The March List – HAWAII – 2017

Woo-hoo, it’s a bonus list for the month of March! There are so many things to tell you about our Hawaii trip that I had to make a separate list for it. For this visit, we also brought my mother-in-law, a world-traveler who has never been to Hawaii. It was fun deciding what parts of the island to show her. If only we had more time…

1) Of course my all-time favorite thing about Hawaii is seeing family. My Grandma (above) is 94 and the oldest member of our Hawaii clan (can I just say how much I love that she is holding a corn dog in this photo!?).

My mom and Auntie organized a family gathering while we were there, which is not an easy feat given how many of us there are. So many reminders that day of how very blessed I am to call these good people family and friends.

2) Whenever there’s a gathering, there’s always dessert and Auntie is an expert. She made one of my all-time favorites – haupia sweet potato pie – which is a layering of macadamia nut shortbread, Japanese purple sweet potato and haupia (made with coconut milk, cornstarch and sugar). The best.

The kids helped her make brownies, which looked so pretty in the muffin wrappers. She also made halo-halo, a Filipino fruity concoction and baklava, which was so ono (delicious) per usual. As they say in Hawaii…”broke da mouth!”.

3) One of the stops we made was to Punchbowl National Cemetery, which I hadn’t been to since probably high-school, maybe college. It was beautiful, with huge Chinese banyon trees and flush gravestones. Loved seeing all the mid-century modern architectural details, which Hawaii has a lot of.

And possibly what may be the prettiest bathroom building I ever did see.

4) Speaking of, I did make a conscious effort this time to take photos of more interesting buildings. Ala Moana shopping center, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (a Waikiki icon), and downtown Honolulu.

5) The most beautiful building we saw was the interior of the Bishop Museum, another place I haven’t been to since probably middle school or high school. Walking into the building is definitely a “wow” moment. I tried to take photos of it, but could not do it justice, so here’s a pic from their official website.

It was built with lava rock and koa wood, and my husband read somewhere that the building itself is worth more than the historical artifacts the building houses. Not surprised.

6) We went to several beaches. Family-friendly ones (not too many rocks, no big waves) mostly, since the girls are still small and learning how to swim. I hadn’t been to Lanikai Beach since…..you guessed it, high school or college, but I’d recently seen a photo my girlfriend took of her son there and it looked sooo pretty.

There are no bathrooms or parking lots (street parking only, which is difficult), but we made a pit stop beforehand and got there early enough to snag an awesome parking spot. After a short walk down an alleyway, the beach appeared and it was so much prettier than the picture.

White, sandy beaches as far as the eye can see and a couple small islands a kayak ride away (we didn’t go out to them, but many people did). The water was turquoise in the sun and the weather was perfect that day – hot with just enough trade winds to cool you down but not make you cold.

7) We went to Chinatown on Sunday, our first full day in Hawaii. So great to have my Mom come along as well (she hasn’t been out of the house lately, as she helps take care of Grandma).

I love all the shops with interesting medicinal herbs and candies and roots and vegetables. My mom almost bought some sugar cane for the girls to try, but decided not to. I remember tasting sugar cane a few times when I was little. It’s sweet, but such a concentrated sweet and also slightly bitter, if I remember correctly. The more you chew it, though, the better it tastes.

We had lunch at Long Life Noodle. Pepper steak, walnut shrimp (one of my favorites that is so bad for you! Battered deep friend shrimp tossed with mayonnaise and condensed milk. I mean, super gross. And fried, candied walnuts. The combo of flavors is to die for), noodles, beef broccoli and orange chicken. I love good Chinese food so much!

8) Even if you’ve only been reading bits and pieces of my blog, you probably already know I’m a huge fan of the pot sticker, gyoza, mandu, etc. You say dumpling, I say yes. My husband and I escaped for dinner one night to a new (new to us) restaurant, again in Chinatown called Lucky Belly.

They had a tasting dumpling special, so obviously I got that. One was lobster, one was ox tail and the other was….I don’t know, probably traditional pork. Since Grosse Pointe has turned me into a cocktail drinker, I ordered a vodka gimlet, heavy on the lime. Perfect with the flavorful dumplings.

9) My eight-year-old brought her piano books with her and actually did practice a few times. It was very touching to see her play on the now very, very old and wonky sounding antique German piano that I learned how to play on.

I found a place here in Detroit that restores old pianos and I looked into the cost off bringing it over, but it would be upwards of $20,000 to repair, so sadly that will not be happening. Glad my mom still has it, though, and that it’s still somewhat usable.

10) I love going through the photo albums at my mom’s house. I came across these gems. We don’t have very many photos of all four of us together. Now that I’m thinking about it, probably less than 10, maybe less than five? I especially love the vintage Hawaiian one. My Dad’s mixed patterns. Wonder what Tim Gunn would say about that.

11) Almost forgot to mention the miso butterfish. Another one of my faves and one fish dish besides fish and chips that the girls will eat! It’s really simple to make, though I’ve never made it myself. You can’t get butterfish in Grosse Pointe that I’m aware of, but I think it should work with cod. If I ever make  it and it turns out, I’ll share the recipe!

12) On the morning of our flight home, my mom showed the girls how to pick stephanotis blossoms and leaves and red ginger flowers for lei-making. My mom helped our little one string a lei while Auntie braided the other one’s hair. It was a sweet moment that I’m glad they had before they were whisked off for a long day of travel and our busy lives back home.

Such a great trip. Can’t wait for the next one.

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