Mango Mochi {recipe}

…or MMMango mochi as some would say!

 

lesson of the day: late night redbull & vodka gives me the motivation to blog…and book excursions in vegas and apparently makes my inner ADD come out!

since moving out and officially being on our OWN (scary, i know!) i’ve been forced to cook.  a lot.  too bad i haven’t been keeping up with the photography as well.

i’ve had my fair share of misses…but this hit was too good and easy to be overlooked!  and it also helped that i had awesome lighting in the kitchen that day!

let me start off by saying i don’t like mango.  but i do love mochi.  confession: at my local froyo place, i often fill my cup with more mochi than froyo!  what you don’t?  well you should try it one day.  really.   ok ok…back on track…red bull and i do not mix well.

and i lied a little bit in the title…maybe i should have called the recipe ‘passion fruit mango mochi’?  because the actual mochi is passion fruit flavor and the filling is mango.  whatever.  my nom nom. my rules. FOCUS!

in a nutshell:

  • we got invited to a luau themed 4th of july bbq.
  • mamma bear always told me that you should never show up empty handed to an event at someone’s house that you are invited to.
  • my OCD (ocd AND add?!  its quite the party over here!!) doesn’t like to stray far from the theme.
  • i had a can of passion fruit juice in my pantry that i was hoarding and frozen mangoes in the freezer (for the boy’s green juices).
  • i like bullet points.
  • a lot.

since we are double booked for the day (lucky us!), i needed something that was quick and simple to make.  mochi came to mind.

 

since i also have paranoia of my cooking not tasting good (and i like to self diagnose myself based on what i read on the internet…damn you webmd!) i decided to make a test batch yesterday afternoon.

they came out good according to the boy (see above note about the dislike of mango).

 

 

Mango Mochi {recipe}

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 1 dozen pieces

easy mango mochi recipe

What You'll Need

1 1/4 cup passion fruit juice
1 1/4 cup glutinous rice flour
cubed mangoes
cornstarch for dusting

What to Do

  1. add passion fruit juice and rice flour into a microwave safe bowl (i used a pyrex - makes cleanup much easier!)
  2. mix until combined
  3. cover tightly with plastic wrap
  4. microwave for 3 minutes on high
  5. carefully remove plastic wrap and stir - the center should be slightly liquidy and the edges stiffer
  6. cover again with plastic and microwave for another 2 minutes
  7. remove from microwave and stir. you should now have a 'dough'
  8. dust a cutting board with cornstarch and turn the dough out onto the board
  9. wait about 30sec - 1min until the dough is cool enough to handle (your fingertips will thank me)
  10. dust the top of the dough with cornstarch and form into a log
  11. cover loosely with plastic wrap (keep covered to prevent from drying out)
  12. cut off approximately 1.5 inch piece and form into a circle (make sure your hands are well starched so the dough doesn't stick)
  13. place some cubed mango in the center of the dough and pinch closed
  14. ENJOY!

Notes

feel free to change up the flavor of the mochi and fillings! the ratio is 1:1 for liquid to rice flour. i have used plain water, coconut milk, coffee, green tea and guava juice to replace the liquid portion of the recipe. if your liquid is not sweet, add 3-4 tablespoons of sugar to the mixture before microwaving. coffee mochi and nutella filling was an absolute hit! if your mango is not fully ripe, feel free to add a tablespoon of sugar to it and let it macerate. and be sure to drain some of the juices before filling the mochi so it won't get soggy!

http://www.misstsien.com/2013/07/mango-mochi-recipe/

important note – this is best made the same day that they will be eaten, otherwise the mochi might dry out and start to get hard.

 

till next time…toodles!

 

signature

Week in Photos #21

What did you do Memorial Day weekend?  I know quite a few people that headed up to the New England area to spend the long weekend, us included.

The week started off with a Monday night dinner at the Oxenburg’s – Amanda and I both missed a bridal shower that we were invited to last month so we decided to get together with the bride to be and have a home cooked meal…Amanda prepped the lasagna the night before so all she had to do was pop it in the oven and wait for everyone to arrive! She’s become quite domestic since she’s gotten married!  😉

I had a buy one get one free code for Moe’s…home of the Coke Freestyle machine!  So on Friday before our long weekend I went out to lunch with some coworkers.  Chicken burrito for me…tacos for them.  I think I like this place better than Chipotle!

Since Friday was an early day for me I had time to do a set of my own gels at home.  I knew a manicure wouldn’t last me through the long weekend and I didn’t want to bring a bottle of polish with me for touchups so gels were the way to go.  Glitter included!

We spent Saturday and Sunday in Cape Cod on a family trip.  After heading out to dinner at which I didn’t take ANY pictures because I forgot my camera at the hotel…the adults hung out and did adult things and got ready for bed while the kids hung out for a little while doing…uhh..kid things?  The boys had to be up at 3AM to prep for their fishing trip so it was a relatively early night for all.

My pj’s for the weekend:

The boy packed lucky boxers in hopes that it would lead to a good fishing trip!  And it worked!  Everyone went home with coolers packed with fish!  I *puffy heart* seabass :)

Since we wanted to get back home as quickly as possible on Sunday, we decided to skip a real lunch and just stop by the 7eleven in town to pick up some snacks for the road.  Corn dog and a cheese stick for me and a sandwich for the boy.  And one can’t go to 7eleven and not get a slurpee, right?!  We even had our own slurpee bartender mixing it up for us!

When we got home we came back to find Milo with this on his back and tufts of fur all over the floor.  This was the first time he’s been left alone without humans or another cat around over night so we think stress might have caused it…

Slightly panicked, we called the vet the next morning and made an appointment…he said it was an allergy…to what, no one knows.  A shot, a bottle of pills and $120 later we were all back home.  How one feeds a cat pills is beyond my comprehension…but I guess we’ll find out tonight.  Side note: the turkey gained over a pound since his last visit in Jan!  Thats 20.6 lbs of cat hiding between the boy’s legs!

We must have brought home at least 30 fish from this weekend’s trip!  I decided to try to cook one up for dinner last night Chinese style…it came out pretty good for a first time try!  I probably could have stopped cooking it a few minutes earlier…it was a little overdone and the oil that I put over it could have been a little hotter.  At least we have plenty more for me to practice on!

signature

Week in Photos # 17 & 18

Another double week post!

I have been loosing out…technically not accruing vacation days…for the last two months!  So some time off was due!
The boy and I took a day off two weeks ago to do some running and pick up our glasses that were finally ready.

 It was so peaceful at the park in the morning with almost the entire park to ourselves!  :)  And this little buddy we ran into…

After our run and a quick shower, we were off to the  city to pick up our glasses…since the boy needed to have his lenses swapped out, we decided to stop into Cha Chang Tang for a quickie breakfast.   May I present to you…the best spam and egg sandwich I have ever had!

Delish!

So go figure….my vision has been the same for the last five years…and this year the doctor told me that my vision actually got better!  Above mentioned shiny new glasses…

I caught some nasty sun glare driving home the other day…which led me to sitting in traffic for about 20 minutes…exciting life I lead, yes I know…

The boy and I have rediscovered diners!  We had lunch at one of our local diners two weekends in a row!  Nommy! I heart chocolate egg creams!

Ok…so who else out there does this with their waffles???  EVERYHOLEMUSTBEFILLEDWITHSYRUP

We both ran the Bronx Zoo 5k!  It was a lot of fun…and my ‘little’ cousin had a blast!  Full post coming soon!
The start line:

signature

Week in Photos #15

Last week was pretty uneventful during the weekdays…but this weekend was pretty activity filled!

Got a gel manicure this weekend.  The first time trying the Gelish brand colors.  Like most soak off gel brands (excluding Calgel) the color selection pretty much sucks.  The color I chose is called black cherry.  I’m happy enough with it…and saw a few other colors that I’d be able to tolerate.  But the selection is seriously limited!

Headed to lunch with the boy, E and NinjaCyn…surprised everyone and suggested we go to the diner instead of our usual, Viet!   I got two eggs over easy with Canadian Bacon and waffle fries instead of home fries…and a vanilla egg cream!  The eggs were slightly over cooked – resulting in less runny yolk for my toast to sop up.  I was not expecting the enormous pile of fries that came along with the substitution!  Fries were shared among all!  The boy got a Western omelette and a waffle.  Random? Yes.  Good?  Yes!

 

After lunch NinjaCyn and I headed to the city for IMATS!  This is the second year it is in NY…last year was awful…this year was less awful.  But we will definitely be skipping it next year.   Not until they have more vendors there.

On Sunday we found ourselves waking up early to go running.  Running?   Yes you heard me right.  Why?  Because Ivy, the boy, and I signed up for the Bronx Zoo 5k!  Do we run?  No.  Should suggestions/fitness challenges be made during dinner and (many) drinks?  No.   The good thing is that we were able to round up some running buddies!  We spent the day at Prospect Park where they have a 5k loop around the park.  It was tough.  I didn’t do the entire loop running.  According to my app, 2.6 out of the 3.2 miles  was spent running.  Which sounds about right since I cycled through my couch to 5k app twice.  The boy’s leg cramped really bad so he had to stop less than half way in.  Mikie could have lapped us if he chose to do another round…and Ron stayed behind with us chatting and catching up!

Lunchtime!  What better way to reward a hard run than with some good food with good company!
There was a decent selection of trucks to choose from.  We hopped on line to get lunch and only had about a 10 minute wait.  By the time everyone else arrived to meet us the lines were outrageous!  There were about 15 trucks in total and I think between ALL of us, almost every truck was tried!

The boy and I got lunch from the Kimchi Taco Truck.  Taco combo for him, taco bowl for me!  Rice cakes and kimchi rice balls on the side for everyone to share!  Ron and Mikie also got lunch from the same truck…although for the life of me I can’t remember what they got…except for a side of nachos!

It was pretty warm out so we also got drinks from the Kelvin Slush Truck.  Drinks were good.  Would I wait on line for it for 30+ minutes? No.

We found a nice seat (read: hogged an entire bench for the latecomers) right in front of the Grand Army Plaza arch.  :)   Stayed until around 5pm – thank goodness I went back to the car to get the boy’s long sleeved shirt to wear…I didn’t want to catch too much sun…and I had already felt my shoulders getting darker!  Too bad the boy and Ron didn’t do the same.  Can we say LOBSTER???  :)

signature

Dinner & Drinks! (Max and Bar 89)

Ivy (aka Princess FiFi’s mamma) had made plans to go to Lucky Strike for some drinks last week.  Next thing you know after reading some reviews and comments from Pear, our plans were quickly changed to dinner and drinks starting at Max then onto our favorite watering hole Bar 89.

Luckily I was working in the field that day so I was able to head out to the city at a normal time instead of making the trek in from Long Island!

The plans were to head out to the city earlier with the boy and Pear for some pre dinner drinks and then Ivy would meet us in the city around 8:30.  Pear arrived promptly at 7pm in his shiny new car and we headed out!

I had been given a gift card by NinjaCyn for one of our favorite restaurants – so off we went!

*Note all pictures are from my phone…and my new spiffy Instagram app!  (bout time it came to Android!…now I just have to get a new phone with a better camera…October cannot come fast enough!)

 We took a seat at the bar and decided on our drinks…Can you guess what we got?

I’ve had both the Bellini and Max Mix in the past….and they are both TOO SWEET!  The Max Palmer immediately (obviously) caught my eye.  The drink was good…but not great.  I found it a little bitter either from the tea or the muddled lemons…it could have used more lemon juice in my opinion.  Pear got one too.

The boys deserted me…Pear in the bathroom and the boy went outside to get Ivy…I need to change my foursquare profile pic ASAP…thanks to creeper guy at Max…I told the boy not to leave me alone at the bar but did he listen?….nooOoOOoOoOOo…
When Ivy arrived we were quickly seated at the last available 4 top!  Perfect timing!
A bottle of wine was ordered while we made our dinner decisions…
I am new to drinking red wine.  But after my personal one on one lesson back in December, its been discovered that like white wine and other boozy drinks…I DON’T like it sweet!  The waitress assured me that the bottle Pear had chosen wasn’t too sweet and it was a good wine.  Obviously my attempt at a picture of the name is a complete fail!  You can see a glimpse of the boy’s iced tea in the picture too…I had it for the first time last year…and it was good!

CHEESE! :) <3

 

Max always has daily specials posted on the boards in the restaurant.  Can I say how ecstatic I was when we saw burrata on the menu?! :)  One order of burrata and one order of calamari to start.  The calamari comes with a spicy marinara sauce that is delish!   No pictures of the food because…well I dunno…just because, ok?!  Bad blogger I know…
For entrees Pear and Ivy got the same dish – squid ink pasta with shrimp in spicy marinara…good as always!  And yes, squid ink makes your poop black.  Like JET BLACK!  And for that single superficial reason is why I no longer order squid ink pasta anywhere.  Ivy texted me the next day to confirm her findings!  She’s a nurse.  And a mom.  She is used to gross stuff like that.  Your ears would probably bleed if you heard some of our conversations!  Wow look at that tangent!  See I guess thats what happens when I don’t have any pictures to show you!  The boy and I both got specials from the board.  For him – lobster ravioli with spicy marinara and for me fettuccine with mushrooms and TRUFFLE OIL.   Thumbs up all the way around!

Waiting for our noms….Ivy and Fifi have matching bangs…LOVE IT!  I should tell her dad that I want to join in on the party the next time I go see him for a haircut too!  lol

After dinner we headed over to Bar 89 for some more drinks.  Ivy and I were chatting in the car and wound up driving uptown!  The boys beat us there by a long shot!
Whenever I say that we’re going to Bar 89 most people give me a look and say “again?!”….Pear and I have been going there for over 10 years now.  It’s our spot!  (Don’t get jealous boy! 😉 )  Until I find another bar that has table service, good drinks and a well stocked bar, this will be my go to spot!

CHEERS!  <The boy was here too…just hiding from our antics…I can embarrass him sometimes when I have a few in me 😉 >

We ended up somewhere else after this….but for the life of me I can’t remember where or what the name was…I am thinking it was somewhere on the LES.

It was a LONG night…O.o

The next morning:

Yeah I totally drank tap water from the bathroom.  Yes it is gross.  But you know what is even more gross?  Throwing up because you are hungover.

Till next time…
The end.

Max
181 Duane Street
NY, NY 10013
212.966.5939
www.max-ny.com

Bar 89
89 Mercer Street
NY, NY 10012
212.274-0989
www.bar89.com

 

signature

BonChon {reataurant review}

A few months back E was looking for a restaurant to go to celebrate her 30th birthday. She had two requirements – it had to be suitable for a large crowd and it had to be reasonably priced.
She thought that BonChon would be a good place because who doesn’t love some fried chicken?! So we were off to do a trial run. We were able to recruit another friend to go with us so we’d be able to try some more things. Luckily the restaurant isn’t in a really busy part of the city so i was able to snag a parking spot right outside!
The restaurant is two floors. Downstairs is a bar with a few tables in the back and upstairs is where most of the seating is.

We decided on an order of fries, potstickes and tteokbokki to start with and a combo of wings, drums and chicken strips for our entree.

The fries were great! I think they are double fried and reminded me of Burger King fries.

When we ordered the potstickers they asked us if we wanted it tossed in a soy garlic sauce or hot and spicy. We decided to go the safe route and opted for soy garlic. We were presented with an order of nine pieces arranged on a long platter. First off, these were obviously not potstickers. At first glance we noticed that they were clearly deep fried and not pan fried as potstickers should be. Identity crisis aside, we dug in. Two words. Not impressed. Since they wee deep fried, the skin was really hard and crispy, the filling was bland and the overall taste was overpowered by the sauce that they were doused in.  Despite the saucy coating, these were actually pretty DRY!

When the tteokbokki came out our jaws dropped. In the past at restaurants when we ordered this it was a small appetizer sized portion with about a dozen rice cakes and some fish cake slices. This time however was very different. The plate was about 14 inches across with a combination of rice cakes, fish cakes, noodles and cheese! A little overwhelming at first but we dug in. A little on the spicy side but we enjoyed it. A note about rice cakes though…they can be very dense and filling so if you have a small appetite, I’d suggest notbwasting any stomach real estate on this dish.  I enjoyed this dish…the presence of the noodles weirded me out at first…but  I got over it quickly!  My tolerance for spicy things isn’t all that high and the density of the rice cakes was quickly filling up my tummy…so after a few bites this was pushed over to the side.  (It made great leftovers the next day!)

Now onto the chicken…this is what you were waiting for, no?  I got a combination of the wings and drums and half spicy half soy garlic.  At this point I was pretty full already.  But I tried one of each sauce type for the sake of the review!   The spicy ones would have definitely been too much for me if I had ordered it for the entire order.  It was too overpowering.  The soy garlic was much better!  The chicken remained crispy even though it was quite some time before we actually ate it!   My brother had no problem polishing them off when I brought him the doggie bag so I’m assuming it got a thumbs up from him as well!  Each order of chicken also comes with a small bowl of pickled daikon.  I didn’t try any since I was already stuffed to the gills!

 

I don’t recall much about the chicken strips…which makes me think they were middle of the road.  I’d probably order if if I wasn’t in the mood to deal with chicken bones though.

 

I’d recommend this restaurant.  The menu isn’t too large that its overwhelming nor is it too small where you feel like the ONLY thing you can get is chicken.

E did end up having her birthday dinner here a few weeks later.  They reserved the back section of the top floor for her and it was nothing less than chaotic.  While I would recommend the restaurant for a normal sized party, it was a major fail for a large group (35 people!).  The chicken was still good though!

Thumbs up! (as long as you don’t have an obscenely large party!)

BonChon
207 W. 38th St. New York
NY 10018
212.221.3339

 

 

signature

Aruba Part 2!

Anddddd we’re back!  Now where did we leave off?  By day 5 I was pretty much recovered from being sick.  My sore throat finally went away and I was able to eat again.

Day 5…Wedding Day!  We had to be at the pier by 5:15.  What pier do you ask?  Why Y&F had rented out Marriot’s private island to hold their wedding!  AMAZING!  We had to take a little shuttle boat over to the island.

Since we had to start getting ready by 3pm, we decided to stay local and just hang out at the pool.  Lunch was at the hotel’s outdoor restaurant again.  Why?  Because during lunch the day before, I saw that the guy at the table next to us had this GIANT hot dog so I decided that I NEEDED to have one too!  It was only ehh…I did like the fries though!  :)

After some more lounging and sun by the pool, we got ready and headed to the pier downtown to catch our boat!  Since we were early again I picked up a few more souvenirs before heading over to the boat as I was not planning on returning downtown during the remainder of our stay.

The wedding was so nice!  Once off the boat we were shuffled to the right side of the island where the ceremony was being held.  There were tables set up with servers handing out rum punch.  And a flock of flamingos greeted all of the guests!  The ceremony was gorgeous and the officiant was great!  The Mariott timed the ceremony perfectly with the sunset.

After the ceremony and some group shots we were scooted over to the left side of the island for the reception.  YuChing’s details were amazing!  Invitations were sent as boarding passes…and escort cards were luggage tags!  Her monogram tied everything in nicely as well.

Dinner was delish!  Probably some of the best food we had in Aruba!  It was set up buffet style and we were able to pick and choose as we please.  After dinner we were off to the bar for the first of many rounds of shots and drinks!   It was a good time for all! :)

The boat ride back to the pier was way scarier than going there…because 1. it was pitch black 2. I was a little drunk!  But that didn’t stop me from stopping at the hotel bar for a nightcap when we got back!  Vodka on the rocks for me.  Water for him.

Day 5 Expenses:
Lunch $51 (including tip)
Cab to downtown $15 (including tip)
Souvenirs $10
Starbucks $10
Bar $12
Cab to hotel $15 (including tip)

Day 6…

We are drawing close to the end…:*(

This was our first day where we really had NOTHING planned.  No dinners, no weddings, nothing!  We were a little tired of the hotel food so we decided to venture out for lunch.  We walked back to the main strip and found NOTHING open!  I was getting cranky so we finally settled on Wendys.  Yup.  Wendys.  End of story.

Most of the afternoon was spent lounging by the pool and then in the later we took a walk on the beach to see what the other hotels looked like.  It was so nice because there are NO annoying vendors on the beach harassing you to buy this..or to go on this excursion..etc.  And the beaches are really clean!

A few happy hour drinks later and we decided we should research a place for dinner.  I had a bunch of brochures that I had collected from here and there and a place called Gasparito caught our eye.  The place touted itself as an “art gallery and restaurant” in one.  So we decided to give it a shot.  It was local Aruban food too so we were kind of excited to try that.  The menu looked decent.  The concierge told us that we couldn’t walk to the restaurant from the hotel…and I’m glad we didn’t try!  It was so dark and scary!!!  There were no street lights or sidewalks!   Dinner was pretty decent.  I wasn’t too crazy about my soup that I got for appetizer…but the rest was good!  It was a dead night at the restaurant – there was only one other table dining in there!  and they were eating outside!  So we had the whole interior to ourselves!  The staff was so nice…but that is a common trait that we found of people all over the island!  Since this restaurant was a little far out of the way, there were no cabs waiting to be hailed so the restaurant had to call for a cab to come pick us up.

1. self explanatory
2. appetizer – ravioli stuffed with Kerry Kerry, a local delicacy…I think it was fish?
3. art gallery
4. the boy’s entree – he got a combo dish of some of the Aruban specialties so we could try a little bit of everything
5. the bill arrived in a little wooden box with some candy inside
6. french onion soup – delish!
7. more gallery shots
8. my entree – I was not as adventurous as the boy…so I just got shrimp cooked with a cream sauce :)

Day 6 Expenses:
Lunch $15 (what a steal!)
HH drinks $18
Cab to dinner $11 (including tip)
Dinner $95 (including tip, 2 soups, 1 appetizer, 2 entrees)
Cab to hotel $11 (including tip)

Day 7…

Our LAST full day  ::sadface::

Breakfast at the buffet downstairs again and then we headed to the pool.  The boy was tired of laying out so we decided to take a walk on the beach again.  Our newest vacation habbit is to bring home a container of sand and some seashells that we find.  We spent about 3 hours walking up and down the beach looking for shells!  It was a great way to work on tanning my back because I hate lying on my stomach on the lounge chairs!   Back to the pool bar for our last round of happy hour drinks and back upstairs we went.

We decided to stay in the hotel to try out the Italian restaurant onsite.  It was surprisingly good and a great way to end our vacation! :)

Day 7 Expenses:
Breakfast $50 (including tip)
HH Drinks $17 (including tip)
Dinner $95 (including tip, 2 appetizers, 2 sodas, 2 entrees, 2 desserts)

Day 8…

This shouldn’t even count as a real day!  We got a late 2pm checkout because our flight wasn’t until 5pm.

After we woke up, we went downstairs to the outdoor restaurant to have lunch.  It just wasn’t the same.  We were both pouting the entire time!

The cab ride to the airport was uneventful.  The driver was very nice as all of the cab drivers in Aruba were.

Overall we loved Aruba!  Despite being sick, we both had a great time!  This is an island where we can see ourselves returning to.  And as always, the Westin did not disappoint!  Things in Aruba are very expensive.  All restaurants charge a service charge and you are supposed to tip on top of that.  Dinners averaged around $100 for the two of us.  This was our first time staying at a non all inclusive place in the Caribbean.  The Westin did offer an all inclusive option, but we felt that because we had so many plans outside of hotel, it wasn’t really worth it.  The AI option would have raised our rate to almost $500/night!  We also find that when we are on AI, we feel the need to be little piggies and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday!  Normally, I only eat lunch/dinner…I know its not good to skip breakfast blah blah…but breakfast for me is never a real meal…it usually consists of a fruit or a slice of toast, etc.

One plus we found was that the cab fares are all regulated from zone to zone.  So if you are traveling from one place to another, you will be charged the same flat fee as the next person.

Now where to go next?…I guess I’ll think about that as I go out and chip off the ice from my car! :(

signature

Aruba Part 1!

Full Album pictures available here: www.misstsien.com/banana/aruba2010

As I sit here in the midst of an ice storm, I reminisce about the awesome week I had in Aruba just a short 5 months ago.

The boy and I were off to YuChing and Francis’s (Y&F) wedding in Aruba!  They had blocked off a number of rooms at the Renaissance Marriot for their guests, but being the point whores we are, we decided to stay at the Westin about 15 minutes away.

As luck has it, I caught a terrible cold (in August!) a few days before we left…I guess it was karma for taking a vacation when normally that week is blacked out for everyone from taking off!  But it was a wedding!  And it was a good friend of mine!  And I had everything (almost) under control at work!  So I HAD to go, right??   Yeah, like I said – karma!  The cold lasted a good 3 days into vacation with a fever making an appearance as well!  But being sick on vacation is still better than being sick at work/home!

Day 1…

We had an 11:30am flight on JetBlue out of JFK airport…so our paranoid asses got there at 8:30 (thanks dad!)  One thing led to another and our flight didn’t take off until 2:30pm!  It was almost 8pm by the time we checked into the hotel.  The hotel wasn’t the cheapest around…but we <3 Starwood brands! The rate we got gave us the 5th night free and $150 credit towards food and beverage.  I guess it sort of makes up for the $30 “resort fee” they charge.  We were both starving and tired…too tired to go out exploring for a restaurant…so we just went upstairs, changed into some presentable clothes and headed down to one of the hotel restaurants – Pago Pago (steak and seafood).

Before I continue…let me mention…Aruba is EXPENSIVE!  I thought Hawaii was expensive…but Aruba far exceeds it!

Day 1 Expenses:
Cab to hotel $30 (including tip)
Dinner $130 (including tip, 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and 2 sodas)

Day 2…

I’m not a big one for excursions…I don’t like being tied to a tight schedule when I’m on vacation.  So I usually just schedule one or two.  After reading up on this ‘submarine tour’ I knew that was the one excursion that we were going to go on!  Everything was booked online prior to arrival, so I printed out all my confirmations and off we went.  We had to check in at 12:30 so I asked the front desk how long it would take a cab to get downtown so I could budget enough time to go exploring.  When we got downtown, we walked around a little bit and found ourselves to be MELTING!  We found a good old Starbucks and decided to just grab a drink and sandwich from there.

Now off to the submarine!  It was amazing!  The company that operates this tour also has excursions in Hawaii and Mexico…I would def go again!  You board a ferry that takes about 15-20 minutes to get to the submarine location…then you file off the boat and down the hatch!  I was wearing a dress that day so the boy had to go down before me so I wouldn’t flash anyone else.  They took us down about 140 feet and the view was just awesome!  So many fish!  So much coral!  they even took us to two different ship wrecks!

1. The submarine that was waiting for us
2. A guide showing what types of fish we could possibly encounter
3. Everyone gets their own little port hole to look through
4. The pier from where the ferry departed.  The Adventure Center is the main building where you check in.
5. It was a tight fit in there!
6. Our tour guide
7. One of the shipwrecks that we saw
8. Goofing off in the downtown area  :)

Since it was hot that day we decided to go back to the hotel and relax in the pool for a bit.  It was already pretty late in the day…3ish by the time we got changed and went downstairs so we missed most of the sun!  The bar by the pool had a daily happy hour from 4-7 so we grabbed some drinks…and then a few more to take up to the room while we got ready for dinner.  We decided to go exploring and check out the main strip of restaurants/businesses by our hotel.  After a short 5 minute walk, we were right in the middle of all of it!  Going by Lili’s super helpful restaurant list, we narrowed it down to a few places and walked over to check out their menus.  We settled on a seafood restaurant called Aqua Grill.  The interior reminded me of a seafood restaurant you might find here on the north east coast…very nautical…but tastefully done!  If I was feeling better, I’m pretty sure it would have been awesome, but I was still sick and my throat was killing me so I picked at most of my food.

Before going to Aruba, everyone warned me of the trade winds and how windy it was and to make sure I brought enough rubber bands/clips for my hair etc.  Well…apparently this applies if you are on the BEACH side of the hotel!  While walking at 10pm on the strip, we were dripping by the time we got back to the hotel!  Enough so to warrant another shower!  My only guess would be that all of the high rise hotels blocked the nice breeze!

Day 2 Expenses:
Taxi to excursion $15 (including tip)
Lunch $13 (Starbucks – what a steal!)
Excursion $178
Picture that we got suckered into buying after excursion $10
Souvenirs $18
Misc $15 (candy, cough drops, ponchos in case of a downpour – had to protect our cameras!)
Dinner $120 (including tip for 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 2 sodas)

Day 3…

I was taking nyquil before bed every night, so between that and heat exhaustion from the daytime, I never really had a problem falling asleep.  When I woke up I remembered that I NEEDED to make an appointment at the spa for a pedicure!  Because….the night before, after we got back to the hotel, we decided to go walk on the beach for a little bit and the nail salon I went to at home must have used a cheap ass primer because the polish on one of my toes completely came off!  The whole thing!  O.O I know right?! I didn’t notice it until I got back upstairs, so the first thing I did when I woke up was made an appointment at the spa!

After we showered, we decided to try out breakfast downstairs – it was a buffet style breakfast complete with an omelet and waffle station and some hot and cold foods.  Again, since I was still sick, I didn’t eat much.  My appointment was for 1pm so we went to lay out for a bit by the pool.  Before I headed inside, I reminded the boy to reapply sunblock…more on this later.

The spa sucked…$35 for a pedicure + 17% service charge + 3% island tax + tip left me $60 in the hole!  But I suppose it was worth it because I wasn’t about to walk around with polish missing from ONE toe!

A round of happy hour drinks later and we scooted back to the room to start getting ready for the sunset cruise that Y&F set up for the wedding guests.  While we were getting ready, I noticed that the boy had begun to develop a bright shade of lobster red.  Apparently he had fallen asleep and forgot to reapply!  The pier where the cruise was taking off from was right next to the pier where the submarine tour took off so it was easy to find!  The cruise was great!  Two hours up and down the coast of Aruba. The first hour we watched the sunset and enjoyed the nice ocean breeze.  As soon as the sun was gone, the deck lights came on and the music was turned up!  Sunset cruise transformed into BOOZE cruise!  Being the seasick fool I am, I had to pass on the alcohol since I was feeling quite queasy already.

After the boat docked, we all split up.  Since it was getting late, the boy and I decided we should try to find a place for dinner.  Iguana Joe’s it was!

Day 3 Expenses:
Breakfast $50 (including tip…yeah thats right $50 for BREAKFAST!)
Spa $60 (including tip, service charge and tax)
HH Drinks $10 (including tip)
Cab to downtown $15 (including tip)
Dinner $60 (including tip)
Cab to hotel $15 (including tip)

Day 4…

Plans for today was just a scheduled dinner with Janie and some friends at El Gaucho.  Apparently everyone that has been to Aruba raves about this place so we had to go to see what all the fuss is about.  Its a steak house.  I don’t eat steak.

Since our reservations weren’t until 8pm, we had plenty of time to do a whole lot of relaxing!  After sleeping in, we decided to try the hotel’s outdoor restaurant for lunch.  This was my first encounter with the island’s lizards! YUCK!  They’re completely harmless and non aggressive and probably more afraid of me than I am of them…but apparently i despised them enough to not take ANY pictures of them!

After lunch, the boy decided to go back up to the room and hang out in there because his sunburn was getting pretty bad.  I hung out by the pool some more…I wish they had lounge chairs in the pool because after about 5 minutes in the sun I felt like I was burning up and had to go dip in the water to prevent myself from frying to a crisp!  Eventually I just hung out in the shallow end of the pool by the steps with a drink and my gossip magazine…ahhh vacation…how I love thee! :)  After the harsh sun went away, the boy came back out and we hung outside for a little while longer.  The hotel had a little ice cream shop on the lower level so we got some ice cream and went back to the room to get ready for dinner.

El Gaucho is an Argentinean style steak house.  The food was overall pretty good there.  We all ordered a bunch of appetizers to share and the boy made me order a steak since we were at a steakhouse.  It was ok.  Over seasoned and salty, but edible.  Others thought it was good…I’m just not a fan of the moo.

Day 4 Expenses:
Lunch $45 (including tip – cheaper than the previous day’s breakfast!)
Misc from hotel store $15 (water, snacks, etc)
Ice Cream $8
Cab to dinner $25 (we paid going there and Janie paid on the way home)
Dinner $102 (including tip)

Stay tuned for part 2!

signature

hotpot and party crashers!

every year the boys do a secret santa exchange and every year ash and I usually try to hang out to kill time waiting for them to finish.

this year we decided to invite some girls along to join us for a hot pot at ash’s place.  for those of you who don’t know what “hot pot” is…just think of it as asian fondue!  you dip a variety of raw meats/veggies/tofu/noodles, etc into a pot of broth to cook it.  finish it off by dipping into your own sauce creation just prior to eating.

the plans were set.  i’d drop the boy off at his secret santa exchange and then head over to ash’s to start our mini feast…wrong!  on saturday morning the boy tells me the guys are relocating their secret santa to ash and steve’s house!  a quick text confirmation with ash proves true.  why? because the boys didn’t make dinner plans/arrangements and decided to crash on ours!  no big deal…except i went grocery shopping for food for 5 girls…not 5 girls plus 10 guys!  after some quick scrambling, the boy and i managed to pick up some more food for our meal that now turned into a feast!  see, when you’re buying for only 5 small appetites, you’re quite limited to the amount of stuff you can actually get…but add 10 boy’s stomachs to that and you can double/triple the variety!

off to the market and $60 later the boy and i shuffled over to steve and ash’s place to start prepping.  now i thought prepping would be quick and easy…there was no cooking involved by me after all since all of the cooking would take place at the table.  BUT…in reality it took about 3 hours to prep all of the food!  washing, chopping, arranging, etc!

the spread was: nappa cabbage, spinach, 3 types of noodles – mung bean, udon, vermicelli, fish tofu, fish balls – both regular and stuffed with tobiko!, enoki mushrooms, firm tofu, fried tofu,  pork dumplings, xo wontons, konyaku bundles, and lots of meat – two types of beef – fatty and regular, chicken and pork.  if i had more time to plan, i probably would have bought less of each item so i could increase the variety even more…manila clams anyone???

after everyone was stuffed to the gills, the boys went to open their gifts.  they drew cards to determine the order and off they went.  some were too excited about opening their gifts to stand long enough to pose for a nice picture with it!

the boy got what he wanted from his wish list – he broke his gaming headset a while back so he got a replacement.

many thanks to our host steve, ash and baby O!  ironically, steve hates hot pot…and thats the reason why ash and i decided to do it that night – because steve was supposed to be out of the house for dinner!

signature