# sweet basil & honeyed pine nut ice cream

You know I haven’t spent much time around math since high school, but I do know that ice cream = summer.  And this is officially my first summer batch.

I spent a good amount of time with Emily telling her about my obsession with making ice cream. And with a hearty umph!, I placed a stack of ice cream cookbooks in front of her and told her to pick something for us to make together. She surprised me in picking this rich basil and pine nut recipe from none other than Ms. Jeni herself.

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Surprise #1: Basil. I love basil, but I had continually flipped by this page without a thought.

Surprise #2: No eggs!

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I’ve never made any of Jeni’s Philadelphia-style ice creams yet and I was hesitant because usually it’s the eggy custard that gives ice cream its trademark richness, creaminess, and smoothness.

Surprise #3: Pine Nuts

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Typically a very rich nut, it’s made even more amazing with honey, butter, brown sugar and a bit of salt. Then again, what wouldn’t benefit from those additions? And the praline was the perfect amount of crunch.

This was absolutely incredible. Rich beyond belief, ultra creamy–even without those eggs–and a flavor that screams I-T-A-L-Y!!!!!  This even won over Joe. Maybe it reminds him of our summers spent in Lucca.

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So if you have a overactive basil plant and you just can’t make any more pesto, whip this up. It’s like eating your greens for dessert. …well, whatever we have to tell ourselves!

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Sweet Basil & Honeyed Pine Nut Ice Cream

Source: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

2 c. whole milk
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 (3 Tbs.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. sugar
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
Large handful of basil leaves, roughly torn into small pieces
1/3 c. (or more, to taste) Honey Pine Nut Pralines

To make the pralines:

1 c. pine nuts
2 Tbs. light brown sugar
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Combine the nuts with the remaining ingredients in a bowl, tossing to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Stir and bake another 5-6 minutes, stirring twice. The nuts should look bubbly and somewhat dry.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely, stirring often to break them up.

To make the ice cream:

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl and make a smooth slurry.

Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Combing the remaining milk, the cream, sugar and corn syrup in a large saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Gradually whisk in the hot milk into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the basil.

Pour the mixture into a large ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand until cold, about 30 minutes.

Strain out the basil and pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, folding in 1/3 c (or more) of the honey pine nut pralines as you go. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze overnight.

Friday Five: 2015’s Mile Marker 0.5

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

We’re halfway to a new year, which means it’s time to check in on those resolutions I set in place six months ago.

Truth be told…I’m not happy with my resolutions for this year. I’ve felt that way since I posted them here. I could have been a little more creative and specific, but that’s the beauty of this blog. Once it’s published, it’s there…living and breathing and holding me accountable.

Here’s where we stand:

5. Adventures!

I’d say we’re managing this one just fine thanks to that jaunt to America’s southern-most state. I hope this year will have more happy adventures, big or small, in the coming months.

4. Blog/Etsy!

Nope. Nadda. This one is not happening for me right now. With everything else going on (see #1), there are some days when I wish either (or both) didn’t exist. I’ve written about why I won’t let that happen…at least not now…but the urge is there and it’s strong.

3. Time Management!

This has gotten easier and though I’m still exhausted I know it’s other factors weighing on me rather than the wonky work hours.

2. Horn!

This is happening as I type. I’ve played my horn more this year than in the previous few and it’s been fun. Especially with Joe and Sean by my side and family coming up for our performances this summer.

1. Family!

In January I deemed 2015 the “Year of the Bella” and boy has it been. After being sick for 6-7 months, she finally was getting back to normal when we had to schedule a surgery last week to remove some benign growths that she was scratching and opening. Her surgery went well, but by the next day one of the shallow sutures had opened and we noticed she couldn’t hear anything. Turns out the ear treatment they gave her has this side effect…something it would have been nice to know BEFORE the surgery…and we’re hoping it comes back before the two-week timeline they gave us.

You don’t realize how much you connect and communicate with your pet through speaking until you can’t. I’ve spent the last 3 days and nights with her in the living room, sometimes just staring at her sleeping, my eyes glazed over with tears. I can’t imagine how scared she must have been to wake up in pain after surgery and not be able to hear anything. To be home and not be able to hear our voices comforting her. A few months ago Joe and I even made a list of all the words and phrases she knows (she’s got a higher vocab than most toddlers, I assure you) and to think there’s a chance I won’t be able to “talk” to her again rips my heart to shreds. We’ve shed an ocean of salt water for her over the last 8 months.

So as we hit this mile marker on the road to 2016, I’m not really looking ahead. My eyes are on my prize (Bella) and I’m taking it with her one day at a time. Here’s to tomorrow and continued recovery of her ears and my heart.

# roommate reunion

This past week we’ve had a very special visitor in my undergraduate roommate, Emily. Before I show how Emily got her Utah on, let me present some {mostly} embarrassing old photos.

Emily and I met in the orientation line before our freshman year. Both horn players, we had practically every single class together throughout our four years and spent our senior year as roommates. We even had the same job on campus working in the music library. Here’s us on our Saturday morning shift as freshman.

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Like our instrument and class schedules, our friends were mutual and we spent a lot of time together on and off the stage.

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Marci, Nick, Jesse, Emily

She + Me + Kim = our class of horns. (We missed you, Kim!)

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I haven’t seen Emily since 2007, so this was a special treat to have her all to myself for a week. It was like no time had passed. But here’s how we passed the time:

We enjoyed everything Logan’s Summerfest has to offer, including gourmet poutine–Emily’s favorite.

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We also headed north to Bear Lake — a Logan must for new visitors.

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And what do we do when we visit Bear Lake??? We eat fresh raspberry shakes!

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Joe is looking mighty Utahan these days.

Wanting to see the lake up close, we drove around (into Idaho and back) to find a good spot to reach the water.

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We found this perfect public park that had a boardwalk through these dry reeds to the beach.

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Funny story: I hung back a bit to take this picture and heard some rustling behind me. I turned around just in time to see this huge snake (the last 1/2-1/3 of it at least) weaving through the plants. Absolute terror. I’m still replaying it in my mind.

At least the lake was nice!

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I’d like to think that Emily flew across the country to visit us and watch Family Feud marathons, but she was actually in Logan for the American Harp Society’s Summer Institute. Emily is one-half of the awesome horn and harp duo Apple Orange Pair, and they performed an incredible recital of works they had commissioned. Well done, guys! (And major props to Chilali for putting on a flawless conference!)

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I also showed Emily the joy of homemade ice cream and let her choose a flavor for us to make together. She picked a winner and I can’t wait to tell you more about it.

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Thanks for visiting, Emily! It was so great to see you after all these years and laugh and stay up late like we did when we were mere babes.

Friday Five: Signs of Summer 2015

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

This Sunday is the first day of summer. Despite all of our summer vacations already said and done. Despite me wearing shorts before mid-July. Summer…”Summer”…is just beginning. And, like last year, here’s how it’s feeling realer than ever:

5. Temples and Tacos

Tonight we will flock to the booths of homemade art and the food trucks slinging the best tacos and mac-n-cheese. It’s tradish.

4. Festival Frenzy

Logan’s annual opera-musical theater fest starts on Sunday. I’ll be playing more this season, which has required me to get my horn out of its case. Amazing concept.

3. The Vore-tex

Sean and Wallis arrive tomorrow. That’s the surest sign of both a good time and the start of the true summer. So thankful to spend our warm weeks with these wonderful friends.

2. Reunion

This week also has my college roommate, Emily, visiting! We haven’t seen each other in years, but it feels as though no time has passed. We’re looking forward to showing her Utah’s best. Here’s us on graduation day, 2004. More soon about her visit!

1. Home, Sweet Home

After what has felt like non-stop traveling for months, Joe and I are finally home. The suitcases are completely unpacked and put away. And that’s probably the best feeling of all. Let the easy livin’ commence!

# tulsa trip: two littles and a wedding

Last weekend, while Joe was teaching in California, I spent a whirlwind few days in Tulsa for Ica’s wedding. It was fast and furious…and my purse camera and I are no longer on speaking terms…but here’s the run-down of happenings:

I got to spend a lot of time with my favorite littles.

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Linc, who wouldn’t let go of me in April, decided we would just stick to our Facetime modus operandi: waving at a distance.

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Lily had a great time trying out Nonna’s old flute.

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Her momma showing off her Jenks fight song skills.

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My dad’s Monkey Bread Muffins. Yummm-o!

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A boy and his Poppa.

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Just chillin’.

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Lily was taking a song and crafts camp that week, so she made me a few treasures.

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I got to visit her at camp for the final sing-a-long and artwork reveal. So cute.

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She wanted to make a table runner, so she drew this smiley face, copied it herself, cut them out and glued them together. I’m amazed at her creativity until I remember who her momma is. #BoohStewart

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She’s a laugh-a-minute kind of niece.

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While Lily was at camp I got to have some sweet one-on-one time with Linc. #thoseeyes

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And watch him play with toys we played with when we were his age.

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A boy and his YaYa.

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Loves.

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We also had a special girl’s morning with the “Bees” — which is what Lily calls Pop’s B’s. hahahahaha

We met for Aunt Pam’s famous waffles — which Lily supervised, but said she wouldn’t be eating since she ate breakfast earlier that morning. That didn’t stop her from cleaning out a practically-empty Cheez Whiz jar. She cracks me up. A girl after my own heart.

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My favorite waffles.

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The Queen Bee herself.

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Afterwards we showed Lily the beauty of the Mani-Pedi.

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The difference between being 7 and being 33.

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So grown up!

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All hands on deck!

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When I wasn’t smothering these guys with love, I was celebrating Jessica and Alex! First with the most tame, laid-back bachelorette party of all time.

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Helping with tablecloths at the reception venue.

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Enjoying my last Sonic run with MISS Ica. 

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Taking pictures at the rehearsal dinner.

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Taking pictures at the reception, before everyone arrived.

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And, of course, the actual wedding, which was beautiful. So beautiful that my camera couldn’t focus on anything. And now I want to throw it away.

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They were picture perfect, though. Despite my camera’s lack of cooperation!

The lovely bride and groom with their favorite kazoo player and business-card distributor.

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Trouble.

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Lovely, lovely.

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A girl and her cousins.

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Old friends and new husbands.

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I’m happy for you, Ica! What a lovely wedding weekend!

# hawaii: part 5

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Instead of a Friday Five, today you get Part Five of our Hawaii adventure—the final installment. Whew! No one is more relieved than I am for these posts to be wrapping up…although it has been a fun way to relive the adventure.

# Day 8

As with yesterday, we continued being as flexible as possible. This was our last day, but since we were taking the red-eye flight home and had no set check-out time, we could do whatever we wanted. And what we wanted was to watch the sun rise over Haleakala. But weather forecasts the night before called for clouds and storms. So we slept in instead. See? Pretty flexible!

We were not about to give up on some kind of snorkeling. We wanted to see SOMETHING before we left, so back we went to the beach with our gear. The water was…you guessed it…too strong from the winds, so we walked the shore until we found these rocks that formed little pools of sea life, completely protected from the crashing waves.

Maui: 1, Joe & Marci: 1

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Photo caption award goes to Sean for “My preeeecccciiiouussss”.

There we saw tons of fish, crabs, sea urchins, sea anemone and several eels, including this guy who kept popping out to say hi to Joe.

See him on the bottom?

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We were out there for quite a while, but it was the perfect way to experience some ocean life and–the best part–we didn’t even have to get that wet!

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Our little secluded spot offered some more gorgeous views of where we had spent our beach time the last two days.

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After cleaning and packing up as much as possible, we took off for the middle area of Maui—a section we hadn’t yet explored. First up was lunch at the Hali’imaile General Store, another recommendation from Nat and Nicoleen.

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Among other things, we split these brie and grape quesadillas that came with a cilantro and macadamia nut pesto and sweet pea guacamole. So. freakin’. good.

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I also tried to cram in as much local pineapple into my last day as possible. Cue: Pineapple lemonade.

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It was drizzling by midday, but that didn’t deter us from driving up (over 4000 feet!) to see the Ali’I Kula Lavender Farm.

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See that fog? You’re supposed to be able to see the ocean!

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Joe wasn’t really up for walking around in the rain, but I was. This place was breathtaking and the smell! Let’s just say I felt like I had been hit by a lavender tranquilizer gun…in the best way possible.

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The lavender was lovely, of course, and covering just about every square inch of the farm.

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Funny little blooms.

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But there were also sprawling gardens of so much more. Like the most colorful succulents…

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These were stunning.

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There were also trees with these white bulbs all over them.

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I had no idea what they were until I saw this one blooming. Fascinating! What is this and how can I have them all over my yard?!

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It was just a magical place. I could have spent a lot of time here. Not to mention…their shop sells lavender tea, hot lavender scones and lavender brownies.

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Go here. Rain or shine. Take a guided tour or just walk alone in the gardens. It’s worth it.

Now that we’re nearing the end of these posts, I bet you could guess the last thing I wanted to do before leaving for the airport.

If you said anything other than shave ice, you should start over with Part 1 again.

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For our last time, I had Li Hing (duh), Passion Fruit and Blue Hawaii. And they even had Li Hing powder to sprinkle over the top!

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Joe had Cola, Lime, and Mango. And we totally learned our lesson and got the micro size. #muchbetter

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Do you see how the ice is like butter? The power of Ululani’s!

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The sweetest way to end the sweetest of trips.

That night, we stood outside our gate at the airport and watched the sun set. It wasn’t as amazing as our first Maui sunset, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get choked up. This trip brought us so many smiles and laughs—something we needed after a handful of hard, emotionally-heavy months. It was a wonderful escape and the perfect way to celebrate our decade of togetherness. We didn’t want to leave. But, who ever does?

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Mahalo, Hawaii.

And a big mahalo to you for reading the last five posts and for looking at a gazillion photos. Hawaii Trip 2015 is officially in the bag!

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# hawaii: part 4

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# Day 6

Everyone needs a recovery day on vacation. A break from the running around, the lines, the cameras around the neck… no one wants to come back after a trip more exhausted than when they left. So, today was our vacation sabbath and it was good.

Among getting some rest, leisurely exploring our part of the island (Kihei) and trying our best to fit in with the laid-back locals, here are the rest of the day’s highlights:

We drove up to Lahaina and Kaanapali, which are the uber-touristy parts of Maui. They are home to many resorts, one being the Kaanapali Beach Hotel where our friends Nat and Nicoleen stayed this time last year. They highly recommended we check out Leilani’s On the Beach, one of the many restaurants on its property.

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It’s 5-o’clock somewhere, amiright?

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I think Joe picked this strawberry ginger daiquiri for its name: Humuhumunukunukuapua’a.

“Hard to say, easy to drink.”

The highlight of this meal, Nat and Nicoleen warned us, was going to be the Hula Pie. Everywhere you go, menus would say this island favorite was the reason sailors would swim to shore.

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It’s so simple, yet so unbelievably good.

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Oreo crust + Macadamia Nut Ice Cream + Hot Fudge + Toasted Macadamia Nuts + Whipped Cream

= OMG

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To walk off all of that deliciousness, there’s a trail next to the restaurant with a front row seat to Kaanapali Beach, which is stunning.

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Because only I would suggest a second dessert after Hula Pie, we found Maui’s famed Shave Ice establishment on our way back: Ululani’s.

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While Matsumoto’s on Oahu is known for their traditional flavors, Ululani’s is known for its gourmet approach.

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The line was looooong, but—as always—worth the wait.

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We went with the regular size, thinking “micro size must be for the little kids, right?” Um, hellllo….

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I had their Local Motion: Li Hing (!), Mango, and Pineapple. You remember Li Hing, right?

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Sweet and salty syrup? Smiles all around.

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Joe opted for a richer concoction of Root Beer, Cola, and Coffee with a “snowcap” of sweetened condensed milk.

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The perfect bite:

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It took us 15 minutes to finish, but we both agreed that Ululani’s shave ice is superior to Matsumoto’s. …That could have also been the sugar talking. This is also the sugar talking:

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After we emerged from our food coma later that day, we took the beach gear from our condo and walked across the street to Kihei’s gorgeous stretch of sand.

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We put down the camera and played in the ocean for a looooong time, boogy-boarding and swimming together. It was so much fun and, honestly, one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. I did manage to nab these two shots before we called it a day…the first one being another favorite image. I could look at it all day.

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# Day 7

Today had us up bright and early (again) for our all-day snorkeling adventure. We had booked the day with Trilogy Excursions, rated #1 on Trip Advisor…for a reason.

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It was windy when we boarded, but what else was new? It had been crazy windy since we got there.  We found a good spot near the back of the boat and settled in for the ride.{Don’t mind the sunscreen smears on my lens.}

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Now I want a catamaran.

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About an hour out, our captain started radioing other boats further out to check conditions. Everyone was in agreement: the wind, and therefore the swells, was just too strong. It would’ve been beyond dangerous to dump us in the water. Everyone was turning back for Maui, but our captain said he’d give us a tour of South Maui and take us out to see Molokini—the snorkeling hotspot—anyway.

Here’s our first look at Molokini.

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We were disappointed for sure…

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…but we got a free three-hour catamaran ride around Maui and it was awesome. Plus, Trilogy fully refunded or rebooked every single person on the boat. Impeccable customer service. We can’t recommend them enough!

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Since we suddenly had a few hours in the day we weren’t planning on, we decided to try out other beaches to see if we could snorkel on our own, but the waves were still too dangerous, so we just played  and relaxed near the shore.

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Not exactly the way the day was supposed to play out, but we made the most of it. Nothing a little bottle of pineapple wine couldn’t fix.

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# hawaii: part 3

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The Road to Hana.

Infamous for its curves, tiny bridges and lack of visibility, this glorified one-point-five-lane highway takes you into the depths of paradise. Even though the road is well-worn, you feel as though you are venturing into unchartered territory.

You also feel crazy, because who in their right mind would crawl into a car and subject themselves to this, which is just a portion…a mere fraction…of what you endure?

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Answer: Everyone who visits Maui.

There are hundreds of sites and blogs that will tell you everything (and then some) about the Road to Hana. If you want to see everything, make it a two-day trek and spend the night in Hana. If you’re attempting to do it in a day, pare down your stops to something manageable. We did 6-7 stops and it felt like the right amount for us, albeit pushing it. Our entire round-trip adventure took 11 hours—and that was during the slow season with less people and, more importantly, less traffic. Plan. Ahead.

I was on the fence about whether to even attempt this after hearing nothing but horror stories from our friends. Yes, it’s a slightly-dangerous, exhausting drive, but you will see things you cannot see anywhere else on the island. It’s totally worth it. Here are a few things that made it easier:

* Start early. We left at 7:30am to beat any midday traffic.

* Make the drive early in your trip. Don’t wait until you’re sunburned and exhausted from playing on the beach. We did it our first full day on Maui.

* Have a full tank of gas. There’s no place to get fuel until you get to Hana, so fill ‘er up completely before leaving Paia.

* If you have a tendency to get car-sick, eat a light carb-heavy breakfast (no acid, no dairy), pop a Dramamine and don these sexy Sea Bands. I didn’t have one issue the entire ride.

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Annnd after wearing it for over 11 hours straight:

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* Plan out your stops in advance so you aren’t twisting and turning your way back to town in the dark.

Here are the stops that made our short list:

# MM 10.5 – The Garden of Eden

At $15 a person, it’s hard to imagine that this is really a worthwhile stop when most of the other sights are free, but this is one of the best places we explored. The family-run botanical garden is home to over 500 of Hawaii’s stunning indigenous specimens. And it’s a great place to stretch your legs. They have several walking trails (or you can drive through) that reveal so many interesting flowers, plants, incredible ocean views, and even a secret waterfall.

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A little perspective on how huge these bamboo stalks are…

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Avocado!

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# MM 17 – Keanae Peninsula

This is a good stop if you’re anxious to get off the main road, sit by the ocean and enjoy taro beds and lava rock. It’s gorgeous. Every sign and person will tell you not to swim here because it’s so dangerous, but we watched a guy and his two dogs go crazy jumping off the rocks.

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# MM 18 – Halfway to Hana

Even though you’ll only be back on the road for another mile, this place is worth the stop if only to grab a mini loaf of their famous banana bread—a recipe they’ve been whipping up for tourists since 1983. I like my recipe better, but it was still delicious and hit the spot.

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# MM 22.8 – Puaa Kaa Waterfalls

There are so many waterfalls along the way, but few that have off-road parking so take advantage of this stop. The 20-foot waterfall is gorgeous and also provides easy-access swimming holes….for those that like to be soaked on an all-day car ride. (Not me.)

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On our way back to the car we also spotted a slew of adorable cats and I managed to catch one mongoose for a pic. These guys are all over the islands and this was the first (and only) opportunity I had to capture one before it scampered off.

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# MM 32.2 – Waianapanapa State Park

If ever there was a place to stop on the Road to Hana, this is it. This family-run park offers mind-blowing views, blowholes, lava tubes and…the best part…black sand beaches.

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The pebbles at the back of the beach are quite big and then they get finer and finer, until ultimately you have sand where the water has constantly ebbed and flowed over the rocks.

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It was pretty awesome to see and plenty of people were swimming. Doesn’t it look like water on asphalt?

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The entire park was gorgeous.

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We even climbed through a narrow lava tube.

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Once you’re on the beach, over to the left is a trailhead leading you across the shoreline. One of my guidebooks likened it to “Alice in Wonderland in Hawaii.” That pretty much sold it for me.

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It offered a pretty amazing view back to the beach.

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And you got a good look at what these volcanic rocks looked like before the ocean pummeled them for years and years and years.

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# MM 36 – Hana!

We actually didn’t stop in Hana, but there are nice places to catch a meal and a bathroom break along the highway.

# MM 45 — Wailua Falls

This magnificent 113-foot waterfall is right next to the road. It was gorgeous, but becomes a bit of a traffic nightmare as people try to just pull over on the bridge to snap a picture instead of parking in the designated lot *after* the bridge.

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# MM 42 – Oheo Gulch and Pipiwai Trail

The mile markers stop at 50 and start reversing afterwards, so this evens out to a little over 9 miles after you leave Hana’s limits. Honestly, I hated these nine miles more than the rest of the previous miles combined. It was very rough going, but soon you’ll come to Oheo Gulch also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. There is a $10 park fee, but as my aunt says…”Pay the man!” This is one of the best places you’ll see on the island.

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Oh, how I wanted to slip into these cool waters!

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They run straight out into the ocean!

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North of the pools is the Pipiwai Trail, lauded as one of the best hikes in Maui. It’s four miles round trip and takes you through swarms of mango trees, a bamboo forest and ends at the 400-foot Waimoku Falls. We didn’t make it the entire way (exhaustion + bugs + wanting to see the pools), but it was definitely worth the 45 minutes we put into it.

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The bamboo forest was epic. These shady stalks were so cold to the touch that I actually rested my head against one for a few minutes to cool down. (Cue Joe acting like he doesn’t know me.)

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Although we didn’t make it to the top waterfall, we still had plenty to swoon over along the way.

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One mile past the pools is a small church and the grave site of Charles Lindberg. We didn’t make it there due to said exhaustion, but overall this is a good place to turn around and head back. If you’re in a rental car, chances are your contract won’t let you finish the loop because there are several miles of unpaved (hideous) roads that require at least a Jeep if you’re wanting to have all of your teeth when you return to the States.

The pools/trail has a really nice park area to rest and clean bathrooms, so that’s all we needed before piling back into the car to make the 3.5 trip home.

If I could do it again: I’d spend less time stopping at the smaller, random waterfalls like these…

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…and spend more time at the sacred pools and hiking to see the big one. I was sad we didn’t have more time there, or that I couldn’t just submerge my sweaty self in those chilly waters after the hike, but we had reached our max by that point and you have to save something for that ride back or you’ll go crazy.

That’s it! We did it; we survived the Road to Hana! (And now you did too!)

Friday Five: A Girl and her List

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

Have you guys seen the quiz going around Facebook? The one you’re supposed to give your kids and then post their honest (hilarious) responses? I first saw one thanks to Amy, whose two kids gave the funniest, sweetest answers. I had a certain Little in mind when I saw more and more friends posting their quizzes, so I invited my favorite guest blogger back to help with today’s post.

Here she is…

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She’s suddenly so grown up, suddenly a second-grader, and suddenly (and bravely) in a cast for the next few weeks.

M: Do you want to help me with another list for my blog?
L: Yes, of course.
M: Okay, I’m going to ask you some questions and you just answer with the first thing you think of, okay?
L: Yep!

M: What is something your mom always says to you?
L: “Time to nap.” I have to take naps and rest with my cast.

M: What makes your dad happy?
L: Star Wars

M: What makes your mom sad?
L: When I do something wrong

M: How does your dad make you laugh?
L: Jokes

M: What was your mom like as a child?
L: Annoying to a little sister (ha! I swear that was her honest, first answer! No prompting by said little sister!)

M: How old is your dad?
L: 37

M: How tall is your mom?
L: About 10 feet

M: What is your dad’s favorite thing to do?
L: Watch TV and nap

M: What does your mom do when you’re not around?
L: Play with my brother

M: If your dad becomes famous, what will it be for?
L: Engineering

M: What is your mom really good at?
L: Teaching

M: What is your dad not very good at?
L: Writing

M: What does your mom do for a job?
L: Nothing (me: cracking up!)

M: What is your dad’s favorite food?
L: Pizza

M: What makes you proud of your mom?
L: She’s smart

M: If your dad were a character, who would he be?
L: Luke Skywalker…he looks just like him!

M: What do you and your mom do together?
L:  Shopping

M: How are you and your dad the same?
L: We both have blonde hair.

M: How are you and your mom different?
L: Our hair

M: How do you know your dad loves you?
L: Because he kisses me

M: What does your mom like most about your dad?
L: He’s cute!

M: Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?
L: Michael’s

M: How old was your dad when you were born?
L: I don’t know…31?

M: Okay, that’s all of them! Happy with your answers?
L: I can’t believe I said my mom was annoying.
M: Believe it. To me, it’s your best answer.

(We love you, Booh!)

Today’s blog post comes from Lily.

IMG_9841 Lily is a sassy seven-year-old, an amazing big sister, smarter than most and loved by all.

She likes to swim, read, play with her baby brother and shoot guns like a boss.

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Above sentiments also shared by brother, Linc:
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# hawaii: part 2

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# Day 3

Two of the best meals we had on the entire trip happened on this decadent day. Hitting up blogs, pinterest and Instagram to find culinary gems is how I roll and at some point in my research I kept seeing mentions of Koko Head Café.

Famous for their homemade dumplings and cornflake french toast, it’s lauded as Honolulu’s hottest brunch spot among locals and tourists alike. One look at its menu and you’ll see why.

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Joe’s heart lies in horns, drum corps, me, Bella and…french toast, so he couldn’t really pass up their claim-to-fame, especially when it comes with billionaire’s bacon, creamy black pepper maple syrup, and frosted flake gelato.

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I, lover of everything BUT french toast, went with their version of coffee and doughnuts: cinnamon-sesame cake doughnuts with Kona coffee creme anglaise.

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Oh, and a scrambled egg…because….you know….balance.

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The meal, not surprisingly, was out of this world. We were even planning on going back the next morning so we could try more things, but that didn’t end up happening. (You’ll see why in a minute.) For anyone hitting up Oahu, this place is a must. It’s small, so get there early (with quarters in hand for parking) and get ready for the brunch of your life.

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With full stomachs we found heavy hearts at Pearl Harbor. Man, what a place.

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Somber City.

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Massive anchor raised from the sunken USS Arizona.

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Sobering details about the ships whose names I call home, Oklahoma and Utah.

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The museum is very well done, albeit packed with people constantly. These were some of my most-touching finds:

The night before the attack, there was a “Battle of Music” between each ship’s bands. The USS Arizona had previously won the November battle, but USS Pennsylvania won that night. The next day, every member of the USS Arizona band perished in the attack.

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The first draft of FDR’s unforgettable speech following the attack, including his famous switch to the word “infamy.” (Crooked picture alert!)

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A USS Arizona officer’s clock that stopped right at the moment of its bombing.

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50 years after the bombing, this torpedo was recovered near where the USS Oklahoma was moored. It was almost fully intact, its warhead still armed. It was transported to sea for detonation and this section was recovered.

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Spellcheck…it’s not just for your school papers.

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When I was in Hawaii over 20 years ago, the waters were too choppy to see the USS Arizona memorial, so making the voyage to its final resting place was very moving. Especially since it was closed soon after our visit.

A little travel tip: Tickets to visit the USS Arizona are free on a first-come, first-served basis each morning starting at 7:00am. There are only 1,300 tickets each day and during peak season lines start to form around 5:00am. But! For a minimal price ($1.50 per ticket, I believe) you can book them online one day in advance (also starting at 7:00am) and choose a tour time that’s best for you. I highly recommend you go that route and save yourself some serious line time. Click here for more information.

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Its wreckage is still leaking oil after all these years. I think this is one of my most favorite pictures from the trip. Hauntingly beautiful.  I can’t stop staring at it. It might have to go on a wall.

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The USS Arizona is a national cemetery and any of its crew members that survived that day can choose to have their remains returned to the ship via one of its gun turrets. If this doesn’t give you chills, please check your pulse.

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Staggering.

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So many people, hardly a word spoken.

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Right as we got back to land it started to drizzle, so we ate lunch in the car and waited for it to quickly breeze over so we could check out the Pali Lookout.

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It would have been great to see this in all of Hawaii’s sunshiny glory, but the clouds were mystical in their own way.

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And recent rains make pretty flower shots.

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Hawaii is teeming with wild chickens. They are everywhere and love to strut their stuff. Like this guy…

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…who showed me some of his yoga skills.

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On our way home we were lamenting that the next day would be our last on Oahu, so to stifle the sadness we fed it more malasadas from Leonard’s. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

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More Li Hing! More Li Hing!

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Just call us Sugar Lips and Sweet Lips.

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That afternoon the sun finally came out and it was the perfect time to make use of our condo’s proximity to one of Hawaii’s most famed landmarks.

I give you…a very empty….Waikiki Beach. (Off-season for the win!)

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Couple’s Swim!

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Another one of my favorite pics from the trip…a non-posed, totally serendipitous capture of our pure joy….laughing over the fact he called me Baby Moses before pushing me out to sea. I needed this joy so bad. #hardspring

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We had a great time in these crystal clear waters, but I won’t subject you to the hundreds of photos I took of us in them.

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An epic swim deserves an epic meal, and that’s exactly what we got that night when we celebrated our anniversary with an exquisite dinner at JJ’s restaurant, Bali Steak and Seafood.

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Okay, here’s where the apologies start rolling in like crazy. This meal was one of the absolute best of my lifetime, so I of course wanted to document it. But the restaurant is very dark and I didn’t want to be that girl sitting in the nice steakhouse taking pictures of food with the camera’s flash. So…this is the best I could do, which doesn’t even come close to doing the food or the atmosphere justice. Just…work with me here. I’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorry!

Woodcut menus…faaancy.

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We started with specialty cocktails: Bali Mai Tai and Mango Ginger Beer Soda.

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We ordered our entrees, but JJ wanted us to have a full experience of his menu, so he surprised us with a few dishes. This one, this bite, just about blew my mind.

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It was a dollop of fresh burrata cheese, homegrown parsley and tomato, crisp and a sprinkling of the most decadent sea salt. Seriously I’ve never been more in love with salt than I was with this dish.

Next was his tomato and green papaya soup (vegan!) with macadamia nut relish. Amazingly robust for being vegan. His secret? Olive oil. He told me “if you’re making a sauce and something tastes off, you probably need to add olive oil.”

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For dinner Joe ordered the 12 oz. filet mignon with smoked-salt gorgonzola butter…

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…and I had seared tofu with sweet and spicy eggplant, big island honey, hamakua mushrooms, black beans, maui onions, and house pickled okra.

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Guys…… Guys. If the staff at this place didn’t already know we were friends with the chef, I would have put my face down on this plate and unabashedly licked up every last bit. I was enamored with it. Best tofu dish. Ever.

JJ also bombarded us (in the best way possible) with a sampling (read: full plate) of these sides: yukon gold potato puree; grilled asparagus with béarnaise; brussels sprouts with macadamia nuts, raisins and apple cider vinaigrette; and, my absolute favorite thing, broiled local tomatoes with a 20-year balsamic vinegar and sea salt. Again, the salt.  I wish I had better photos for you guys…

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I have had a lot of good meals in my life, but this one….this one…was beyond incredible. JJ joined us off and on throughout the meal , where he told us about how he makes his signature salts and how he comes up with his dishes. I was in heaven.

To finish, Joe had a tropical fruit cobbler…

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…and I had a coconut cheesecake with blueberry and local honey compote.

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And now you know why we didn’t go to Koko Head Café the next morning. JJ, you’re amazing. You make me want to go to culinary school and move to Hawaii. And eat salt. I can think of no higher compliment. You gave us the most perfect anniversary celebration that we’ll never forget.

# Day 4

Our actual anniversary!

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If there was ever a time to take it easy, it was today after yesterday’s food-fest. We spent the morning walking Waikiki Beach and enjoying the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s saucy parrots.

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We also spent time packing up our stuff and saying goodbye to our condo, which had this incredible view bee-tee-dubs.

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37th floor, huge windows that opened up to Waikiki Beach. Hubba, hubba. (Forego the often-overpriced resorts and find awesome places like this on VRBO.com or HomeAway.com.)

Then we were off to Maui.  Once we got there, got our car and made it to our condo, we were nearing sunset time. Luckily our condo’s owners left us a binder of information including where to go for their favorite sunset views—just cross the street!

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And it didn’t disappoint…

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We were literally sitting on this cliff with front-row seats to the show.  The sun was hiding behind some low clouds, but we were patient and then out it finally came.

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On that note…parts 3-5, coming as soon as possible! (Click here for Part 1.)