Thursday, December 31, 2009

New York City's Famous Times Square

Happy New Year!  I cannot believe it's almost 2010. I also cannot imagine what it will be like tonight when everyone starts gathering in Times Square for the New Year.  It will be amazing!

I went to New York City a couple of days ago and I could barely walk through the crowds in Times Square.  I don't know how many times I said excuse me, but after a while it feels unnecessary because you get bumped a million times.  I guess it's expected.  It's so ridiculously crowded!  I love the energy of the city.  There are so many people who travel to New York, just for tonight.

It's not easy finding a parking spot in New York.  There are parking garages solely devoted for parking, which can run up to $48 dollars or as low as $14.00 depending on the location.  There is one parking garage I'd recommend.  It's near the Lion King in Times Square and it's only about $14.00 for 1 or 2 hours.

Tonight, I'm sure everything will be blocked off though, so I was told that catching the train would be the best option.  Even though it will take hours to get home because of all the people! There are lights everywhere and total chaos. I love it. It's no wonder New York City is referred to as "the city that never sleeps."

After parking the car, we walked Times Square and it was so exciting!  There were SO many people - everywhere.  The one thing I really love about New York is that it truly is a melting pot.  People from around the world are in New York and there's so much the city has to offer too.

While we were walking, my hands were freezing. I thought I could tolerate the cold, but it was painful.  I bought mittens for $5.00 from a vendor.  They sell all sorts of winter accessories on the street - Thank goodness.

My hands were still freezing, but luckily I started to warm up. 

I really, really, really want to see the ball drop in Times Square, at least once in my life.  I don't know how long I'll be able to last outside, but it's worth a try.  Maybe one day ... I'm just happy to have had the chance to walk around Times Square and to see what it's all about.

Happy New Year

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in Hawaii & Pennsylvania

Since we were leaving to the East Coast on Christmas Eve, my family spent Christmas on the 23rd together.  I'm glad I could spend time with my family before leaving for the East Coast.

On Christmas Eve, I flew to to the East Coast for the begining of a two week vacation.  It was eerily quiet at the airport since it was Christmas Eve! It was also a SUPER long flight to North Carolina on our lay over to New Jersey. It took nearly 9 hours to get to the East Coast.  The flight was rocky to North Carolina and my palms had sweat like crazy as we deceneded because of how freaked out I was by the turbulence due to weather conditions in the area.  Then, we caught our next flight to New Jersey and finally landed safely (thank God), where we drove another two hours to Philadelphia.

Now, I'm with family in Pennsylvania having a great time.  We spent Christmas together and it was nice.  It's also cold here, but not as cold as I expected, surprisingly!  It's nearly 39 degrees too

Before we headed out to the East Coast (in a frenzy), we ate at cold stone creamery and at a chicken place, thinking we wouldn't get any food on our flight.  But suprisingly, US Airways serves food.  I thought they were offering meals because it was Christmas Eve, but I later found out that they are one of few US airliners that serve food.  I was stuffed, but there's always room for a free meal!

When we landed in New Jersey, I could see snow from the airplane window!  It was so exciting because rarely do I get the opportunity to see snow.  We also surprised family by our arrival, my mother-in-law was particularly delighted and cried because she missed her son so much.  My husband hasn't spent the last several Christmas' with his family, so it was a nice surprise for everyone.

Now, I'm sitting at a table in my brother-in-laws house, an  area known to have inspired Milton Hershey to first build Hershey Park. It's in the middle of the woods, but a nice area.  Pennyslvania is truly a beautiful state.  I absolutely love Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why You Shouldn't Let Your Cat in the Bathroom

I always have to close the bathroom door and there's a good reason for that ... 

My cats will tear the toilet paper up, relentlessly.

My mom, unfamiliar with cats, left the door open once while I was on vacation.  When she came back to my home to feed the cats and walked into the bathroom, she screamed. She didn't know what had happened.  But now she knows ... Now she knows exactly why we can't open the door, which I sometimes forget like I did the other day. 

As you can see below, my cats not only attacked the roll of toilet paper, but they also knocked down the toilet paper holder.  But what you see is really nothing ... I've seen much worse.  And that's why, if you ever visit my home, remember to close the door! If not, you too, will get shocked by my curtain climbing, toilet paper attacking, cats...

My cats aren't that big, but they managed to knock down the holder... pretty impressive.

After I heard a commotion in the bathroom, I knew they were up to something.  I picked up the toilet paper holder to see how much they attacked.  They got a lot this time ...

Holiday Bark - Candy Cane & White Chocolate

Although I love making mint dark chocolate bark, I found another awesome bark recipe perfect for the holidays.  It's just as simple to make and a great treat for those who love chocolate, especially one infused with peppermint.

In Nestle Toll House's Semi-Sweet Morsels, Best-Loved Recipes (pg. 46), there's a recipe for Holiday Peppermint Bark that I guarantee you'll enjoy.

Holiday Peppermint Bark

2 cups (12-ounce package) Nestle Toll House Premier White Morsels
24 hard peppermint candies, unwrapped

Line baking sheet with wax paper
Microwave morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on Medium-High (70%) power for 1 minute.  Stir.  Morsels may retain some of their original shape.  If necessary, microwave at additional 10 to 15 second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted.

Place peppermint candies in heavy-duty resealable plastic food storage bag.  Crush candies using rolling pin or other heavy object.  While holding strainer over melted morsels, pour crushed candy into strainer.  Shake to release all small candy pieces; reserve larger candy pieces.  Stir morsel-peppermint mixture.

Spread mixture to desired thickness on prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle with reserved candy pieces; press in lightly.  Let stand for about 1 hour until firm.  Break into pieces.  Store in airtight container at room temperature. 

Makes 1 pound of candy.

If you don't have peppermint candies, use candy canes like I did. 

Mix well.  Add just the right amount of peppermint, depending on how much you like...

To speed up time, freeze it.  It's quicker than chilling it in the fridge.

Break it into pieces, then wrap it up to take to a party or to the office.

The Nestle Toll House recipe for peppermint bark is the perfect combination of white chocolate and peppermint, one of the most loved and looked forward to treats during the holidays.

I guarantee you'll love this recipe too.  It's fast, easy, and low-cost.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

There's Nothing Like Camping at Bellows Beach, Hawaii

The last time I remember camping was in my backyard when I was 10 years old - until last night. After all these years, I finally camped out and had an amazing time.  It had been a chaotic day running around from one place to the next, so arriving at Bellows at 10:30 p.m. last night was a huge relief. 

I had just left a Christmas party before I got to bellows, so as soon as we arrived at the camp site, we started the BBQ, attempted to go fishing, and finally built our tent all by 2 a.m.

And to add to the night, I somehow ended up with a piece of wood in my toe, which I never discovered right until bed.  Luckily, it didn't take too long to get out because I was tired and ready to hit the sack.

This is what a $26 dollar tent will get you.  It's not bad for two people, although a larger tent is always nice.  Just watch out! It was our first day using the tent and the zipper broke. 

They say it's better to fish at night.  I've never fished before, but last night I froze my butt off as I tagged along on the hunt for a great fishing location.  Eventually, we gave up and headed back to the camp site, where we sat around a burner and sipped cocoa.

BBQing oysters ...

Oysters sure do look strange.  I took two bites of one and realized it's definitely not for me, although I'll give it a try again sometime.  I think the looks get to me ...

Tako and ahi poke.  I scored left overs from the Christmas party I went to before arriving at the camp site! 

For those of you who aren't familiar with poke, it's chunks of seasoned raw fish.  Before you say "ewww,"  give it a try!  It may surprise you.  It's popular in Hawaii and most people enjoy it.

Not to gross anyone out, but yes we tried to use it as bait. 

Although I slept really late, I woke up refreshed by 0730 a.m., ready to take in all that surrounded me.

It was beautiful to wake up near the beach.  It's something to truly appreciate.  Bellows is one of the best places to camp at and I'm on the look out for more great sites for the future. 

In the morning, two police officers also came by to make sure everything went well, which makes you feel safe.

As we stood outside, however, I definitely smelled something different - weed.  It came out of nowhere.

It felt great to be outside with all the fresh air and the beautiful scenery.

For breakfast, there was more BBQing.  Steak, kalbi, and chicken ...

We couldn't make smores last night since the graham crackers were nowhere to be found until in the morning, when it was finally spotted.  We finally had our chance to indulge in chocloate, marshmallow, graham cracker goodness ...

By noon, it was time to leave ... Wish we could've stayed longer!  We stuffed the BBQ in the backseat of the van and headed home. 

Camping at Bellows was a lot of fun and definitely something I need to do more of in the future. It's nice sitting around with friends, BBQing, and having a good time. These are the types of things that add to life. 

Amazingly Creative Wreaths - Honolulu City Lights

There were super creative wreaths displayed at Honolulu City Lights.  It was nice to walk down the hall to see all of them because all were unique in their own way.

Too funny ...poor kid.

Hawaii's the 50th State, so this was very creative.

"No Pain, No Gain." 

The coffee cup wreath is my favorite.  It's very unique.


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