Thursday, September 27, 2012

Good Reads

An overall exhaustion has set in here as I enter the eighth month of pregnancy.  I've been waking up every 2-3 hours every night with one waking between 4 and 5 am where I can't go back to sleep till 6 or 7 am. I guess my body is practicing for when the baby comes.

When I can't get back to sleep, I pick up one in the pile of books I have on my bedside and do some reading until I can doze off again.

As if I didn't have enough to read, I want to add two new books to my collection that I'm very excited about.

Casual Vacancy - JK Rowling's novel out TODAY

The Mark of Athena - Rick Riordan's 3rd installement of the Lost Heroes series coming Oct. 2

I know you might understand why I want to read JK Rowling's new book though my hopes are not high because I've never read anything to top my love of Harry Potter and I don't think I ever will. The second one, you may not understand as well.  Rick Riordan is actually a children's author and I fell in love with this series when I was teaching 4th grade.  It's the next best children's series I've read after Harry Potter.... and I've been waiting about a year for this book to come out.  I know a few of my teacher and librarian friends have been too. Nerds unite!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Baby Bump

Up until about 4 months, people on the street wouldn't have necessarily known I was pregnant. In fact, when we were in New York on a very crowded subway back from Citi Field with Chris' best friend, a man offered me his seat. Later, I asked Chris if the man offered me his seat because I'm a girl or because I'm pregnant. Chris, being the smart man he is, said that he offered it to me because I was CLEARLY pregnant.

Yesterday, I went to drop off a letter to our neighbor's home that was accidentally delivered to our home. I also wanted to drop off some freshly baked cookies to them for picking up Chris' iPhone5 off our porch on Friday while I was out with my friend Mel in LA. They're an elderly couple in their 80's. We jokingly call them security since they're home all the time and the husband regularly patrols the neighborhood for us. It's only been a few weeks since I saw them last, but when he saw me he said, "OH! It looks like you swallowed a watermelon seed!"

I mentioned this story to a friend yesterday and she complained about how I haven't posted any pictures of my baby bump. It's true. I've taken very few pictures of myself while pregnant. So for those of you curious to see our little watermelon... Here he is at 32 weeks with Hello Kitty.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Long Awaited Day...

You think I'm talking about the baby, but I'm not! :)

Chris had already been living in our current home for a couple of years when I moved in after we were married in 2010.  The house was already furnished when I stepped foot into the house and in an effort to save money after the wedding, we only made some minor changes to furniture and decor.  I have a pile of framed photos to hang, which I haven't done. Shelves sitting in the closet, that have not been hung.  Somewhere along the way, I got so busy with my long commute to work and my Etsy shop, that  I abandoned all my little projects.  We do hope to move within the next handful of years to make room for more kids, but for now, I am content with making small adjustments here and there to make our place more homey.

Enter Nate Berkus, Oprah's interior designer!  His collection hits Target October 21st and the date has been sitting on my Google calendar for months.

Come October 21st, I will be at the Target store right when it opens to collect my sea urchin and hammered bowls.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

iPhone 5 Fever

The past week, my news feed on facebook has been inundated with posts about the iPhone 5. Here at home, Chris has been talking about getting the iPhone 5 for several months.  I finally joined the iPhone bandwagon this year and got the 4s, but Chris was holding out for the 5.  It's already pre-ordered and everyday, when he gets home from work, he'll ask if it arrived yet.  He even asked me not to open the package when it arrived so he could do it himself.

Today on Etsy, a whole page of iPhone 5 accessories popped up.

{1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 }

And for boys...

{1 2 3 4 5 6 7 }

Chris likes to be unique so I'm sure it'll take as long for him to find a case he likes as it will take for the iPhone 5 to make it's way to our front step.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Aloha Oahu - Part 2

Happy Wednesday! Yesterday, I shared with you about things to do in Oahu. Today, we'll talk about things to eat!  I've been watching a lot of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations because they've been running episodes back to back all throughout the day and since I'm on maternity leave already, I've been watching them pretty religiously.  This show will generally trump any other show Chris and I are watching because we love to travel and try new restaurants.  So, here are some of the places we tried.

I know it seems kind of backwards to start with dessert, but since it's my favorite and it's my blog, I will do as I please. :)

1: Bubbie's Homemade Ice Cream - There are a few locations, but we found this one on our way to Halona Blowhole and came back a second time on our way back from snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.  They also have them at some restaurants as dessert and even at Coffee Bean.  There are more flavors at the actual shops though. We got honeydew, strawberry and azuki bean.  I loved the first two, but was not a fan of the azuki bean because...well, I don't really like red beans.  That was Chris' idea and he ended up not liking it that much either.  They also have homemade ice cream which was pretty tasty too.

2: Patisserie La Palme D'Or - Located in a pretty obscure part of the the Ala Moana Shopping Center, this little patisserie had lots of pastries. This particular cake was only okay. I should have gotten the chocolate one.  However, all the Yelp reviews said that their Pineapple Jelly Plantation Tea and Jelly Au Lait were phenomenal. Since we went right after dinner, we couldn't get both drinks and decided to try the Jelly Au Lait. The entire drink was smooth and silky. It was really rich though so it was hard to finish.

3: Ailana Shave Ice - I feel like we're about to give away a secret right now.  On our first trip, my brother Yelp'ed a bunch of shaved ice places and this was one of them. It didn't have a ton of ratings, but the ones they did have were all very good.  It's located just across the way from Ala Moana.  Gene and his wife started the shop and as we chatted with them, we found out that they were actually from Gardena! We got normal shaved ice flavors and it was really good. At the time, the main thing that made Ailana stand out was the island hospitality we felt there (oh, and a place to sit down to eat your shaved ice).  But then, one day (because we went there three times in five days), I noticed that they had some homemade flavors on their menu and I decided to give it a try since I had my fill of melona and strawberry from other shops.  I chose strawberry milk and it was love at first bite! It was so good that it became one of the highlights of our trip. The photo you see has mochi that is handmade by Gene's wife! By the time we went back to Oahu a year later, Ailana has a million more Yelp reviews and everyone now knows about their awesome homemade flavors, especially the strawberry milk.  They also opened a second location on the main drag in Waikiki which is pretty convenient if you stay out there.  But if you do that, you don't get to talk to Gene and find out that he was a basketball scout in Japan and get invited behind the counter to look at photos of him with NBA players like Chris did.  :) Okay, cats out of the bag. Hurry up and go eat some strawberry milk shaved ice.

4: Leonard's - What's better than a warm, sweet malasada? One that is cream-filled.  Seriously, so yummy. It's the only thing we order there now.

5: Waiola Shave Ice - Waiola is located in the middle of a neighborhood. I'm sure it was fun to grow up in that neighborhood with shaved ice just around the block!  The flavors are standard, but this place is popular because of the super soft shaved ice. Melts in your mouth!

6: Matsumoto's - You can't go to Northshore and not stop here since the line is always out the door.  Their shaved ice has a crunchier texture and is huge. They charge you extra to get this plastic cone to put your shaved ice in so you don't lose all your sweet, icy goodness.  I guess you don't need to buy it if you can eat your shaved ice quickly!

7: Goma Tei Ramen - Also located at Ala Moana, this ramen shop always has a wait. The flavors were solid and the kurabota pork was super tender.  We both got ramen, but they have other dishes that are popular on Yelp.

8: McDonald's - I love visiting chain fast food places in different parts of the world just to see what's different there. We picked this up before heading to hike Diamond Head.  Yup, spam and eggs!  Chris got portugese sausage and eggs.  We decided to pass on the haupia pie since it was a bit early, but we did put Hawaiian shoyu on our eggs instead of ketchup.

9: Iyasume Musubi - This little musubi shop is hard to find because it's tucked away into a very small  alleyway. There is literally no parking on this street so if you decide to try it, make sure you bring someone with you who can hop out of the car to buy musubis while you circle around.  Bacon and spam, egg and spam, bacon, egg and spam, spicy chicken, salmon -- they have 20 or so different types of musubis. They also have little boxes of kara-age chicken and bento boxes.  This is the perfect place to pick up a snack when you're on your way to a long day at the beach.

10: Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin - I found this place on Yelp and it ended up being one of Chris' favorite meals on our trip.  They serve different cuts of pork tonkatsu, but it's a little more like the tonkatsu we had in Japan because they serve it with super finely shredded cabbage and offer you a variety of house made dressings for the cabbage.  The cabbage is unlimited although one heaping plateful was way more than enough for me.  The service is so awesome, for a moment, I felt like we were in Japan again.

11: Young's Fish Market - This was out first stop when we got into Oahu with my brother and his family.  Beef stew, short ribs and a kalua pork and lau lau lunch plate. Everything was tasty, but my favorite was the beef stew. 

12: Giovanni's Shrimp Truck - There are two Giovanni shrimp trucks in Northshore, but there are a million other trucks selling shrimp all along Kamehameha Highway. I'm a big fan of garlic, but it was a little too greasy for my taste.  It's definitely worth a try as a part of the Northshore experience.

13: Boots and Kimo - YUM. Mac nut pancakes with mac nut sauce. I hardly ever order a stack of pancakes for breakfast, but I will for these.  The bacon fried rice was delicious and you can add it on as a side to your breakfast.  The wait is ridiculous though. I think every time we've gone we've waited at LEAST an hour for a table and another 30 minutes to get your food. But for mac nut pancakes, it's worth it. 

Alan Wong's Restaurant - Chris and I decided to go for a fancy dinner since our second trip to Oahu was our babymoon.  This was one of the fanciest in town so we tried it out.  We got the classic tasting menu at the recommendation of our server so we could taste all of their signature dishes.  Every dish was super delicious, but my favorites were the fish and the mini coconut.  The coconut shell was made of chocolate and dipped in toasted coconut flakes. 

There are a few other notable places we tried, but I guess I was too exhausted from the day's activities to snap any photos!

And this just in...we have plans for Maui in 2013! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Aloha Oahu - Part 1

Awhile back, I was talking to a friend about how we always ask each other about places we've traveled to, looking for suggestions of places to go and restaurants to try.  We said we should start a collective blog amongst all of our friends so we can chronicle places we've been and be able to reference the blog for suggestions.  It's been three years since this conversation and it hasn't happened so I'm going to chronicle some our trips through this blog for your reading pleasure.  Hopefully, this entry will come in handy for you someday!

So, first up -- Hawaii.

We've been to Oahu twice in the past two years.  The first time we went, we went with two of our friends and my brother and his family.  The second time, we went on our own. This post will be in two parts - to do and to eat!

So before I begin with any pictures, one thing we did on both trips was snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, but I don't have any pictures of it. I think both times, I left all of my valuables in the trunk of the car since we knew we'd all be in the water with no one watching our things.  Even though Hanauma Bay is touristy and crowded, it's super easy to get to if you stay in Honolulu and it's good for beginner and more advanced snorkelers.  The first time we went, Chris and our friend Jer snorkeled out pretty far and came back to tell me they found something super cool and I should go out and take a look. I asked, "Was it a sea turtle?" Chris just smiled so I assumed that's what they found since the intro video they show you said there might be some in the reef.  So I followed him around, swimming out way deeper than I was comfortable with for close to 45 minutes looking for what I thought was a sea turtle. We didn't find it and when we got to shore, Chris told me I spent the past 45 minutes looking for a shark! A shark! No thank you mister. I'm glad we didn't find it.

Here are other things we did:

A: Halona Blowhole - Excuse my crazy hair. It was windy. When you watch the video below, you'll understand why I look like Medusa. This is on the southeast side of the island. Back in 2007, we went with a group of friends on a cruise and saw La Bufadora, one of the largest blowholes in North America. We were underwhelmed. Maybe it was just having a bad day, but Halona was much better.

B: The Aloha Stadium Swap Meet - We were supposed to go on our first trip so we decided we should go at least once.  It cost a couple bucks to get in and we walked around the stadium listening to Hawaiian music, people selling souvenirs and gifts and trying Ling Hing powdered everything. We walked out empty handed and super sweaty.  People were walking away with bags of stuff, but we hate collecting clutter and nothing caught our fancy. If you want a puka shell necklace circa 1999, though, you'll get the best deal at the swap meet.

C: Diamond Head - It's not a difficult hike and just over a mile or so to the top.   When you start the hike, it's a paved cement walkway which made the hike that much easier.  The hardest part was the super steep flight of never-ending stairs near the top.  But overall, an easy hike and a beautiful view of the crater and the city below. At the top, there's a guy sitting there with a certificate of completion, but if you want one, bring a few bucks up with you. I was getting ready to fill it out just for fun to take back home when the guy told me it costs $2.  Since neither of us brought money, I had to give it back. Boo.

D: Ko'Olina - It's quite a drive out to Ko'Olina, but it's a beautiful resort area with lots of nice hotels, including Disney's new resort, Aulani.  There are four man made lagoons, nice grassy areas and showers to rinse off.  The showers made Ko'Olina one of my favorite beaches because I hate feeling sticky. The day that we went, we went out to Lagoon 4.  Chris and I like to swim out to the middle where the water is colder and we know it's being circulated. The water closer to the shore where all the kiddos play is pretty warm (catch my drift?).  Later that night when we were back in our room watching tv, the news reported that a man had drowned out in Lagoon 4 earlier that day!  :( Always swim with a buddy! By the way, there is a Target near the freeway when you go to Ko'Olina.  They had lots of Hawaiian souvenirs and gifts, just like Walmart, and a special Aloha shop near the front.

E: Paradise Cove - On our first trip, we decided that we'd go to a cheesy, touristy luau.  Paradise Cove is right by Ko'Olina. The luau was good, the entertainment was fine, but the company and the view made the night.  Next time, we'll probably go to the Polynesian Cultural Center luau.

F: Northshore - What separates tourists from locals isn't how you speak or what you wear at the beach, it really comes down to how dark your tan is.  Locals have a deep dark tan that requires a lifestyle under the sun. Tourists can't fake it. Our white thighs give us away far too easily.  The day that we went to Northshore, the waves were so crazy, the lifeguards advised everyone to stay out of the water and only experienced locals who had fins or were surfing should stay in the water.  We sat back on the beach and watched these incredible waves and the locals surfing them while Chris and Jer decided to take a chance and get into the water. They didn't go too far, but Pris and I told them that we didn't want to tell everyone our husbands were washed out to sea when we got back home.

G: Laniakea - This little unassuming area off Kamehameha Highway is a little treasure!  I was so excited to get up close to these sunbathing sea turtles! There are volunteers who work there to answer your questions and to make sure that you don't touch or harass the sea turtles. Did you know you can be fined if you touch a sea turtle in the wild?

H: Kahala Resort - At this tucked away resort, you can swim with the dolphins. Since I was pregnant, I didn't want to shell out the $200 it costs to spend some time in the water with these guys, but luckily you can watch other people who did! Check out the video below.

I: Keep your eyes peeled for rainbows...or better yet, double rainbows!  What does it mean?!

Last, but not least, one of our favorite beaches is Lanikai. Our friends Jer and Pris introduced us to this beach. The clear water, the sea turtles bobbing next to you as you swim, the soft fine sand. What's not to love? We rented some kayaks and kayaked from Kailua to Lanikai. We stopped at a little island in the middle of the water to look at the local birds before resting at Lanikai.  The sea turtles were literally bobbing up and down right next to our kayaks.

So much fun reminiscing about Hawaii! In Part 2, I'll show you what we ate. :) Till then!

Monday, September 17, 2012

On Being Preggers...

Very, very exciting...

You'd think that after so many weeks you'd lose track of how many weeks pregnant you were, but you don't. You know exactly how many weeks you are and what month you're in.  I think in the beginning I was just so excited to be gaining ground and for the baby to be growing, but now that I'm near the end, I just want the baby to come.

I'm not one of those pregnant ladies that loves being pregnant.  Yes, it's amazing and it's a miracle what's happening inside me. When we saw our first ultrasound of Baby L, it was reaffirmation that God's creation is so good.  Cells just knew what to do, how to grow and what to turn into.  10 weeks into our pregnancy, we saw hands, feet, a head, a body and heard a thundering heartbeat. How did it know to do that?!  It's absolutely amazing.  However, it doesn't necessarily make pregnancy pleasurable.  It's been pretty uncomfortable and inconvenient. I know it'll be worth it in the end, but being in this heat and being almost 8 months pregnant has not been terribly fun.

I just watched this movie just because it was such a timely movie for Chris and I.

If I watched this movie when I wasn't pregnant, I would have just watched it and been fine. But because I'm pregnant, I watched it and sobbed at the end.  SOBBED.  I am SO pregnant right now.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hello Again Old Friend!

It's been a long, long, long time since I've blogged. I know. I can't believe that a few years ago, blogging was a way of life and then, it fell to the wayside.  I got busy with work, my Etsy shop and starting a new life with my husband, Chris.  However, I'm back and I hope that I'm here to stay.

Since the last time I blogged, a lot has happened.  Here's a quick recap!

1. I broke my foot. And in a stupid way too.  I broke my foot trampolining at a trampolining place where hundreds of children trampoline for hours and come out unscathed. I broke my foot within the first 30 minutes.  I don't have a photo of this, but I don't recommend ever breaking your foot, especially not your driving foot.  I was house bound for 6 weeks and only got to leave the house when some poor kind soul was able to take me. It was hard to go down the stairs. It was hard to take a shower. It was just plain hard. Try not to do this to yourself.

2. My husband and I took a month long trip to Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.  I definitely recommend this.  We did it in the right order too.  As our trip progressed, everything seemed to get cheaper and cheaper.
Yes, that is a Mickey-shaped churro!  We had to take one of our days in Japan to go to Tokyo Disney.

Okay, please excuse us because remember it was like 100 degrees and 100% humidity so we feel pretty miserable in our photos, but this is us in the middle of the street in Ginza.

Asia loves Mr. Donut. We saw Mr. Donuts in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.  This bear was almost too cute to eat...almost.

After 14 hours of sightseeing in Thailand, we ended up the night with some "moo ping." Okay, not really. Moo ping is street food - pork skewers at 5 baht a piece. This crispy pork is a super expensive dish, but Chris kept calling it moo ping by accident.

No trip to Thailand would be complete without an elephant ride.  We saw this elephant pee. It was quite a sight.

3. We went to New York with one of our friends. Here are a few highlights.

From top to bottom, left to right:  Lauderee's delicious macarons flown in from Paris DAILY, Yankees vs. Mets at Citifield in the rain, a famous pastrami at Katz Deli where Harry met Sally and a view of Manhattan from Brooklyn Promenade. Note - also 100 degrees with a 100% humidity. 

4. We went to Hawaii - our last flying trip for the next year or so.

From top to bottom, left to right: At our favorite beach in Lanikai, sunbathing honus and dolphin watching while eating brunch.

5. And the biggest event of the year for Chris and I is this little guy!

And I hope I updated you on some of the big events of our year.  More to come!