Spring Break in Vegas, Family Style 2015

Another adventure that has happened in the past year was a Spring Break vacation with the kids to Las Vegas.  The last time they were there was back in 2009 so this time around it was a bit different but still a lot of fun.  My parents were supposed to go with us but my mother took on a new job right before and had to travel to MD for training that week.  Bad timing.  But I still urged my dad to come with us.

We had 4 nights comped at MGM and one night at Excalibur…also had 4 nights + one paid night at Flamingo – which is where my dad stayed. This was great for a mid-strip resting point most days.

This is the longest we have ever been in Vegas at one time. Did a lot of walking and mainly played slots at night after the kids were tuckered out. My husband had a few good wins on the 2nd and 3rd nights which let us go home with one day’s full budget still in the bank. That has never happened before!

Unfortunately I was the only one recording slot bonuses and I wasn’t winning anything big. We missed out on recording some nice big wins by my husband which would’ve been good to add to our slot channel. Isn’t that the way it always happens?!

The trip was too long for me to post the daily details so I will just post the highs and lows.

Highs:
– Limo transport both ways via Presidential Limo. I booked this as a surprise for everyone. We got in from Dallas really late so it was nice to just get in a vehicle and go without making a gazillion stops and without having to worry about the tunnel. The cost included gratuity but I tipped extra there and back. The way in we had a stretch limo with champagne for us adults and on the way back it was one of the SUV stretch cars. Complete with mood lighting and an awesome sound system – everything was perfect. Hubby and I have decided we will spring for this every trip now that we are spoiled!

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– Freeplay at MGM through MLife and MyVegas turned into a profit. Not much but $75 freeplay at MGM turned into $95 cash and $20 freeplay at Excalibur turned into $35 cash. It was nice not to lose it for once.

– MGM breakfast buffet was great. We ate here twice and normally I don’t like breakfast buffets but going around 10am gets you breakfast and lunch so there was a wide variety of food.

– Sprinkles cupcakes in the Linq area. My daughter is Vegan so we got two Vegan red velvet cupcakes there. They were so good and I think we inhaled them in under 4 minutes!

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– Diablo’s Cantina @ Monte Carlo. We had the $50 food credit from MyVegas to use there and our bill came to about $100. The waitress came back and said that their cashier wasn’t there and the bartender said he didn’t know how to apply it so the entire lunch was FREE! We were floored and I gave her a big tip that she was very appreciative of.

– Ka @ MGM. Of course it is always a good show. Hubby and I saw it about 6 years ago. The pre-show entertainers (the ushers) were really fun. Dad dozed off in the beginning but midway through it grabbed his attention and he stayed awake. One of the ushers playing with “George”, my daughters stuffed whatever it is

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– Dad’s room at Famingo. It was a CET comp and I think it may have been a Go room. Hardwood floors and a nice view of the pool area. I was actually impressed.

– Slots at NYNY and MGM – for my husband at least. He had a nice $310 win on a new Azure progressive slot at MGM we had never played before (picture below) and the whole bank of them were playing out nicely for a few hours hitting progressive amounts every now and then. I was able to catch the very end of it on video. He also had a nice $260 bonus win at NYNY on some WMS slot we don’t know the name of and another $150 line hit on 50 cent Wicked Winnings there. His best hit of the trip was at MGM on a Monopoly game. Not sure the name but the bonus win was $38 and then he hit a 10x multiplier for a $380 total win. He also had a $188 bonus on Goldfish 3. My one good win came from the Reel Em In slot at MGM for a catch of about $160. I did manage to get that one on video. One night we went back to the room with that entire day’s budget, including what we had spent during the day on non-gaming activities and food.

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– Monorail transportation. All I can say is thank God for it. With Dad mid strip and us on the South end, it made meeting up each day and going back much easier!

– The weather. After being in the Dallas area with nothing but rain and recent ice – it was so nice to walk around in 80 degree weather for a few days.

– Lucky Cat @ Cosmo. Even though my fortune said “By the time you turn around the person in front of you will have disappeared” it was pretty cute and they let the kids come in and take a pic.

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– Hash House a Go Go. Man the pancakes are huge! Nobody could finish theirs. The biscuit that came with my veggie hash was the best I’ve ever had.

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– The Secret Garden at Mirage! After watching the dolphins play, we walked through to the tiger area and who was there? Seigfried!! Probably the highlight of my trip, it was an honor to meet such a Vegas legend. Totally unexpected and worth the price to get in. I’m so glad my daughter talked me into it! They say he just shows up sometimes to meet people and hang out. We caught him before he left for the day.

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– Pink’s hot dogs. The boys really enjoyed theirs and I was able to get a veggie dog. It was the cheapest meal we had the whole week.

$8.99 Prime Rib dinner at Tony Roma’s downtown. The boys loved this meal.

– The Bellagio Conservatory. It’s so much prettier at night!

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– Adventure dome @ Circus Circus. It’s pricey to get in but my husband and the kids said the rides were great and they liked that there wasn’t a wait for any of them unlike most amusement parks. I bowed out of that one and lost some $$ in the casino while waiting with my dad.

20150312_141909– The dude impersonating Dr Evil in front of Planet Hollywood. Spot on!

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-Gold and Silver Pawn Shop…aka. Pawn Stars.  We took the bus towards downtown and walked to visit the shop.  It’s a tiny little place but fun to see, especially since my dad and my husband are fans of the show.

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Lows:
– Our room debacle at MGM. I opted for the $34 upgrade from the offer I got via email before our trip to the tower spa suite so we would have more room. Upon arrival very late that night, she said they were all out of them but we could do a 1 bedroom instead. The catch – it was their last one on the 1st floor – but she said she put an 8th floor room on hold for us that we could move to the next day. I hate those first floor rooms. Right off of the casino floor, you feel like you are in a dungeon. The couch and couch pillows had what appeared to be crusty food – or vomit on them. It was a large room and would’ve been great on a different floor and minus the unidentifiable substance on the couch. The next day I went to check on the 8th floor room and the lady said come back around 2 and it should be ready. 3pm I go to the desk and the agent is talking forever – talking to a manager back and forth a hundred times. She tells me that the room that was on hold had a maintenance issue and we were being upgraded to a different room on the 20th floor. I didn’t mind that because I heard the word upgrade. Getting to the room, it wasn’t an upgrade – it was the tower spa suite I originally reserved. That room is actually smaller than the one on the first floor. But on a good note – there was no vomit on the couch. On the 2nd night around 915pm, the shower backed up and flooded the bathroom. We waited an hour and a half for maintenance to come up and plunge it and for housekeeping to replenish our towels and take away the soaked ones. They did give us 4 free buffets but in hindsight I think I may still write them a note. They charged me $40 per night for the upgrade instead of $34 because we were supposed to keep the 1 bedroom – which we weren’t able to.

– The crowds. The college basketball tournament was going on at MGM and by Wednesday there were fans and players everywhere. When the games let out you could barely walk without stepping on someone.

– Chasing progressives. I need to make a mental note here. Chasing progressives only make you frustrated and depressed. There was one hanging on at over $460 on a must pay by $500 WMS Queen of Africa at Flamingo. I played it for a long time and hit about 7 bonuses. That damn thing never dropped. I gave up. The next day of course I just had to go check it. Yup…someone won it and it was back at $250. Dammit.

– Flamingo slots in general. We lost our butts there and couldn’t hit a damn thing. They don’t seem to have many new slots, just a bunch of old ones.

– The smoke. I’m an ex-smoker. I vape now. Maybe I’m just more sensitive now but the smoke at the casinos – especially NYNY – was so heavy I could literally taste it. Made me wonder why the hell I ever smoked those things. Our clothes went straight into the washer when we got home.

– The line at Carlo’s Bakery! Insane!

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– The Walking Dead slot machine. OMG. $200 gone in no time on max bet without one bonus and only one good hit for $90. Unbelievable. Never again!

– The Excalibur room – oh…the Excalibur room. What can I say? Motel 6 downgraded a few categories with 1970’s décor, little plastic cups in the restroom and hallways that smell like an old gym sock. Yuck. I’ll never stay there again. I added the night as an afterthought when we bought our airline tickets and had to extend a night to get the cheap fare. One good thing, they did not charge the resort fee so it was completely free. I will never stay there again and I made it clear on my survey that they are in dire need of a renovation!

– Downtown. Not really a low for me and my husband but my dad hated it this time around. I think the 70 year old man wearing a diaper up his ass and the naked large ladies with nothing on but duct taped nipples did him in this time. I found it hilarious and didn’t mind our teens seeing it, it made for some funny conversation. I mean, it is Vegas!

And finally, Chief Two Cheeks:

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The trip was fun overall but I think 5 nights is a little much in Vegas!  My daughter had a blast.  My son, well he’d rather be home playing video games or on a beach vacation. At least I don’t have to worry that he’ll slip off to Vegas when he turns 21 and become a degenerate gambler like his mom and dad!

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Let’s Not Call Them Resolutions

2011-year-resolution-400x400I’ve been lurking around WordPress and have seen so many blogs with posts regarding New Years resolutions.  I don’t believe in resolutions.  We make these up on the first day of every year just to be forgotten quickly afterwards as one settles back into the humdrum or daily life.  I mean, we rattle these off while still on holiday vacation from work, drunk off champagne and high from sugar cookies and hot chocolate.  Why wouldn’t we think we could rule the world in the upcoming year?  The second week of January arrives, we get busy and complacent and most of us are like “Aw, F-it….at least it was a good idea!”

What is the actual meaning of the word “Resolution”?  This is what google told me:

res·o·lu·tion

ˌrezəˈlo͞oSHən/
noun
  1. a firm decision to do or not to do something.
    “she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more”
  2. the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.
    “the peaceful resolution of all disputes”

If you notice – the definition actually has a negative connotation.  It has to do with deciding to not do something or resolves around the basis of problems.  .

So, let’s not call them resolutions.  Let’s call them accomplishments….let’s call them goals. What’s the difference?  Goals and accomplishments are positive things.  They don’t have to be about solving a problem or resolving not to do something.  Goals and accomplishments are about doing something new, something worthy….something fulfilling.  They don’t have to be world-changing.  Hell, they don’t even have to be life changing but if I can reach at least one realistic goal that I set for myself in 2014, no matter how small or insignificant, then it will be a good year.

After all of this thought, I actually only have a couple of goals I would like to reach this year.  There’s no need to have a long list and the fewer I have, the more time and effort I can dedicate to reaching each one. I’ll share my list with you and at this time in 2015 you can ask me how I did.

1. Start and maintain a food blog.  I’m always telling my mother she has so many recipes that it would take years and years to possibly make everything she is an expert at making.  She makes a lot of things from scratch and even the things she uses recipes for – she changes and tweaks into something of her own.  Why let these jewels go without sharing?  When I was young, we didn’t have internet, blogs, Facebook, twitter etc. She would write the recipes down and hand them to people.  Now there’s a new world out there for letting everyone else know what a great cook and baker she is and I intend on doing it.  So, after a bit of research and time – this year, I will launch a food only blog and make it official.

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2. Move the family into a bigger house.  We’ve been renting a really nice home for going on 6 years now and we have the world’s best landlords.  They never bug us, never raised the rent, never pop up unannounced, fix anything that breaks and even send us a Christmas gift every year without fail.  But with two kids that were only 10 and 8 when we moved in – who are now teenagers – we’ve outgrown it three times over.  Since the kids have made several friends who live in the area,  the front door mimics the madness of Grand Central at times and it would be really nice to have some extra room where my husband and I can retreat to and actually watch a full length movie or our favorite TV show without being interrupted.  Our lease isn’t up until the fall and I say this every year, but we will move this year.  

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3. Take a “different” summer vacation. This is one is already in motion.  We have been visiting some area of Florida for every single year except for 2012 when we went to Hawaii.  Even then, it was the same type of vacation…we hung out on the beach for a week.  This is what we do.  Beach, theme park, beach, theme park, beach, theme park on and on…  We wanted to do something different in 2014.  Go somewhere we have never been and do something we have never done.  So California is on the agenda this year thanks to my social media loving children who asked to attend VidCon, the annual convention for YouTube-ers.  We will combine the 3 day convention with a four day driving tour of Los Angeles, Malibu, Hollywood and wherever the road leads us.  It should definitely be an adventure and we are really looking forward to it.

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That is it for now.  Three goals, three very realistic and tangible goals for my 2014.  I knew way before Dec 31 what my plans were and this is a big reason why I started blogging here again.  It’s always fun to share the ride with others and have a way to document it along the way.  Maybe several will go along with me on this journey, maybe nobody will but sharing it makes me accountable.  I hope you will visit often and see where it goes.  I look forward to good things coming in 2014!

Hula Dog or Bust!

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday.  I have a great Travel Tip Tuesday post in mind but will save it for next week.

Thursday we had planned to have lunch at the Kahala Resort located about 15 minutes away from Waikiki in the “posh posh” area of Oahu.  Apparently so posh that our taxi driver said the houses in that neighborhood range from $15 to 40 MILLION dollars.  Yes, why have one trillion when you can have one million??  Haha.

Early that morning my dad and husband rented a kayak and took it out for an hour.  I enjoyed watching them and took a few pictures.  Then we grabbed a beach umbrella and vegged out for a few hours before lunch.  Once everyone was dressed and dolled up for the Kahala, we boarded the cab and off we were.

As the cab pulled up to the Kahala I can see why this is considered ultra-luxury.  The lobby is an open air one (which I just love) and down one of the hallways there are several framed pictures adorning the walls of all the celebrities that have stayed at the resort.  Nicholas Cage, Billy Joel…even Snoop Dog to name a few.  The restaurant in which we had reservations is named “Plumeria” and the restaurant is also in an open-air setting right on the garden area with the ocean in the background.  Pure, raw beauty.

Inside the Kahala Resort Lobby

Another Lobby Shot

Hubby and I

Dad and I

 

We met up with my Hawaiian family members who had lunch with us.  Prosecco to start and yummy fruity iced tea to follow.  I had a salad and then had the fish tacos for my main entree.  They were so incredibly good that I didn’t even stop to take a picture before devouring them.  Fresh and spicy grilled huge chunks of Mahi-Mahi on a flour tortilla with cabbage slaw and some sort of tangy dressing.  Probably the best fish tacos I’ve ever had.

After lunch came coffee and dessert, which I did get pictures of.  I had the “famous” bread pudding and loved every minute of it.  By the time lunch was over I felt about 10 lbs heavier and was convinced I would need to be rolled out of my chair and out of the restaurant!

Bread Pudding

Mango Sorbet

Vanilla Flan

 

After lunch we explored the resort grounds and watched the resident dolphins get some training time with guests who had enrolled in their dolphin experience.  It was really nice to see them so close up.  I love a dolphin smile.

Dolphin Area

I took these pictures from the grounds of the resort and enhanced them with my iphone apps.  These are probably my most favorite pictures from the trip.

Dolphin Habitat Area

View of back of the resort

Pool Area

This little island sits out off the resort grounds all by itself

View from our table

More beauty

 

After lunch everyone was stuffed but we slowly got back to our normal state and went back out to the beach for a few more hours.  The girls took a paddleboard out for a while and said that they saw sea turtles swimming about below them.

That evening we were all still pretty full from lunch but my husband had heard about the “Puka Dog” which is from Kauai and featured on the Travel Channel.  The founders split into two separate entities and one moved to Oahu just outside the International Market Place.  Serving the exact same style Hawaiian hot dog, this one was named “Hula Dog”.  My husband was dead set on finding the place and trying one.

The difference between one of these hot dogs and a normal hot dog is that the bun (similar to a subway roll) has a hole in the middle in which the hot dog (or polish sausage) is inserted and the sauces are squeezed in around it.  They have some pretty unique sauces that are only available in Hawaii and that is what all the rage is about.

Sister of the Puka Dog

We walked around that night for what seemed like forever and finally located the place.  My husband then does the unthinkable…he orders his Hula dog with REGULAR mustard!  What?  He said he was afraid to order something “exotic” in case he didn’t like it.  The Hula dog and a fresh lemonade was $10.  I really wanted some noodles of some sort, my son wanted pizza and the girls weren’t that hungry.  So we hit up the food court at the open air mall for Japanese noodles and pizza and then moved on to the ABC Store for the girls to get small sandwiches, chips and soda.  The ABC store was packed and it was already around 9pm.

My Seafood Noodles — I’m not sure what all was in it but I ate it anyway!

Once again I had to finish off the evening with something mixed with vodka on ice (I promise, I only drink like this on vacation!) and some quiet time on the lanai.  I really didn’t know how I was going to manage without this once I got back to Texas!

Lazy Day Wednesday on the Island

I know it’s been a few days, I just really don’t like blogging  on the weekends (not to mention my daughter has control of the computer most of the time) and my full time job has kept me pretty busy lately.  Don’t you wish we could all live in a world where nobody had to go to work for a living?  I do!

So I think I am up to Wednesday of the trip…shopping day at International Marketplace.  That day was also my payday so a few trips to the ATM and we were set.  My mom had gotten up early and done to Lenard’s bakery for malasadas.  If you are just now tuning into my trip report and didn’t catch my rant about malasadas on day 1….go back and read it.

We spent a few hours at the International Marketplace and I’m still certain we didn’t see all of it.  My son got this weird T-Shirt that lights up when you talk, my daughter got some jewelry, we bought some hand carved tikis from the “natives” for us and my son’s BFF and did some tattoo-ing.  My mom and my son got the traditional air brush tattoos but my daughter got a henna one.  Once the guy started applying the dye to her skin he starts spewing out the rules…. Can’t go in the water for 4 hours, can’t touch it, can’t allow anything to come in contact with it, can’t let your shirt hit it etc..yada yada.  I was starting to think why the hell did I agree for her to this??  It did end up looking pretty cool tho.  Later that day the ink dried up and peeled off and left behind the actual tattoo.  Now, 2 weeks later you can still see it on her arm.  We spent the better part of the afternoon trying to avoid her arm like the plague.

“Mr. Dragon”

Attn: Wet Paint!

Mom liked it so much she wants a real one now!

My husband stopped to have a hot dog at this place called Hank’s Haute Dogs over by the tiki guys.  Seeing that it had been on Food Network and that Anthony Bourdain had eaten there, my husband and son had to try it out.  He said that it was good but that it’s more of a sausage than a hot dog. (That’s what she said….)

I luv Anthony Bourdain

Hanks Haute Dogs

My son was very impressed by the fortunes that the Great Swami were spitting out at him and I think I went through about $3 by the time he was completely satisfied with his predicted future.

The final stop of our shopping day was to the Ukelele store to buy one for my kid.  He just HAD to have one so where better to buy one than in Hawaii?  One Uke, coming right up……we’ve been home over a week and I still haven’t heard any Hawaiian music coming out of his room…….  Looks like it is soon to be MY Ukelele.

On the way back I nabbed some sushi at Sushi 2 Go (sounds scary I know but it was really good) and the kids had Subway again. We had made plans to visit the lagoon over at Hilton Hawaiian Village with my aunt and little cousin Kai.

Salmon Roll yum!

The Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon is like a big man made swimming hole.  I much prefer the actual ocean side because the lagoon is…well, kinda nasty.  The sand is packed so hard it’s like you are walking on concrete and it’s not very clean. Even though you are not allowed to smoke in that area I saw several cigarette butts on the ground.  The positive thing about it is the reason we went – its shallow for the little ones and there are no rocks to fall on while you are learning how to paddle board.  The paddle boards cost twice as much as they do on the Oceanside but the kids enjoyed learning on them.  My son was actually able to take his out and around the lagoon a few times without having to worry about waves or rocks.  By the time we were done my daughter thought she was an expert paddle-boarder!

Rainbow Tower

Getting the hang of it!

While walking back to the ocean side, we noticed that they were setting up for fireworks later that night and invited the Hawaiian fam back over our condo later on to watch them.  My aunt and cousin left for home and it was definitely time for a beverage.  We stopped at the Hale Koa beach bar and I had the 2 most yummy drinks ever.  Both a concoction of vodka and some kind of juice.  The non-drinkers in our group — namely everyone but my mother and I —  had ice tea.  This tea must’ve been like no other iced tea known to man as it was gone within a few seconds.  Either that or they were just really thirsty.

We laughed our asses off when the kids ordered an ice cream brownie sundae (described as a chocolaty brownie topped with ice cream) and what they got was a brownie wrapped in plastic wrap and a blue bell vanilla Dixie cup sitting on top of it on a plate.  The fact that I had downed two vodka drinks in less than 30 minutes could’ve attributed to the hilarity of the moment as well…

Drink #1

Drink #2

Looking towards the Hale Koa beach bar

Another view

Off to the beach for a while until the sun started to set.  I attempted some beach yoga which was very interesting and drew some very strange looks…it could’ve been that I kept falling face first into the sand while trying to do crow.  The beach was sloped. the beach was sloped!!  I got some awesome sunset pics that evening.

After our beach time we hit the snack shack again for dinner.  Shortly after, the fam came over to watch the fireworks.  My cousin brought over some Mochi Ice Cream which I had never tried before but instantly fell in love with.  My kids loved it too and now that we are back in Texas we are on the search for how to get our hands on some here.

We were able to see the fireworks pretty good from our lanai.  There was one tree slightly in the way but overall it was really nice to be able to sit out there and watch.  I think everyone had a great time that evening.  I ended the night with yet another vodka tonic – this time I mixed some guava juice in there – and a few chapters of my book.  Alas, another day had come to a close.

A Little Pipi and Pupu Never Hurt Nobody!

On Tuesday we woke up early as usual and I took my morning spot on the lanai as I sipped coffee and enjoyed the breeze.  The waves were looking good that morning and there were several surfers out taking advantage of them.  I took a walk with my mom down the street to the post office so she could mail off postcards and then to the ABC store (for about the 5th time already) to grab some sunscreen and a pair of earrings for that night’s luau.  We planned for today to be a relaxing, lazy day.

Just as our bodies were getting used to the time difference, we finally all got up and out to the beach around 1030 that morning.  The kids spent some time on the sand and in the water until around lunchtime.  My husband rented a standup paddleboard for an hour and he did great on it. He also took our daughter out and she loved it.   I tried my balance and had a fleeting thought that I would take it out a little ways but with the first bobble decided against it.  I have impeccable balance during yoga but couldn’t quite get stable on that damn thing.  The fear of falling off and hitting the rocks below pretty much sealed the deal that I was NOT about to try it.  My son wanted to try it so he climbed up onto his knees on the paddleboard.  My husband gave him a slight push at the same time my son is yelling…”No, I decided I don’t want to do this!” but by that time it was too late.  The waves had started to push him sideways and towards the jetty.  I just know he was panicking inside as he looked petrified and didn’t move a muscle.  My husband had to fumble over the rocky ocean bottom to make his way over there to “rescue” him.  Being that my son is a bit dramatic, this story will forever go down and retold as the time Daddy tried to push him into the rocks.   It’s ok tho,  Adam gets his redemption on day 5.

For lunch we thought we would try the snack shack below our condo.  The beef eaters in the family got burgers, others got steak and rice.  My mom and I do eat some fish so we got the crab salad pita which was really, really good.  Eating from there was cheap and the food was good.  If you are ever in that area of Waikiki beach you need to check it out.  Sorry I forgot to take pictures!

After lunch we decided to all get showered and changed for the luau.  The bus was going to pick us up around 4pm at the Hilton Hawaiian village to take us to Germaine’s Luau.  It was a short walk to the bus area and we got there a little early so I was able to do some people watching.  There was one lady who’s perfume was so strong I felt faint and I prayed that she wouldn’t be on our bus.  Then, there was this younger woman who walked up in an extremely tight hot pink dress which barely covered her you-know-what.  She was not a small woman and I was instantly embarrassed for my children who had to bear witness to the disaster.  When she sat down it was like that Sharon Stone scene from Fatal Attraction however it was not a movie set and she was definitely no Sharon Stone!  It never ceases to amaze me the poor choices people make.

We found our luau guide and boarded the bus.  Instead of Hawaiian music playing, it was more like current pop hits and I was a bit confused but hoped that our guide would be entertaining us anyway during the ride.  The drive to Germaine’s is only supposed to be about an hour however because of the traffic on this particular day, we left at 420pm and didn’t arrive at the luau until close to 7pm!  It was stop and go, bumper to bumper the whole way until we were off the highway. Our guide’s name was Alika (pronounced ah-lee-kah) and had some pretty funny jokes going during the start of the trip.  He must’ve run out of things to say because about halfway through he decided just to engage the Australian group in the back in conversation for the remainder of the drive.  Little did we know how much these Australians would be drinking during the luau….

During the ride we learned some interesting things.  Like…did you know that the Hawaiian term for beef is “pipi”? (pronounced pee-pee) and the Hawaiian word for appetizer is “pupu” (pronounced poo-poo)?  Alika told us that we probably weren’t aware we would be eating pipi and pupu at the luau.  No, no sir…we were not but by golly from the price we paid for this we were going to eat it and like it!

After the long ride, we were herded off of the bus and over to an area where we were all “leid”  (again) and had a picture taken. Our shell leis would serve as a place holder once we made the mad dash to find a seat.  Once that was all over, first things first….drinks.  They give you 4 drink tickets but the drinks are served in tiny cups.  We were able to purchase souvenir glasses that were twice that size and get twice the drink for the same # of tickets.  That’s what we did.  I ended up having probably close to 5 Blue Hawaii’s and a Mai Tai since I had used my tickets and had to finish the rest of the ones my husband ordered but didn’t drink.  All I know is that they were strong and really yummy.

Picture of our Luau Picture

The Luau started with the ceremony of unearthing the pork from the pit.  There’s a fancy name for it but I can’t remember.  I really didn’t want to watch it but my daughter wanted to see so I went with her and grabbed some pictures.  Then they released the tables a few at a time to go hit the buffet.  My plate consisted of regular salad, macaroni salad, green bean salad, lomi lomi salmon salad, coleslaw, sticky rice, fried mahi mahi and the coconut milk custard dessert.  The meat eaters enjoyed all those things plus the pork, teryaki beef and baked chicken.  It was an all you can eat buffet.  I didn’t go back for seconds but my kids sure did.  I was really happy and relieved that they enjoyed the food.

My Plate

The show took place during the entire dinner and myself, my niece and my daughter even tried our skills at the hula on stage.  It was a very, very fun evening and the entertainment was wonderful.  Just perfect for my kids who had never been to Hawaii before.  Some people have called the luau “hokey” and even though it was at some parts, it definitely epitomized the spirit of Hawaii and the Hawaiian culture.

My Handsome Men

The bus ride back was definitely interesting.  Our fellow riders, the Australians (as we came to call them the “drunk” Austrailians) had certainly enjoyed themselves as well. While most of us were on the more subdued side of buzzed and the kids were tuckered out, they were hootin and hollerin like crazy in the back of the bus.  It was quite funny to hear the group of them singing to One Direction’s “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” with their slurred Australian accents. At one point their outbursts became a bit on the raunchy and inappropriate side and Alika had to remind them there were kids on the bus.   Thank goodness there was no traffic on the way back!

I took a few good videos of the luau which will be posted onto our YouTube channel as soon as I get a chance to sort through everything!

As we settled in back at the condo I changed into my PJs and poured myself a vodka tonic.  I was able to get some good pictures of the moon over the ocean on my SLR camera (which I will post as soon as I have the chance!) and relaxed with my nook on the lanai.  All was right with the world!

A Safe Arrival and Warm Island Welcome

My Aunt picked us up at the airport and we were “leid” – greeted with authentic Hawaiian flower leis. It was SO nice to walk outside and not be instantly drenched in sweat. The weather was a soothing and cool 84 degrees. It literally felt like we had landed in heaven. We took the scenic route to my aunt’s house, as we were going to wait there until my parents arrived from their flight later that evening. Here are some sights we passed along the way:

The Fam in the Back Seat

Upon arrival to her house, we were welcomed with family hugs and lots of good food! My favorite surprise of all was that my cousins had picked us up a box of malasadas from the famous Lenard’s bakery down the street from their house. If you aren’t familiar with Lenard’s go HERE to see what all the fuss is about!

This is how they describe their malasadas on the website: “A malasada is sort of like a doughnut without the hole. We fry generously-sized balls of dough until the crust is golden brown with a light and fluffy inside. Because our dough is made with the finest ingredients, you get a malasada with a sweet toasted flavor, both crunchy and chewy. Ono, as we say here in Hawai’i!”

This is how I describe their malasadas: “A total party in my mouth!” Served hot and rolled in sugar, they are SOOOOO sinful and yummy.  You can also get them with custard filling tho I prefer the plain ones.  We had them again for breakfast later in the week. I would make the long journey to HI again just to enjoy more of these!

Along with those little pillows of doughy goodness, we had a plethora of salads, my favorite sticky rice and teriyaki beef/chicken for the carnivores. The evening continued and the kids got to meet new cousins as well as swim with them in the pool. My husband and I got to catch up with our Hawaiian family members who I haven’t seen in many moons!

My parents arrived later on in the evening, around 730 or so Pacific Time which was 1230am in Texas! By this time we had been awake for about 22 hours. Looking at my husband and kids, I could see through my blurry tired eyes that we were all fading fast. Mom and Dad caught some food and visited for a bit but then thought it best for us all to make our way to the condo for the night.

Once inside the condo all we could say was WOW. I knew this sucker was on the beach but this was literally ON the beach — 1st floor right above the Subway sandwich shop and snack shack. It had a lanai that wrapped itself around the condo with a panoramic view of the ocean and the neighboring park. When we arrived it was night but there is nothing like hearing the sound of waves crashing against the shore to put you right to sleep.

Inside the condo, living room with lanai outside over beach

Snack shack below

My Favorite Chair

Dark Picture but this is the beach/park view to right

View to the left

The owner of the condo had fully prepared for our arrival by preplacing goodies in the fridge for us. My son quickly found the ice cream and downed a few prior to going to bed. We all crashed pretty darn early for Hawaii time, even though it was really almost 2am by this time back at home!

Lentils: The Other White Meat

I don’t know why I’m writing about lentils…but as I was cooking up a batch yesterday evening I thought it would be good to share why I love lentils so much.  If you’ve read my other posts you know that I am a vegetarian but my family is not.  This usually results in me cooking two separate dinners….one meaty, one non-meaty.  Sometimes I have a real hard time coming up with new and exciting things to make for myself…but here’s where the lentils come in.

Lentils are versatile.  You can put them in anything.  they are also great meat imposters.  In most recipes that call for ground beef, you can substitute cooked lentils and no one would ever be the wiser.  I make a mean chili with lentils and I was able to successfully fool my son (who is a very picky eater) into thinking he was eating meat.  Not to mention, lentils are very healthy for you; they are high in fiber and protein.  I will usually cook up a batch of lentils and keep them in a Tupperware container in the fridge.  that way, during the week I can add them to anything I am cooking in a pinch when I have nothing else to make myself.

Of course, on their own lentils make a great Greek-type salad.  I’m going to make some this weekend and post the recipe, so keep your eyes out.

Here are some meal ideas in which you can use lentils in place of meat:

~Veggie Burgers
~Chili
~Tacos / Taco Salad
~Meat Sauce (for pasta)
~Lasagna
~”Hamburger” Helper
~Soup

Are there any favorite lentil ideas you would like to share?  Let me know!

Lentils….they’re what’s for dinner.