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.  

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.

Ta-Ta Weekend : {Hello Week}

Weekend Wrap-Up:

As always there was lots of cooking and baking in the Johnston house, but man was it hot!  We are going through a heat wave and my non-air conditioned little house gets so toasty when the stove and oven are on…..but we managed.

We had a fun barbecue with my brother, his girlfriend and baby girl who is only 3 weeks younger than my baby!  It is always great seeing our daughters together (there was lots of hand holding), eating good food, and taking family walks.  I am so blessed to have a great family!  Besides that I went to a goodbye party for some very good friends of mine (Josh and Rachelle) who are moving to Connecticut, and reunited with some old friends there as well.  Church was great and so was weekly Johnston family time!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

IMG_2332 IMG_2418IMG_2419 IMG_2422IMG_2452 IMG_2444IMG_2455 IMG_2374 IMG_2478 IMG_0881 IMG_0888 IMG_0897

This Week:

Looking forward to {In The Blog}:  Lots of recipes on the blog this week and they are all easy to make!    

Looking forward to {In My Life}:  This week is my hubby’s birthday and I cannot wait to celebrate him pizza party style!  Also I am looking forward to attending MOPS at our church this week and connecting more with new mom’s!…we need each other! 

Ta-Ta Weekend : {Hello Week}

Weekend Wrap-Up:

Can we say DUTCH BABY?!  Yes folks I finally tried it!  My friends and family have been telling me to visit The Original Pancake House and taste this deliciousness…..so this weekend the whole Johnston clan did!  I need to learn how to make this…it tastes like a combo between a crepe and a pancake.  It is best with butter, powdered sugar, and lemon juice….this makes it taste basically like a light lemon bar.  We ordered a side of blueberry compote on the side for it too…so good!   The great thing is it is big enough to share and it is so light you don’t feel weighed down.

IMG_0812IMG_0842IMG_0851IMG_0828IMG_0840IMG_0823

I thrifted and found these candlestick holders for DIY Cake Plates Coming Soon! (These make great gifts for people).

IMG_0802 IMG_0810

Dancing to One Direction on Just Dance + Our friends and their 6 children (yes 6!) = #BlessedIMG_0394IMG_0403IMG_0396IMG_0395

And of course we had a 6 month photo shoot! (Although she was mostly interested in my phone and her sticker)

IMG_0750IMG_0760IMG_0781

This Week:

 I want to sleep and plan DIY’s….I wish I could do both at the same time haha.  

Looking forward to {In The Blog}:  There will be a few recipes, a beauty tip, and a look into me being “uncool.”  Be sure to check them all out!

Looking forward to {In My Life}:  I love being intentional with gifts.  Don’t get me wrong, I love gift cards and giving them, but I also love to surprise people with gifts that take time.  So I have a few gifts I am working on right now that really excite me and I will feature them on the blog once they are given…sorry for the secrecy!

#Teamjohnston {Serving those you love}

Almost two years ago I started a new job that had me waking up earlier and commuting longer than any job I previously had.  After a few weeks of this I became somewhat unbearable at home.  I was cranky from lack of sleep and complaining constantly to my husband about the traffic and that I never had enough time to get ready anymore.  This crankiness resulted in crying… yes, I had a diva moment.  My calm husband just held me, told me how great I was for working so hard to help provide for the family, and said he wished I didn’t have to work.  But of course like most, I do have to work.

The next morning I woke up before the sun (as usual) and started to get ready.   A few minutes later my husband came into the bathroom and said, “What can I do to help you get ready?”  He had set his alarm to get up a little after me to help get me ready and even though I thought it was just too much, in desperation I rattled off a long list. Over the months when running late I would list off requests like: make my breakfast, start my coffee, warm up the car, lay out my outfit and pack my lunch.  There were even days I was running so late he would hold the blow dryer to my hair while I applied makeup, or put my boots on my feet while I brushed my hair.  (I know what you are thinking…I should be planning ahead, getting up earlier- I’m spoiled…ALL TRUE).

After weeks of this, there was a morning where he forgot to set his alarm and get up with me.  I didn’t wake him because I thought he deserved a morning to sleep in.  But as I pulled away from our house and began to drive down the street I saw him running after me.  I stopped and said, “What are you doing!? Go back to bed!”   But to my surprise he was upset with me.  He couldn’t believe I hadn’t woken him and reprimanded me for not doing so.  When I asked him what the big deal was he responded, “Care, we’re a team.  You do so much for us, this is something I can do for you, and I want to serve you in this way.    I know it’s stressful for you and I want to make it easier for you”  (Yes, this made me love him even more). Before I drove away he kissed me and said, “Team Johnston.”

Since then on when we do something that is hard, serve each other, compromise, or even do fun stuff, we look at each other and say “Team Johnston!”  It has come to be something we cherish, pride ourselves in, and are thankful for.

Of course you must know this took place before I was in my prime and a mommy and I have since grown out of the phase of needing help in the mornings and needing so much time to get ready….. And thank God for that!

What are some sacrifices you and your loved ones make for each other that you are thankful for?

270988_10151804080650424_1104086765_n