Hawaii Mom Blog






June 14, 2019

Ube + Vanilla

If you're in Kaimuki and craving a cool, tasty treat, stop in Chocolate + Vanilla for some Ube + Vanilla soft serve!

I'm actually not a fan of ube, but the ube and vanilla swirl was so yummy!

You can get either flavor on its own, and also add toppings!

I want to try the Vanilla Root Beer swirl!  

Thank you Ube + Vanilla for the sweet treat!

Ube + Vanilla

Chocolate + Vanilla
1115 12th Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 737-2462
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Visit Auckland: Windsor Reserve

My youngest son recently said "I have a weird question - why do we always visit playgrounds when we go on trips, but in Hawaii, we hardly go to any playgrounds?"

I laughed at that very accurate observation. 

On our trip to New Zealand, we visited many, many playgrounds, one of which was Windsor Reserve, which we stumbled upon by accident. 

It's a fun playground in a huge park, right next to the beach.

We saw lots of people picnicking and strolling the sand.

There are a number of benches and tables for parents to sit nearby and watch over the kiddos.

Windsor Reserve was a nice spot to take in some fresh air!

Windsor Reserve
2 Victoria Rd, Devonport
Auckland 0624, New Zealand
+64 9-301 0101
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June 13, 2019

Wild Tiki Fun Zone - Dole Cannery

 Complimentary games and Gelati were provided by our sponsor. All opinions are my own.

A couple of months ago, we visited Wild Tiki Fun Zone's location at Koko Marina Center in Hawaii Kai (click here to see my review). My twin sons had a blast and kept asking me to go again. Luckily, the folks at Wild Tiki Fun Zone invited us to check out their location at Dole Cannery. Being that the twins had so much fun at the Hawaii Kai location, how could I pass up this opportunity?

The Dole Cannery location is really different from the Koko Marina location. For starters, they have decent-sized seating area for customers (the adults will really appreciate this!).

Decorated black-light private party rooms...

And A LOT of arcade games!

The boys really enjoyed the driving games  ...

Especially the ones where multiple players could play each other....

Working on their hand-eye coordination ....

We tried a round of laser tag. At this location, you wear vests, and there are a lot more players that can play at one time.  

It's Aztec-themed and full of lots of corners and walls to hide behind. Because it was dark and there were a lot more players playing at one time, it was harder for my boys to get the hang of it. But they still had a lot of fun.

Gotcha mom!

After laser tag, we needed a pick-me-up, so we headed to the snack bar and re-fueled with gelati from Rita's Italian Ice and Frozen Custard.  

Gelati is Rita's top seller - it's layers of Rita's frozen custard and Italian ice - a must-try!

The Rita's Italian ice is very smooth and made with real fruit. It comes in many different refreshing flavors, and they're all trans-fat free. 

The frozen custard is also very smooth, creamy, and rich. When you put the two together (Italian ice + frozen custard), it's the perfect refresher.

After our brief pit stop at the snack bar, we headed back out to the arcade for more fun, starting with air hockey ....

then we tried a round of Pirate-themed miniature golf. It was the boys' first time playing mini-golf, and they loved it.  The black lights made it fun and there were some obstacles on the course that made it challenging for us adults.

We spent over three hours at Wild Tiki Fun Zone today. As the saying goes ... time flies when you're having fun!

Since our visit, the boys have been talking about having their next birthday party here. Wild Tiki Fun Zone has a variety of different packages to fit any budget. The best part? They do all the set up and clean up! Every package includes a private area, dedicated host, place settings, clean up, validated parking, VIP activity fast pass, at least 2 rounds of a private activity (mini golf or laser tag), and a gift certificate for the birthday child.  For an additional charge you can add food (pizza, chicken nuggets, french fries, stir fried noodles, edamame, drinks, and MINI GELATIS (a must!!!).

If you're looking for food and fun for the entire family, or just looking to beat the heat, check out Wild Tiki Fun Zone at Dole Cannery!

p.s. This Sunday, June 16, 2019 - FATHER'S DAY, when you purchase a game of laser tag, mini golf or Rita's, DAD'S IS FREE (free item is of equal or lesser value; cannot be combined with other offers/discounts)!

735 Iwilei Road
(808) 465-2234

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Private Tours with ItalyTours.EU

The most planning you will do on a cruise is to choose your port excursions.  You can either book excursions through your cruise line or you can book on your own which is usually less expensive.  One thing I hear a lot is that if you book through the cruise line, you have the assurance that the ship will wait for you in case you are late.  However, a well-traveled friend pointed out to me that there is no way tour companies would allow you to be late as the business is their livelihood.  
We had only one day at each port in Italy to get all our sightseeing done and I was worried that if we were with a big tour group, we may not see everything we wanted to see.  I would have cried if I did not get to go inside the Colosseum, climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or seen the Sistine Chapel.  Not willing to take any chances, I booked private tours through ItalyTours.EU for our days in Naples, Rome, and Livorno.  The tours included a very comfortable mini-van for our family of four and an English-speaking driver/guide.  I also booked expert tour guides for our visits to Pompeii, the Vatican, and the town of Lucca.
Because of ItalyTours.EU we had the most amazing time at each port.  Our drivers were friendly, funny, and gave us information only a local could.  Having the minivan to ourselves was great because we all had enough space.  The tours are all day and being comfortable was important to us.  Having the mini-van also allowed the driver to maneuver us close to the attractions, which saved us time.  Our tour guides were topnotch too.  They kept the tours interesting and engaging for our children.  Honestly, booking ItalyTours.EU was the best decision I made for this trip.

Our driver recommended this great restaurant with housemade pasta. 
Roomy enough so the kids could rest.
We made it inside the Colosseum!  Tears averted! 
Our driver made a quick stop so we could see the Spanish Steps.

Our guide giving the children a quick lesson on the Sistine Chapel before entering.

Our guide in Lucca showing the kids a maze on the basilica's wall.

Leaning inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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Ethel's Grill

Those who know me best know that I don't like to go to restaurants with a lack of parking or long waits.

However, I found myself at Ethel's Grill in Kalihi one Saturday morning, which is known for their lack of parking and long waits, because a couple of out-of-town friends wanted to dine there. 

Luckily, we were able to find street parking quickly, and there was no wait for a table.

Mochiko Chicken

Oxtail Saimin


Ahi Tataki
I ordered a saimin, and I thought it was okay.  I don't normally eat breakfast, and we were there at 9am, so I barely ate anything and had one of my friends finish it off.  

One of my friends ordered the Mochiko Chicken, which I would've wanted to try if it was later in the day, since Nat said it was good.

The Oxtail Saimin was an enormous serving.  I don't think I've ever seen a bowl that big before for saimin!

My two friends finished off everything and they loved the food.

The restaurant is definitely no-frills, and if you're willing to search for parking and possibly wait for a table, visit Ethel's for local-style comfort food.

Ethel's Grill
232 Kalihi Street
Honolulu HI 96819
(808) 847-6467
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Visit Auckland: Depot

One of my favorite restaurants in Auckland was Depot.

This busy eatery is quite a popular spot for small plates and oysters!
Complimentary Hummus

Bluff and Te Kouma Oyster

Cumin Tempura Cauliflower with Taramasalata & White Anchovies

Small Charcuterie

Heirloom Tomatoes with Saffron Rouille, Kalamata Olives, Croutons

Grilled Sweet Corn

Lamb Ribs

Potato Skins

I loved everything we ordered (except the oysters, which I did not try).

The Small Charcuterie was comprised of wild rabbit rillettes, pig's head croquettes, wild pork salami, beef bresaola, paprika pork lomo, chorizo, and crostino. I think I could've eaten the entire board myself!

The cauliflower was really tasty, and the salad was quite refreshing.

Depot was a great place to grab some quick, shareable bites!

86 Federal St, Auckland
1010, New Zealand
+64 9-363 7048
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