Local’s Guide to Visiting Oahu

Local's Guide to Visiting Oahu

My dear friend Sarah Khandjian of Sarah Hearts will be visiting Oahu for the first time in May, so she asked for a few recommendations. Since we just got back from there (where my entire family still lives), everything was fresh in my mind–and I may have gotten a little carried away! If you’re looking for awesome places to eat, play, and shop that both locals and visitors enjoy, this is the post for you.

Honolulu: By Honolulu, I don’t mean Waikiki. I really don’t like to go to Waikiki because it’s such a weird place full of other people’s ideas of what they think Hawaii is supposed to be like. It’s fun for a couple of days and then it gets old. Here are a few places we love that are just outside of Waikiki, in the parts of Honolulu that locals actually go to

Kaimuki: A warning that this neighborhood isn’t very pretty but is chock full of great little gems. My sister lives around here, so we’ve done our fair share of exploring! Most of the things we love are food related. You can have breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Town (so delicious!), coffee at Coffee Talk, or dim sum at Happy Days. I adore the Sugarcane boutique. You can also drive up the road to Kahala Mall where there are more boutiques, a Whole Foods (if you want to stock up for your hotel/condo/cottage), and some good restaurants.

Hawaii Kai: Just past Kaimuki and Kahala is Hawaii Kai, home to beautiful beaches. If you like to snorkel, head to Hanauma Bay. You might even see some turtles there!

Local's Guide to Visiting Oahu

Chinatown: Eat lunch or dinner at The Pig and the Lady, visit the authentic lei stands (that locals actually go to!), and if you can, catch a show at the historic Hawaii Theatre.

Local's Guide to Visiting Oahu

The Windward Side: We always stay in Kailua, even though it’s not really near anyone we know, because it’s so beautiful. The drive in and out of the Windward side always makes us feel like we’re heading into Jurassic Park. If you’re in the market for accommodations, there are lots of good ones out here–usually $150 or less, with a kitchenette and free parking. This one has been our favorite. Here are some other things we love in this laid back area:

Ho’omaluhia Botanical GardensI’ll pause here to say that I’m not really a botanical gardens kind of person, but this place is so magical and breathtaking that we make an effort to go every time we’re in Hawaii. It’s tranquil and lush. There are lots of places to sit and enjoy the atmosphere, so it’s a great place to bring a picnic.

Valley of the TemplesWe like to go here because it’s a little like popping into some gorgeous part of Japan for an hour or so. You can ring the gong, enjoy the koi, visit the big Buddha, and take some incredible photos.

Lanikai Beach

Boots & Kimo’s and Cinnamon’s are both Kailua institutions for breakfast or brunch. You’ll need a nap after eating at either!

 

shaveice

North Shore: You can drive from Kailua to the North Shore along Kamehameha Highway, which is very scenic. The route takes you along the perimeter of the island, through some VERY down home country towns. When we did it last week, we saw a bunch of signs that said things like, “Keep the country country!” Which probably sounds really southern, but actually means that they don’t want any strip malls on their beachfront properties.

Waimea Bay: Basically all you could ever hope for in a beach in Hawaii. I like to try to get there on the earlier side or else it can be difficult to find parking.

Hale’iwa Town: This is a little surf town and I just love it! If you only visit one of the places from this email, I think it should be Hale’iwa. It’s just so charming. We like Papoku’s for lunch (a real, Hawaii style plate lunch), Matsumoto’s for shave ice, and all of the little stores that line the streets.

Oh, now I’m homesick all over again!

P.S. Previous Oahu recommendations: Part 1 and Part 2

Great Eats North of Boston

My parents were in town (from Hawaii) last week, and while they’ve visited me on the East Coast twice before, this is the first time they’ve come since I left the city. Since we’re a family that loves food, I took them to a few foodie gems we’ve found closer to home, as well as a couple of great places in the city. If you’re visiting New England, I highly recommend stopping by any of these dining establishments to grab a bite.

Blue Fin

Good Eats North of Boston

We live just outside of a forest and within a stone’s throw of several farms, yet somehow we also have a fabulous Japanese restaurant in our neighborhood as well. Asian restaurants here are often fusion, with Chinese places serving sushi and Thai restaurants serving Chinese food (confusing!), but at Blue Fin you’ll only find real homestyle Japanese food and incredible sushi. The sashimi is always fresh. The sushi chefs are artists. And they serve up a pretty mean martini. Insider tip: the bar is the most comfortable, relaxed place to sit.

Richardson’s

Good Eats North of Boston

Just down the street from Blue Fin is Richardson’s dairy farm, which is a New England institution. I can’t tell you how many times James and I have finished off our sushi, only to drive two minutes down the road for dessert at Richardson’s. My favorite is the cherry vanilla ice cream, but I haven’t had a bad scoop there yet, and I’ve tried a lot of them! Mini golfing and batting cages are on the premises, but the real excitement is that there are cows! The ones that make the milk that goes in the ice cream! I mentally thank them every time we drive by.

Shea’s

Good Eats North of Boston

My dad’s number one request: New England clam chowder. James pointed us to Shea’s, which is a cozy restaurant on the water with award-winning chowder. I’m not sure if we’re just lucky, but we’ve never had to wait there, despite the fact that the fried clam place across the street is always insane and the food here is awesome. The chowder is perfect, and the sandwiches and salads are equally mouthwatering. You can easily get to the beach or to a bunch of antique stores from Shea’s, so it’s a perfect stop on the North Shore.

Mill River Winery

Good Eats North of Boston

Before heading to Shea’s, we stopped at this gorgeous little winery on the North Shore, in Rowley. The space is relatively new–airy and bright. They produce a wide variety of wines, and for just $5 you can taste them all. Although the chardonnay is award winning, our favorite was their crisp, dry Riesling. We might not be Napa, but this is a definite must for wine lovers. (Find a more comprehensive review, complete with actual wine vocabulary, at The Eats.)

I’m considering featuring more local places here on Frock Files with first-hand photos. Let me know if this sounds interesting to you. There are so many good ones; this is just a start! Where do you take people when they’re visiting your hometown?

Photo Credits: Blue Fin | Richardson’s | Shea’s | Mill River Winery

 

 

Nine to Five Necessities

Five Fashionable and Functional Items for The Workday | Frock Files

One of the things I’ve always loved about working outside of my home is the abundance of accoutrements that can make you feel at home, even when you’re commuting or at the office. There are few things I salivate over more than objects that are both beautiful and serve some kind of function.

5 Work Day Essentials

Take, for example, my little espresso machine. It’s been in storage for the past year, but now that I actually have to wake up by a certain time I’ll need the full strength of a latte in the mornings. It doesn’t take up much counter space and it pulls beautiful shots of espresso. Years ago, a girl in Lucky Magazine recommended this machine and said that it makes “Reliably perfect cappuccinos every time.” She was right.

It’s also been fun to break out my favorite pair of pumps and my giant pashmina, neither of which got a lot of use since I started working from home. Pashminas are my go-to for work and travel, since they can double as blankets.

And since I never really outgrew my love of thermoses, I’m super excited about the new one I got from Zojirushi. This Japanese brand must put magic into their products, because they keep food and drinks hot/cold for literally hours. I’ve put iced drinks in our travel mugs at the beginning of the day and that night, I’m surprised to find that there’s still ice floating in them. Now I have a little squat one to keep my soups and stews hot for lunch!

I’ve also had the chance to break out this beautiful Swarovski crystal pen that my friend Stephanie gave me as a gift. It’s too special to use for grocery lists, but when I broke it out for my first meeting I instantly felt a little more confident. Having a token of friendship nearby makes everything more delightful!

Are there any things that you use daily that bring you glee? I’m always looking for recommendations!

 

Simple Recipe: Crock Pot Chili

Simple Recipes from Frock Files | Crock Pot Chili

The thing that most excites me about Superbowl parties: the food. So I thought that I’d share my favorite chili recipe with you, on the off chance that you’ll be throwing your own shindig in the coming weeks. Credit goes to my gorgeous friend Heather, who first introduced me to this recipe.

All you have to do to make this chili is saute some onions and turkey. I don’t usually cook things that take this many ingredients, but since the actual cooking time is so minimal I don’t mind all the measuring. Six to eight hours later and – voila! – delicious turkey chili for a crowd. It’s healthy, delicious, warm, and totally satisfying.

My version is a minimally altered recipe from this Betty Crocker version.

Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 to 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (15 to 16 oz) kidney beans in sauce, undrained
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions:
  1. In a big frying pan, heat olive oil on medium. Add turkey and onion. Cook about 8 minutes, until turkey is no longer pink.
  2. Place the remaining ingredients in the slow cooker. Add the turkey and onion mixture.
  3. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours. (Time may vary depending on your slow cooker.)

I haven’t tried eliminating any of the ingredients, but if you’re out of chopped green chiles I’d encourage you to make the trip to the store to get some. They totally make this dish.

Does anyone have a slow cooker recipe to share? I’m always looking for more!

Tuesday Tips: The Cure for Hiccups

Tuesday Tips is a new series in which I’ll be posting simple solutions to everyday problems. I’ll be posting these tips occasionally, as they arise in my life. 

Peanut Butter Cures Hiccups

This past weekend, we were in Lowes when I was struck with a mighty case of the hiccups. I’m not a delicate sneezer or hiccuper. My sneezes scare people, and my hiccups are equally socially distracting. I hiccup-jerked my way through questions from a sales associate about bathroom fixtures. I hiccuped as we checked out, while we drove to CVS, and as I browsed the greeting card section. Somewhere along the way, while I perused thank you notes, they went away.

…And then, two hours later, they returned. But this time it wasn’t such a big deal because we were home, and the cure was in our pantry: peanut butter. I took a teaspoon, swallowed, and voila! (The trick is not to chew too much, so only creamy PB works.) Hiccups gone.

My dear friend Jessica taught me this trick in high school, and I’ve been using it ever since. When she first told me about it, I was dubious. But it’s been the only thing that works for me every single time. So add it to your arsenal of simple tricks — believe me, you’ll be someone’s hero.

Have a tip to share? I’d love to feature you as a guest in this series!

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