Monday, June 26, 2017

hawaiian honeymoon: doors-off volcano and waterfall helicopter ride

 I hope you like lava pictures, because this post is full of them! when we booked our helicopter tour, I was really excited because the paradise helicopter site shows some really intense lava pictures and I really wanted to see lava in real life. definitely seems like a bucket list type activity, right? well, it was. while the lava wasn't wildly erupting or shooting up in the air, this helicopter ride was definitely the best way to observe the flowing lava in the kīlauea volcano on the big island.

the travel channel calls this tour the “hottest helicopter ride on earth!” kīlauea volcano has been continuously erupting for 30 years, and even at 500 feet above the flowing lava and open vents, we felt waves of hot air rolling off the lava flows, which can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees! 

leaving the doors off meant there was nothing between us and the sights and open air. it definitely took a couple minutes to get used to as the wind was whipping in quite viciously. it was amazing to feel the heat from the lava on my bare legs though!

we started the trip with a view of these macadamia nut fields on our way to the volcano.

you can see where the lava meets the water with this massive cloud of smoke, which is visible for miles.

next, we started our lava hunt...

yep, I'm basically obsessed with lava now.

after finding our lava, we cooled off over hilo’s lush rain forests and the plunging wai‘ānuenue (rainbow falls). it was so cool to see all these waterfalls from the air, which would take you hours to see by car including driving, parking, and walking to each waterfall.

we loved our extreme doors-off helicopter ride in hilo, it was a great way to kick off our day in volcano village afterward.

have you ever ridden in a helicopter before? I took dramamine before and wore sea bands (no shame here!) and had no issue with motion sickness, even though I have heard a lot of other people who got sick on helicopter rides. it was surprisingly smooth and made for a hawaiian adventure we will never forget!

Friday, June 23, 2017

hawaiian honeymoon: top 5 things to do in kauai

kauai is nicknamed "the garden isle" thanks to the tropical rainforest covering much of its surface, and it's the fourth largest island in hawaii. the dramatic cliffs and pinnacles of its na pali coast have served as a backdrop for major movies, while waimea canyon is a major hiking destination. we really enjoyed our time in kauai and this post is a great summary on the top 5 things to do if you find yourself in kauai. it's a relatively small island and we accomplished all these activities in less than three days!

I have to preface that these five things are in no particular order, especially since everyone has a differing level of adventure. 

this was hands-down the most adventurous, read: dangerous, activity that we did. it was insane, but also insanely beautiful. check out our tour guide's website here, na pali experience. if you're on pinterest looking at picturesque open ceiling caves in hawaii, this is where you find them! you can only see these caves by air or boat so choose carefully and bring your motion sickness meds.

the grand canyon of hawaii is definitely beautiful and provides lots of hiking opportunities! read my post on waimea canyon here. I recommend making a day trip: waimea canyon, hawaiian shave ice stop at jojo's, kauai coffee tour, and finish it with a quick stop at spouting horn.

 3. hawaiian shave ice
we picked the tropical breeze flavor: guava, lilikoi, and mango. the base of this masterpiece is macadamia nut ice and all this deliciousness is topped off with haupia cream. lilikoi is passion fruit and haupia is coconut. sooo just let that all sink in, it was actually too good to finish. pro tip: get the smaller size.

everyone knows that kona on the big island is famous for coffee, but did you know that kauai has its own type of coffee that is equally delicious?! we had it at breakfast every morning, so when we drove past the plantation, I knew we had to stop! a great place for souvenirs and gifts.

5. spouting horn
this is a short drive from the main road in poipu, easy to get to and easy to check out! a must-see for sure. there are also a few shopping spots here for souvenirs.

have you been to kauai before? what are your favorite activities on the garden island?

Monday, June 19, 2017

hawaiian honeymoon: kauai coffee company

when planning our kauai trip, we definitely didn't have a coffee plantation listed as a must-do activity - we knew we had to do that in kona on the big island due to its reputation for world renowned coffee. it all started at our daily breakfast at koa kea resort, we really liked the coffee and our waitress informed us that it was in fact, kauai coffee not kona coffee. later that day, we happened to drive by the kauai coffee company plantation and made a mental note to fit it into our schedule if possible.

kauai coffee company ended up being the cutest little stop and it even includes a self-guided walking tour! I was all about the self-guided tour, I hate waiting around for the designated tour time to start and then being forced to spend an hour touring an attraction that you really only wanted to spend half that time learning about. anyway, kauai coffee company has got it figured out.

Friday, June 16, 2017

happy goats make happy soaps: serenity skincare

you may know that I work in automotive sales training, and it goes without saying that I have the pleasure of working with a lot of very cool individuals. many of them have awesome work-related stories, be it international travel for vehicle launches, celeb events, side hustles, etc. 

however, to my knowledge, only one of my coworkers owns a farm of sweet goats that make all natural soaps, lotions, and more. seriously, just wait until you see the goats. as if the products weren't yummy enough, the beautiful packaging just seals the deal. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

what I read in may

woohoo! glad to be back for the monthly show us your books linkup with steph and jana. I packed so many books for my honeymoon and guess how many I finished? one. yep, that's right. I watched the big little lies mini-series months ago and then decided to read the book, definitely not the recommended order in my opinion. I have been drowning with that book for months and only made it halfway through - I totally like it, I guess I'm not motivated to finish it since I already know what happens. I finally decided to retire big little lies and start a new one: luckiest girl alive. I finished this book in about three days!

luckiest girl alive by jessica knoll
as a teenager at the prestigious bradley school, ani fanelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve. but ani has a secret. there’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything. with a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, luckiest girl alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears. the question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set ani free? {}

my take: A
I have said it before, but I love reading fast-paced thrillers that don't follow your typical gone girl recipe. I love a good murder mystery like the next girl, but lately I am really interested in reading books that stray from that pattern. that being said, this book was goooood. I loved the beginning of the book, the main character sets the stage for how daunting nyc life is and how hard you have to work to keep up to subtly portray old money. through all of the past pain and hard choices, ani finds herself and starts over again. this book has a lot of plot twists that keep you interested and is definitely a page turner. 

have you read luckiest girl alive? I definitely heard about it from the march show us your books linkup, so thank you to whoever recommended it and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 9, 2017

hawaiian honeymoon: waimea canyon

when we booked our trip to kauai, I knew we had to check out waimea canyon. it's considered the grand canyon of hawaii and it is definitely breathtaking. on our second day in kauai, we hopped in our car, crossed our fingers for the weather, put the convertible top down and made the hour drive up to the canyon. it was a beautiful, relaxing drive up the coast with many scenic points to stop along. 

the island of kauai gets so much rain, in fact it rained every day we were there. while there was a huge rain cloud overhead at waimea and we did get a few drops, we were pretty lucky to enjoy this natural wonder of kauai without torrential downpour and with a clear view.

Monday, June 5, 2017

hawaiian honeymoon: na pali sea caves excursion

I'm back from a three-week wedding and honeymoon hiatus in florida, kauai, and the big island! even though it was three whole weeks, it went by so quickly. finally after days and days of photo editing, I have so much to share with you. we spent three nights in kauai and five nights on the big island, we felt it was absolutely the most perfect amount of time.

I'm kicking off my hawaiian honeymoon series with our craziest adventure of the whole trip, which we happened to book on our very first day of the honeymoon. let me just say that our tour guide was great; however, I do not think that the experience resembled anything like the picture on their website. I expected a beautiful day frolicking in and out of sea caves with the sun warming our shoulders, taking a dip in the ocean, etc... HA. it was the exact opposite of this vision - torrential downpour, the worst waves I've ever experienced on a boat before, and no way in hell was I getting out to snorkel. with all this craziness, I'm still glad we did it since I'm not sure when else I would have the opportunity to go into sea caves, especially these famous na pali caves which can only be seen by helicopter or boat.

Monday, May 15, 2017

officially out of office

you guys, I totally planned three weeks' worth of blog content I could schedule so I wouldn't miss a beat here during my wedding and honeymoon... then it came down to actually wrapping up wedding planning, honeymoon planning, thank you notes, packing... and on top of all that, my day job... so no, the three weeks' worth of pre-planned blog content did not happen for me, unfortunately.

so I regret to inform you that lauren alford design is out of office for three {THREE!!} weeks with no scheduled content. ahh the self-imposed guilt is real, but I knew you guys wouldn't mind, really. besides, no one likes things to feel forced anyway.

Monday, May 8, 2017

styling our casual wedding china

one of the things I was most looking forward to receiving on our wedding registry was new casual china. I have been using the same dishes since I graduated college, which you know, wasn't exactly yesterday. they have totally held up over the years, and I'm actually giving them to my little sister who's in college. I have so been looking forward to new plates, glasses, and flatware. 

we ended up picking 'french perle' by lenox because I have a girlfriend who has the full set and was raving about how well they have worn, versus other patterns that she's had in the past. I also love the creamy white of these dishes compared to stark white plates.

Monday, May 1, 2017

how to make a DIY taco holder

to entertain for the super bowl a couple of months ago, we decided to go with a mexican theme for dinner. we made queso, guacamole, beef tacos, portobello tacos, and sopapilla cheesecake. since I started planning early, I had enough time to ponder how best to serve a large amount of tacos. taco stations are fun - but I have to tell you that, at least in my family, sometimes people who serve themselves first [ahem, the men] load up on all the main fillings and there's none left for the rest of us. this time, I wanted to pre-fill the tacos with the beef and portobellos and allow guests to top with their selected fixin's. enter the diy taco holder stand...