favorite relaxing gardens or outdoor areas near you?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  I'm slowly getting together your Christmas gifts :)  I'm really excited to surprise you!

2.  I'm glad we're caught up on our TV shows.  And then of course as soon as we are actually caught up, we talk about starting a new one, haha.

3.  Thanks for helping out so much with the pups this week.  It helps me focus on my assignments and I really appreciate that!

4.  I'm hoping we're moving towards progress with what's happening.  I'm keeping positive thoughts in my head and you should too!

5.  I'm excited about looking into New Zealand!  It may never happen, but it's fun to dream :)

ily <3

Monday, November 18, 2013

Guest Post: Hawaiian Waterfalls from Discover Hawaii Tours

Hey everyone!  Today's post is another from Nick over at Discover Hawaii Tours, but unlike last time, now he'll be talking about some of the best waterfalls as well as beaches Hawaii has to offer!  Take it away, Nick!  :)


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Hawaii is most famously known for its beauty and scenery. With such a vast array of undisturbed nature and wildlife, there's nothing like taking the time to stop and admire everything here. With everything from beaches to rainforests with an amazing view, waterfalls and beaches of Hawaii are certainly no exception. There are just as many that exist in Hawaii, and not only in Oahu.

Oahu probably has some of Hawaii's best known beaches and waterfalls, and there are quite a few.  Even though there seems to be so many beaches, finding the best of them isn't usually a challenge. There are the famous ones, and there are those in lesser known areas that are still just as popular. Famous for their large waves and great surf spots you could stop by Waimea Bay or Sunset Beach down by the North Shore.

The waterfalls in Oahu are also very beautiful, and getting to most usually requires a hike in the rainforest, which it definitely an experience in itself. There are several  waterfall hikes such as the Waimea Falls Park, Manoa Falls (the closest to Waikiki), and the Kapena Falls, all of which lead to amazing waterfalls, some that you can even swim in (Waimea and Kapena in particular) if you wish. You can also see many parts of Oahu by taking a hike or a tour with companies such as Discover Hawaii Tours.

Manoa Falls on Oahu
On the Big Island, there are a couple of well known beaches, and there certainly isn't a shortage of waterfalls. You can visit ones such as Onekahakaha Beach Park near Hilo and Kahaluu Beach near Kona for example. You can also make a stop at the unique Punaluu Black Sand Beach as well.  You can stop by the Rainbow Falls, and at Akaka State Falls Park, you can see the Kahuna Falls and the Akaka Falls.

Maui has its own set of unique beaches and waterfalls that won't disappoint. Kapalua Beach, Kaanapali Beach, and Napili Bay are all good for relaxing and swimming. And like the Big Island, Maui also has its own black sand beach at Waianapapa State Park. Maui is also home to several waterfalls, such as the Waimoku Falls, and many can be accessed through trails and hikes.

Kapena Falls on Oahu
Molokai has many beaches of its own, however, keep in mind that some aren't the safest for swimming and snorkeling, so be safe and exercise caution. But that doesn't mean that there aren't any beaches you can go to -- the Dixie Maru (Kapuhakehu) Beach is one of them. This beach is usually fine for snorkeling and swimming, but in the winter months tends to have a larger surf. There is also the One Ali'i Beach Parkwhere you can relax and take in the view. The Halawa Waterfall is probably Molokai's most beautiful, and you can take a tour and hike here in order to see it.

Lanai's beaches are also beautiful, but some are not as easily accessed. You can visit Hulopo'e Beach, one of Lanai's most popular beaches, where you can swim and snorkel. Though Lanai does not have many well known waterfalls, there are opportunities for hiking available that provide a great view.

Each island has many unique beaches of their own, as well as waterfalls; both of which display what is only a small part of many of the natural landmarks and nature that exist in Hawaii.


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Do you have a favorite waterfall in Hawaii or elsewhere?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  I'm so glad we got to have old friends over for dinner!  Thank you for all your help getting ready :)

2.  I love how cute you are when you talk about all the things you want to do, especially with hobbies.

3.  So much for that small "chilly spell" we had -- hopefully it'll cool back down in time for chili this weekend!

4.  I'm proud of you for all of the hard work you're accomplishing at your temporary division.  I think it's good for you for sure!

5.  I'm getting really excited about all of the Christmas present ideas floating around in my head.  I hope you're ready!!  :)

ily <3

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fried Dill Pickles

If there's one thing I've found to be a deliciously indulgent treat, it's definitely fried pickles.  I've always been a dill pickle fan (other kinds, not so much), so it's actually kind of surprising it took me so long to actually try a fried pickle -- I was in my teens!  Once I did though, I never looked back, and if you're a pickle lover like me you won't either!

Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com


Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 16 oz jar dill pickle slices
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp seafood seasoning like Old Bay (I added a couple of teaspoons more because I love the taste of Old Bay)
  • 1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • Oil for frying

Directions

Grab your pickle jar and empty the slices onto a plate.



Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl and add the salt and black pepper (I used about a teaspoon of each).


Add the flour, cornmeal, seafood seasoning, and 1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning to a large, resealable back and mix together well.


In batches, dip your pickle slices first into the buttermilk and then into the flour cornmeal mixture, making sure to coat well and also shake off the excess dry mixture.


Using either a skillet or deep fryer, fry the batches of pickles.  I used a deep fryer and for each small batch it took around 5-6 minutes or so.  Just keep an eye on them and take them out when they're golden brown and delicious.  Serve with some ranch dip or remoulade (my personal favorite choice!) and enjoy!


And if you need any ideas with what to do with all of that leftover pickle juice, try making some pickle pops!  Just pour the juice into an ice tray, cover with saran wrap, poke some toothpicks into each compartment, and freeze them for a refreshingly sour treat!


Are you a fan of pickles, fried or otherwise?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five for Friday

1.  I'm anxious to see exactly what happens in the next couple of weeks with your command.  Positive thoughts!!

2.  I love how sneaky we can be sometimes, haha :)

3.  I'm so happy that we can talk to each other about anything.  I hope we hold to that standard for the rest of our lives!

4.  Sorry I've been so consumed with my game lately.  I know you miss using your PS3, so I'll be done soon!  lol :)

5.  I'm excited about this weekend!  I hope we have a lot of fun!

ily <3

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Guest Post: Best Hawaiian Beaches from Discover Hawaii Tours

Hey everyone!  Today I've got a guest post lined up for you from Nick over at Discover Hawaii Tours, which provides a wide range of guided tours and activities for the Hawaiian islands.  He's going to tell you all about some of the best beaches we have here in Hawaii, so I'll let him get straight to it!  :)


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Going to the beach while you're in Hawaii is a classic thing to do. No matter what island you're staying on, or which island you're going to, there is going to be a beach somewhere. The best beaches are all over the islands, and with so many to go to, you can even make a stop by a few popular spots if you're nearby. Because Hawaii is so large, each island has many of its own unique beaches. Many of them are beautiful and provide a stunning view, while others are great for swimming at or snorkeling.

Oahu, being one of Hawaii's most visited islands, probably has some of the most well known beaches as well. There are quite a few beaches on each side of the island, including ones on the North Shore, South Shore, Leeward and Windward side. The North Shore has Sunset Beachand Waimea Bay, the South Shore has Waimanalo Beach Park and Hanauma Bay, while the beautiful Lanikai and Kailua beaches are on the Eastward side of the island, and beaches on the West side include Yokohama Bay and the Ko Olina resort.  Or even just take a Circle Island Tourand see tons of beaches and sights.

The Big Island has many great locations for swimming and snorkeling, and many of them are absolutely stunning. There are many great ones to stop by and take a swim at, such as Onekahakaha Beach Park, located near Hilo, and Kahaluu Beach, located near Kona, to name some. The Big Island also has some very unique black sand beaches that you can visit.

On Maui you will also find many wonderful beaches. There is Kaanapali Beach, Kamaole Beach Parks, and Wailea Beach, for example. Like the Big Island, Maui also has a black sand beach of its own as well, located at Waianapapa State Park.

Molokai also has many beautiful beaches, but take note that not all of them are the safest for snorkeling or swimming. That doesn't mean that there aren't any beaches you can swim at, though. Just be sure to exercise caution and be mindful of any warnings, as should be done at any beach. The Dixie Maru (Kapuhakehu) Beach and the One Ali'i Beach Parkare both good beaches to go to.

There are also a few beaches on Lanai, though some of them aren't the easiest to access. Getting to other beaches may require 4 wheel transportation, such as getting to Polihua Beach, for example. There is also Hulopoe Beach Park, probably the easiest and most popular beach to get to.

Hawaii is home to many amazing and beautiful beaches.  Being sure to use caution when necessary, taking some sunscreen with you, and enjoying yourself are really the only things that are required when you go to the beach in Hawaii, as what could be better than spending a day swimming and relaxing, after all?  If you really want something thought free, check out Discover Hawaii Toursfor a ton of different tours and adventures!  Nonetheless, make your stay in Hawaii a memorable one!


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If you've visited the islands before, what was your favorite beach?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Photo-a-Day OIC - Week 5


Here's the very last week of pictures, meaning October is over!  And it's already November!  So crazy.  And I know, I know, I'm definitely behind getting this post up and I didn't get a chance to post these on Instagram, but hey, at least I finished! :)

Day 27 - Dinner

Lunch that became dinner from Tin Hut BBQ -- can't get enough of them!

Day 28 - Comfort

Chocolate chip cookies are total comfort food :)

Day 29 - Inspiration

I definitely became inspired by these clearance lamps...so much so that they're now sitting in our bedroom!

Day 30 - Costume

I was Carl from the Walking Dead...
And Mr. L was a zombie!

Day 31 - Halloween

Lobster Lila in the front, Chef Liam in the back :)

Thanks again to Spark People for hosting this challenge, and happy November, everyone!  :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Two Year Hawaiian Anniversary

It's SO crazy for me to think about, but Mr. L and I have officially been living in Hawaii for two years now!

At Makapu'u Lookout, just a few days after moving here
I always thought the time would drag on sooo slowly because we'd be so far away from anything I'd ever known, but I can honestly say time is moving TOO fast.  We're going to start looking at orders soon, y'all.  I can't even fathom that right now!



Pyramid Rock beach on Marine Corps Base Hawaii
I think the holiday season has a lot to do with forcing time to speed up.  It always seems to be over in a flash, which makes me sad that 3+ months essentially slip through my fingers!  But then you can't really blame the holidays since they are so awesome.  :)

Fluffy little Liam during our first Hawaiian Christmas
I feel like we have way too much left to do and see here on Oahu and definitely the other islands.  We did get to see Maui last month (I'll be throwing up a couple of blog posts about it soon!), but there's so much left to check out!  And now so little time to do it!

Beautiful, beautiful Maui...I sure do miss it!
Mr. L and I are in sort of a strange situation right now (medical issues), so for all we know, we could actually end up staying here in Hawaii for another year if things go a certain way for him.  On one hand, that would be amazing (more time for everything!), but on the other hand, it would mean another year of not being close to our families and (possibly) another year of putting off kids.  There's just way too many unknowns right now and it's making my head spin!

Mr. L and I during his very first trip to the USS Arizona Memorial
It really is very weird for me to be in a situation where I don't want to leave Hawaii yet at all.  I came into this whole adventure expecting to never find a "home" other than Alabama, but I've really come to love this place.  It's pretty special, and although I know Hawaii will never be a permanent home for us, it's a freakin' fantastic temporary home.  I know that both Mr. L and I will look back on the years we've lived here and truly cherish all the experiences we were lucky enough to have.  Now I'm going to do my best to cram seeing every bit of this island and our neighbor islands into our last year here and make even more memories.  Wish us luck!

Love this view so much I included two pictures of it :)
Have you ever unexpectedly fallen in love with a new place?



Five for Friday

1.  I'm so glad we had a great Halloween!  You were an awesome zombie :)

2.  I'm sorry about how I get frustrated too easily.  It's something I have to work on!

3.  You are such a fantastic partner.  I couldn't imagine doing any of this without you.

4.  If you want to take a chance on something, I want you to go for it.  Maybe it'll work out!

5.  I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed that everything happens the way we want it to over the next week or two, even if you're not as encouraged as you were about it!

ily <3