Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Birthday in the City of Angels

Hello everyone! I wrote this post awhile ago and forgot to make it live, so here it is... almost 4 months later :)
My birthday is May 28th, which always falls around Memorial Day weekend. This year my birthday and Memorial day coincided, so you know what that means - I got a paid day off without using any vacation!

Since it was a three day weekend I was trying to decide what we should do. I could take another day off and we could try going back to Japan, or do a quick trip to Australia, or we could just take the three days and go to another Hawaiian Island or just hang out around the beach here. I then found out that Aaron's ska/rock/reggae band of 10 years, Upstanding Youth, would be playing their last show on the Friday night (lead singer is moving to DC), and there'd be a band BBQ on Saturday. So that took out the international possibilities. My mom and sister went to NYC a little while ago and I was telling them to make sure they hit up Magnolia's bakery and the Shake Shack. It reminded me of how much I was missing/craving Magnolia's lemon cupcake. I went to their website and saw they had a location in LA. The wheels started turning... how fun would it be to have those cupcakes for my birthday. After factoring in the possibility of going shopping at H&M it was decided. Los Angeles it was.

So... this is how the weekend went:

Friday night -- UY farewell show. Unfortunately the memory card with the photos Aaron took of the band went corrupt, but I have a couple shots from my phone.

Saturday -- Sunset beach/flight out. We were supposed to have a band BBQ but due to unfortunate family/health circumstances it was postponed. Instead, Aaron and I headed out to Sunset Beach here on Oahu and played with the new underwater dive housing on the GoPro (hopefully we'll have a video to put together soon). We took the 10:20 pm flight out to LAX. We were lucky enough to get first class too :)

Sunday -- cupcakes, Santa Monica, shopping. We arrived around 7 am and went made our way to Magnolia's. They have different flavors every day, and they didn't have lemon on Sunday or Monday (the two days we were there). But we already knew that of course because we were prepared. We found out we could make a custom order of any flavor on any day, but the minimum quantity was one dozen. No big deal, we ordered a dozen lemon cupcakes. The description on the website is: delicately textured lemon cupcake filled with a tart lemon cream and topped with lemon meringue buttercream. It was heaven. Seriously everything I remembered it to be.

 We then drove right on over the the Santa Monica pier. It was still early in the morning, so parking was easy and it was nice and quiet. Aaron and I walked around the pier/beach and enjoyed the scenery. I was surprised to see how many different exercise groups there were all along side the sand, much different from Hawaii :) We also walked to the shopping area, and though I was originally planning on going to H&M on Monday I just couldn't wait when I saw that store front. Even though Aaron ended up falling asleep while sitting on a bench with his sunglasses on outside of the store, I still had a grand old time. I picked up two bathing suits, a skirt, a dress, three shirts, a pair of shoes, a purse, and a necklace. All of the stuff is really cute and really cheap (without losing too much quality).

At this point we were starved for real food. We found out there was a Panera near out hotel and went straight there. Oh how I miss Panera, their bread is so amazing! As are their soups and sandwiches. When we walked out of Panera we saw that we were actually right next to a Trader Joe's. Being from the east coast I haven't ever shopping in one before, but my co-workers who've visited California just love it. We stopped in and we were shocked to see how cheap the organic food was! Wow, such a difference from Hawaii. We ended up just picking up some boxed cookies, which were cheap and amazing. We stayed at the Reniassance hotel and by the time we got to our room (maybe 5 pm) we were dead tired. Thanks to black out curtains we were able to get some shut eye. What was meant to be a nap ended up becoming our night's sleep.

Monday -- more Panera, pool, and more cupcakes! We were up early and headed back to Panera for breakfast (so glad they were open already). We loved everything we got. We went back to the hotel and I got some pool time in, and played a little bit more with the underwater dive housing on the GoPro. I've got to say, this hotel had the best, most comfortable lounge chairs I've ever laid on (which was a nice unexpected treat on my actual birthday). We then went back to Panera for a late lunch/early dinner and I got my absolute favorite, baked potato soup in a bread bowl :) followed by another amazing cupcake. Turns out we couldn't eat a dozen in less than two days, so we ended up bringing some back with us. We took the 6 pm flight to HNL and got here around 9 pm (it's 3 hrs earlier in Hawaii).

It was a quick and fun trip. I have to thank Aaron again for allowing me to completely indulge myself. But come on, if you could fly for free and get a cheap car rental/hotel with name your own price on priceline just to get your favorite cupcakes and go shopping at one of your favorite stores for your birthday... wouldn't you??

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Vacation You'll Always Remember

I absolutely LOVED having my family out here to visit last month. One of the highlights for everyone (except Dad who wasn't feeling well) was going to the Waikiki Ocean Club. I found out about them through work, and thought it'd be a fun activity for everyone. Basically they have a two story boat anchored 300 yards from the sand, with an amazing view of Diamond Head (famous volcano crater). On the bottom level they have a covered bar/grill area that leads to a staircase into the water. They have snorkel gear, floaties, an ocean trampoline, kayaks, paddle boards, etc. On the upper level they have a sun deck, a slide, and platforms to jump off into the water. They also have music playing (as you'll be able to figure out after watching the video). We went on a Wednesday so it wasn't too crowded, which made it even better! We just got to stay out in the sun and have fun all day. What's not to love? We even saw WILD DOLPHINS! And Liz was in the water with them!!

We took our GoPro with us, and I'm sure glad we did! It's one of my favorite videos because of the people in it, and the memories it brings back. It's the first video that Aaron and I really tag-team edited. It was fun working together on it. Enjoy :)

                      Franco Family Hawaii Vacation 2012 | Waikiki Ocean Club from Aaron Eskaran on Vimeo.


Some people dream of becoming famous their whole lives, being a star. I'm not one of those people. But I do just kind of laugh when I see things of myself "out there." One of our friends works for Bula Beverage. It's a relaxation drink, a direct opposite to energy drinks. Aaron, being the artist he is, did some work for Bula. We ended up taking some cans with us while we were cruising the beach. We actually only shot video, and the banner below is a screen shot from it. They put together a promo video you can find on the homepage HERE. It wasn't really planned before hand, and it's funny to watch (at least for me). But it's a fun little thing to share. Bula is having free shipping for the rest of the month... so check it out!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Island Hopping

My parents found a killer deal to stay in Molokai, HI for a week. It's one of the smallest islands of Hawaii that most people don't get to. There are NO stoplights (only stop signs) and the entire population is 8,000 people. Aaron and I joined them for the day to check it out. It was everyone's first time there. We had 3 main activities planned for the day:

1) Check out the Kapuaiwa Coconut Grove
 It was so much fun to see so many tall palm trees all in one place. Though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit scared that a coconut would randomly fall on one of our heads ;)

2) Go to Kalaupapa National Historic Park
The view here is just gorgeous. I learned that Molokai is home to the tallest sea cliffs in the world, that's right in the whole world!! We could see them from the lookout, which was pretty cool. Most people know Kalaupapa as the location for an old leper colony.

3) Visit Papohaku Beach
If you know me, you know I'm a beach bum. And I can stay at the beach all day long. And boy, was this place easy to love. It's the largest beach in all of Hawaii! 3 miles of natural white sand, 100 yards deep, with beautiful blue ocean. They actually used sand from here to create Waikiki beach. The craziest thing about it was that there was no one there! And they had a nice parking lot and showers and everything. We were at one of the most gorgeous beaches in Hawaii (on a Saturday afternoon) all by ourselves. It was a blast.
We also brought our GoPro camera and made a little video to document our trip. I just love it. Enjoy :)