Category Archives: Travels

Hawaii 2014 Recap

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Each and every year I look forward to our annual family vacation, but this year we mixed it up a bit, which resulted in my favorite trip yet! Here are a few fun things we added to our itinerary (make sure to check them out if you ever are in Maui!):

  • Restaurants
    • We had a slightly larger group this year, and going during spring break can be a bit of a struggle to schedule reservation-wise, but here is what we did (tip: make reservations as soon as possible – as in months in advance, you can always cancel)
      • Sansei Sushi – I advise 7pm reservations – there isn’t a view from this resaturat, so feel free to head to the Ritz next door for cocktails and the sunset, then enjoy the best sushi on the island (Must Haves: Mango Crab Hand Roll, Panko Ahi Roll, Sansei Special Roll)
      • Honu – This on-the-water restaurant is one of my favorites.  It is worth leaving the beach early to score a 5:30pm reservation because the sunset view can’t be beat (must haves: Skinny Chi cocktail, burrata appetizer, oysters, kale salad and macarons)
      • Mala – Honu’s sister restaurant, Mala is another one of our favorites.  Another spot where the early bird gets the worm, the view is gorgeous and food is amazing (must haves: ahi bruschetta, mahi mahi ceviche and Mai Tai cocktail)
      • Cool Cats or Cheeseburger in Paradise – both of these spots have great burgers and are great spots for a relaxed dinner after a day in the sun.  Cheeseburger in Paradise has a great water front location and Cool Cats has great live music every night… both have amazing burgers.
      • Star Noodle – This delicious noodle house is owned by a top competitor on Top Chef.  It doesn’t have an amazing location so I recommend a 7pm or later reservation – you won’t be catching any sunsets from there, but don’t let that deter you for stopping by – the food and decor are great (must haves: garlic noodles, ahi avo, pad thai and pork belly bacon and eggs.
      • Leoda’s – The same chef heads Leoda’s kitchen, and this place is so good my family went twice in ONE DAY. It’s super chill, and a great spot for grabbing breakfast or dinner when you need a night to chill.  You can BYOB with no corkage fee which is great too! I highly recommend picking up some goodies for your flight back home – they even have a airline lunch pack available (must haves: fried salad – I’M OBSESSED, breakfast sandwich, and any of their pies).

 

  • Sail and Snorkel Day 
    • Each and every year we look forward to setting sail on the Hula Girl.  The food, service and boat are all next level, and the few extra bucks you’ll pay (compared to the Teralani, Trilogy, Gemini, etc.) are well worth it (in my opinion).
    • This trip we were a hundred yards away from breaching mom AND baby whales.  It was crazy.
    • Also, make sure to get the fresh fish special for lunch, although I hear the pulled pork is great for all of you meat eaters.
  • Paia Day
    • Hiked Twin Falls at the entrance of Hana
    • Check out the surfers at Kuau Cove or go for a walk on the beach
    • Grab lunch in town at Paia Fish Market
      • We highly recommend the fish tacos or Mahi Mahi burger
      • GET there early (they open at 11am) and there is always a line
    • Head into Rock & Brews for a pre-beach Pina Colada (BEST of the trip!)
    • Enjoy some shopping in town (Letarte Swimwear and Tamara Catz Boutique are great stops)
    • Pack a towel and make your way down to the beach for a couple hours (a little windy, but some great surf – bring a boogie board!)
    • Cool off at Tobi’s Shaved Ice
      • MUST order their Poke there.  We had the Sriracha topped one… WOW.
      • Obviously don’t forget the snow cones… and make sure to get it with the macadamia nut ice cream!
    • Grab a drinking coconut for the drive home at the Maui Coconut Station on Honoapiilani Hwy

Overall it was a VERY memorable week with all of my favorite people. It’s so nice to have a trip that leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to go… sad to leave the Aloha state, but happy to be back!

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How to Pack a Toiletry Bag

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Not the most romantic of titles…. but what are you gonna do?!

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My husband and I like to travel… a lot. And one of the biggest pains of traveling? Packing.  I have tried to alleviate some of the pain by putting together a toiletry bag (or two) that can be grabbed at a moments notice.

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Step 1. Make a list of everything you use in your daily routine. 

For me that includes:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Leave in Conditioner
  • Face Wash
  • Skin Care Products
  • Eye Make-up Remover
  • Night Mask
  • Deodorant
  • Hairspray
  • Hair Brush
  • Razor
  • Toothbrush/paste

Now I’m sure I am missing a few things… but for the most part I NEED each of these every day.

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Step 2. Go buy travel sized versions (or duplicates) of those MUST HAVE items above or transfer small portions into travel sized containers (can be bought here and here).

I know, I know, it may seem pricey, but it is well worth it. Trust me.  I like smaller versions of the products I love (ie. It’s a 10) because I know exactly what product I’m using (don’t have to worry about labels falling off, etc.), and then I just refill it with the original sized product once it runs out.

Also, I HAVE to use a deep conditioner when I travel (the hard water is not my friend), so I always pack that, although I don’t use it on a daily basis.  I also have a little thing of shampoo in case the hotel doesn’t have great products (not worth not bringing and then having bad vacation hair – right?).

I also LOVE Sephora for this reason.  Their samples have pretty much made up the majority of my travel kit over the years – face creams, tiny sunscreens, little perfumes – it’s awesome!

Step 3. Keep a list of products you can’t buy duplicates of and need to add to your kit before traveling.

My skincare regimen is rather… pricey.  So the idea of shelling out for duplicates, only to use once or twice a month, is not a good use of funds, so I make sure to add them before I leave.

Products that can “dry” out if not used regularly or in a smaller amount of time – ie my eyelash extension gel, also get put “on the list.”

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Step 4. Add anything else that you know you are going to need, that you may not use on a regular basis.

For me that includes:

  • Bobby pins/hairbands
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen

The key here is not to let this “list” get out of control with hypotheticals.  You easily could end up with 20 types of band-aids, aloe vera after-sun gel, antihistamines, etc., but I HIGHLY recommend you keep it to a travel sized pouch of Advil (2 tablets), 1 band-aid, and buy any cremes or large format items at your destination should you need them (unless you are a mom, then I guess you probably should be prepared for anything… but for those of you only looking out for yourself/carrying on your luggage, this is my recommendation).

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Step 5. While you are at it, put together an extra make-up kit.

Now this is ONLY for those of you that are not going to Vegas.  I have traveled with many a girlfriend who has pulled out half a MAC store when it comes to getting ready for a night out on the town… this advice is not for you.

I realized that I was always forgetting something make-up wise when I traveled, so I eventually caved in and bought new stuff.

By “buy new stuff” I pretty much only bought more BareMinerals powder, but I basically moved my half used ones into my travel kit and upgraded my Kabuki brush.  I originally was using travel sized brushes to do my make-up (why I have no idea), so I moved those into the kit and upgraded to REAL make-up brushes.

The Sephora samples also play a huge role here – I have a travel sized liquid eyeliner, mascara and lipstick that I travel with. It’s amazing how far those samples will take you!

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Now that you are all set with your travel kits, store them in a cool place (I recommend under a sink/in a cabinet), because if you store them in your luggage (which you may store in the attic or another hot place), it could ruin all of your products, and then you are back at square one.

Good luck packing!

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Airplane Attire

With spring break traveling in full force, I wanted to share my “Airplane Attire Guide” with you all…hopefully you have (or are planning) a fun getaway to use some of these tips!

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Sweater/Tank/Maxi Skirt/Cashmere Travel Kit/Headphones/Socks/Purse/Kindle/Sandals/Snacks

I have always prided myself on getting in and out of airport security rather quickly… here are my Top 5 Tips for easy airport travel:

  1. Dress in light layers. I love maxi skirts/dresses because they are like personal blankets, and when paired with a cozy sweater you will be all set for the near freezing airline temperatures!
  2. Do NOT accessorize.  If I want to have necklaces/bracelets/etc. on when I land, I tuck them into the side of my purse to put on AFTER I go through airport security.  Don’t be that person taking off your belt and unbuckling your boots and taking off your jewelry and backing up the security line.
  3. Wear sandals.  People love to wear Lulu and sneakers, but taking off/putting on sneakers is a hassle (unless you are rocking these), so I just put on some flip flops and pack socks for the flight (don’t forget your pre-trip pedi!).
  4. Be mindful of carry-on rules.  As I have said before, I pretty much solely carry-on. That being said, you sometimes have to get crafty with the carry-on rules. I only travel with a small handbag (love cross body bags like this one), which I then tuck into a larger bag (usually a beach bag or larger tote, to accommodate travel extras such as snacks, my kindle, camera and any magazines/last minute packing additions. I also include my toiletry bag in my carry on (at least to go through security), and then add it to my luggage before boarding.
  5. Keep valuables close. NEVER EVER put valuables in your luggage. Whether you are carrying on jewelry, a camera, iPad, or anything of personal value to you, I HIGHLY recommend you keep it in your carry on (especially if you are checking your bag).  Another tip, if you check your bag – pack a back-up outfit/swimsuit in your carry on, should your luggage get misplaced for a day or two…

By following these simple rules, I’m confident you will have a smoother time going through airport security.

*Beauty Tip: I really advise traveling with your hair up and face make-up free.  Applying moisturizer during the trip has been a major skin saver… and don’t forget lip balm!

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Happiness Files

IMG_8156I had a sister date day this past weekend, and despite our attempt to relax in a cafe all day and catch up we ended up traipsing all over the city – here were some of the highlights…

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IMG_826120th Century Brunch/Philz Iced Mojito Coffees/Oysters + Champs at Des Amis

Other weekend highlights?  Checking things off my to-do list that have been on there for MONTHS, and an amazing lunch date with J at Pizza Antica.

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Sour Cherry Limeade and my favorite aviators

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Guide to San Diego

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One of Jeremy and my goals for 2014 is to travel to different places this year.  We kind of got stuck in a LA/Laguna Beach rut (can you even call it that?) and wanted to venture out.  With Jeremy’s job, it is tough to get away for long periods of time, so weekend trips work best… first up on our list? San Diego!

IMG_7399My college roommate, Erin and her boyfriend Craig have turned into our travel buds (you know that couple that BOTH of you agree on!?), and Erin grew up in San Diego, so knew JUST the itinerary to put together… here was our agenda:

Friday

  • Checked into the Hard Rock Hotel
    • GREAT location (right in Gaslamp) and central to all of the great eateries and bars
    • Definitely a “party vibe” – Vegas meets California (a bachelorette party favorite)
  • After unpacking we made our way to Pacific Beach
    • We had lunch at the Pacific Beach Alehouse
      • Amazing fish tacos and I really enjoyed the spicy pear cocktail (although they have a ton of beers on tap – and that seemed to be most people’s program)
      • Make sure to eat upstairs on their rooftop – great views, fun vibe
  • After lunch we walked the beach to the Lahaina Beach House to grab drinks
    • Feels like you are at a college frat party – but fun for a cocktail and the view
  • Went back to the hotel – and had drinks at the rooftop bar Float
    • Great jalapeno strawberry margaritas
  • Got ready and walked to Searsucker
    • Their Happy Hour is until 6:30, so enjoy their infusions (cinnamon whiskey/cucumber gin/strawberry tequila) before you have dinner
    • After cocktails at the bar we were seated in their main dining room for an AMAZING meal. We shared apps (Vince was a great waiter who helped us navigate the menu – make sure not to miss egg + pork belly, truffled mushrooms + burrata, cheese puffs or their sundae for dessert
  • After dinner we made our way to The Shout House
    • Both Jeremy and my sister had been there before insisted we go… it is an AMAZING dueling piano bar, and we couldn’t have picked a better way to spend our Friday night (or any night for that matter)

Saturday

    • Craig is English, so he woke up early to watch the Ireland v. England Rugby match at a local bar – The Field
      • We caught up with him around 8am (just in time to catch the last 15 minutes of the game!) – it was so entertaining and I felt like I was at an Irish pub… pretty impressive for a place in the heart of SD
    • We made the 8 minute walk to Cafe Chloe for the BEST BRUNCH EVER
      • It was at this meal, we realized we hadn’t had one meal we weren’t obsessed with… San Diego is my favorite food city, that is FOR SURE.
      • This Parisian bistro, is super quaint and has a great patio (just make sure not to dine while the Crossfit team is getting their butt kicked and you are sipping a lavender-lemon mimosa).
      • Don’t miss their morning buns, flavored mimosas and I really enjoyed my truffled mushroom crepe.
    • After brunch we adventured to Coronado (via our rental car – you also could take the ferry over)
      • We had drinks at the Hotel Del (don’t miss out on their Old Fashioneds or Berry Acai Lemonades)
    • We attempted to have a light snack at Leroy’s, but ultimately had a full blown lunch because everything on the menu looked so good – update: IT WAS THAT GOOD.
      • We had (and loved) the poke tacos, Cuban sandwich, kale and quinoa salad.  I also am going to post a Fun Drink Friday on their cocktail the Blossom Breeze… SO DELICIOUS
    • After a quick change at the hotel we headed (via rental car again) into La Jolla
      • We enjoyed the insane sunset (pictures below) and the sea lions/wild life in the cove
    • Pre-dinner drinks were sipped on at George’s downstairs (the Bee Sting cocktail is AMAZING and one of the top 3 cocktails I’ve had in my life)
    • We had dinner at Eddie V’s – ask to sit upstairs on their patio (insane views!)
      • Great soups, steaks, truffled mac and cheese and don’t miss the banana foster butter cake… still dreaming about it
    • After we drove up to Mt. Soledad to look at a breathtaking view of the city from above… the gorgeous houses on the way up don’t hurt either!

Sunday

  • Woke up and had brunch at Cafe 21
    • This is definitly one of the places to be for Sunday brunch in teh Gaslamp – so make sure to get there early or book on Open Table
    • The salmon diamonds were a crowd (and Yelp) favorite, but the pancakes, skillet omelets (I had turkey sausage, heirloom tomato and mozzarella) were great too. They also had a killer cocktail menu with INSANE bloody Mary’s and a lengthy list of sangria/mimosa flights.
  • We checked out and made our way to SD ZOO (last minute decision).
    • Craig and Jeremy hadn’t been before, and considering this is one the best zoo’s in the world we knew we had to show them around.  This zoo is massive, but so worth it (just make sure to wear comfy shoes)
    • My “don’t miss exhibits” would be the giraffes, elephants, and polar bears (watch the polar bear cam here), but the panda exhibit was definitely the “hot spot” (too bad they were all sleeping)
    • I also was surprised that they quite the bar selection (frozen margaritas, wine, beer, etc. but we had to try their soft serve ice cream cones (so good!).
  • Around 3pm our feet were killing us, so we made our way to the Lodge at Torrey Pines (Jeremy and Craig are golf fanatics and wanted to check out their famous golf course).
    • A.R. Valentien is their signature resturant, and their outdoor patio is the perfect stop for a glass of wine
  • We headed into La Jolla for a quick and easy dinner at Porkyland – we HAD to have Mexican food before we left SD
    • We planned on taking our burritos down to the beach to watch the sunset, but we were so exhausted at this point we just ate on their patio and made our way to the airport
  • PHEW. Ok well that was our fun weekend in San Diego… can’t wait to go back (although we need to a get a few more spots under our belt first!).
    • Where should we go to next time… any recommendations welcome!

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