Thank You to our Elf for all her hard work

I never intended to get an Elf. Truthfully it seemed a bit odd. However, last year my darling sister had her elf, Buddy, send one to my daughter.

And so began the Elf’s job.

I never realized how much work the Elf, Diamond, would have to do. Thinking of creative things to do every night. Locking herself into an escalating game of one upping herself every night. She, I can only assume, spent a sizable amount of time looking at Pinterest to get inspiration and discussing with other Elves what they are doing that night.

And much to my surprise I found myself making Diamond clothes last year. Yes, I made clothes for the Elf. My daughter demanded that she was a girl and needed to be beautiful and I caved. So I made a skirt and decorated it. Diamond happily modeled it in the mirror that night and left a thank you note.

So thank you to my Elf and all the other Elf’s for the last minute moves and trying to be creative every night. The excitement I see every morning as we look through the house for you is the best feeling.IMG_1608 IMG_1611IMG_1615 IMG_1613We have a few more weeks of Diamond’s adventures. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Halloween Birthday Party

So I had promised low-key party this year. However, my daughter made a plea that I could not resist.

“What if we just have a Halloween Birthday Party at the house.”

An innocent statement. I thought we have lots of Halloween decorations already and I am already making your costume. How hard can it be? (Insert echoed voice and ominous music here)

As always we started with the best invitations by Nickel Design.

And we were off.

My little one made my heart swell this year by asking to be a villain. I was so proud, so I set off to find the perfect version. I found a few ideas on Pinterest. I said I can do this with no pattern and off we went to the fabric store we went, for the first time. Now how much tulle could this take, I mean really. Thirty-two yards! Thirty-two yards! So three trips to the store later and more glitter in the house than I care to mention. We had the perfect Queen of Hearts costume.

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She loved the costume so much. I was equally proud of it. The absolute best part was half way through the party when she promptly told me she was done wearing the skirt and proceeded to take it off and walk off. Yeah!

I needed fun but not scary food ideas for this year. Here are a few I went with. Amazing food cards by Nickel Design.

The Hummus Octopus was very scary.
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Banana GhostsDSC_0024

Orange Pumpkins –  a note on these. The peeling takes some time for all these little clementines and the meticulously cut bell peppers for stems. I was lucky enough this year to have a team of devoted Grandma’s helping.
DSC_0022 Mummy Pigs in a blanket complete with mustard eyes.DSC_0032

Fresh fruit for colorDSC_0026 KettleCorn fresh from the farmers market.DSC_0025 The World’s Best Sugar Cookies. I was very proud of the spider webs. I took white frosting and thinned it in the microwave for a few seconds. I dipped the cookies into the frosting and while they were still wet took black frosting and made a spiral on the cookies. Then take a toothpick and drag it out from the center.

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I may have gone a bit over-board with the cupcakes. I couldn’t decide if I liked the pumpkins or the owls more so I went with both.
DSC_0127DSC_0122 DSC_0121As favors I tried my hand at Carmel Apples.

DSC_0017And as the last person left the house this year I fell onto the couch and looked at my husband and said we were not doing this again.

Then my daughter came up and told me, “I was the bestest mom there ever was and this was the best party ever because she got to spend time with her friends and family.”

Resolve failing. See you again next year.

A Moment

Family vacations by their very nature don’t lend themselves to a lot of alone time.

Being a parent is a hard job and doing that job on vacation is just as hard. You have to balance the “hey let’s do fun things” with the “if you eat anymore sweets we all know what will happen”.

So this is just me taking a moment by myself on vacation and reading 10 whole pages in a book.

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Now back to trade with my husband so he gets a minute before her nap time is done.

Our Staples

I want to say that we are big adventurers.
That we are out there looking for all that is new and different.
But the truth is in Maui that is just not us.
There are things we find ourselves doing year after year that we come here. They have become our staples.

We started going to the Maui Ocean Center a few years ago. It is an aquarium that highlights the diverse sea life in Maui. It can easily be done in a morning and is very kid friendly. And thanks to Disney’s Octonauts my daughter knows more about random sea creatures than I do so she made a great tour guide. She even managed to wow some Australian tourists by rattling off the name of the Hawaii state fish, Humuhumunukunukuapua`a.

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We then went to Aloha Mixed Plate, like we do every other day in Maui.

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This is a low key, all outdoor, and reasonably priced place to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner on the island. They have a good happy hour daily from 2-6 and offer a daily drink special for $5.

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I think we have had closes to everything on the menu. The most popular thing is the Mixed Plate which is always good. Yesterday we got the Chow Fun. This is a mix of well cooked noodles, pork, bean sprouts and green onions in a light sauce.

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I got the teriyaki beef. All the plate lunches come with a side of macaroni salad and white rice. They are filling and around $9-$12.

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Next door is the Old Lahaina Luau, which is one of the best luau’s on Maui. If you head to Aloha Mixed Plate at night you can listen to the music while you dine.

Maui Shave Ice and Pie

For me vacation is getting away from my every day life and routine.

Not rushing out the door to work.
Stopping to enjoy a second cup of coffee on the lanai.
Having the best shave ice at 10 in the morning.

My daughter informed me that she has tragically never had a shave ice. I sprung into action. We went down to Ululani’s Shaved Ice. I don’t want to throw terms like best parent ever but pretty sure that is what my daughter was thinking. They had lots of great favors to choose from. Of course my daughter didn’t go with the typical tropical flavor but rather cotton candy and grape.

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I also wanted to try a new spot yesterday so we went to Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop for lunch.

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It was a great find. Good sandwiches and a nice salad. Portions were generous but it was a bit pricy, $12-$15, for their signature sandwiches. They were worth the price.

We got the Ham’n and pork, pork, mmmm pork sandwiches with the out of the garden salad. Both were a great flavor combination. All served on homemade bread. My daughter got a great PB&J which she proclaimed delicious.

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And then there is pie and who doesn’t love pie. Again please forgive the pictures as this experiment with blogging via my phone is a first time but they were amazing.

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We opted to buy some to take home for dessert later. They were front of mind for my daughter all day. There were pies in the fridge just taunting her. Eat me!

Banana Cream Pie (mini)
I am going to make a bold statement. This is the BEST banana cream pie I have ever had. It was not too sweet and full of banana. The crust was crisp and flavorful. I would buy this agains and again.

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Apple Crumb
A well balanced crumb topping with brown sugar and oatmeal. The apples were firm and the crust was crisp.

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Macnut Choc Praline (mini)
The minis are the perfect few bit size. This pie was rich and creamy. Chocolate pie is not my cup of tea but my family thought it was amazing.

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Beach, Pool and Naps

Another very early morning. I mean 5AM early. But it give me a chance to make the most out of the time we have here. Or that is what I keep telling myself.

We were sad to find our favorite breakfast place, the Honolua Store is closed for renovations. This place has a fairly extensive grocery/ABC style store in the front and great hot food served in the back. We came across this place years ago and it is very reasonably priced and you can eat outside on the front porch. The breakfast burrito is amazing and comes with the best salsa. I have been known to just buy the salsa to go for snack time at the condo.

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Our day was pool, beach, pool, beach, lunch and pool. Which then lead to 2 hour naps. I love vacation.

There is an amazing beach walkway that takes you past lots of hotels and restaurants on the west side of Maui. We took it down and went to Dukes for dinner.

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Dinner was good. I mean who doesn’t love a Mai Tai in a glass tiki head.

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I had kabobs with chicken, beef, maui onion, pineapple and bell pepper. They also had a side we split of local maui creamed corn. Breathtaking.My husband opted for mango ribs. My daughter chose a cheese quesadilla, not pictured for obvious reasons.

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Now off for another adventure as soon as the rest of maui wakes up.

Stopping and relaxing

So after being up for 19 hours yesterday, I find myself in my happy spot this morning. Sitting outside having the best cup of coffee.

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The next few posts will be devoted to our travel in Maui. Enjoy and please forgive the pics as I am experimenting and doing this all via phone.

The morning started early. And I mean early a 5:30 wake up from a little one who wanted to go swimming. So I took the opportunity to wait an hour for Maui Grown coffee to open to go get coffee for the week. This is an amazing place for local maui grown, hence the name, coffee.

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Aloha.

Cows and Carousels

In my quest to get out and live more this year we went to Tilden Park for a weekend adventure. It has a great classic carousel and a small farm for the kids. I learned a few key pieces of information on this trip.

1. My husband, although living here most of his life, does not know how to dress “weather appropriate”.

2. I was raised in close proximity to bovine…….My family was decidedly not.

The carousel is a great vintage ride with interesting animals to choose from. I mean who doesn’t want to ride a giant chicken while racing a frog, while being chased by a lion.DSC_2374 DSC_2376

The ride went surprisingly fast, slowly gaining speed over a 3 minute ride.The un-pictured flower-pot shaped car that my daughter talked my husband into getting into on the last ride, went a little too fast for a little too long for him. My daughter was of course unphased. Ah youth.DSC_2388 DSC_2390 DSC_2391 DSC_2392We then made our way to the little farm. Here is a place where parents can bring their kids and Trader Joes celery and lettuce to feed the “barnyard animals”. Like you do on a real farm.

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The appropriately placed nondescript piece of farm equipment. So rustic.DSC_2404

Of course there were goats. Which we had to stop and see. I love those crazy eyes.DSC_2405 DSC_2406

This is when we learned the difference between my husband and myself, aside from the “aren’t sheep and goats the same type of animal” comment earlier in the trip. He was apparently blissfully unaware that a cow’s tongue was “that” long and “that” strong. I of course thought to myself “Of course they are”.

I am not saying that these are critical life lessons to have but they came in handy for me this time. DSC_2411All in all a great trip and some value bovine skills for my husband and daughter to learn. City folk.

Adventures in Tie Dye

At one of the local ubiquitous art, wind, wine, craft fairs that liter the landscape over the summer months my daughter saw something her young eye had never witnessed.

It was an assault.

Of color. Of pattern.

It was loud. It was flashy.

It called to her four year old sense of aesthetic like a siren song.

It was a tied dyed dress.

After discussing with her that it was not worth the $45 price tag and stupidly mentioning that we could do it at home. I thought nothing more of it. Then week after week, day after day, she ask. When we would me making a dress? She forgets NOTHING. We were off to the local craft store for one of the less intelligent crafting projects of the summer.

It should be noted that here is where the step by step section of the blog begins. And here is where you will see NOTHING. Tie dying with a child is like herding cats that are hopped up on Jolt Cola and Pixy Stix in the dark.

It started out OK, as most adventures do. We bought a kit, which had the dye, rubber bands and gloves. It felt like it was going to be so easy….

DSC_2338We soaked the shirts in the solution that was provided.

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DSC_2342DSC_2344Then layer out a giant old tablecloth. Because doing tie dye inside the house sounded like a really good plan. I mixed the dye. How could I have been so naive?

DSC_2349With primary colors my daughter was sure I could mix any color she wanted. This proved a bit complicated later as the ratios for lilac are a little more complex while wrangling a child.

So next is the step by step process of how we tied the shirts to make a “kind of” heart and the detailed way I was careful not to get dye all over the house. Wait, that is not what happened. It was a lot of ‘Don’t touch that!’, ‘Why is this spraying dye everywhere?’ and ‘Yes honey it is going to stain, it’s dye!’. So needless to say there were “NO” pictures, as I was changing gloves every two minutes and  having my daughter say, “That doesn’t look like purple.”

So magically here are the end results. After we dyed them, left them to rest, and had an argument with the husband about whether or not they needed to dry outside overnight, even when the instructions didn’t say it. Let’s all say ‘magic’, cause that is how I am going to remember it.

DSC_2356 DSC_2359 DSC_2361So based on what my daughter said we will be doing this every weekend. So in like three weeks I will be a master at this.

Goats and Llamas – our adventure

I am a terrible blogger.

I will admit it.

I started the blog with the high hopes that I would start with once or twice a week and would work up to the greatness of a daily blog. It would be epic. I would win awards and write books.

So that did not happen. Let’s just be honest.

My life got in the way.

Family. Job. Birthday Parties. Play dates. More Birthday Parties. The list goes on and on.

Here is my attempt to get back to the blog.

Over the 4th of the July weekend we went to Harley Farms in Pescadero, CA. It has everything goats, guard llamas and best of all Goat Cheese. We opted not to go on the tour but it is a lovely property to walk.

The sign seems to imply that they might sell goats but sadly no. To my daughter’s delight there were free samples though. She did manage to talk us into buying more goat cheese than one might typically buy in a day but it was amazing.DSC_2278 DSC_2279 DSC_2283 The eyes are the best.DSC_2284 DSC_2287 DSC_2292 DSC_2295 DSC_2300_2DSC_2304 Now if the goats and the cheese didn’t sell you then let me say there are Guard Llamas. Yes you heard me right GUARD LLAMAS. DSC_2305

The farm is close to the beach so we stopped for some much-needed sand castle building.DSC_2314

Just a nice shot of an artichoke. DSC_2319