Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Recipe Recap: Classic Strawberry Shortcake

Along with fun-filled vacations, late evening walks at sunset and lazy days lounging with a good book in hand, summertime for me means feasting upon the many delicious light foods the season is known for, from salads to grilled vegetables to fresh-fruit desserts.

One such dessert, which my ever-talented husband treated me to a couple weeks ago, is Williams-Sonoma’s classic strawberry shortcake, complete with homemade whipped cream and flaky biscuit-like bread.

It was the first time I’d ever had this particular version of strawberry shortcake before, but now that I’ve tried it, it’s quickly topped my list of summertime favorites. Check out the recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website, and give it a try for the perfect end-of-summer treat!

What's your favorite summertime dessert? 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Shiny New Set of Wheels

After Stephen and I got back from Hawaii, it was time to put our next big summer plan into action – buying a new car! While we initially weren’t sure we wanted to spend the money right now, especially since we are hoping to buy a home within the next several years, Stephen’s sister was selling her 2011 Honda CR-V before moving away from DC, and the opportunity was just too good to pass up.

So far, we’ve had the car for about a month and love everything about it, including the following.
  • I've always wanted an SUV, and this one has good safety ratings and just 20,000 miles on it. It should also be a good family car in the future once we have kids.
  • It's much roomier and newer than our Jetta, which is still running great after 10 years, but obviously won’t last forever.
  • We now have two cars, giving us more flexibility to get around town, especially if we ever move to an area without good public transportation.
  • It has a built-in GPS system, which was a must for me in any new car, along with a backup camera, Bluetooth syncing for my phone and possibly even a couple other cool features I still need to learn how to use.
All in all, we couldn't be happier with our decision and hope this car will serve us well for years to come! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hawaii Vacation Recap: Big Island

After our amazing first week on Oahu, Stephen and I next took a short hop over to the Big Island, where we celebrated his sister's wedding and enjoyed another couple days at the beautiful Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on the Kohala Coast. We then also headed down to Kona and explored Hilo on the wet side of the island. Hey, when you're traveling all the way out to Hawaii from the East Coast, you might as well make the most of it, right?

The view from our room, which we got at a great rate thanks to the block discount for the wedding. What an all-around incredible resort! 

Pre-ceremony photos with the couple and my fellow bridesmaids.

Posing with Stephen for a quick picture before the start of the wedding. 

Heading down the aisle.

My gorgeous bouquet, perfectly designed to symbolize a Hawaiian sunset.

The bride and groom sharing their first dance in the moonlight. 

A sea turtle resting peacefully on a black sand beach. We also saw several others up close while swimming in the bay at the resort.

 Coffee roasting demonstration at the Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation. I don't typically drink coffee, but the blends we sampled there were delicious! 

During our daytrip to Hilo, we got a great glimpse of the cruise ship we sailed on for our honeymoon three years ago. 

The Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens in Hilo is home to white Bengal tiger Namaste', along with many beautiful peacocks that enjoy roaming freely. 

Rainbow Falls in Hilo, one of our final stops before flying home.

A cool and colorful statue at the airport in Hilo. Have you figured out yet that I'm a huge lover of sea turtles? 

 All in all, it was a truly fabulous trip, and I can't wait to go back again for the next one! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hawaii Vacation Recap: Oahu

After spending a couple blissful weeks vacationing in Hawaii and then also taking a month-long summer blog break, I’m back and ready to start sharing a few recaps from our trip, along with updates about some of the other fun things we’ve been up to lately (like buying a new car!).

To start things off, here’s a look in photos at just a handful of the many exciting things we did on Oahu early last month, including hiking Diamond Head, watching the sunset from Waikiki and celebrating the 4th of July at Turtle Bay Resort on the island’s iconic North Shore.

Even though we were exhausted after more than 12 hours of traveling, we kicked off our vacation with delicious Thai food and Hawaiian punch cocktails at Keo's in Waikiki.  

Despite the fact that I'm smiling, hiking Diamond Head ended up being a lot harder than I originally thought it would be, even though we went fairly early at 10 a.m. I told Stephen in the middle of the trek that the next time I want panoramic views of the island, I'll take a helicopter ride instead. 

As tired as we were upon reaching the Diamond Head summit, the views of Waikiki and the surrounding area truly were beautiful, making the hike well worth it in the end. 

There's nothing better than closing out the day with a gorgeous Waikiki sunset.

Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu was the perfect place to relax and seek some shade.

We paid our respects at Peal Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. 

This cool sign at the Honolulu Zoo, where we saw tons of unique tropical animals, reminded us just how far we were from mainland U.S.A., not to mention countless other countries. 

No visit to the Dole Plantation would be complete without a sweet and tangy pineapple soft serve ice cream. Aside from the Dole Plantation, I believe the only other place you can get these is at Disneyland or Disney World. 

4th of July fireworks filled the sky at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore, where we relaxed with Mai Tais after grabbing dinner at one of the area's many famous shrimp trucks. Although we only dropped in for the day, we loved this resort so much that we plan to come back and stay here the next time we visit the islands.

Coming up next, I'll share details about our visit to the Big Island, where we celebrated my sister-in-law's wedding. Heading to the islands for a trip of your own? Check out a couple of my All Women Stalk posts for a list of fun things to do on Oahu, along with a few can't-miss Big Island adventures