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Adventures in Maui: Part One

16 Jan

When I first got my job fresh out of college and I found out I’d get the opportunity to travel all over the US (and possibly the world) I was pumped. I mean…who DOESN’T want to globe trot on someone else’s dime? Getting paid AND getting to see new places…amazing. How did I get this lucky? As I soon found out, traveling quickly starts to wear on you. Spending 10 days at a time in places like Las Vegas, Dallas and Orlando sound like fun in theory, but when you’re working 18 – 20 hour days you really don’t get a chance to enjoy where you are (let alone a meal). My co-workers and I started saying “we go lots of places but we don’t see lots of places”, because we would really only see the inside of a hotel.

All my bitching and complaining aside, I love my job, the people I work with and what I do. There is one trip every year that I have the privilege of taking that allows me to travel to an absolutely gorgeous place AND enjoy it. Each October since 2009 I have  gone to Maui and then extended my trip to explore. This past year (trip #3) was no exception and my stepmom and sister came out to enjoy this beautiful island with me. Below are pictures of our incredible trip.

View from Breakfast

For the first few nights of their trip, we stayed on the West side of the Island in Ka’anapali at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa. It’s great for novice surfers, whale watching (in season), shopping and eating. Nearby (10-15 minute drive) is Kapalua for golfing and Lahaina for shopping, eating and water activities.

Ashley & I - Lahaina

Lahaina Banyan Tree - 138 years old!

I'm convinced this is what heaven must look like

View from lunch at Mala Ocean Tavern in Lahaina

I HIGHLY recommend Mala Ocean Tavern if you’re in Maui. It’s on the far end of Front Street, so you don’t get the hustle and bustle like you do in the middle of Lahaina. Their restaurant is based on the following: small plates, organic whenever possible, whole grains, no preservatives, no hydrogenated oils and everything in proportion. All good things :).

Mala Ocean Tavern

(808) 667-9394
1307 Front St  Lahaina, HI 96761

Flourless Chocolate Torte Soufflé for lunch 🙂

Mala Mai Tai for Denise (I had the Malarita)

Later that afternoon the three of us were picked up at the hotel and whisked off for a private beach dive. It was our first time scuba diving and we were pumped. Denise stayed on the beach to take pictures and relax in the sun while Ash and I suited up.

Suiting up for scuba with our instructor, Timmerz in the coolest blue camo wet suit

Heading in

Swimming with Sea Turtles - we saw 4 that day

Playing with Sea Urchins

Reef Shark - not dangerous, I promise!

Seahorse in shallow water

Overall, an AMAZING experience and I can’t wait to do it again! I was so happy that we decided to use Tiny Bubbles Scuba instead of adding scuba onto a snorkel sail with one of the bigger companies. The biggest difference is personal attention. Tiny Bubbles only does private dives, which made these two first timers feel totally at ease. The second biggest difference is that Tiny Bubbles does beach dives. If you were to do a dive on one of the bigger snorkel boats you would be required to jump into the water…weights, tank and all. The beach dive allowed us to go at our own pace and get used to the water. Tim also owns a crazy fancy underwater camera, so he takes hi res pictures and video during your dive and then delivers them to you before you leave the island (that’s how we got all those awesome shots above). Tim is patient, kind and passionate about scuba diving. He and his wife, Marcia, own the company. When I go back to Maui next year I’m bringing Ben for his first dive and it will definitely be with Tiny Bubbles.

Tiny Bubbles Scuba

(808) 870.0878

Rainbow # 9,834,590,385. Seriously...they're EVERYWHERE!

Maui Flower

The next day we left Ka’anapali for the North Shore and checked in to the Paia Inn.

From their website: Located in the heart of charming Paia Town and just steps away from a 3 mile stretch of beautiful white sand beach, Paia Inn is a hip boutique hotel on the gorgeous Northshore of Maui. Our small town upscale hotel offers a haven of relaxation in the popular town of Paia, which has a variety of cafes, bars, restaurants, galleries and boutiques to explore and enjoy.

They’ve played host to quite a few named celebrities…pretty cool, huh?  This was my 3rd time to Maui so I’ve been to just about every place on the island. Paia is by far my most favorite spot so I was excited to finally be spending more than just a few hours there. The hotel was perfect. It was beautifully yet simply outfitted and the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. I will definitely be back to this adorable inn.

Paia Inn
93 Hana Highway
Paia, Maui, Hawaii
(808) 579-6000

Our cute living room

Bedroom # 1

Full Kitchen

After checking in we drove to nearby Makawao, Maui’s own little cowboy town.

Aloha Cowboy - Makawao

Denise posing with a cowboy

We walked along the main drag and besides Aloha Cowboy we really didn’t get much of a cowboy feel…maybe we went to the wrong spot.

View on our drive from Makawao

We headed back to Paia and ate lunch at Flatbread Company just down the road from our hotel.

Flatbread company serves amazing pizza and salads with mostly organic, natural and local ingredients. The price point is perfect (especially because Maui is so expensive) and the food + atmosphere is even better. We split the organic salad and the Jay’s Heart + Pa’ia Bay Ohana flatbreads. I added my favorite local beer, Maui Brewing Co. Bikini Blonde. Just steps to the water, this is heaven I tell you.

Flatbread Company
89 Hana Highway
Paia, HI 96779
(808) 579-8989

After lunch we walked around Paia to check out the awesome shopping. My favorite boutique in Maui is Alice in Hulaland. It’s overflowing with unique clothing, shoes, hats and accessories + some of the most beautiful hand crafted jewelry on the island.

We had some fabulous Ono’s Gelato before heading back to the hotel to shower.

We ate dinner that night at the famous Mama’s Fish House. Sounds like a hole in the wall, but quite the opposite. Mama’s has been a Maui landmark since 1973. With the freshest fish you will EVER eat (that’s a promise), phenomenal drinks and effing awesome desserts it’s the holy-crap-you-must-eat-here-once-in-your-life spot to eat in Maui

Me, Denise & Ashley at Mama's Fish House

Denise & I

Hello there, gorgeous!

Ashley & I

Denise & I

I don’t remember what any of us had, but it doesn’t matter. EVERYTHING IS AMAZING. You can’t order wrong off of this menu. I do, however, remember this dessert. It was Mama’s Chocolate Kuau Pie Baked in a caramel cookie crust. And now I’m hungry.

They have a list of awards that goes on for days, but even if they never won a thing I would still be sitting here typing to you to PLEASE GO TO MAMA’S.

Mama’s Fish House
799 Poho Pl
Paia, HI 96779-9708

That’s all for Part 1 of my Maui trip. Part 2 includes the road to Hana (an entire post in itself) and Halloween in Lahaina on Front Street. I promise not to post the NSFW costumes that I took pictures of (but will happily send then via e-mail if you want a chuckle).


Disney 1/2 Marathon Weekend

12 Jan

Hey guys! Happy Thursday to you. Anyone else feel like 2012 is moving at light speed? It’s the 11th already…WTF, it was just New Years!

Sorry I didn’t post a Recipe Monday…I suck…no real excuses besides the fact that I haven’t made anything new and exciting that I loved enough to share. I have a Thai Chicken Noodle soup in the crock pot right now, but I’m not doing backflips over it so I’m not posting. I promise to post when I have something worthwhile for you (and something vegan for you, Lace!).

This past weekend Ben and I headed down to Orlando to meet up with my best friend and room-mate from college, Lacey, her boyfriend, Bobby and our friend from NC, Natalie. Natalie’s mom, Linda, and her friend Sam came along too and we all ran the Cigna Disney Half Marathon together on Saturday (except Ben who has a hurt knee and Natalie’s mom).

Lacey and Bobby picked Ben and I up from the airport on Friday and we headed over to check in to the hotel.

I love this one

We stayed at the Gaylord Palms…it’s MASSIVE. Evidence below.

After check in we checked out the Wide World of Sports to pick up our race packets and meet up with Natalie, Sam and Linda. We had a really freaking hard time parking, getting inside and finding Natalie so I sent her this frustration picture.


Side note…Ben, Natalie and I were all frustrated at work last week and sent these out to each other via text to express our feelings. We are weird…I like it.

Stress Face

We stopped for some pics before going back to the hotel and then out to dinner for some serious carb loading (bring on the pasta!). In the middle of all this I was feverishly trying to finish Mockingjay (Hunger Games 3). If you haven’t read books 1, 2 and 3 GO BUY THEM NOW! Or e-mail me and I’ll send them to you. SO FREAKING GOOD! Intense, violent and wonderful. YESSS!!! Can’t wait for the first movie.

Natalie and I

Linda, Sam, Natalie, Me, Lacey

Saturday morning I woke up at 3 AM (!!!) to be downstairs and in a cab by 3:45 AM. It was way too early, but I was excited to run with these pretty ladies.

Sam, Me, Natalie, Lacey

Me and Natalie

The race started and ended at Epcot with a quick stop (and when I say quick I mean it) at Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s Castle.

Honestly, I did NOT train enough for this race. I’m still adjusting to Atlanta and working from home (how long do you think I can get away with that as an excuse? ;)), I was sick, we had the holidays with family in town…I could go on for days. And now a line from Old School is stuck in my head…

I knew I could finish with no problem because I had put in the distance runs, but just didn’t do enough speed work to accomplish my goal…running this B under 2 hours. With a little encouragement from Natalie I decided WHAT THE HELL, I’m going to try my hardest and run like a mofo. Sam and Lacey split from Natalie and I and off we went.

We started out slowish…around 10 minute mile pace and then got faster and faster. Let me remind you that I am not the hare, I am the tortouise and this body is built for distance, not speed. But something seriously came over me and I just told myself I was going to run like hell. I think having long legs Natalie running with me may have helped ;).

So…there we are…running through Disney (mostly the back alleyways and side roads) and both Natalie and I feel like champs. I just keep looking down at my fancy pants Garmin in amazement that I’m running so fast (we’re talking 8 minute miles at points for this slow poke) and I feel like I can totally do this thing. And then around mile 10 tragedy strikes…ok I’m being dramatic, but I got a really painful cramp in the ball of my left foot. I’ve NEVER had a cramp like this before and it felt like there was a bone sticking out of the ball of my foot. Obviously there wasn’t. Scary, but I really didn’t care because I.was.runniiiiing (think of this in Forest Gump’s voice).

Natalie kept looking back at me and the terrible faces I’m sure I was making to see if I wanted to stop. What I really wanted to do was finish under two hours so I kept on going. Around mile 11.5 I realized that unless we started running at warp speed we weren’t going to make it :(. Natalie finished in 2:02 and I finished in 2:03. SO EFFING CLOSE!

We were bummed, but it was still a PR for both of us and now we’ll just have to do it again together. 🙂

Ok, so here are my gripes about this race. 1. I paid $170 for this thing. I pay $70 to run the 1/2 in Atlanta. I was expecting some mahjah perks and schwag for $170. I did not get any mahjah perks or schwag. I didn’t even get park admission after the race. This annoys me. 2. I think of the entire 13.1 miles we only ran through parks for about 2 miles. The rest of the run was through Disney back roads. Boo. 3. The race started at 5:30 AM and it was dark outside. Parts of the course were incredibly dangerous because of the lack of lighting. There were times where I could barely see Natalie beside me because it was so dark out and they did not light the roads. This isn’t true for the whole course, just parts. Yes, I am an old woman. 4. IT WAS $170. Oh wait…I said that already.

All in all, so happy I did it. I got to see two of my best friends and enjoy a weekend in Orlando. Will I do another Disney race? Not unless they pay me to do it or their prices go down or they start offering some serious schwag.

After the race (and a little car accident…everyone is OK!) Lacey and Bobby hit the road and the rest of us went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Please respect the spell limits - this made me grin!

I have read all 7 books and seen all the movies. I.LOVE.HARRY.POTTER. The entrance takes you into Hogsmeade. So realistic.

Hogwarts Express & the Conductor!!!


After taking a few pictures we beelined it to the butter beer stand.

Too bad it's non-alcoholic

We checked out Ollivander’s – Makers of Fine Wands and saw a little interactive show inside.


Ollivander finding a wand for this lucky guy (so jealous)

We also went on the two HP rides.


On line - set in Herbology Class

There were super cute shops there that sold everything from Bertie Bott’s Every Falvour Beans to Chocolate Frogs to a Nimbus 2000.

After covering every inch of HP we headed over to Margaritaville to drink. We had a wonderful dinner with Natalie’s cousins and called it a night.

The next morning Natalie and Sam left and Ben and I headed for Magic Kingdom.

On line waiting for the Buzz Lightyear ride

For the record, Ben beat me...look at how serious he is!

We rode all three “mountain” rides. Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. I got soaking wet on Splash…Ben did not. WTF.

Don’t be fooled. These are not “weeee I’m having fun” faces…these are “OMG I’m going to barf” faces. The teacups will do that to you.

After some delicious ice cream (does anyone make better ice cream than Disney? I think not.) we headed back to the hotel, packed up and flew home.

It was a wonderful weekend  and I’m counting down the days until I get to see my ladies again.

Sending a big GET WELL SOON to Natalie’s momma. She slipped and fell at the hotel and broke her wrist. Feel better Linda!

Concrete Jungle…off to NYC

15 Nov

And I’m gone again! I’ve been back for a little over a week and I’m heading to NYC today for work. Just a quick trip this time and I’ll be home Thursday in time for the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn :[ <—-vampire smiley

I’ll be staying here at the Intercontinental Barclay.

And I’ll be checking out the new 9/11 Memorial and the Museum of Modern Art. It’s all work, work, work, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the memorial and paying tribute in my own way.

Wishing I had time to see these guys, but I’ll see them in February on their way from New York to Florida.

Snowbirds (minus me)

Enjoy the rest of your week, guys!

We’re Baaaack

14 Nov

Phew….it’s been a loooong Sumer/Fall transition for us! From moving into our new home state of Georgia to traveling like crazy people to starting a new job, August, September, October and November have been a little hectic in our house.

We’re happy to say we’re back in the saddle and ready to start blogging again (and by we I really mean I since I’ve yet to lasso Ben into posting…a girl can dream, right?).

So here’s the short catch up session on what we’ve been up to via pictures:


I spent the middle/end of August at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas for work. As usual, after 10 days and -5 hours of sleep per night in a hotel, the team starts to get a little crazy.

I have no explanation

Ate the whole thing!

Playing with a Serta Sheep

A Cheese Cart! Squeal!

Me & Sarah at the Staff Dinner

In late August Ben and I took a trip up to New York to see my grandparents only to get stuck in the middle of Hurricane Irene. She ruined all sorts of wonderful plans we had like seeing Hair and exploring in the city. We hunkered down and spent lots of quality time with my grandparents and it turned out to be a wonderful trip.

Crazy Hurricane Force Winds

Hurricane Sunset

Poppo, Grandma, Me, Ben

Action Packed Game of Monopoly (Spoiler Alert: Grandma Wins!)

Walkway Over the Hudson - Post Irene

I went to sleep away camp for 7 years in upstate New York and was so excited to visit the Quickway Diner – a huge treat after 4 weeks every summer of camp food. I talked up the dish I remembered most, Disco Fries (fries, gravy, cheese…what a combo) and everyone thought it sounded disgusting.

Quickway Diner

Behold...Disco Fries


BTW...he loved it!


My co-workers threw Ben and I a going away party and got us some really thoughtful and awesome gifts.

Ben, David, Me and Marc

Katherine, Dawn, Me and Susie

Sarah, Me and Ashley

They got us a bottle of Corzo Silver Tequila (if you haven’t tried it go STRAIGHT to a liquor store and make yourself a margarita), golf balls for Ben, sticky notes (I love me some sticky notes), organic dog cookies for Rocky and some other great goodies. They also had a picture of Ben and I framed that was taken for early marketing materials for a venue that my company opened up (we were dressed as a bride and groom). Included in the frame were inspirational quotes that come on Yogi Tea bags that I had been saving. AND if that wasn’t sweet enough they had the whole thing matted in garnet and gold (can I get a Go Noles?!).


I said goodbye to my good friend Sarah one more time over wings, beer and football :).

I miss you 😦

We moved out of our old apartment in NC and into our new apartment in Atlanta on September 7th.

Rocky & Ben in our empty apartment in NC

New Apartment in Atlanta

We went to see Coldplay at Piedmont Park and it was absolutely amazing. The band, the production, the laser light show…the whole thing was really phenomenal.

Jaimi and I saw Wicked with our friend Lizzie and their mamas and naturally we cried like babies and then sang all the way home.

Go see this now!

I went to Orlando for work and then back home for my sister-in-law’s Bridal Shower.

She was a BEAUTIFUL bride!


My friend from college, Lindsay, came to Atlanta for a quick visit and to see Jaimi and I.

Jaimi, Me, and Lindsay

And Ben’s friends from college plus our old neighbor from NC came up for a weekend to visit (8 boys + 1 girl + Ben + Me + 2 dogs = how did we do this in a two bedroom apartment?). We squished in and had a great weekend. Saturday the boys took off to Auburn for the Florida game and I got this text.

A Florida Gator with an Auburn Tiger Tale = Asking for it!

My friend Lauren found a guy in a bar and we borrowed his Auburn ears and tail so we could send this back.

Ben went to Tampa for his brother’s Bachelor Party and they chartered a fishing boat.

Man Love...I don't get it

Ben's Dad

I went to Maui for work plus a little vacation with my step mom and sister.

Me and Ashley - Before Scuba Diving

Me and Denise

View from lunch at Mala

I’ll do a big update on Maui later once I’ve collected all the pictures from the girls (hint, hint ladies!).


Last weekend we went to Ben’s brother’s wedding in Ft. Lauderdale.

Rehearsal Dinner


And Ben tried out for an adult hockey league here in Atlanta, passed the bar and got sworn in as a lawyer. So proud of this guy!


It's official!

Well…that’s all for now. I’ll resume regular posting this week. Looking forward to sharing lots of yummy recipes (creamy tomato soup from the fabulous blog Eat, Live, Run plus lots more), Maui pictures and some great restaurant reviews.

Have a great week, y’all!

Braving the Hurricane

27 Aug

I got back on Thursday night from Dallas and where did Ben and I decide to go? New York. I mean…whatever…we’re from Florida…we know what to do in a hurricane. We can handle it!

Hurricane Irene

We had big plans with my grandparents to see Hair and roam around the city. Instead they picked us up from LaGuardia and swooped us to their summer house in upstate NY.

We spent today checking out the historic site of Woodstock, now Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.


Calm Before the Storm

Found this on a park bench in Woodstock

After checking out the Woodstock museum, we ate some delicious Italian food and now we’re hauled up onside waiting for the storm. Don’t worry y’all…we’ve got plenty of water, food and the most important hurricane item…wine.

I’ll do a full Texas recap soon!

– BGD –

Off to Texas

16 Aug

I’m off to Texas for 10 days, y’all!

I’ll be staying here in Grapevine. I guess it’s true… everything is bigger in Texas because this place is MASSIVE.

Gaylord Texan

And I’ll be working like a crazy lady…up at 4 AM, down past midnight (such an old lady) but I’ll get to hang out with some of my favorite people from work and they make all the long hours totally worth it.

Staff Dinner 2010 - Las Vegas

I’ll be back in NC on August 25th and then Ben and I are doing a quick turnaround and heading to NYC to visit my grandparents.

Winter 2010 - The cutest grandparents

After NYC we’ve got 6 days left in Winston Salem so we’ll be busy packing up all our stuff and then MOVING TO ATLANTA!

The next few weeks will be crazy busy for us but we’ll do our best to blog about it all. I’m trying to convince Ben to write a blog post while I’m gone. Think he’ll do it?

– BGD –

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