Surprise food encounters


We did a side trip to Adelaide and the pics were on my phone and I downloaded all the action today, now I can document the eating adventure we had with our family. We hit the airport nice and early for our flight to Adelaide from Melbourne and it was cancelled so we had a nice long 4-hour wait at the airport, it sucks when we could have been sleeping or watching Teen Titans at our other Air Bnb.

Anyway after exhausting all the fun stuff at Tullamarine airport including a Metalicus 90% off sale – a sad sale as they will no longer exist! I also found Pressed Juices who had the most delicious selection of juice plus many vegan and vegetarian options so I was happy. We were flying Jetstar only to change to a Qantas flight so we scored some extra food on the plane which was great. In Adelaide, we stayed at an old fire station which could sleep 8 people but it worked out as we were close to our relatives. There are my new favourite boots by the “fire hose place”. We enjoyed meeting our relatives at a cafe by the beach but it was ice cold to be anywhere on the beach so we stayed inside and enjoyed a macchiato and hot chocolate.

Oh and the cold does make me super hungry so I found this wonderful vegetarian option of beet hummus with halloumi and rocket topped with balsamic, yummo at the Grange Jetty Cafe.

We only had a couple of fun days with Grandma Jane and Grandpa Lloyd and Callie so we enjoyed as many eating opportunities as we could by visiting Sarah’s Sisters, a sustainable cafe way before its time with many vegetarian options on the menu and wine in a sunlit space by the nursery with an alpaca and chickens. I was hanging out for a salad due to the amount of junk food I have been eating whilst travelling. Missy is wearing the beginnings of a Totoro amigurumi I made for my nephew.

On our final day in Adelaide, we went out to Marion to check out the gallery and enjoy some more food with a latte and cappuccino with some yummy food before we hit the airport again. Australians really know how to make a good coffee!

Oh and our day out to the Botanical Gardens and Sugar Republic where our lunch was captured at a 24 hour ramen place called Shujinko where I enjoyed a cold ramen on a cold Melbourne day. The rest of the family had the ramen and really enjoyed it, though they always compare it to Sha La La in Mountian View where they have been spoilt. I wanted to document the many food dates we had in Adelaide and Melbourne that I had not covered as yet, ta da done!!


Adventure to Joshua Tree NP – Day 3


Our stay at the Joshua Tree was wonderful as we were at the Atomic Tiki Ranch in Yucca Valley with its incredible collection of mid-century furniture and collectables with a tiki twist. We loved playing the record player with plenty of classic Hawaiian records to transport us to Hawaii and dance the hula around this super cool party house. Space was huge in the house with a dressing room in the master room with wall to wall mirrors and a huge closet. I imagine back in the day you could get dressed in there for your cocktail party and check your outfit, do your makeup and look fancy! We enjoyed the details in the kitchen with their collection of vintage cups and plates and its original oven in primo condition. I could see that a lot of love was put into this house to create this space and as I am a big fan of the mid-century furnishings and decor this was the perfect place to stay!


Our last hike in the park was a small low key hike or two, and the weather was Blowing Sand and 4˚C during the day in the sunshine. We thought it should be alright in the sun?!? But no, the weather was windy, the wind was cold, so we had to put on our hoods our jackets were zipped up, and I also had a beanie on! Which is what is happening in this pic with my hood over my head to keep warm. The kids were active and jumping all over the rocks, so they managed to increase their body temperature, and even though we were in the Hidden Valley trail we still had the wind blowing in, brrr!


Examining a prickly pear


Ash had bought the California flora and fauna book from the Visitor Centre with his Christmas money and was busy identifying the plants around the place. This was good to see as even though the desert is sparse, the fauna is so fascinating.


Barker Dam with foliage in winter


Our other hike was the Barker Dam hike which was an easy loop just over a mile, but I somehow managed to lose the rest of the family in the hike as Missy was not too keen to hike in the wind. My problem is I usually hang back and take pictures and eventually catch up, but these guys were going so fast I kept on missing them at the vista stops. So I continued on following the path as it was a loop it was easy. The dam was very cool to see, and from there the trip back was through many Joshua Trees and distant desert landscape before I found the sign for the carpark.

Close up of Joshua Tree leaves
A majestic Joshua Tree with its many branches

The desert landscape was an inspiring place to relax and recharge with its magic and wonder over the land. I feel that winter or spring would be beautiful times to visit as the summer would be so hot!

The 741 km (461 miles) was so worth it as the kids like to break up the drive in the car and on our way back we were in another RV entirely off the highway for a bit but it was so good to discover a new town close to another favourite National Park of our Sequoia. This RV was very cosy with a gas fireplace all ready for us when we arrived in Exeter – we made it just in time for a sunset over the RV in amongst the citrus trees, this town is in the Central Valley – known best for agriculture production.

Missy found the cat, and we gave it some love while Ash enjoyed reading in front of the gas fireplace for the evening reading Warriors. For breakfast on the last leg of our trip home, we went into the town or Exeter and went to the Exeter Whistle Stop a diner that lives up to what American diners are about with endless cups of coffee and big breakfasts. My hubby enjoyed 3 plates of food that morning, and my breakfast was just right with 2 eggs, a muffin and a cup of tea and half a buckwheat pancake! The service was the best, and the staff were just wonderful with their hospitality, as soon as you walked I was asked: “What would you like to drink?” I responded with a cup of tea. It was delivered quick sticks in a teapot with a slice of lemon, our order was promptly taken by the sweetest lady, and we soon had a table full of tasty breakfast goods ready for the drive home. I highly recommend this place if ever you are staying in the Central Valley and going to Sequoia NP or Kings Canyon.

This trip was delightful with the adventuring into new territory and spaces and it really felt like a break even with all the time in the car, I had better get prepared as Australia has some even longer roads to travel with famous deserts of their own to explore!


Adventure to Joshua Tree NP – Day 1

Our inspiration to explore National Parks this year is that we have a 4th grader and the National Parks have a promotion to get every kid in a park, so that was the impetus to get our kids and ourselves out exploring!


The Almond grove at sunset



A Peach in the Almond Tree
The Almond Orchard next to the RV


We drove down via Shafter where we made an overnight stay at an RV to break up the trip, tired from the drive and wrapping up school and work we were ready to relax and we were in holiday mode at long last! With a beautiful sunset, we took a walk through the almond fields before heading on over to the RV for dinner of lentil shepherds pie heated up in the microwave. Our host made a huge fire to roast marshmallows for a treat, we stayed out there with the fire for a while until it was too chilly and we were back in the RV for some reading and sleeping. The stars were out and we enjoyed a dark sky with a sliver of a moon.

After our night in the RV we arrived at our next destination the Air BnB called the Atomic Tiki Ranch (I will feature in another post!) and settled in there before we headed out to the Joshua Tree National Park for our first day of adventuring in the park

We wandered down to the visitor centre to get a plan on what to see and do and our first stop was the Cholla Cactus Garden AKA the teddy bear cactus. As cute as they are, they are super spiky, there were so many in this area by the carpark with their shades of yellow and brown. There was a nature walk around the cacti and I just loved the changes in colour on the plant and the detail even in the dried up stalk of the plant – you can really tell this is a desert plant when you look closely. The kids also decided they wanted to do their Junior Ranger badges and this began their time researching and exploring!


So many gigantic rocks to climb!
Even little caves to hide in.
We had our binoculars to look for birds or animals
A circle called a Dike – features in rocks that are resistant to erosion
Arch Rock


For our trip down from the gardens, we looked at the rangers recommendations and decided to explore other parts of the park so the kids could climb and check out smaller hiking trails for our first day. We found Arch Rock at the White Tank campground – it is a small walk but well worth the journey to see this incredible rock formation lying atop many other boulders, my hubby is in the pic and climbed up to go beneath it. I also climbed up to get up there but I had the camera so I couldn’t really capture myself up there, it was easy to get up but not so easy to climb down with a camera around my neck! Eventually, I just came down the way I went up and all was good, thanks to the help of Missy.


Desert flora


The cool thing about the desert is its expanse but look closer and you find these amazing plants and even though they are dry from the heat they still look beautiful in the light.

After out Arch rock climb, we stopped off at Skull Rock and totally lost the trail so we had to climb in and out of the boulders to get back to the car. It was certainly a mission though I do recommend if you are climbing rocks be super careful with your camera and have somewhere to pack it safely. I had to hand my SLR over to my hubby to look after while I was scrambling up and down over the rocks to find the trail with my son. We made it to the top of a rock and it was very exciting!

For this trip, I have to break this up into smaller bite size days as I took over 600 pictures and it was really hard to edit it down to just a few, but these are my faves and I wanted to focus on the highlights of the desert landscape.

An RV in the Redwoods


After a couple of weeks of preparing for a couple of exams and finally completing them, it was time for a bit of rest and relaxation. Timing was perfect as California State Parks Foundation invited us (as Legacy donors) to a morning with the elephant seals on Saturday, so we booked an RV in the redwoods with Air BnB in Bonny Doon which was 30 minutes away from Ano Nuevo State Park where we went on our elephant seal tour.

We managed to find some delicious pie fro Pie Ranch – a place I have wanted to check out for ages and whose philosophy towards food is totally aligned with mine. And of course we had to buy some pie – we scored the lemon and the honey oat which were both super tasty with a cup of tea. We enjoyed the time in the RV catching up on knitting, reading, playing Nintendo, listening to audio books and generally relaxing under the redwoods.


Saturday morning we had our early morning hike to Ano Nuevo State Park to check out the elephant seals. We had a funny and knowledgeable docent Ben who gave us the full history and life cycle of elephant seals and how their numbers went from near extinction to what they are now close to 2,000 seals just on this stretch of this State Park!

I had my 28-105mm lens to capture these guys – we got so close to them, and I managed to get some incredible shots. Of course, a telephoto would have been the best as I had lens envy every time I saw one sitting atop a tripod. But still, our docent said we did not really need it, as there were so many and they were so close to people. I was so happy to get some beautiful shots of these vulnerable creatures. There are many ways they are vulnerable ad they risk getting eaten by white sharks on their migratory route, the males have to prove their dominance amongst the harem of lady seals, the females develop a baby every year by mating with many males, the weaners are left on the beach to practice swimming and then they too will migrate miles and miles through treacherous shark infested waters to eat deep-sea fish and squid and hopefully come back to the same beach, the saddest seals are the  non-dominant males; they will just starve themselves to a certain point on the beach until they feel it’s time to go and eat and then come back for another mating season – the life of an elephant seal, who knew…


On top of all the fun of seeing the elephant seals and the area being a wildlife refuge we saw so many birds and among them the great pelicans in their flying formation. The views over the dunes and around the sand were just breathtaking, and we were very lucky to score some sunshine on our walk with the seals.

California State Parks Foundation had set up a luncheon for us back at the barn, and we had the option of going back via the beautiful beach but to stay back 25 feet away from the elephant seals. We found one, and he looked like a rock on the beach. The beach was just so beautiful with its many rock collections and colours. The bonus was getting back to the barn was crossing New Years Creek without getting wet feet! Even though the water did not look very deep – you had to navigate your way around without getting too wet which added to the excitement.

We finished our hike just after lunch, so we had a whole afternoon to chill out, so we wandered over to Pescadero Marsh to see if we could find any birds. The kids were a bit excited and scared them off, so we decided it was a good place just to chill out on the grass and watch the clouds in the sunny afternoon sky.


The evening after our trip out to Ano Nuevo and Pescadero ended with some rain, so we relaxed in the RV enjoying the sounds of the rain through the redwoods and on the roof. Such a perfect family getaway amongst nature.

We are Family


On tour visiting my aunt’s place today we were looking through more photos including my wedding album from a mere 10 years ago. Thank goodness it is safe with my aunt as it may be in someones garage in Alabama if I did not keep it safe here in Australia. The story goes that when we moved to the USA our removal company lost a massive box of our possessions that may have ended up in the land of the lost! Trying to locate this box was when I found out about American customer service – that is customer service minus the focus on service, boo!

To keep the kiddos entertained while we wandered down memory lane my uncle took them to the beach to check out the park and the pelicans. Ash had his first taste of a meat pie for morning tea, which he really enjoyed down to the last flake of pastry. Meat pies full of flies 🙂 The kids were at the park across the way where Pelicans are huge in these parts of the world and very plentiful.

We went down to the local fish and chip shop to check out what was on offer so I tried the grilled Goldband Snapper with some crispy chips – fish and chips here cannot be beat! That is one meal I will always enjoy though a walk is usually needed after scoffing down all the chips. Plenty of ibis came by to see if they could grab some stray food and the funniest thing happened to Missy when she had a chip in her hands above her head a cheeky little butcherbird grabbed the food from her hand and flew off – such a fun experience!

At the fish and chip shop there is a fresh fish market straight from the trawler from up North Queensland – there were plenty of crabs and prawns and these special little fellas called the Moreton Bay Bug which have flesh like a lobster or crab. The picture on the right is of the New Zealand mussel and the colour of their shell was just stunning. I so wanted to feast on everything there.

Little shrimp and Large Ocean Occy (octopus) to snapper heads and fish a plenty gave me inspiration for a seafood BBQ feast – today I just settled for some fresh Australian Pacific Oysters to enjoy with the fish and chips. The funny thing is that when I was looking at the fish to buy here I had to be careful on where the origin was, I found a Barramundi that was from China. To me as a foodie who loves to dine on local foods it was a bit of a shock to find this at a local fish monger. I imagine it is a supply and demand thing and if the people want Barramundi they don’t care where it came from, even if it was on a fish farm in China. I am happy to support the local fish companies here and tonight for dinner I had Tasmanian smoked salmon from the Huon River region – it is so worth that extra to support a company that has some sustainability practices in action.  I love Tasmania from the first time I visited it as a backpacker to the last time I visited as an environmental activist in the Tarkine region with The Wilderness Society. It is a place that I will be wanting to visit again and take the kids to see the World Heritage forests in the future – most likely when it is warmer and lets hope those forests are still there.

Lucky for us after all that seafood we found an outdoor gym so the kids could use up more of their energy on the cross trainer and get some weight training. Such a great spot for this gym equipment by the beach as you are getting a nice sea breeze while you are working out.

We have been here for over a week now and another day has flown by with more eating, catching up and hanging out. One thing I have been enjoying are the colours of the sunset and these super fluffy cloud formations, maybe I am too busy to notice them back in Cali as the time of the day I am too busy. Being on holiday gives you time to stop and appreciate the beauty and sounds around you, it is great to be home.

A piece a Week – A stingray gift for a baby and a weekend away to Aptos

For my birthday I booked an Air BnB getaway by the beach which was so relaxing. The times have been so busy these past few weeks that a weekend away by the beach was the best thing to do. The fun thing was that it was the same weekend as Easter so the easter bunny came to visit the lovely garden right by the house. On the way back home we stopped by at Capitola – we have lived here for 8 years and this was the first time we visited Capitola by the sea. I was entranced by the Venetian Hotel pictures I had seen on the internet – so I was on a mission to find them! 
On the Sunday we were at Capitola it was a rainy and overcast perfect for photos and Capitola is an excellent place to take pictures, it still has a lot of old signage and the Venetian Hotel is so colourful. The evening before was my birthday and we went out to dinner to a vegetarian restaurant with Sri Lankan and Indian flavors! I was so excited to find a vegetarian restaurant with a Sri Lankan spin and could not wait to go – the restaurant was Malabar and the food was divine. I really should not have worn a belt that evening as I ate so much!! There was no alcohol on the menu but they did have a collection of very tasty drinks and a favorite was dates, rose water and almond milk so I will have to try this at home, what a combination. Malabar in downtown Santa Cruz was certainly a highlight of my weekend, a vegetarian restaurant and Sri Lankan goodness all in one 🙂 
For one of our teachers at school I made this stingray (our mascot the Stevenson Stingrays) for her little baby it is a spin on the Bunny Blanket Buddy pattern by Lion Brand Yarn. 
Hello stingray in the sea!

This is an eggplant dosa from Malabar – just like my mum used to make her eggplant curry. As the kids are not fans of eggplant at home so when I get the opportunity to eat it at a restaurant I grab it! This was spicy and in a Sri Lankan style of curry that took me back to my roots.

This dosa and it’s accompaniments – yummo!!
On our way back from our weekend away we stopped at Capitola and here it looks like the kids are wandering alleyways of Europe 🙂 This is the Venetian Hotel right near the beach built by a Venetian Architect in 1924 – super cool and very colorful! 
Look out you are on private property!! 

We took a wander on the pier where you can hire boats and kayaks to go fishing and hang out on the water for the day – I found this though Mr A is not too keen!

Should we go on a boat ride?? 

We had the easter bunny drop his eggs the night before in the garden – that was very foolish as when we woke up in the morning for the egg hunt the eggs had been pilfered by the bandits of the night! The raccoons had a feast of easter eggs and enjoyed the milk chocolate and dissed the dark chocolate eggs!

The hunters in action!

Egg aftermath after the bandits struck 😦

Score from the Easter bunny

“This dark chocolate egg sucks,” says Racoon and his buds!

A piece a Week – Our creative family vacay in Maui

We arrived at our Air BnB on Friday the 13th – an ominous day to start our vacay! We arrived on the island and it was very windy and the locals were saying that the winds were wilder than usual. We went to Da Kitchen – to enjoy some tasty Hawaiian fare for lunch. I enjoyed a seared mahi mahi toasted sandwich with taro chips, welcome to Hawaii! The kiddos wanted fish and chips (a huge serving by the way!) and they were very happy. Most of the staff had tattoos and it gave me some ideas before leaving to get a sleeve done! Before we hit our Air BnB at the Haiku Oasis we visited the local organic grocery store Down to Earth with an amazing array of Maui fruits and veges – the lady at the store said try, try and so I did, the papaya and Lilikoi were just so tropical and tasty. We stocked up on Lilikoi (passionfruit), Pineapple, Mango, Avocado and Papaya – foods that are so rare on the mainland they all were such a treat to eat! 
Tropical fruit bounty!!
As it turned out the locals weather report proved to be a crazy wind storm with winds of up to 45 km per hour that blew throughout the whole night while we were tightly snug in our beds. With the ferocious winds tearing down branches and blowing the trees creating such a tremendous noise that we were frightened in the house. I had thoughts of a tree branch falling on the roof and crushing us in the night. Winds were battering the doors and the bamboo blew together and made a scary song! 
This picture looks quite still but the winds were blowing wild!
As it turned out – the morning after proved to be very eventful with no power and with no power at this place, came no running water – as there was a pump to get the water from the water tank! We decided that the whole day we would spend outside exploring Maui. The weather on the Saturday was constant strong winds everywhere we went on the island. It was not just in Haiku – though it seemed that it was the worst hit with all the fallen branches on the road! We had breakfast at the house and headed over to the Upcountry Farmers Market where we found some amazing avocados – bigger than your hand, local Kombucha, OJ and fresh sugar cane in a Mason Jar and Vegetarian sushi made by a local Korean family. The choice of fruits and vegetables was amazing but knowing that we had no power or water we did not want to buy anything to refrigerate. From the market it was a trip Iao Valley State Park which was lovely to see though we got really windblown wandering in the valley to see the big phallic structure. 
I see the phallic rock now!
After lunch we visited the Kealia Coastal Boardwalk in Kihei. Finally we managed to check out the beach at last and it was wild, the waves were terrifying with the wind blowing everywhere! Of course the time was traveling ultra slow with waking up super early and doing our tourist hikes out and about in the wind did not help as we were so windblown and exhausted from a bad nights sleep that we were counting the minutes away. As we were in Kihei I needed to go to the ABC Store to buy a gift for our neighbor – the ABC Store sells alcohol so we scored some red wine to prepare us for our night in with candlelight and no power. 
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind!
From Kihei we wanted to check out the beach in Pa’ia so at least we could get the kids out and about from the car and running on the beach! We drove up to the top of the island from the south to Pa’ia and by the time we got there it had started raining!! Man we were bummed so we just sat in the car and ate snacks checking our phones for the closest dinner plan. In Pa’ia there is no shortage of cafes and excellent places to eat. We decided on pizza which was fabulous at this wood fired pizza place called Flatbread – I highly recommend their Pele Pesto with Maui basil, macadamia nut and garlic pesto with Hawaiian goat cheeses, Haiku tomatoes with olives, mozarella and parmesan, so tasty! The rest of the family had a Mopsy’s Kalua Pork pizza made with free range pork – the biz for meat eaters. 
This plan worked out well though we had to wait half an hour for a pizza due to all the tourists packing in for an early dinner and an escape from the rain. We wandered around for a cup of chai and some hot chocolate and found a super cute cafe called Paia Bay Coffee that would be perfect in sunny weather with its outdoor dining area. They had the best macadamia slice for $5 and their chai was made from scratch and just right. While we were out we did our tourist shopping for our families back home at a store that sold a lot of locally made goodies. I found a beautiful Koa wood bracelet and some decorations for Christmas for family and friends. 
The pizza from Flatbread was perfect with a glass of red wine and while we were in our vacation rental waiting for the sun to go down we were thinking of the plan ahead. What if it takes forever to get the power and water back on, not cool at all! We are on vacation after all so we then decided to look around for alternative places to stay and with a lack of battery on our phones I sent a few emails to see if there was anything available… So this is a winter vacation for a lot of folks, which means that the choices are slim pickings. Saturday night we heard the calming rain and went to bed early as the wind had died down and had a very restful sleep. Getting up to the reality of no water and no power and no battery on your phone meant yikes what the heck do we do  next….
The gorgeous beach in Pa’ia – a surfers paradise
On Sunday we went out for breakfast at Cafe Mambo and as we went in, showered by the rains of the previous day, I asked the lady at the cafe if I could plug my phone in while we had our breakfast. She said, “are you staying in Haiku?” and knew all about the power outage. They had a great choice of breakfast options and some kiddos options such as pancakes and granola with yoghurt that were reasonably priced. I had a fresh croissant with cheese and egg with a cup of chai, that made me happy . I got the phone charged and listened to my voice mail from the owner of the vacation rental and he was very amicable about the situation offering us a free nights stay and apologizing for the situation being “an act of god”. That was great to hear but we had no indication of when the power was coming back on and what is going to happen with no water either. We were in ‘I think we gotta bail now mode!’ I now had half a battery worth of power on my phone to see what is available in Maui as alternative accommodation. We knew that Maui Electric was clearing up the trees and fixing the power in time and apparently that could take two days – our host mentioned in a text. I said to my hubby look there is a room at the Grand Wailea for $600 a night – what do you think? We still had 5 nights left of our holiday and the base rate (a AAA discount deal by the way!) is going to cost us over $3500 in accommodation!!! He was at the stage where at least there will be a pool for the kids, we can relax and we can have running water, power, a fridge and breakfast (we hope?)
Luxury at the Grand Wailea
For the next stage in our Maui accommodation debacle we made a booking online at the hotel and sucked up the cost on the credit card. I then contacted Air BnB HQ to cancel our stay at Haiku. Air BnB were excellent and they refunded our accommodation total and we were out of there. We went back to collect the rest of our luggage and packed the car and headed to the Grand Wailea Resort. As we were checking in there came the reality check – holy shit we are paying over $600 a night in accommodation, there goes the rest of our vacation cash for the whole year!! As my husband and I did not have a honeymoon we justified it as our long awaited honeymoon – after 8 years! Yes it was pretty crazy when we got married and moved to the USA with our 1 year old baby, living in a corporate apartment with crappy cable TV for a month in Cupertino before we settling down at our apartment complex for another 4 years.

Anyhow, that is another story so back to the Grand Wailea – I hesitantly handed over the credit card and then we were stuck in luxury for 5 nights! We were happy to have a room with a TV and 2 twin beds and all the luxuries you could think of but as this was a resort all the added items are charged to your credit card such as a resort tax of 13.42% per night and a valet service at $30 a day. Great, on top of $600 a night more money to shell out, I spoke to the front desk to check if our room rate had breakfast included – nope! We were then truly shafted but hey, we were living large in a fancy hotel with an amazing pool and a gorgeous view of the beach. Yep that is the deal luxury, the view and the relaxation of just chilling out by the pool or the beach all day – certainly a treat! We had to suck it up and do what we could do make our holiday a memorable one! Yes it had been memorable thus far indeed and somewhat stressful! My plan of a true upcountry Maui vacay was done and we were now like everyone else on the island living it up at the resorts. They are definitely a strange beast – a 780 room property full of people from around the world vying for the best place to hang by the pool or hang in your private cabana on your computer for $350 a day.

Looking at the resort and beach – beautiful!
On Monday morning we planned a trip out for breakfast, we landed at Joys Place at Kihei and had a healthy egg sandwich and a smoothie. We were ready to wander out to the Maui Ocean Center for the day, as I had planned it on our itinerary. I thought just a half day trip out there and we will be done but no, the Maui Ocean Center is a wonderful learning experience and we took the kids on a behind the scenes tour for $10 to their lab where we got to see baby turtles and sea horses, an octopus, touch starfish and learn about the invasive moon jelly. We also fed adult turtles, the hammerhead shark and eagle ray in their enclosure. It was fascinating to learn all about Hawaii’s Oceans and all the native names of some of the fish like the humuhumunukunukukuapua and how to pronounce them! 
Baby Honu – so sweet and so close!
We were pretty knackered after a day out so we headed straight for the pool with the kiddos, yes it is relaxing to just have everything at the resort good to go with a collection of pools and a beach right there. The day was done with us in a whirlpool hot tub to relax our feet and tired bodies. That night we found my fave place to eat in Kihei called Coconuts Fish Cafe – here I had an amazing dish of seared tuna with wasabi and a green salad with dried mango, macadamia nights and a pineapple vinaigrette – heaven! My first tastiest Hawaiian meal in days, maybe the fact that it had salad had something to do with it!! That night we wandered down to Kihei and were in time to watch a Maui sunset – that is an experience I will not forget in a hurry! The sun, gentle beach and rocks, a combination of pure contentment. That night we certainly slept well with a full belly and a big day out!
My favorite meal Seared Ahi Salad at Cocnuts
Sunset at Kihei – heaven!
Tuesday we decided that it be the pool and beach day. We had stocked up on supplies for lunch as the menu for the hotel food was pretty much meat based and hotel priced. With the $600 a night to spend unnecessarily it seemed a waste, hehehe!! It was lovely to just relax by the pool and have not a care in the world – let everything float away it was such a lovely way to spend the day. The water slide was a lot of fun and traveling from pool to pool with the mini water slides was super cool too. Missy just wanted to stay in the baby beach pool and practice her leg and arm movements so we tagged parent duties and had some water slide play in between hanging out in a 4 foot beach kiddos pool. We went in the ocean which was lovely and warm and played on the beach for a while, just beautiful and boy did we feel relaxed and warmed by the Maui sunshine.
Because we’re Happy!!
Wednesday I went to the complimentary yoga class and that was just incredible – on the beach doing yoga as the sun comes up is just the BEST thing!! I came back for brekky in our room – yogurt and fresh tropical fruit while the kids enjoyed the TV of PBS Kids. We then wandered down to Sugar Beach in Kihei – absolutely beautiful and not crowded at all with anyone. Gentle waves and a quiet beach with sea stars and a rare octopus in the rock pools. We realized it was the same beach we were at the other day when we were out and about in the wind storm – what a change in the beach, so calm and gentle. After our walk we had lunch at Kihei cafe – I had a fish sandwich and a tasty smoothie, the kids had a Honu pancake (a turtle shaped pancake with chocolate chips covered with chocolate sauce, man what a sugar rush!!) and hot dog with crinkle fries and hubby had a breakfast plate so he was sorted for the rest of the day – as Hawaiian plate lunches is all you need to eat! Mr Ash wanted to try shave ice and he was in for a treat. The Local Boys Shave Ice in Kihei had Shave Ice the size of Ash’s head with lots and lots of flavors like Tiger’s Blood?!? Missy had a small rainbow snow ball with ice cream that was way too much for her and Mr Ash had a large size 3 flavor combo the size of his head. I have to say it really is refreshing on a hot Maui day! When we were enjoying the Shave Ice I spotted our first gecko by the Tiki Bar and what a cutie it was! 
What that is a small shave ice?!?
Green Gecko by the Tiki Bar!
Thursday we had planned a trip on the Road to Hana – friends had been here and said it was a great trip though be prepared for the windy narrow one lane roads and bridges. It was definitely a scenic drive and the roads were very picturesque. Our first stop was Twin Falls a 1.5 mile in and out hike to the falls and back. We stopped at the car park full of cars and a fruit stand that made smoothies, and according to the guide book, we knew we were at the right place. The wander up to the falls was hot and lucky for us the farm there had a lot of beautiful shady trees and places to get cool until the next burst of sunshine. When we finally made it to the falls we encountered a concrete wall to balance upon and then down a couple of stairs to see the little river bed. From here the falls were across the riverbed, mmm OK no one said wear water shoes! So if you plan to do this hike wear water shoes as you are going to cross a small river with rocks on the bottom. We took off our shoes and balanced precariously on the river rocks – I was extremely careful with each step as I was carrying my SLR camera and I did not want to get that submerged! So with the walk across the rocks came a reflexology massage like no other – I felt pressure in the soles of my feet that I could feel hours later. We finally made it to the area where the falls are and took some pictures, ideally you should be in your swimmers here and take a dive under the falls with the other tourists and enjoy the magic. After our pics were taken we headed on back across very carefully as we had to avoid the flood of other people who came across at the same time! Still we made it back put on our shoes and hiked back to the car. We had planned not to do the whole road as we had left late so we did not even make it half way – we saw some lovely sites along the way such as the bamboo forest and the rainbow eucalyptus trees. The road did not seem as curvy as some of the roads in California like Highway 1 in Big Sur and the drive up to Big Basin (that can make you spew!). I can see why the road is so popular with Mustangs as the curves would be a pleasure to drive with your top down enjoying the sites along the way. 
Twin falls in all it’s glory
The precarious walk across to the falls – look out for the tourists!
All in all it was a luxurious trip to Maui and in the end a happy honeymoon with our kids! When I planned the trip I thought OK we can enjoy a cheaper accommodation and enjoy the foods and activities Maui has to offer like whale watching. In the end we enjoyed a relaxing, luxurious and grand vacation in a resort atmosphere that is fine once in a while but as a traveller, I prefer experiencing life as a local and having the Air BnB or Vacation Rental vibe. Staying at a resort is certainly a once in a lifetime experience for us and we have learned a valuable lesson on researching accommodation and locations whenever we go traveling to unfamiliar places.

A piece a Week – Crafting a show in SF and our Winter Vacay!

The last week of school and there was a lot to do preparing for a craft show on the Saturday and Sunday in San Francisco in the Dogpatch. We also had our winter vacation in San Francisco at an  Air BnB in Potrero Hill to pack for – whew! We wished our friends a Happy Holiday, wrote holiday cards online and finished school for 2 weeks, yay so looking forward to a break and relaxing! 
As it turned out – all was ready for our early departure Saturday morning and we were on our way to the Holiday Show at the Dogpatch Cafe and Gallery. The space was very cool though the location was a bit far from the main drag so it was a bit tricky to get folks in. I really enjoyed the experience of meeting some new crafty folk and all round beautiful folks. I worked with these ladies, Tuesday from Headless Designs,  Vonnie from Stoneface Project, Kim from Beautiful Symptoms Jewelry, Ronisha from Rahne’, Lani from Lani, Jennifer from Smells and Bells and our chair masseuse Cat from In-Symmetry in the Mission. Though I did not sell a great deal I reduced stock as we all bartered our wares together to trade for some lovely pieces of each others work! So all in all it was a wonderful weekend meeting some beautiful people living in and around the city! 
My booth at the Dogpatch Gallery and Cafe Holiday Show
As we decided to stay on from the weekend we spent another couple of days wandering San Francisco. I wanted to show the kids the big tree in Union Square and the kitties in the Macys window up from adoption by the SPCA. It is an excellent thing to do for these little creatures! As much as I would love to have more cats in the household, I already have two!! As a family we all have to agree on more cats and I will be the carer of the kitties too! Still it was a comfortable setup for the animals in the windows of the store and Missy loved to see the cats in the windows too!
That’s a mighty big tree there!
A skating dog named Bella
A beautiful kitty up for adoption
Down Market Street we found a fancy Mochi store so we stocked up on desserts to treat ourselves for later after our dinner at Papito in Potrero Hill. It was organic Mexican food with excellent service and very tasty ceviche with shrimp and mango! After dinner we went to the local food market for ice cream treats, just perfect for a night out.  
Mochi all packaged up from Japan
Here are some pics from our visit to the California Academy of Sciences and the reindeer kiddos!
You gonna hear me roar!
What is going on here – I just want to be a Junior Scientist!
I was taking my Xmas gift for a spin and I must say I love the iPhone 6 camera – super crisp images and the burst feature for selfies and the like! Here is a butterfly resting in the rainforest. 

Super detail of a butterfly in the rainforest

On our walk to the Cal Academy through Golden Gate Park I promised a picture of this dress in action – this is the outfit in front of the De Young Museum with my latest accessory from Betabrand in San Francisco the Wholester. Perfect for day trips out on the town to carry your phone, keys, cards and cash. 

Missy’s cat is in my hand

This is a fun picture inside our Air BnB with the kiddos playing hairdresser.

Kids play hairdresser and make the hair silky

We loved our place in SF where we stayed as there was a cat we were looking after while the owners were on vacation. The Burmese cat’s name is Misto and here are the kiddos with their new best friend!
Kids love Misto
Misto we love you!

And a very happy holidays from the peaches! Here we are in our holiday house in San Francisco – we love the city even more spending a few days living there!
Peace out cats!