Monday, July 21, 2014

Birthday Dinner Ideas

Oh, time passes by so fast, our good friends are turning the big 30. We always celebrated B and K's birthday together because they're just a week apart.
I don't think anyone is better than grilling a steak than my husband haha. We had a nice back yard dinner on our new picnic table from Target.
Fresh and Easy has been running a sale on pineapples; 98cents for one! It's the best deal I've ever seen, in any store. So of course I have to buy 12 lol. They are great in smoothies and of course for grilling.

 I made a tiramisu cake using a spring form pan. They loved it.

Stella Rosa is a favorite choice of everyone I know. Saw this in the wine section at Costco, this is perfect for them. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's Havesting Time!

Oh, this is so exciting. I'm finally be able to harvest some of my crops; tomatoes mostly. This year, I'm having trouble getting things to grow, most of the pepper seeds grow to about an inch with two leaves and stay that way. I don't know what I did to stunt their growth. I used new potting soil.  I don't think it's the seed neither, because I had the same results with brand new package of eggplants seeds. If anyone knows why, please let me know.

This is my black krim tomato plant. I currently have two black krim and a yellow jubilee growing in a scrap box my husband brought from work.
Aren't the colors vibrant??!?!
My lazy breakfast. A fried egg on top of a piece of toast.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lemon Glaze Bundt Cake

Tomorrow is Mother's Day,  I baked a lemon glazed bundt cake just in case we're doing something at my grandma's house. There are plenty of recipes online. I settled on this one. It turned out ok, but just a tad on the dry side. There are plenty of recipes that ask for a box of cake mix, which requires less ingredients and much less time consuming. If you want to save time, that's the way to go.
Anyways, happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there and those who acts as a mom by caring for those who needs it.

The only thing I did different is leaving out about 1/4 cup of sugar.

It rised pretty high, I cut off the top. 

The glaze

Monday, April 28, 2014

Coworker's going away treat

A coworker is leaving us soon. In my office, I'm know for bringing in sweets. As her going away, I made her some of my well liked desserts: lemon cupcakes and tiramisu.
It's strawberry season again. They enhance the display so much more and add color contrast. 
These boxes are from TJMaxx. It's awesome to use it for gifts. Some people even commented that it looked like store bought :) 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hawaii Part 3

In this blog I'm just finishing off the post for Hawaii; the happy hours, the cheap eats and some of the places we've visited.

Happy Hour- my two favorite words when it comes to food and drinks.

On the very top of my list is Top of Waikiki-that's the name. This rotating restaurant has the most amazing view.
The happy hr includes a few selection of their martinis for only $5. 
The appetizers are superb along with the service. Here we have their chicken cordon blue, nachos, and the oh so savory garlic fries. 

After closing, we still don't feel like going back to the hotel so the bartender recommended Yard House as a favorite of him and his coworkers. The happy hr included 50% off pizzas. We had the Thai chicken and the barbecue chicken. I believe they were about $6-7 each. 

How can you not drink a mai tai when you're on an island. What better place to go than the Mai Tai Bar? There are several Mai Tai Bars, we went to the one located on the 4th floor of the mall. There is live music on the weekends (I think).  I love orchids.  Oh, and the drinks were about $5 and the appetizers cost a little more. 

This is a delicious fish burger that my husband and I shared. We bought a groupon for it, but I don't know the name. 

Marukame Udon: I love this place. It has such wonderful freshly made udon, the udon noodle is made at the restaurant. The line is frequently out the door, but it's worth it. The price is inexpensive and the food is delicious. They have a few selections and many sides, like fried onion, vegetables and shrimp. I love the musubi; they also have a variety of rice balls. 

 The sides are about $1.5 each and the udon like this I think it was $5.75.
We visited Chinatown to see what they have. We bought some tropical fruits at very decent prices. And look at these avocados. They're gigantic, as if they're on steroids. 

Everyone raves about Giovanni's shrimp truck. But, I was wondering if we went to the right place. There isn't anything special about the food, to my group at least.  It's parked next to a swamp and there were flies swarming. This is their garlic shrimp. It was good, but it wasn't fantastic. I feel like I can easily recreate this dish. 
Here is the truck. 

The lady at the Dole Plantation did a demonstration on how to carve a pineapple. This is how I'm going to serve it from now on. 
One more tip for cheap eats before I move on is farmers markets. I went to two,  the farmers market in the Hyatt's hotel that opens on Thursdays from 4-9pm and King's Village farmers market that opens, Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat 4-9pm. The cut up fruit boxes are about $3-4 dollars. But if you can wait to eat it just buy the whole fruit, it'll be cheaper. Also, go around closing time, the vendors will lower the prices to get rid of it. My husband loves their  Hawaiian papaya, and he ate a lot of it. 

This is Turtle Bay. To the left is for swimming and snorkeling. The waves here is a little bigger, but I've been told there more exotic fishes here and Hanauma Bay. I've tried but the water was too deep for me.  

Some random beach that we stop by after Turtle Bay. It was nice. We were waiting for the sunset. We were inpatient people so we left for another area. 

 Here is that beautiful sunset we were waiting for. When I travel and see something amazing, I just want to capture it on camera and share it with the world. But sometimes there is just no way to capture beauty, you just have to go there and see it. 
This is Hanauma Bay. The parking is free, but the entrance is $7.5 for non residents. It is so breathtakingly beautiful. The water is calm and warm. It is the most popular place for snorkeling because of its shallow water. This got to be my favorite place. 

For the coffee lovers like myself, this the place for you. The Coffee Farm. They have amazing coffee and many free samples for you to try. 
Check out their wall, kool huh? 
I've never seen a coffee tree before so this is a treat for me. In the back of the building there is a lounge area with two chairs surrounded by these trees.

Well, until my next trip....follow me to find out.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hawaii Part 2

The best part about traveling is the food. There is so much to taste. 

Acai is popular here. Acai smoothies and Acai bowl are always on the menu of their many cafés. I tried the Acai bowl at Bogarts. It was a really big bowl for $10, definitely made for sharing. 

This is the Hawaiian pancake(if I remember the name correctly) is amazing.  The white sauce is actually make with coconut, they call it haupia. 
Their coffee concoctions come in fun cups like this. 

Anyone who's visited Waikiki will tell you to go to Leonard's Bakery. 
There malasadas are heavenly. Some people compare these to beignets. But, to me, the malasadas are 10x better. 
I love coffee and must fuel my addiction even when I'm in Hawaii. But do you see the prices?  Yup. Everything is a little more expensive. 

Here is another example of price hikes. It might be blurry here but the price says $9.99. For just one pizza! A frozen one at that. I usually get these for $3.5 when I use coupons. 

That's it for now....   I'm upload part 3 in a bit. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hawaii Part 1

Warm sun, blue water and great shopping, if that sounds like paradise then Hawaii is the place for you. I just got back from Oahu, HI, and I'm ready for another vacation. No matter what trip I'm on, I never forget to keep my costs low. Here are some of my tips.

Before the trip:
Sun Screen-Buy this ahead of time. I had coupons and bought it on sale at Target.
Swimwear- The beginning of the summer might not be a good time to shop for bikinis. But I did find some good deals at Target during March. It was BOGO 25% off and I had a $3/2 pieces of swimwear coupon. It should have been $37 after tax but I paid only $25.
If you wear contacts, it might be wise to buy a goggle. The ABC stores in Waikiki sell them for $3 for the simple ones. The store at Turtle Bay wants $10 for them.
Coupons for food-Once you have booked your hotel, you can look for coupons from sites like Groupon, Living Social or Amazonlocal to see if there are any good deals around your area. There are coupons for water sports as well. I bought mine from Groupon when they were running a 20% off deal to save even more.

I'm still mad about having to pay $600 for the round trip flight while our friends paid $380. My husband's job is not the normal 9-5. Since he needs to have people covering for him, it's hard to plan much into the future. When we decided that we can go, the price had already risen a few times. But, if you can plan ahead, I urge you to look around for dates where the flight is cheaper. Many experts say Tuesday night is the best time to book and Wednesday is the best time to fly. More money saving tips here.

There are many great websites out there to save money on your hotel, Expedia, Hotwire, Kayak, AirBnB, etc. 
I've never used Airbnb before so I gave it a try. We stayed in a condominium about a block and a half from Waikiki beach. Airbnb has as non refundable fee even if you cancel your reservation. Remember to check the cancel polices with the hosts too. Airbnb will reward you $25 if you invite someone or someone invites you. My host was pleasant, and very laid back. However, the condominium was a bit old, water temperature fluctuates and there were even cockroaches. I asked the host to change me to another unit; he did and offered a $100 refund. For six nights, my bill was $424. The math: $559 total-$25 referral credit-$100 host refund= $424.

This condominium was advertised to have a kitchenette. However, it used to be a hotel, so it wasn't wired for ovens. There was a hot plate, coffee maker, plates, cups and utensils. It had all the basics if you decide to cook to save money. That was our plan, but when we got there, the closest we got to cooking was making cup noodles.

Husband used Hotwire to book a car from 04/02-04/08, it cost us about $308. We got a Camry from Enterprise. Although, renting a car is cheap, parking isn't. Most hotels don't have free parking. Space is a luxury in this island. We had to paid to paid $20/night for the onsite parking.
The scenery is amazing on our drive around the island. Everything is lush and green. 

I pay almost 10% for sales tax in Southern California. The tax is only 4.75% in Oahu. It's already a 5% savings. I wasn't big on shopping in tourist areas knowing they hike up the prices on everything. There were many designer stores and I finally went in on our last few days. My intent was to get a Louis Vuitton bag, but they again had raised their prices and I was a little annoyed by that. A few shops over,  the Prada stores had these beautiful classic handbags that won me over. What I didn't realize is that their bags are cheaper than U.S. mainland. Because of the tourism from Asia, Prada had priced their bags the same as they do in their Asian stores. I saved about $300 for my new beauty.