Family Kauai Trip : {Island Life Recommendations}

This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to go with my family to Kauai….and by family I mean the whole family:  My husband and kids, Mom, Step-Dad, Sisters, boyfriend, brother and his family, nieces, etc.  EPIC!  Anyway, me being me, I had to really plan out the trip.  I so rarely go to big places like this….plus I am a bit of a busy body…..that I had the desire to really MAX-OUT….to really “get my monies worth” so to speak.  So I asked a ton of people for recommendations, scoured the internet, printed up this here map of the island, and started marking places I wanted to see (yes and color coordinating it).  I then made copies for my entire family and sent a ton of texts regarding places to see and plans.  Too much? haha (That’s just me).  But I am so glad I did and I really felt like I got to see a lot of what I wanted on the island (of course there is tons more…but that will be for another trip).  I didn’t see everything, and didn’t blog about everything we saw…there is just too much!  But I do have a friend who lives there, so if my list of things to do isn’t enough…ask and I can def get some more places for you!  ALOHA!

EAT:

  • Puka Dog:  My husband and I loved this place and went twice!  They are amazing hawaiin style hot dogs that do not have a traditional open-face bun, but are almost incased completely in a bun….and then toppings are injected into the bun casing.  And the toppings are special…like tropical relishes and garlic mustards…YUM! It’s a must!
  • Street Burger:  The chef here is bringing some culinary expertise and is changing the food game of Kauai (say the locals).
  • Chicken in a Barrel:  These are stands on the side of the road with just some yummy chicken and ribs…we pulled over and grabbed a bite. 
  • Lava Lava Beach Club:  This was just a little indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar right on the sand in Kapaa.  It had great food and a really cool vibe.  
  • Duane’s Ono-Char Burger:  This is a little burger stand on the side of the road, but it had a huge wait and it was so yummy!  A good old burger!
  • The Wishingwell in Hana Lei:  SHAVED ICE!  You will find Shave ice everywhere on the island….but this spot was the best!

***Buy a cheap cooler and groceries and pack sandwiches if you want to travel a lot around the island and don’t want to always buy food.  We did this all the time, and it really helped because the kids were always hungry, and it isn’t like there is a McDonalds on every beach corner.  Plus you can put beers into the cooler and drink on the beach!

SEE:

    • Queens Bath: This was one of the most beautiful parts of the trip for me.  There is a short hike down to Queen’s Bath, and when I was there we dipped into the bath, then jumped off the rocks into the ocean where we were with a seal and sea turtles.  It was amazing!  But BE WARNED:  Queens bath can be very dangerous depending on the tide, so only go when it is safe.  (Not for little children)….that’s me swimming in the middle. 
    • Wailua Falls:  You can just drive up, park, and get out to view the falls and take pictures.  
    • Hoopi Falls Hike:  We took the kids on this and it was an easy hike!…but the trail is hard to find and is just a small opening across from some homes.
    • Waimea Canyon:  This is a beautiful drive and is like the “grand canyon” of Kauai
    • Hanalei Bay:  This was also one of my favorite spots.  It has a great view, great beach, no real waves which is great for kids, and you can go down the pier and jump off (it isn’t too high).
    • Wailua River:  We kayaked the entire river and then “parked” our kayaks on the shore where there was a path that lead to a hike.  This hike lead to an amazing waterfall!  My arms were dead, but it was so worth it!  BE WARNED:  Rent a kayak inadvance…they were all sold out when we tried to get one day of (luckily we knew someone in Kauai who let us borrow theirs).
    • Napali Coast:  Everyone loves this view…it’s so beautiful.  You can only drive so far, and then you either have to hike or take a boat to view the coast and beautiful mountains.
    • Maniniholo Dry Caves: These are on the North Shore and are just really cool to see.  You pass them on your way up towards the Napali Coast
    • Kalapaki Beach:  My brother and I surfed here and it was such a great experience.  You can rent a surfboard for a pretty reasonable price.
    • Honestly ALL THE NORTH SHORE BEACHES!  We would drive up and see gorgeous remote beaches, land, churches, a lighthouse, etc.  There are so many great beacheslike Anini, Tunnel’s, Hideaway, etc.  My husband and I wore our swimsuits with light clothing over, and brought towels and a cooler of food and just drove up the North Shore.  We would throw off our clothes and jump into the beaches we found, then head back into the car.  It was so laid back and beautiful.  (Clearly we left the kids with grandma at the hotel haha)
  • Luau:  My family and I went to a Luau and had a really great time!  However I was expecting it to be on a beach (like in the movies), but it was on a plantation and there were so many people!

SHOP:

Honestly I didn’t do any shopping because in paradise, who cares to shop? The only things I bought were some souvenirs, a hat for me from Hanalei Bay, and groceries! *Groceries…like a load of bread are pricey in Hawaii! Go to Walmart and Costco while there if you need to get food

  • ABC Stores:  These are everywhere in Hawaii and you can get anything from toilet paper to aouvwniers and clothes there. It’s a one stop shop to grab stuff for people back at home, or grab something you forgot.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • When traveling with young kids, prepare yourself in advance that this will not be anormal trip to paradise with lots of sleeping in, massages, date nights and sex.  So just mentally prepare yourself now lol.
  • Don’t pack a ton of makeup, and lots of fancy shoes and dresses….you will get so into the island way of living that you won’t care about such things….plus it will most likely be too humid to want to get ready at all. (Bring a tank and shorts, sandals, and a swimsuit, done).

BUT SERIOUSLY:

  • Kid Tip:  When traveling with kids, pack TONS of food, snacks, lollipops (for the ear popping), pack the Ipad and headphones, and wrap “presents” for them to open on the plane to keep them entertained.  We wrapped crayons, a coloring book, a couple small toys from the cheap section at target, animal crackers, etc.

Praise God there was a Shake Shack in the LAX airport…..YUM for days!

WHERE WE STAYED: 

We stayed in condo’s at the Lae Nani Outrigger Resort.  These are privately owned condos that vary in size (1-3 bedrooms), and there are three floors to choose from.  We booked ours on AirBnB and had a great experience.  We got a 1 bedroom, that had a pull out couch in the living room for the kids, a full kitchen, two bathrooms (showers only), and a TV in each room.  It was plenty of room for the 4 of us.  The condo was fully stocked and even had beach chairs, inflatables for the pool, snorkel gear, cooking gear, and a cooler.  Just do a little research, look at customer reviews/pics, and ask the owner questions, and I am sure you will get what you want!  It was under $200 a night for us to stay right on the beach…which is a pretty good deal to me!  We chose a bottom floor unit so we wouldn’t have to lug kids up and down and so they could just wake up, have breakfast on the lanai and run on the grass as soon as they woke.  (Our poor neighbors lol).  There is a pool and tennis court also there, and I like the location….plus if you pick the right unit (like we did), you can have an awesome morning view.  The little beach right out front was so pretty, and there was even a spot that was set aside for kids to play (a portion of the beach is closed off by lava rocks making it safe without waves).  Kapaa is in the middle (coast) of the island, so almost equal distance to the North and South Shore.  

KidzShake : {Finding a Shake for kids}

I am a protein shake and smoothie momma all the way.  Almost every single morning I drink some sort of a protein shake or a smoothie.  This is great for me, but the problem is my girls always want some of mine!  I give in some days because I they are picky and I want them to get in some protein and vitamins, and let them have some….but I always feel a little weird about it because I don’t always know whats in mine.  I hate to say it but sometimes I value flavor over the most “natural” protein powders out there.  That’s why I was so excited when I was given the opportunity to try the KidzShake products!

KidzShake sent my kids and I some awesome products to try out: The Strawberry Cream and Chocolate Cream flavored shakes and the Sportzpure Hydration drink.

KidzShake is a Premium Nutritional Shake for kids aged 2 years old to teens and was developed by a doctor FOR kids, with only ingredients that are good for growing bodies.

-Organic Protein                      -Has no added sugar or artificial sweeteners

-GMO Free                                -Gluten Free, Soy Free, Nut Free, Corn Free

-Omega 3’s                                -17 Essential Minerals + Vitamins

and more!  We were excited to try them: My youngest ALWAYS asks to sit on the counter with me and “help” whenever I “cook” and this was no exception.  I always make my smoothies with unsweetened vanilla almond milk…don’t ask me why…sounded healthier and my kids don’t taste the difference.
KidzShake has lots of great recipes on their website like this Berry Banana KidzShake we made.
They drank it up and loved the taste.  Healthy & tastes good…BONUS!  They literally keep asking me to make them smoothies anytime I ask what they want for snack or meals.  My blender needs a rest lol. SportzPURE is a flavored hydration drink that supports rapid hydration, and contains electrolytes….similar to Gatorade or Powerade, only less calories, less sugar, no artificial colors, and natural/organic sweeteners.  So better basically 😉

Re-Play Recycle Plates : {My Favorite Kid Plates

I just had to pass on my favorite plates for kids to the moms out there.  I have used all different kinds, but these by far are my favorite!  They are made out of the bottom of recycled milk gallons.  I love them because they have compartments, and are curved and semi-bowl like.  So I can put liquids like spaghetti O’s in one area, and solids in another, and not have to worry about them running together.

You can grab them on Amazon and they come in 4-packs.  Enjoy!


Help For The Brows & Boobies : {EES Essential Eyebrow Solution®}

I hate to admit it, but I used to shave my eyebrows in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  BEFORE YOU JUDGE ME, remember that thin eyebrows were in!…in I tell you!  (90’s Pamela Anderson gets it).

Anyway, because of this “brilliant” idea, I have always had a love/hate relationship with my eyebrows.  I spent years growing them back, only to find that they never came back as thick as they used to be.  I am sure you have often heard from people that they used to overpluck and now their eyebrows don’t grow back….well I am one of those people.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my eyebrows now, but I have had to work really hard at them, and I still long for them to be fuller.

Fast-Forward from the 90’s to today and it’s all about the full, natural eyebrows!  Eyebrow powders, gels, and pencils are everywhere…we all want those perfect, bold, Kardashian “brows on fleek.”  You may remember that a while back I had a post called “Birthday & Brows”  where I discussed my longing for perfect brows, and how in my pursuit of said perfect brows…my eyebrows were botched and I spent months trying to bring them back to life!

Well I am excited to share with you all a new product that I just discovered and am about to start trying to help my brows! EES Essential Eyebrow Solution®  helps to nourish and revitalize eyebrow hair and has been shown to support eyebrow fullness and suppleness. It is also the first clinically tested eyebrow solution in the beauty consumer market!  It was actually originally formulated for chemotherapy patients, to help prevent the loss of eyebrow hair during treatment.  Thats so cool right?!

So, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, EES® is proud to offer 20% off your first purchase of EES®.  Use Promo Code EES20SOCIAL.  Plus, they’ll donate 10% of all proceeds in October to @Lookgoodfeelbetter So grab yourself a bottle  (Here) and try it with me!  We can help our brows and at the same time, help the boobies by thinking pink and helping fund breast cancer research!  

Now for my Before Photos (I can’t wait to show you my After Photos in a few months):

You can see here that the end of my left eyebrow is thin and just almost cuts short.  I have tried to grow out the hairs but I have to fill it in a lot with pencil & powder.  My right eyebrow does continue more than the left, but it is patchier/thinner and the arch at the top is not as defined.  I end up penciling these areas in to match my other brow.   Each bottle comes with instructions and some cotton swabs for easy application.   Check back in with me in a few months for my “after” photos!

 

Texas State Fair

Everyone has told us since moving to Texas that we have to go to the Texas State Fair and see “Big Tex!”  We visited and had a great time!  We are used to the OC Fair that happens in Orange County every summer, so this felt familiar and fun in comparison.  My favorite thing from the OC Fair is the bucket of hot, mini, cinnamon and sugar donuts …….they are HEAVEN!  But I could not find them here at the Texas state fair.  But where they were lacking in donuts, they made up for in cotton candy…they honestly had the best cotton candy I have ever tasted!  The kids loved the fair (I quietly mourned our Disneyland Days), and we made some great memories.  I am excited about this new fall tradition!

 

My Family’s Favorite Salad : {Kids Eat It Too}

Getting my kids to eat vegetables is almost impossible…but I honestly don’t sweat it that much because I know it will eventually grow on them, they take vitamins, and they seem healthy enough.  But one vegetable they do eat regularly is this Dole Sunflower Crunch Chopped Salad.  No joke…this isn’t an ad, we seriously just love this salad.  We eat it on average at three meals a week at lease I would say!  Because the dressing is a little sweet, and the lettuce, kale and cabbage is chopped so little….the girls gobble it up!  So I thought I would pass it along in case any of you mom’s are looking at a salad to get your kids to try, or an easy salad to take to a BBQ or party.

If I get invited to a party;  I bring this salad.  If I am bringing a meal to a new mom;  I bring this salad.  If I am cooking BBQ;  I make this salad.  I used to get the Sweet Kale salad from Costco that has the craisins and pumpkin seeds in it…but I like this one even better!  The only problem is it’s hard to find at times.  I have only found it at Ralphs & Kroger.  It comes in small bags (like in my picture), and big bags.  Good luck! 
The Salad comes with Bacon, Sunflower seeds, and the sweet onion dressing.  The dressing is kind of a creamy.  Just pour in and toss!

It’s Starting To Feel Like Fall! : {Fall Home Decor}

I bought this chalkboard stand (it’s Target Threshold) at Goodwill for $2.99!

I love the idea of using washi tape to help decorate.  I bought this one at Target on sale (It’s Scotch Brand)!

This mantel was in serious need of a makeover when we bought this house.  You can check out the transformation here.

Easy Lemon Salmon

I finally got both my daughters to eat salmon!  Mom victory!!  My oldest (4 year old) has been eating it for a year, and my 2 year old just started eating it a couple of weeks ago and I am so pumped because 1. I hate making them other food when I want salmon, and 2. it’s so good for them!

What got them into it was lemons.  They love “decorating” the uncooked salmon with the lemons I cut because they look like flowers, and then at the dinner table I have more lemons they get to squeeze on it themselves.  Plus, lets not underestimate how cool it is for them when we go to Costco and they can look at the dead packaged fish and then we talk about eating it at home.

Recipe:

I make this salmon once a week at home, and it’s super easy and simple.  I buy the big salmon filets at Costco, and then cut them up into smaller fillets, put them in ziplock baggies, and freeze them for later use.  Then when I know I am going to make salmon, I just defrost them in the fridge the night before.  First thing I do is throw a little olive oil on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Then I place my pre-cut fillets on top and kinda smear the fillets around to make sure they have a small amount of olive oil on them so they don’t stick.  (You can also use olive oil spray).  Then all I do is salt and pepper both sides of the fillets.  (Not too much pepper if you are feeding it to the kids).Next I cut the skin off a lemon, then slice it into the “lemon flower” shape my kids love.Then just place 2 “lemon flowers” on each fillet.   Now bake for about 20 minutes on 350 and thats it! *
*Just don’t eat the cooked lemon that is on the fillets.  Remove them from the fish and just toss them….cooking them makes them taste more bitter and won’t be good.  If you love lemon and want more, just squeeze some fresh juice on top when serving.  Also…it’s very important to use ripe lemons or they will get too bitter and ruin the taste.

Mantel Makeover

I am a HUGE fireplace fan!  I grew up with one, and my husband and I haven’t had one in years and I was so excited when we bought our house that it had a fireplace and mantel!  Our home was built in 1996 and has A LOT of honey wood and just feels a bit dated.  I have always been a fan of white wood and furnishings in my home and I couldn’t wait to turn our mantel white.  Here is the before and after!

Minute Corn : {Trick to Fast Steamed Corn}

Cooking dinner with the kids running around and my husband still at work can get a little crazy.  Why is it they always want to play in the kitchen when I am in there??  Anyway, my kids love steamed corn on the cob and my mother in law taught me this quick and easy way to steam corn…I call it minute corn…really its a minute and a half but whos counting?

Here is how to make it:
Wet a single paper towel (Don’t wring it out) Wrap the wet paper towel over each ear of corn
Place in the microwave on high for a minute thirty and cook one ear of corn at a timeAnd voila, steamed corn!