Dining Out Paleo: Thai Garden

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo 
Every Thursday (or so) I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to my whole food/whole health lifestyle, opting for the freshest and most nutrient dense foods while avoiding grains, sugars, dairy, and soy to the best of my ability.  Unless informed otherwise, I always assume that the restaurant uses vegetable/canola oils for cooking.

Dining options in Rosamond, California are exactly what you'd expect in a town with 7 stop lights.  Diners, more diners, Taco Bell, McDonald's, and a few Mexican restaurants with tasty albeit nowhere close to healthy options.  On nights when I am feeling exceptionally unmotivated, it can be a bit of a challenge to dine-out/take-out without waking up bloated and stiff the next morning.  Thank Heaven for a tiny little gem in the sandy desert rough - Thai Garden.  Fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and plenty of options with vegetables make Thai Garden my go-to on ho-hum evenings when I want no part of my kitchen.
Thai food can be tricky as there are inevitably hidden sugars, soy, and unknown oils sneaking about in the various sauces.  With that being said, Thai food is always a special treat and healthier compared to the other dining-out options in my 'hood.
Hankering for something green, I stuck to the soups and salads on my recent take-out order.  With Matt away drilling for the week, I called in my order and then the pups and I curled up on the couch with The Lincoln Lawer and the following enjoyable eats...

Spicy Beef Salad:  An ample serving of lettuce, red onion, tomato, cucumber, and cilantro topped with grilled beef and spicy lime juice.  Small amounts of soy and sugar in the dressing?  More than likely.  To minimize intake even further, I could order the dressing on the side... but I don't.

The salad could easily be an entire dinner, but this time I opted to create a few meals out of the salad and the Vegetable Soup.  The miniature keg of veggie soup was brimming with a rich clear broth and stuffed full of large pieces of fresh cabbage, onions, broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms.  It was like a little farm grew in my dinner bowl!  Super duper tasty, super duper filling, and the best part is I have plenty for tomorrow's lunch.  

And that's how I had a mostly healthy, veggie laden Thai dinner.  Just me, Volt, Miss Ellie, and Matthew McConaughey. 


The Tuesday Take From a Functional Shopaholic

Tuesday is the day I spill my own little voice into the big crazy interweb vat of everyone else's opinions, sharing my favorite whatnots and whereabouts and why they are so dang awesome to me.

Today's take: Crock-Pot SCVT650-PS 6-1/2 Quart Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker

Lazy cooking is my kind of cooking.  I delight in recipes that call for ten minutes of ingredient prep, six hours of inactive cooking, and at the end Matt and I delve into a delicious dish that makes me look like a housewife hero.  My old slow cooker was inherited though marriage and had been in Matt's collection for quite a while.  I ran it through its paces, whipping up super tasty batches of coconut chicken, braised short ribs, and Kalua pork week after week after week.  Time and use started to take its toll - apparent in a wobbly lid, a loose temperature knob, and extremely hot cooking temperatures.  My food would taste great, but would be finished in half the cooking time I had anticipated.

After an accidental subscription to Cooks Illustrated Online (cancel trial memberships in a timely manner, my friends), I decided to take advantage of their America's Test Kitchen reviews and find out what the ATK recommended for slow cookers.  I could either remortgage the house for the coveted bling of all kitchen bling: the All-Clad slow cooker or I could be practical, thrifty, and get similar cooking results with a Crock-Pot SCVT650-PS 6-1/2-Quart Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker.  Remortgage idea was an obvious no go.  Enter my new Crock-Pot!

It's so big on the inside!  (Dr. Who anyone?  Anyone?  <crickets>)  Not only is this slow cooker beautiful and shiny, but it is much bigger than the old one and a lovely oval shape that seems to comfortably invite in even the largest racks of ribs.  I've attempted a few old standby recipes and am thrilled to report they have come out exceptionally tasty and are finished cooking closer to when Matt comes home for dinner, not an uncomfortable four hours too early.

There are options for HIGH and LOW temperature cooking with a programmable timer that can be set in 30 minute increments.  This is a pleasant change from my previous model where I was only allowed to cook on HIGH for 4 or 6 hours and LOW for 8 or 10.  The new versatility is a welcome option.  Once the cook time is expired, the slow cooker will automatically switch to KEEP WARM.  I was used to KEEP WARM translating into "I'm going to keep cooking your food nice and hot so when you come in to serve dinner all your liquid will be gone and the rest of the residue will be caked on the sides so hard that you'll have to soak me for three days.  Minimum."

So far, no caked-on anythings.  Cleaning has been a cinch.  At least that's what Matt tells me.  (Sorry ladies, he's taken.)  And take a gander at the scintillating touch screen control panel.  I feel so high-tech with it in my kitchen.  No cracks or crevices for caked-on anythings there, either.

Overall, I'm thoroughly pleased with my purchase and anticipate many more happy years together.  A large capacity, even cooking temperature, flexibility in programming cook time, and easy cleaning all mean I can now go back to my lazy cooking lifestyle.  A few moments of preparation in the morning (or even the night before) and I don't have to look at the food again until it's time to plate it up and chow it down.  And it looks so stylish on my counter top, too.  Sexy appliances rock my world. 

Looking for a recipe to break in your new Crock-Pot SCVT650-PS 6-1/2-Quart Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker?  Give these Coffee Ancho Chile Short Ribs a try.  

Alongside my ribs, I tried the Creamy Spice Market Kale from Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat for the very first time.  Not a slow cooker recipe, but holy kaleo was it incredible!  And I feel it is important to get the word out.  If you are looking for new ways to enjoy kale, give it a shot. 

Happy slow cooking, my darling busy friends.  Get out of the kitchen and trust that with a great slow cooker, dinner will blow your mind!


The Tuesday Take From A Functional Shopaholic

Tuesday is the day I spill my own little voice into the big crazy interweb vat of everyone else's opinions, sharing my favorite whatnots and whereabouts and why they are so dang awesome to me.

Today's take:  Zojirushi 3.0 Liter Water Boiler and Warmer

I love tea.  I have no fewer than 25 different varieties of tea sitting on my counter at this exact moment.  Green tea.  Black tea.  Rooibos.  I have oolong tea.  Herbal blends.  Bagged.  Whole leaves.  Tea for summer.  Tea for winter.  Tea for detoxification.  Tea for menstrual cramps.  I. Love. Tea.

What I do not love is having to boil and reboil kettle after kettle on the days I want to drink mug after mug of all those delectable flavors.  That's a lot of waiting for a whistle.  I could be right in the middle of an intense Walking Dead moment when the kettle decides to bellow its steamy notification.  Who wants to pause Rick and Shane squaring off just to pour a hot cuppa? Not I.

When my old tea kettle was worn down, worn through, and no longer able to fulfill its duty, I started the month-long research quest to find a replacement.  It was time to upgrade.  My mind was made up, but I wasn't prepared to spend so much money on hot water.  On Christmas Eve, Matt and I were thrilled to find the Zojirushi 3.0 Liter Water Boiler and Warmer waiting for us in a perfectly packaged UPS box.  Thanks, Mom, for being a mind-reading bad ass.  In that sixth-sense-moms-just-know kinda way. 

This thing is amazing.  It boils 3 liters of water and then brings it down to a perfect 195 degree temperature for brewing black tea.  Since I've been drinking mostly black blends lately, I leave the setting as-is.  When I know I'll be partaking of my Dragonwell Organic Green or Premium Silky Green, I can set the temperature to 175 degrees or even 140 degrees so as to brew the optimum cup and not burn the tea in the process.  I am hardly a tea snob, but it is wonderful to be able to brew a mug and really taste the flavor of the tea.  Who knew all 25 flavors could actually taste so different!

What I love is that this little water warmer keeps the water at a consistent temperature the entire time it is on.  I can fill it in the morning and have water ready for my Texas tea mug all day long.  Now I don't have to worry about missing (or pausing) any critical moments of The Walking Dead.  And that's important.  I also love the visual indicator that lets me know just how much water is left in the unit.  Very handy and that means I'm not scalding my wrists every time I open the lid to check the water level.

During my college days of Cup Noodles and Quaker Apples and Cinnamon instant oatmeal, this would've been perfect!

The Zojirushi Water Boiler and Heater takes up minimal space, is easily accessed by swivel, and is the perfect addition to my humble "tea corner" in the kitchen.  My favorite new appliance.  And worth every penny I didn't spend.  But I definitely would now that I know just how wonderful it is!

My Tuesday Takes are not sponsored.  I just happen to like "stuff" and like to spread the word about the quality "stuff" that makes me happy.  I do not receive money, goods, or services for my rants.  It would be kinda cool, but it isn't happening.  Just so y'all know.


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How I Made My Husband Smile on Valentine's Day

For Valentine's Day, I was inspired to make my husband a little gift that he could keep on his desk.  Something that would incite candy sweet thoughts of me every time he gazed upon it.  I had such an enjoyable time painting stencils on mason jars for Christmas centerpieces, I wanted to do something similar that would be quick and relatively easy.

And now one where Miss Ellie didn't photobomb my picture...

The remnants of my creativity still lingering, I decided on a company-themed stenciled candy jar filled with Matt's favorite sweet treat - peanut M&Ms.

In between back-to-back episodes of Dr. Who marathoning, I gathered up the following to start my project:

glass container with lid (if I had planned ahead, I would have expanded my search to a more stylish vessel for containing candy)
acrylic paint - I used Martha Stewart Satin Acrylic Craft Paint in Greek Tile
sponge daubers and paint brushes of varying sizes
X-acto knife
Martha Stewart Adhesive Stencil Film
print out of Matt's company logo to use for creating my own stencil
candy of choice for the purpose of filling the candy jar

I washed and dried the container inside and out with warm soapy water so I would have a clean surface for my stencil and for Matt's M&Ms.  I printed the company logo, trimmed the paper so that the logo was framed by a 1" border of paper, and then taped it on top of the adhesive stencil paper.  Using an X-acto knife, I carefully cut out all of the logo's image from the stencil paper backed by a piece of cardboard.  I was hoping to prevent scoring into our coffee table. 

I peeled the stencil away from the backing paper.  Then I carefully placed the sticky side of the stencil to the glass surface where I wanted to paint and smoothed out all the air bubbles.

I used the sponge daubers to apply the acrylic paint onto my stencil, making sure each exposed space was well covered in paint.  Once I had painted across the entire stencil and all my letters were complete, I peeled the stencil off the glass.  Using the paint brushes, I went back across my image touching up a few spots and cleaning up the areas where I didn't want excess paint.

By the time I had cleaned my brushes, sponges, and thrown away scraps and trash, the candy jar was dry enough to fill with candy and set aside to be wrapped.  I started, painted, and was cleaned up all within the time span of two and a half Dr. Who episodes on Netflix.  Not too shabby for this uncrafty girl.

On Valentine's Day morning I surprised Matt with his jar full of M&Ms.  He seemed to be thrilled, but I'm still not convinced if it was about the jar or what was inside.  Either way, Matt's gift has found its new home right on the corner of his desk with an office-wide edict "NO TOUCHIES".

Please excuse the photo quality.  It was taken with an Android phone.  I'm sure my iPhone/iPad/iEmptyWallet readers will understand. 


Dining Out Paleo: Chipotle

Welcome to my Thursday series: Dining Out Paleo 
Every Thursday I post a recent dining out experience and how I chose the best possible options to stay true to my Paleo lifestyle, opting for the freshest and most nutrient dense foods while avoiding grains, sugars, dairy, and soy to the best of my ability.  Unless informed otherwise, I always assume that the restaurant uses vegetable/canola oils for cooking.

This week's dining out experience is at one of my favorite places to stop and grab food when I am going, going, going back and forth between the high desert and the Westside of Los Angeles.  Which I seem to do quite a bit.


As soon as I exit onto the 14 freeway from I-5 N, my mouth starts watering for rich flavorful guacamole and my eyes begin scanning for the Golden Valley exit.  Well, first my eyes scan for the CHP who love to get cozy roadside along this route, then they stay peeled for my favorite exit.

Chipotle food is quick, tasty, and healthy!  Spend some time on the Chipotle YouTube page watching their videos on local sourcing and sustainability.  We've all seen the warm fuzzy invoking "Back From The Start", but here's one you might not have watched yet:

Food with integrity.  Thoughtful food.  Food with an identity.  Food that is fresh and locally sourced.  All served in a fast food time span.  Even on days with the longest of lines, I am sitting and eating in a much shorter time than I could make it through the nearest drive-thru.

So what to eat??  According to Chipotle, there are over 60,000 combinations of flavors.  (Am I the only one who reads the back of my cup?)  The salads are the best (and I think biggest, most filling) option.  Be aware that Chipotle cooks their meats and veggies with soybean oil.  The only meat option that is free of soybean oil is the carnitas.  If you're following the Whole30 this is your most viable meat option.

This most recent visit I ordered as follows:

"Carnitas Salad.  No beans.  Scoop of mild sauce.  Scoop of hot sauce.  Guacamole.  Yes, I know it is a dollar extra.  I would still like it, thank you.  Additional lettuce."

The salads come with a small cup of honey-vinaigrette, but for me the guacamole and tenderness of the meat add more than enough moisture to my hearty meal.  The salads are huge and can be easily shared or split in half for a second meal.  Sometimes I've been known to order extra scoops of salsa, sometimes a double order of meat.  I may never come close to successfully tasting 60,000 flavor combinations but I'm more than overjoyed with dazzling my taste buds in my usual 2 or 3 ways.

Chipotle's barbacoa is probably my favorite meat option, followed a close second by the carnitas.  The lettuce and veggies are bright and fresh.  The romaine used for the salad base is always crisp and a bright healthy green.  Every so often I'll add the veggie fajitas (soybean oil and all) onto my salads.  If you happen to be primal/dairy consuming folk, the sour cream and cheese are from pastured cows.  Happy burritos come from happy cows?  Or something.  No... I just don't think that's how it goes.

If you're a mom with hungry (non-Paleo) kids, Chipotle offers a simple kiddie menu including tacos and quesadillas.  Or even better, just split your salad!  Everyone can be happy on that ride home after soccer or gymnastics or a killer session of CrossFit Kids.

Buen apetito, y'all!


Why You Should Be Excited About This Blog

Why should you be excited?  Because I'm getting organized again!

Maybe.  I'm certainly going to try.  Okay, it's on my To Do List.

Starting next week, I am going to focus one day a week on dishing out my personal opinions on things I really like.  Products, services, activities, kitchen gadgetry, kitchen appliances, prepackaged food, skin care... if I can spend money on it, you're going to read about it.

I am Don Draper's dream girl.  I am the housewife who finds something she likes and then insists on telling her friends and her friends' friends all about it.  Only instead of using a rotary telephone to spread the word, I'm tapping into the interwebbernet.  And probably reaching about the same number of people either way.

I love hearing/reading personal reviews on things.  All things.  Everything.  I scour Yelp and TripAdvisor and Amazon and Zappos... all before I finalize my respective purchases.  And now I am going to contribute to the noise of the internet with my own voice and you, all of my friends (housewives or otherwise), are invited to read.

I'm also planning to do a few giveaways again.  And I will need YOUR help in spreading the word when I do.


Starting this Thursday, I am bringing back my Dining Out Paleo series.  There seems to be an increased interest in where and how to eat Paleo away from home, especially in Thai restaurants.  I will be venturing out around Southern California (and hopefully beyond) to deliver up some fresh ideas on restaurants and foods that will keep me and you on track when we're away from our kitchens.  Be excited!


And perhaps I'll throw in a bonus day every now and then for what is going on in my own kitchen.  Good or bad.  Preferably good.  The shelves have been restocked.  The seasoning blends have been prepared.  Now all I need is the motivation to pull myself away from Netflix bingeing on Dr. Who to spend a little time prepping, cooking, and satisfying my wifely duties by putting a beautiful dinner on the table.

A dinner that would impress even Mr. Draper.

Until Thursday, my friends...


Whales, Pie, Possible Death and 6 More Things to Include in Your Next Hawaiian Islands Vacation

This is a list of the top nine items that were enthralling enough to make me want to hurry back to Maui and Oahu and experience them all over again.  My list was generated through personal experiences built up with a combination of Yelp, TripAdvisor, my trusty guidebook, and pure luck.  Take what you want, comment on the ones you've experienced, and please feel free to add your favorites in the comments section below.

Places To See:

1) Pearl Harbor (Honolulu):  Must I explain?  I think not.  The day I know I will be returning to Oahu, I will be booking tour tickets at Reservation.gov, packing a portable packet of tissue, and setting aside an entire day to go through the museums, listen to the audio tour, and be humbled all over again.

2) The teeny weeny road to Kahakuloa (Northwest Maui):  If you're into one lane roads, hairpin turns, and great banana bread, this is a trip not to be missed.  Here's a great article covering most of the stuff Matt and I ventured out for and will hopefully get back to do again.

3) Shop at Global Creations and Interiors in Haleiwa.  Local artistry galore.  I especially fell in love with the works by North Shore artist Heather Brown and even brought a piece home.

Places to Eat:

4) Leoda's Kitchen and Pie Shop (Lahaina):  Thick fresh sandwiches, house made pies, relaxed atmosphere, and locally sourced farm fresh ingredients.  Paleo if you want it, coconut cream pies if you don't.

5) Ululani's (Kahului):  I'd like to thank my fellow Yelpers for this shave ice perfection find.  Airy, light, sweet, and delicious.  Shave ice heaven just minutes from the Kahului airport.  Paleo?  Not so much.  But who gives a crap when you're in Maui on vacation.  Not me at least.  Ululani's is totally worth feeding the addiction.

6) Kua'Aina (Haleiwa):  Gargantuan juicy hamburgers fit for a king.  If not a king, at least a POTUS.  A behemoth mountain of meat and veggies.  And practically an entire avocado if you want it.  Paleo?  Absolutely can be!  And very tasty at that.

Things to Do:

7) Swim in the Olivine Pools (Northwest Maui):  There is quite a bit of controversy about visiting these pools, so educate yourself thoroughly before planning a stop.  Can you die or get severely injured?  Yup.  It could happen.  Especially if you make decisions like these guys.  Watch the waves.  Be smart.  And know the risks.  This was one of my most favorite experiences the entire trip.

8) Kayak with whales...or sea turtles...or dolphins (West Maui):  Whatever water vessel you opt for, just be sure you do it with Hawaiian Paddle Sports.  This is a top notch outfit that gives personalized attention on one heck of a tour.  And kayaking next to whales is freakin' amazeballs.  Need a little more reassurance?  Check out what TripAdvisor has to say and then go follow Hawaiian Paddle Sports on Instagram.  Their daily uploads are like a mini-vacation.

9) Get a lomi lomi massage:  This was and still is on the top of my list.  How can I recommend something that I didn't try?  Because it's a massage and you really can't go wrong with lying naked under appropriate draping on or near the ocean while your muscles are melted down into gooey piles of relaxed zen-ed out mush.  Sign me up!  Upper crust experience: Waihua Spa at The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.  My more than likely experience: Zensations Spa in Lahaina.  Either way, I'm pretty sure I'll ooze out the door feeling fabulous.

So there it is.  My supertabulous list of 9 things to add to your next Maui (and Oahu) vacation.  Go forth, eat lots, and be tan.


Our Livin' Large Maui Vacation - Day 7

And on the 7th day, the Rottmans rested.

After an exhilarating six days in Maui, it was time to go home and remind our dogs that they weren't abandoned.  Not sure why we were so tired?  Click back HERE to where the adventure first started.

Day 7 was mostly comprised of air travel, sitting in airports, sitting in more airports, and more really long really boring really turbulent air travel.  I won't bore you with all the gory details of our airplane ride across the Pacific Ocean, but we obviously made it home safely and were mauled by 150 pounds of fur, fuzz, and claws as soon as we walked through the door.

Instead, I will leave you with our token departing shot of the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua:

Until next time, Maui... Aloha!

...which will be like in September or something?  Right, Matt?  Matt?  I know you're reading this...


Our Livin' Large Maui Vacation - Day 6

Day 6.  Also known as Matt's Day.  Day 5 was my day.  Characterized by the go-go-go, see-see-see, do-do-do that I am fond of jam packing into my vacational activities.

Day 6 started with a startling 6:30 am phone call from my mother wanting to inform me that I-5 through the Grapevine was closed due to extreme snow.  I couldn't have cared less as I still had 30 more hours of gorgeous 70 degree weather and sunshine.  I fell back to sleep for a few more hours and awoke later to share a pleasant breakfast on the lanai with my hubby: pineapple juice, a slice of Julia's banana bread, salad, and Fail Blog. 

The remainder of the morning was spent diving into the waves on the beach in front of our resort.  Soaking up rays of sun on the beach.  More splashing in the ocean.  Until our grumbling tummies lured us toward The Beach House restaurant for a relaxing ocean side lunch.  We picked a large lounging couch facing the beach and ordered tasty beach drinks and entrees from our fantastic server, Claudia.

I satiated my hunger with a BBQ pulled pork sandwich served on a pineapple ring with coleslaw then washed it all down with a frosty Lava Flow from the bar.  A glorious combination of piña colada and strawberry.  I only wish I had taken pictures.  Not to indulge you, the readers, but to remember the ethereal moments Matt and I experienced that afternoon.  Cool breeze nipping through the warm air.  The ocean crashing in front of us.  Frolicking taste buds.

And when the plates were cleared and our bellies were full, Matt read his book and I curled up on the lounger and took a nap.  If ever there was a perfect day, this was it.  Perhaps I should leave all the vacation planning to my hubs from now on.

Or not.

The remainder of the afternoon found Matt reclining by the pool and me in the Waihua Spa shop... shopping.  By early evening our skin had achieved a ripe tomato-esque glow and we had another Preferred Pump sponsored dinner and open bar waiting for us.

Quick eats.  Freebie drinks.  A slow romantic walk on a moonlit beach.  Cliché?  Yes.  And oh so Hollywood.  But I loved it.  Back to the room and pack, pack, pack followed immediately by passing out on the bed.  Day 7 would send us on our way back to LA.

Here is a gratuitous beach picture, just so this post isn't completely nekkid.  Enjoy!


Our Livin' Large Maui Vacation - Day 5

Day 5 in Maui.  What to do?  To Matt's dismay, we did NOT spend it relaxing.  Not even close.  In all honesty, I'm not even really sure how to relax.  Especially on vacation.

We started our morning with another tasty breakfast at the Honolua Store.  I opted for Portuguese sausage and eggs on a bed of rice.  When in Rome... avoid the Spam!  And sad attempts at artsy macro photos with the iPhone. 

With adequately full tummies, armed with Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook, we started our adventurous day of hiking and exploring West Maui.  We had six hours before the rental car was due and I was not going to let a little thing like a time crunch limit the amount of sightseeing we could cram into one day.  

We followed the hiking trail at the far end of our hotel a mile in the wrong direction and then back before we found the unique lava formation known as the Dragon's Teeth.  Satisfied to have my first check mark for the day, we jumped in the car and made our way to Punalau Beach.  Empty, peaceful, and a perfect place to go hide out for the day.  Matt and I spent ten minutes dipping our feet in the sandy cool water, watching the waves crash on the large rocks just off the shoreline and were back on the road soon after.  Weather and shore conditions were not conducive for putting us in a snorkeling mood.  So much to see and so little time...

Our next stop was the Nakalele Blowhole.  There were warnings in my guide book.  There was signage on the trail down to the rock features.  I made sure to keep a safe distance and Matt thought it would be a great story to tell if he was sucked down into the hole and launched back up over the walls at the Olivine Pools an hour later.  More on that gem in bit.  Gem meaning the pools, not Matt's story.  The ocean was raging, the winds were up, and the blow hole was wildly active with sprays reaching way more than 50 feet in the air.  Here's a mild sampling of what was pounding away beneath our feet:

I was mesmerized to say the least.  I don't have any pictures that do the blowhole (in the bottom left of the above photos) justice, so you'll just have to Google it or see it for yourself on your next trip to Maui.

We were soon back in the car scanning the roadside for clues to help us find the Olivine Pools.  I was excited to hike down to these hidden tide pools and swim as close to the powerful ocean waves as we could get.  The stories were enough to entice my inquiring mind.  Just look what happens when you type the name into the search bar:

Yup.  The second item down is "olivine pools maui deaths."  There are even near death horror stories with photo evidence out there on the interwebs.  You are on your own searching for those.

Matt and I made the steep trek down the rocky cliff, all the while I kept my eyes fixed on the pools.  I watched wave after wave crash on the volcanic walls dividing the pools from the ocean.  And as tempestuous as the ocean was, the pools remained still and serene save a few splatterings of drops every few minutes.  We tucked our towels and belongings under a secure dry rock and plunged our way into the cool clear waters.  I'm not sure how to accurately describe what it is like to be so close to an ocean storming a mere 10 feet away, while sitting on a lava rock surrounded by pristine crystal water being enjoyed by crabs and fish and other small tide pool inhabitants.  There is absolutely nothing like it.  There were large shallow pools, narrow deep holes that were barely large enough for one person to splash into, and we had it all to ourselves.  I only wish I had brought my camera.

On the hike back out, which seemed infinitely easier than going down, we passed two separate families excited to go down and experience the pools for themselves.  For an idea of scale, Matt and I are at the top of the cliff and one member of the other groups can be seen on his way down in the bottom left of the picture.  The pools can be seen in the bottom center.  I cannot wait to get back out there.  With camera, next time.

After I had satisfactorily tapped into my mildly adventurous adrenaline reserve, we pressed on with our driving tour.  Matt keenly navigated a harrowing one lane road as we wove through acres and acres of farms and cattle ranches covering the cliffs overlooking the Pacific.  The television commercials say happy cows come from California.  The ads are wrong... if I were a Holstein, I'd take Maui over the San Joaquin Valley any day of the week.

I made Matt pull over for a small breathing reprieve and handfuls of samplings of coconut candy and banana bread at Julia's.  I shared a few gratuitous kisses with the resident Pit mix and Chihuahua mix adorning the porch, stuffed my coconut hole with all the available treats and eats, bought a loaf of banana bread, and scurried back to the car.  I braced myself for the remainder of the ride, avoiding eye-contact with the cliff just feet away from Matt's side of the car.

We wove our way through Kahakuloa, making a pit stop at the Kaukini Gallery, and continued on our way all the way back to Kalalui.  Lunch was a heart stopping, gut dropping meal at Da Kitchen Cafe.  Here is a picture.  I won't describe it because I'm afraid your own arteries might clog just reading the description.  Just believe me when I say it was incredibly rich.  I made it less than half way through before hoisting my white napkin and waving it while I cried for mercy.  I ate the rest for dinner later that night.  There's just something about curry that I can't resist.

We didn't make it too far out of Kalalui... okay, we didn't make it more than a mile from the restaurant before parking the car in front of Ululani's for one last taste of shave ice.  Matt and I shared a Hawaiian Rainbow served on top of a Haipua ice cream.  It's a good thing this place is 2500 miles away.  Seriously, the fluffy heaven in a cup topped with more heaven sitting on top of coconutty creamy heaven would lure me back day after day.  Such is the life of a sugar addict.

With a mere 55 minutes remaining with our rental car and a 45 minute drive back to the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Matt and I were back on the road post haste.  Traffic in Lahaina, a fuel stop, and five o'clock on the nose rental car return is how we ended our sun drenched, rock scaling, ocean splashing day.  All that was left was enjoying our evening in our fance schmance room, a hot shower, and a Nestea plunge into bed.

Only one day remained to enjoy Maui and I left the Day 6 agenda for our Livin' Large vacation up to Matt.  Check back to see what Matt's definition of vacation entails.  Spoiler alert: it isn't spending all day in a car!