Pristine Aubergine

Remember the ugly light fixture from our dining room that I couldn't wait to ship off to Goodwill?
Well, I guess this is proof positive that if something sits in your garage long enough it can become useful again. I've been wanting a new, fun fixture for my someday-sewing room, and it struck me: That perfectly ugly but perfectly functional hunk of glass and gold in the garage could be made over.
 First things first: Pick a color, disassemble (get rid of that giant glass hood!!), prep (i.e. light sanding and a wipe-down), and paint.
 Painting came in a few sessions as it was a 360° job. Once dry, power off and up she went (Nate's becoming a pro at fixture hanging and wiring these days).
The quality of light is roughly a bazillion times better than with the old "boob light" (look at it... that's what it is), and I can't get over how much more personalized the whole room seems already.
Someday you'll get to see the rest... I just have to clear a path first. After all, it's only been a year since we moved in...... cringe. In the meantime: Hooray for mini-makeovers and free upgrades!
What do you think, can you believe this is the same light? I do love a makeover.

P.S. If you noticed some gold peeking out at the top of the fixture in that second-to-last photo: Yes, some of the aubergine paint was knocked off during the wrestling with the chain hanging process. Touch ups will happen with a little paint in a cup and a brush. It's high enough that as long as it's the same color, no one should notice a different application method.


Random Round Up: Back In The Swing

Finally feeling like we're getting back to real life after our chunk of vacation. A little rest, a little housework... It's amazing how fast you get back to reality when you have to load the dishwasher. Happy Monday!
Direct from Winnipeg, the shirt I won from the Lune giveaway!
A chocolate chip pumpkin pancake kind of Sunday.
Nate & I tried uni (sea urchin) on our last sushi date.
Sunset moon on a wire
The last of my chocolate covered potato chips are gone. SIGH.
My spray paint project (mentioned Friday) in action - Reveal this week!


Update in a Can

I have some spray painting plans this weekend - My favorite kind of quick-yet-transformative makeover project. Care for a preview?
Stay tuned - Hopefully positive results to share next week!


Maui 101: Play

Picking up where we left off yesterday, the activities on Maui are endless, and range from free to bank-breaking and back again. We tried to pick and choose, making sure to fit in a few days of nothing but glorious, beach-y lounge time.
Incoming Wave
 While we had a vague outline of things we wanted to do (see the volcano, snorkel) and not do (driving the Road To Hana with a carsick-prone husband) on the island, we took the approach of waking up, heading to the beach for a snorkel, and then deciding on our day's plans from there.
Yellow Hibiscus
But I'm ahead of myself. Snorkeling is my favorite thing to do in Hawaii, and it was a new activity for Nate. Even if you're not a terribly strong swimmer, snorkeling is pretty approachable (lots of places rent life jackets too, if you need some extra buoyancy). We rented our equipment from Boss Frog's, an omnipresent gear rental and adventure cruise booking company that has roughly a million outlets in each town. For $30 a week each, we picked up their most advanced snorkel and mask, flippers, and anti-fog potion, all housed in a handy mesh beach bag. You can rent by day (as low as $1.50/person) or, like us, by week. After that, it's head to the nearest beach and go for a swim.
Thanks to our GoPro, great underwater footage/photos!
Blue on blue on blue. Crystal clear water = Fabulous snorkeling
Maui has a wide variety of topography, and we were able to get a good taste of the West Maui Mountains by heading to the lush Iao Valley to gawk at the Iao Needle, a beautiful vertical rock formation. A national park, it was $5 to drive in and park, then we got to meander around the short trails to various view points and gardens. There are also a strange amount of wild chickens and roosters wandering around. So... There's that. Cooler and misty, it was such a different landscape from the beach town we were used to in Kihei.
Iao Needle
Selfie at the Needle
And talk about a different landscape: Haleakala Volcano National Park is about as far from lush and tropical as you can get. The wind-y drive up takes you from sea level to 10,023 feet in 28 miles, which equals out to bring a jacket! I'd been there before on a previous trip and knew how chilly it would be, so we actually swung by Old Navy so I could pick up a cheap fleece pullover. It was necessary! We even saw a bunch of ill-prepared folks wrapped in hotel towels trying to see the sights before they froze.
Panorama of the crater - Click to enlarge
The Haleakala Silver Sword
If the crater itself is an amazing, colorful site, the observatory perched on the very top is of equal, albeit man-made, fascination. The domes stand out stark white against the blue sky, looking like they're on the edge of the world. You can see all of Maui from the top, offering some stellar photo ops.
We made it!
Nate overlooking Kihei and beyond.
We also booked a morning snorkeling trip through the afore-mentioned Boss Frog's. They offered us a discount since we rented our gear for a week, and we hopped aboard a catamaran early Friday morning to be taken out to some areas in deeper water with amazing amounts of colorful coral and tropical fish. Both breakfast and lunch were provided, and although a little too crowded in the water for our taste, it was a blast.
Early morning palms
Apropos of nothing: Nate boogie boarding.
Last but not least, we hit the Maui Ocean Center and were so happy we did. The aquarium is lovely, with both outdoor and indoor exhibits to visit, but best is the clear tube you can walk through to be surrounded by various sharks and rays and gigantic fish. I'm a bit clausterphobic, but found it to be almost like a room, and it didn't cause me any anxiety at all. We basically had to tear ourselves away - So peaceful and amazing. Well worth the semi-steep price of $25/person.
Nate's new friend Ray in the clear mid-tank tube.
As I'm sure you can tell if you're still reading this deluge of info, we had an incredible trip. If you can get to Hawaii - any island - GO. You'll never regret the adventure!
Sunset Love
 P.S. It was SO hard to choose photos from the hundreds we took - Hopefully what I've posted the past week or so gives you a good taste!


Maui 101: Eat & Sleep

Time for a trip to the tropics! Okay, it's virtual, but hopefully you'll get the same warm fuzzies I do from looking at these snaps. Thought I'd try to sneak in some useful information in between the loveliness too, just in case you get a wild hair and decide to plan your own trip.
We had DIY sunset happy hour nightly.
Today I'll cover a bit of where we stayed, what we ate, and how we saved some cashola, and tomorrow some of the activities and day trips we did.
Fresh papaya from the local grocery.
We decided on the city of Kihei, a town known on Maui for it's fabulous snorkeling and great weather. It's on the 'neck' of the island, allowing it to be protected by the West Maui Mountains and the volcano Haleakala to the east. There are tons of hotels ready for booking, but we went the condo route and were crazy-satisfied with our decision.
Storm moves over the east - Never hit us in Kihei!
Our living room
A condo meant being able to live in more of an apartment style (something we're both all too familiar with): Separate rooms for sleeping and relaxing, a full kitchen in which to store and cook food, and laundry capabilities. Ours was a one-bedroom, but had a murphy bed in the living room to sleep two more if we had had them. We were lucky to find our digs through the owners who work for the same company as Nate and I, but some great places to look for your own tropical home base are VRBO.com and FlipKey.com. Lots of reviews from previous renters to read on both, which is always important to me!
Being able to hit the grocery store and cook our own food was an amazing way to save money, and we ended up eating out pretty rarely. But by far our favorite food spot in Kihei was Coconut's Fish Cafe. A super-small, surf-themed eatery, Coconut's was just rated the best fish taco in America by Zagat, and we can attest to the amazingness! Delicious, 100% fresh and local, and the chef-owner will come hang out with you and talk Hawaii.
To-go order from Coconut's taken to 'our' beach for sunset.
And of course you know about my shave ice addiction from this previous post. I am telling you: Amazing.
We also made sure to hit the Maui Brewing Company for Nate to taste test the house-made brews, and they ended up having pretty fabulous eats as well. My hummus trio was one of the best snacks I've ever had, and Nate's beer-battered baked brie with pineapple sauce (which came on recommendation of friends of ours) is something he's still talking about.
Maui Brewing Co's 'Barefoot Blonde'
If you venture out to surrounding cities, Cheeseburger in Paradise in the nearby town (under 30 minute drive west) of Lahaina is, well, cheesy, but the food is fabulous. I can safely say the best cheeseburger and seasoned fries I've ever eaten. Really! Crowded and loud, the open air eatery proved to be worth hassling with the crush of humanity it contained.
Awkward waitress-forced photo with a fake burger...
If we were so inclined, we could have stayed in different cities around the island and eaten at a different restaurant 3 meals a day every day, but what we did really worked for us (and allowed us to put more funds toward activities instead of food). We only scratched the surface on this trip, and are already dreaming of the day we go back.
Happy Honeymoon to Us!
Tomorrow: Snorkeling, our day trips to the Iao Needle and Haleakala, and more!
Night after night: Amazing


Random Round Up: Pea Soup

A crazy nearly five full days of thick, all-encompassing, pea soup "freezing fog" has settled on our town, making for less than a quarter mile of visibility anywhere we go within about a 15 mile radius of our house. Fun at first, I'm now feeling like a glimpse of a far-off horizon (or heck, even a glimpse of the sky) would be the ultimate treat. At least it makes for some interesting photo ops...!
Freezing Fog
The Woods Behind Our House
Freezing Fog = Extra Thick Spider Webs
By 3 o'clock the frost should be melted... Nope.
Driving anywhere looks like this (see the dim stoplight only feet away??)
On the Hawaii picture front: All downloaded and will be getting some posted here this week. Happy Monday!


Treat to Eat

Have I gotten my Maui photos together? Of course not. But I do have a case of blogger's guilt for not posting very much in the last couple weeks, so thought I'd share my favorite Hawaiian treat:
Shave ice! Never heard of it? Well, picture a snow cone, but instead of crunchy hunks of ice doused in sugar, think more fresh-fallen snow with syrups derived from local tropical fruits all drizzled with the most delectable coconut cream/icing you could ever think of. Yeah. It pretty much became a daily pit stop.
Shave ice compilation (bottom L: blackberry & coconut w/Haupia... AMAZING)
 I'm not sure where one could find it on 'the mainland', but next time you're in the islands, don't miss it. So simple, so perfect (not to mention SUPER wonderful for this dairy-sensitive ice cream avoider)!