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FMM: Favorite Things

Happy Monday! Today has actually been a pretty easy transition back to the “real world” after having the week off for spring break.  As much as I hate standardized testing, it’s come in handy that we started it this week in my English classes – it makes for a smoother entry into the work week.   Because I wasn’t ready to leave Hawaii behind just quite yet, I decided to go Aloha style for my OOTD (you might’ve seen this already on Instagram, if you follow me):
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For the months of March and April, FMM is moving locations.  Sarah over at Losing Weight and Having Fun is hosting FMM for the time being, and I’m excited to discover her blog and meet a bunch of new bloggers.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: Losing Weight and Having Fun so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Favorite things

1. Favorite color? (be specific… what shade of blue/green/red etc)

hot pink  As much as I’m drawn to dark colors, my absolute favorite color is hot pink.  I’d love to get my Beetle convertible painted this color someday.

2. Favorite piece of clothing you own? I’ve been loving skirts and dresses lately, because I can wear them a lot longer than I can pants as I lose weight.  I guess I’d say my Michael Kors skirt is my favorite, because it’s so versatile. I can wear it with sweaters, tshirts, or tanks and it can change the look completely.

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3. Favorite smartphone app? I’d have to say MyFitnessPal, because I love how easy it makes logging all my food, water, and exercise.  Plus, I get so much inspiration and support from all my friends on there – I go to it multiple times a day.  If you’re on MFP, too, send me a note and add me, if you’d like.

4. Favorite city? I’d have to say San Francisco.  There’s something for everyone there – the beach, art, shopping, amazing food, nightlife, and outdoors activities.  Plus, the city itself is just so beautiful.

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The Changing Light  by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (one of my favorite poets, one of the original Beat Poets, poet laureate of SF, and owner of City Lights Bookstore):

The changing light

            at San Francisco

    is none of your East Coast light

           none of your

                   pearly light of Paris

The light of San Francisco

             is a sea light

                       an island light

And the light of fog

        blanketing the hills

    drifting in at night

           through the Golden Gate

                      to lie on the city at dawn

And then the halcyon late mornings

    after the fog burns off

      and the sun paints white houses 

                     with the sea light of Greece

      with sharp clean shadows

       making the town look like

                             it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o’clock

                                    sweeping the hills


And then the veil of light of early evening


And then another scrim

           when the new night fog

                            floats in

And in that vale of light

                   the city drifts

                           anchorless upon the ocean

5. Favorite strength training exercise? I’ve mentioned it before, but since mid January I’ve been doing the Tone It Up exercises, and I absolutely love them.  They use your own body weight, along with small dumbbells or kettlebells to tone.  The difference I see in my body is noticeable.  Plus, the routines are so fun, and the community is really supportive.

6. Favorite vegetable?  This is like asking me my favorite book – I love so many that it’s difficult to choose just one.  Maybe zucchini because there’s so much you can do with them – make “zoodles,” stuff them, bake them, sauté  them, make zucchini fries, steam them, or have them raw with a crudité.

7. Favorite hair product? (shampoo, styling, conditioner etc) I’ve been using Pureology, and I love the way that it keeps my color fresh, but I’ve been noticing that my hair is drier since I’ve started using it.  I’ve been using Redken’s Smooth Lock, too, so I’m not sure if it’s the shampoo/conditioner or the styling product that is drying it out.  Either way, I think I need to make a change and see if it helps. On a recent trip to Dry  Bar to get my hair blown out, I was amazed at how shiny my hair looked.  I love how their products smell, so I’m thinking about trying their shampoo, conditioner, and styling products for a bit to see if they work better for me.

8. Favorite animal? Is there any question that I’m going to say dogs?

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9. Favorite superhero?  

bilbl_super Super Bellina 

Oh, did you mean a comic book superhero?   Then I’d have to say Wonder Woman, I guess.  :)

10. Favorite recipe? (share the details with us)

A recipe I make again and again, in summer and winter is my version of Hungry Girl’s 10-Alarm Crockpot Turkey Chili.  It’s hearty, satisfying, delicious, easy to prepare, and has great nutritional stats.

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Sarah’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM.  You never know who you’ll meet today.

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Spring has (almost) sprung! Which means that the weather is turning warmer, the days are getting longer, and fitting in outdoor activities is a whole lot easier. Spring is a time of renewal, and in the spring of 2014  I’m living my life in full bloom! Now that I’m in the home stretch of my weight loss journey, all the pounds I lose this spring are just like extra petals on a flower, making my life just a bit more beautiful. I want to enjoy each day of this season, soaking in the sunshine, blue skies, and happiness. Sunday weigh-ins will keep me accountable through the weekend, and will give me a positive goal to begin each new week. My Sunday progress updates will be called Super Spring Weigh-Ins.

Week 46 was amazing – I was in Hawaii enjoying the sun, sand, and sights.  I’ve been writing separate posts about all of my adventures, from snorkeling in Hanauama Bay, hiking the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, and hiking Diamond Head. The house in Kaneohe had gorgeous views, and I loved watching the sunrise every morning. I have a few more blog posts to write about my trip, which I plan on doing today.  The trip was everything I’d hoped it would be, and was definitely a reward for all my hard work this past year with my weight loss.  I loved my time in Hawaii, and the only thing I’d change next time would be having more people to hang out with…maybe even a romantic travel partner.

bilbl_scale.jpg So, what did the scale show?!

When I weighed in this morning, I was 185.0, which is a gain of 2 pounds this week, but a loss of 92 lbs since surgery! I’ve lost a total of 130 pounds from my highest weight!! I have 35 pounds to go to my ultimate goal weight of 150 pounds. (So much for thinking I’d lost 3 pounds when I weighed myself on the scale in Hawaii the other day. It just goes to show how varied scales can be). While I never like seeing a gain, I’m not upset by this one.  Not only did I get my period this week, but I was traveling, and the plane ride alone is enough to add some water weight gain.  I know these pounds will drop off quickly this week once I settle back into my normal routines.

So, my plan for the week is to do just that, get back to what I’ve been doing because it works.  A huge part of feeling on track for me is being organized, so I spent the day yesterday unpacking, grocery shopping, and sprucing up the house.

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I bought these placemats last year, and I love that they bring a bit of Hawaii into my dining area. Plus, they’re bright and springy. The mums add a pop of white that is crisp and happy.

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These roses are from my garden in the backyard, and I absolutely love the color. They’re a bright pink/coral color, and I think they’re stunning.

Part of the groceries I bought yesterday were the makings for green smoothies.  I haven’t had a green smoothie since my surgery.  At first the greens would have been too harsh for my newly-sleeved stomach.  Then I just got into the routine of having my protein shake in the morning, and you know how it goes when you get into a routine.  But after seeing Bobbi‘s food diaries on MFP, I remembered how much I love green smoothies. I added 1 cup of vanilla unsweetened almond milk, 1 1/2 scoops of Isopure zero carb vanilla protein powder, about 2 cups of this great organic baby kale & chou frise mix I got on sale at Safeway, and 1/2 a cup of mango chunks, along with a packet of Truvia.  The result? An amazing green smoothie, the color of which just reminds me of spring.  It was fresh, delicious, and really filling.  Plus, I love that I can get an additional serving or two of greens at the beginning of my day. Because I have to pull out the blender and making the green smoothie involves a bit more time, I don’t think I’ll make a green smoothie every day this week, but I do plan to have them at least a few times, and I think it’s going to be a regular weekend selection.

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Nutrition for this smoothie: 278 calories, 42g protein, 18g carbs, 4g fiber, 5g fat.

In terms of my workouts, the plan for this week is to make sure I fit in 5 Tone It Up workouts, along with cardio:
Sunday: long walk with Sofi at the LG Creek Trail
Monday: Lateral X elliptical + walk with Sofi / TIU: Santorini Bikini
Tuesday: flow yoga + walk with Sofi / TIU: Sunkissed Abs
Wednesday: early morning (4:45am!) hybrid elliptical / TIU: Bikini Booty Workout
Thursday: run/walk intervals + walk with Sofi / TIU: Set the Bar Routine (Beach Babe 2 DVD)
Friday: bike ride + walk with Sofi / TIU: Pura Vida Arms
Saturday: spinning + walk with Sofi

I have great meals planned this week, too:

  • breakfasts:protein shakes or green smoothies
  • lunches: salads w/ rotisserie chicken and veggies
  • snacks: Greek yogurt, Boom Chicka Pop, hard boiled eggs, mini brie and rosemary raisin crackers, cashew/almond/mango trail mix
  • dinners: sauteed spinach/kale mix with protein – mahi mahi burgers, ginger-marinated cod, chicken marinated with white wine & lemon

Plus, this week is going to be a fairly light one at work, which is nice after a week off.

I’m going to try to include more hobbies (besides working out and watching TV) into my weekly routine.  This week, I want to:

  • read at least 30 minutes a day
  • blog at least three times
  • put together a photo book of my Hawwaii pictures on Shutterfly

I had an amazing time on my vacation, but I’m really glad to be back home with so much to look forward to in the week ahead. It’s going to be a great one!

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Until next Sunday, my friends. I hope the scale treats you well, and that you have a wonderful week!

One of my main goals for my Hawaiian vacation was to fill my time alone with as many fitness adventures as I could.  Since Oahu offers so many different options,  decided to do a bit of research and discovered that a 30-minute drive would bring me to the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail.

There’s something very intriguing to me about lighthouses.  They’re literally guides for sailors at night, and maybe because of all the novels I’ve studied, there’s something so romantic to me about them.  I never realized how drawn to lighthouses I am until this trip, but I am going to make it a point to go to the local lighthouses we have in the San Francisco area when I get back home.

When I looked up info about the trail itself on my Trail Advisor app, it said that it was a paved trail that offered a steady incline to the top, easy to navigate for people of all fitness levels.  I knew I could make the trek, and the promise of the views along the way were all I needed to decide that this was my Tuesday morning outing.

Getting to the trail by car was an easy, beautiful drive, and because I got there early, around 8:30am, parking was a breeze.  (I’ve been on California time throughout my trip, meaning I’m waking up at 3am local time).

10006917_10151952043440426_6763370043924131053_n The hills surrounding the trail were lush and green, and the path itself was very easy to navigate.  I put on some music, and started my assent.  I was a steady incline, enough to keep my heart rate going the entire way.

1534472_10151952042795426_132579950536500944_n Before too long, I saw the ocean peeking out among the brush, and if these were the views at the start of my journey, I was anxious to see what awaited me at the top. Between my music and these views, I think I was smiling from ear to ear the whole way up.

1601506_10151952043315426_8525203781774062793_n10259743_10151952043615426_6302813055275166739_n11893_10151952043700426_7882390771869107988_n10258807_10151952043655426_5132203295441575976_n1794676_10151952044000426_1692567953378443486_n It was right around this point when the breezy morning turned super windy, and the hat I’d been wearing to protect my face from the sun flew off my head!  Luckily, I was able to snatch it from the ground before it flew away.

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I walked for a while holding the hat with one hand and my iPhone in the other. Every time I stopped to take a photo, the hat flew off – about 4 times total. Until I remembered that I could tighten it in the back.

The water below me was so blue, the sky so clear – as I walked the trail I couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky I was to be living this life.  I’d decided that this vacation was my reward for all my hard work over the past year in accomplishing so many of my weight loss goals.  This hike wouldn’t have been half as enjoyable 132 pounds ago.  I would’ve been severely out of breath, concerned about whether or not I would make it all the way to the top, and not living in the moment and enjoying all of this natural beauty all around me.  Instead, I soaked it all in and truly felt blessed to be at this point in my life.

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Before too much longer, I was at the top of the trail, looking down at these stunning views of the surrounding area.

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10150652_10151952045015426_6540676470749329357_n It was so windy at the top that I nearly lost my iPhone capturing this shot, but it was worth it, even if it is a bit blurry, I think it helps capture the wind whipping all around.

And finally, the view I’d been waiting for all day – the lighthouse!

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It was smaller than I thought, but a true jewel on that hilltop.  I love this picture so much that I’ve made it my wallpaper on the phone.

1466037_10151952045100426_452066782254352158_n I hiked to the top of this hill, which is amazing to me!

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To offer some perspective, the parking lot is in the middle of the photo. I took this about halfway back down the trail.

There’s really no other word for this hike than glorious.  It offered everything I love – views of the ocean, a great workout, and the chance to remind myself how far I’ve come and how lucky I am.

After the hike, I noticed a spot around the corner from the parking lot that was a bit of a hidden beach, filled with black volcanic rocks where I could perch and watch the white-tipped waves crashing. It reminded me a of a place near Half Moon Bay that’s really special to me. Somehow being here all alone with no other souls in sight made it all the more special, like it was a secret spot just for me.

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I shot this quick video soon after I’d sat down on the rocks. I don’t know what I was doing with the camera angles, but I’m glad I got a bit of  video:

 I don’t know for sure that these rocks are the remnants of a volcano, but given that I’m in Hawaii, that’s the story I’m going with. I sat on the rocks for about 30 minutes, just taking in the majesty and power of the ocean. I’ve always been drawn to the ocean, there’s something very spiritual about it for me.

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If you look carefully about halfway up the hill in the distance, you can spy the little lighthouse.

If you look carefully about halfway up the hill in the distance, you can spy the little lighthouse.

1546144_10151952046655426_3891003743253631992_nEven though the lighting is bad and you can hardly see my face, I wanted to make sure that I captured the fact that I was there on what was a magical morning.

 

 

bilbl_scale.jpgI usually weigh myself every single morning.  I get up, use the restroom, take off my pjs, and jump on the scale.  I use it as a check-in for how I did the day before and what I may need to do that day.  I don’t let the number define my day either way, although when I see a drop I do get a smile on my face.  I only record my weight once a week, on Sundays, because I know how much the scale can fluctuate.

This daily weighing may seem obsessive to some.  And for some people, it can be unhealthy.  But for me, I have used daily weigh-ins as a tool throughout my weight loss journey.  Longtime readers will recall that I used to avoid the scale (and recording the numbers on this blog) at all costs.  I’d go weeks without weighing in, mostly because I wanted to live in denial.  I knew how badly I’d been eating, or how much I’d overindulged, or that I’d stopped at the drive-thru one too many times, and I didn’t want to face those effects in the digital number that would show up on the scale.  At one point I moved to monthly weigh-ins, but that didn’t help my progress at all, in fact, it had the opposite effect.  When I moved to daily weigh-ins, I started to notice the trends in my body and the weight loss.  That I always gain weight right before my period, and then drop a ton the day I get it.  That eating sweets doesn’t affect my body as much as eating salty foods does; too bad I crave salty a lot more than sweet. That getting in a good workout helps me shed pounds, but overdoing it can actually make me “gain” water weight.  All of this info has helped me understand my body and the way things affect it.  Daily weigh-ins have been priceless for me.

The scale offers me motivation on the days when the numbers move slightly up and inspiration on the days when I see the numbers drop down into new weight loss territory.  The digital display offers me an accountability partner like no other. The numbers, whether positive or negative, offer me a bit of daily encouragement.

So you can imagine how out of sorts I’m feeling after being on vacation for 3 days and not weighing myself.  It’s part of my morning ritual like taking a shower or having a cup of coffee.  Without it I can survive, but things just aren’t as in sync.  I missed my usual Sunday weigh-in because I was here.  Which is totally fine. I know I’ve been eating well, have been getting in exercise, and have been staying on track.  I can feel that my clothes are fitting fine, and in some cases, a few garments feel a bit looser.  So there’s no reason to worry, and even if I come back from Hawaii up a couple of pounds, I know I  can get those off quickly.

But this morning I awoke and just had to get on the scale in the second bathroom here at the house I’m staying on vacation.  I’d just gotten my period and I knew I would see a loss.  But how accurate was this non-digital scale?  Scales can vary wildly, and who knew how this one was calibrated.  Still, it lured me.

So I got on and saw a 3-lb loss!  I did a little Hawaiian happy dance right there in the bathroom, and I’m sure Harvey the cat thought I’d lost my mind.  I didn’t record the weightloss on MFP because as I said, I have no idea how accurate this scale is, but it did give me a little pick me up and a sense of normalcy. I’m such a creature of habit, and I really like my routines. While I’m having an amazing time here in Hawaii, one thing I’m really looking forward to about going home is resuming my daily weigh-ins.

What’s the lesson here?  The scale is still a really important tool for me since I’m still in weight loss mode.  More than anything, I like the reassurance I get from it.  It’s like a trusted friend that I like checking in with everyday.

I was really looking forward to my plans on Monday – snorkeling in Hanauma Bay.  I’d heard that Hanauma Bay had the best snorkeling in Oahu, and arguably the best in Hawaii.  I’d snorkeled before when I came here 25 years ago, and again in Jamaica, but it had been years.  Still, I hoped it came back to me the way riding a bike does.

I’d signed up for the snorkeling online through a Go Select Pass.  Since I wasn’t staying at a hotel in Honolulu, I had to drive to the Queen Kapiolani Hotel and wait there for the shuttle to pick me up.  Which meant a 45-minute commute from Kaneohe in heavy morning traffic.  I was told to park across the street, at the Honolulu Zoo parking lot, which was inexpensive at $1/hour.  I’d decided that morning to leave my debit card at home, because I didn’t want to leave it unattended while I was snorkeling.  This turned out to be a major mistake.

I got to the parking lot and discovered that the parking kiosks only took debit/credit cards.  Great, how was I going to avoid a parking ticket?  As if the stress of the drive and the parking situation wasn’t enough, I realized, after 45 minutes of waiting for the shuttle to arrive, that the company had lost my reservation.  I just got off the phone with the manager, who arranged for another shuttle to get me when the meter maid pulled up.  I told her about my situation, only have cash, and she said the kiosks also took quarters.  So I headed into the Queen Kapiolani to get a roll and avoid the $96 ticket. Even though the snorkeling adventure started out on a bad note, it all worked out ok in the end.

Once on the shuttle, I let all the stress wash away.  I was excited to be heading to the snorkeling adventure.  Because of the trouble I’d gone through, the company gave me a free underwater camera and a special breathing tube for the snorkel. Plus, seeing the beauty of Hanauma Bay made me even more anxious to discover what I could find in the ocean.

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I’ll post the photos I took with the underwater camera if any of them turn out well when I develop them, and I really hope they do.  I saw tons of fish and beautiful coral.  Floating around under the water was so serene.  It’s amazing that all of these creatures live just beneath the surface of the water. And just as I’d hoped, snorkeling came really easy to me.  I was only slightly concerned that I didn’t have a safety buddy, but I made sure that I was smart about where I was in relation to the shoreline, and just enjoyed myself.

The day was so much fun, and even the pouring rain as I came out of the water didn’t dampen my spirits. 1536554_10151950278295426_4683110617201285249_n

Throughout the day, I was reminded of all the things I can do now that I’ve lost all this weight.

  • First of all, I found swimwear that is comfortable and looks good so that I was not self-conscious, which is huge.
  • I had plenty of stamina to spend over an hour snorkeling all around Hanauma Bay.
  • I could walk all the way up the fairly steep hill back to the entrance with only a little bit of effort:

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The day was wonderful, and renewed my love of snorkeling.  I think part of the appeal, besides being able to see all the exotic fish in the ocean, is that fact that you can only do it in a few tropical locales.  The rarity of it makes it all the more special.

Sunday Morning Sunrise

This morning I was up early – at 5am – despite going to bed at midnight Hawaii time (3am SJ time!). Since I was up, I wanted to be sure to enjoy the amazing sunrise from the back porch.

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I took these shots while sipping coffee.  Does it really get any better?
Happy Sunday!

Hawaiian Vacay – Day 1

After more than two months of planning, anticipating, and preparing, yesterday was finally the day I left for Hawaii.  All week I had the same feeling I had when I was 6 years old and my family was about to go to Disneyland for the first time. I had a lot of last minute errands, meeting, and grading to do to keep me occupied, but if I’m honest, my mind was really concentrating on the beaches of Oahu, and rightly so, I haven’t been on a true vacation since 2008, and I haven’t been anywhere tropical since my trip to Jamaica in 2001.

Back to Saturday morning. My flight was leaving at 8:55am, so my dad was set to pick me up at 7am to get there with time to spare. I woke up around 5am to make sure I had everything ready and I’m glad that it gave me time for a snuggle session with Sofi. Leaving her behind is the only downside to this trip. But she’s going to have a ton of fun with my sister, my nieces, and their dog, Minnie.

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Getting through the airport security was a breeze, even though that imaging machine is so strange. I even met a guy who was flirting relentlessly with me. Granted, he was 7 years old, but still. Lol. He was the cutest thing ever! He noticed that I had on an SF Giants tee and asked me to high five because he had on a 49ers sweatshirt. He said, “I’m going to Hawaii, where are you going?” And when I told him I was going there too, his face lit up. He asked me my name, and said, “bye, Bella” as I headed to get my Starbucks fix. We were seated a row apart on the plane, and every now and then he’s smile and wave. When the flight landed, he was right next to me at baggage claim, asking which bag was mine and then whether or not I was married. The scamp! His parents just smiled at me when I looked over at them. Finally, while I was waiting to be picked up outside the airport, he and his family passed me, and he said, “bye, Bella!!! I hope we see you in Hawaii!” Too cute! Now if only he was about 30 years older.

I had a major NSV as I took my window seat on the plane. Not only was I not spilling over into my neighbor’s seat, but I had lots of room with the seatbelt! On my last flight in 2008, when I was nowhere near my heaviest weight (in fact I’d just lost about 50 pounds because of that medically supervised fasting diet), I needed an extender. And when I went to put the tray table down, I was so scrunched that it wouldn’t sit flat. Not this time!!! This time, I had tons of room, and was like any other normal person. I could even move up & down the aisle of the plane, passing other people, with ease. Only someone who has been obese can understand the silent triumph I felt as each of these realizations hit me.

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The flight itself was amazing! I’d never flown Alaskan Airlines before, but definitely will again. The staff was friendly, the service was quick, and we we’re ahead of schedule the entire time. Not to mention the complimentary Mai Tai! I was seated next to a really friendly woman who was just chatty enough, but also respected my desire to read. At baggage claim my bag was among the first ten off the conveyer. And from there, I walked outside and within 15 minutes, my friend was picking me up to take me back to the house.

The house itself is awesome! It’s a little, hidden bungalow with this amazing view backyard view. First, let’s take a look at the inside: the living room, the kitchen, and the wall of windows…

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As nice and comfortable as the house is, the backyard and dock is by far the best feature of this place. Every time I see that dock, I’m reminded of the dock that Gatsby looks at in the distance, towards the green light at Daisy’s house.

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The view of the house from the private dock

The view of the house from the private dock

It rained a bit in the afternoon, but even that was so refreshing.  Hawaii is so humid, and the rain brings relief from that.  Plus, I love hearing the way it sounds against the dock.  I sat on the back porch and read as it rained, and it was so soothing, especially after a long flight.

One other “feature” of this place is ALL the stairs that lead to the street level.  There are three full sets of stairs that are fairly steep.  Yesterday I used them to get a workout in. No matter how much I may indulge on this vacation, I think I’m going to leave with my booty in better shape than it was when I got here.

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I went to Safeway to get some food for the week, and I can definitely see what they mean about how expensive things are.  I bought yogurt, salads, Flat Out wraps, salami, deli turkey, Laughing Cow cheese wedges, cottage cheese, strawberries, granola, coffee creamer, and some Boom Chicka Pop popcorn and the bill totaled $101! Needless to say, I’m going to eat as many meals at home/pack my lunch as often as I can.  I do plan to go out for sushi and maybe one other meal.

Once I got back from grocery shopping, I spent the afternoon lazing around – napping, reading, and feeling amazingly lucky that I’m able to spend this week here in what is truly paradise.  I stayed home last night, took a shower that let me wash off the day and made me feel like a new person, and just enjoyed a quiet night.

10154938_10151946586235426_644419868_n If yesterday is any indication, this is going to be an amazing vacation!

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