Monthly Archives: August 2014

Catalina Island Part 2 – Catalina Express Long Beach

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Did I mention taking a ferry is unpredictable? The big sis and I didn’t even think about Hurricane Maria and how that would affect our vacation. So Wednesday came and we got up bright and early to get to the terminal for the Catalina Express. Parking runs at $1 per 15 minutes so $4 an hour. We ended up paying $45 for three days worth of parking. Overnight parking is fine as long as your ticket is on display somewhere on your car. They allow you to park there up to 30 days before they tow your car. So we park and go inside to learn that the 6:30am ferry ride came back because they couldn’t dock the boat. Bummer…THEN the 8am ferry ride came back as well. Panic mode sets in. Our ferry was scheduled for 10am. They put it on hold which ended up getting cancelled. They originally had one scheduled for 12pm but bumped it up to 11am because there were a lot of people waiting. That got cancelled too. The next ferry ride out was at 2pm. Since we put so much effort into planning our vacation, we opted to just wait it out. Which is why we spent 5 1/2 hours at the terminal waiting for a ferry ride to Catalina. I felt really bad for the people who couldn’t come back because the ferries couldn’t dock. Eventually they announced that the 2pm would be going out so we leaped with joy. Literally the entire terminal was applauding and whistling. The ride there wasn’t too bad. We ended up riding on the smaller boat called the Islander Express. I took my sea sick meds in the morning and they worked fine.

The CE terminal in Long Beach is pretty big. It has lots of chairs, real similar to an airport. They have an area where you can buy food and snacks as well as tables for eating. On the opposite side they have a bar area with tables. I suppose it’s a real tourist like place but $9 for a small chicken caprese sandwich and a small salad? Too expensive for my liking. The sandwich was good but I could get that for less. The bathrooms are pretty big and have big fans on the floor to fan out any nasty smells. Aside from the 5 1/2 hr wait, it wasn’t a bad experience. The staff were real nice and helpful since they couldn’t do anything to make the ferries dock. The ride is about a little over an hour. I’d say an hour and ten minutes is accurate. Next up, the Pavilion Hotel. They’re awesome!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Catalina Island Part 1

I just got back from my mini vacay to Catalina Island and it was awesome! I took a ton of pictures (a ton being more than 200). I suppose that’s not too much in photographer terms. The views were breathtaking! I’ll definitely have to save up and go back. Love, love, love! Every vacay starts off with stiff drinks right? 😀
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This is the Avalon iced tea at Bluewater Avalon. It has passionfruit rum, vodka, gin, tequila, and a hint of lemon iced tea. Holy cow…I was a bit tipsy after drinking this. I could only do half because the flavor of the rum was too strong for my taste.

Here’s a timeline for you to follow..
8/27 – waited FIVE hours at the Catalina Express terminal to board the ferry. Hurricane Maria caused some crazy surges so the two ferries before mine couldn’t dock. Our ferry got cancelled and pushed back to 2pm. Finally at 2pm we boarded and checked into our hotel (The Pavilion Hotel – their service is excellent!). We went to dinner at Bluewater Avalon and because of my intoxication, we went back to our room to chill for awhile. Catalina kind of has a dead scene at night unless you want to go bar hopping. We went and got some ice cream at Lloyd’s and walked along the green pier and sat by the fire pit. We called it a night after that.

8/28 – got tickets to the Avalon Scenic Drive and the East End Adventure (highly recommended) because the water activities weren’t running (Hurricane Maria). The Avalon Scenic Drive was alright. I got to take pictures of Descanso Beach and Avalon Bay. Our driver was kind of a sarcastic know it all so it was eh. We ate lunch at Eric’s on the pier. After that we boarded the East End Adventure in a hummer. It was freakin awesome! It’s pretty much like the real life Indiana Jones ride from Disneyland. Real bumpy so not recommended for people who have neck/back problems or are preggo. We went back to the hotel to wash up and headed down to complimentary wine and cheese hour. After that we went back to our rooms to get ready for dinner. We had dinner at Avalon Grille and gelato from a Mediterranean cafe two doors down from our hotel. We called it a night after eating gelato along the beach.

8/29 – got tickets to mini golf and the Glass Bottom Boat Voyage. Mini golf was hilarious. We were so impatient that I ended up with a score of 102 and my sister got 87. The card said we should get around 51. Oops! 🙂 After mini golf we packed and left our bags with the front desk. We boarded the Glass Bottom Boat tour and it was HORRIBLE. I’m known to get nausea and such but it was really horrible. The boat just kept rocking back and forth and gave me a headache. I still managed to see some fish and take some pictures but I wouldn’t recommend it. Not unless you want to rock back and forth. After that we grabbed salads at the Mediterranean cafe and chilled in the hotel patio area. Then we boarded the ferry and came home.

NOW…onto the pictures! I named this post Part 1 because I have SOOOO many pictures to share.
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The fishies swimming during the Glass Bottom Boat tour. The water was real merky so we didn’t see a lot. It’s definitely not worth $15. Trust me.
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Miniature golf was awesome. We aren’t meant for golf apparently so we should take up tennis.
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Picture of Catalina houses/hotels and Avalon Bay. I took this picture during the East End Adventure. Cindy (our guide) was so awesome. She used to sing on a cruise ship in Hawaii. I love her, she has the cheesiest jokes.
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California lovin with the palm trees right in front of our hotel room.
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Vanilla and salted caramel gelato! The salted caramel was excellent. The vanilla one got to be too sweet after a bit. The cafe is super cute. They even serve sushi there.
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THE HUMMER!! 🙂 I love this hummer. It was such an awesome ride. I got to see a bison, a fox, deers, and take beautiful scenic pictures.
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Sign in Tour Plaza of the Avalon Scenic Drive.
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View of the front of our hotel from the second floor.
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Avalon Bay! The water reminds me of Bora Bora (not that I’ve been there or anything).
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Shrimp and fish tacos that my sister got for lunch from Eric’s on the greenish/turquoise pier.
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Scenic pictures taken on the East End Adventure. The EEA drives to the east of the island while most tours go to the west. The last picture is Moonstone Cove. It’s gorgeous in person. I fell in love right away.
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This picture was taken at our half way stop. We got to get out, stretch our legs, and take some photos. It’s so beautiful. I really don’t know how to put it into words.

PLEASE DO NOT TAKE MY PICTURES AND POST THEM WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. THANKS!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

FSP: Operation Bright – Cookies

I love cookies! Well…I mean who doesn’t love cookies? They’re the essential snack/dessert combined in one. I love chocolate chip cookies because I’m a prude at heart and you can’t change my mind. BUT I am willing to make other types of cookies for others. One of the vets that I volunteer with is affectionately known as my tio which translates to uncle is Spanish. He loves all the goodies that I bring in to the VA and one day he gave me some money and said to use it to make cookies for other vets. The first person I thought of was Sgt Major Brookshire who was the big bro’s Sgt Maj when they deployed to Afghanistan in 2008. His wife, Tracie told me he likes white chocolate. No problem! I made him my white chocolate blueberry cookies. It’s a pretty treasured recipe because I used to sell these. That’s how good they are 🙂
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I think due to the warm weather, they didn’t hold up as well as I thought they did but I’m glad he enjoyed them. I will definitely be on the prowl looking for a different combination for round two. Hopefully they won’t spoil him too much.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Cha Eighteen (Arcadia, CA) – MOCHI WAFFLES!!

I heard of a kiosk at my local mall that sold waffles. Okay, cool maybe I’ll try it. Then someone told me they sold mochi waffles. I LOVE waffles so it was definitely on my to try list and I had to pick up some water shoes for my Catalina trip so what the heck?
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Here’s the menu of this delicious place. The pictures look so good!
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They also sell an assortment of drinks and teas.
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I got the mochi waffle with brown sugar syrup. THE BEST EFFIN THING EVER! It was SO SO good! The outside was crunchy and sweet and the inside was chewy and soft. That’s how I like my waffles to be. The portion size was huge.
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You can see the delicious syrup. The syrup isn’t too sweet and blends perfectly with the waffle. The waffle was the size of my face. It was kind of funny because I was walking around the mall eating my waffle and people would stare at me as they walked by. It was because they wanted a waffle too.

They have an assortment of syrups of the mochi waffle such as nutella, chocolate, strawberry, brown sugar, and cinnamon. They also have liege waffles and tea. I think they’re known for their oolong tea. I heard mochi waffles or “moffles” are really popular in Japan. Or at least that’s what the guy behind the counter said. A huge waffle the size of my head for $3.25? Not bad. It’s definitely worth the money. I was laughing because the guy behind the counter put the waffle in front of a tiny fan in an attempt to cool it down before handing it to me. It semi-worked but it comes out piping hot. If you haven’t tried it, it’s a must.

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Flip Flops for Miss Montana

I’ve been slacking in terms of blogging just because I’ve been consumed with my fellowship program, work, and life in general. I don’t know…life doesn’t seem to blog worthy nowadays but I received the strangest request from one of my readers who lives in Montana. She asked me to do a post on my favorite brands of flip flops. I live in Southern California but I am by no means a flip flop expert. I do have high archs on my feet so I hate wearing heels of any kind. I’m mostly a flip flop girl at heart. If I can get away with wearing them, you can bet I’ll wear em.

If you’re looking to invest in a good pair of flip flops, how much are you willing to pay? It really all depends and I’ll go from the lowest cost to the highest. I have a pair of flip flops from Payless and I got them for like $10 max. They’ve lasted me about seven years now and are one of my favorite pairs. I would say my go to flip flop shop is Havaianas. Depending on which design you like or which one you customize, it could get pricy. The price range for a pair is around $25-35. It’s well worth it in the end. I bought a pair back in college and wore them to class everyday. I LOVE them because they’re great for walking. I’m a little sad because the design I got isn’t available anymore and recently the straps broke apart from the actual flip flop. I wore them the most out of the three pairs I’m talking about. Havaianas is like the god of flip flops. No joke, I love their website. I stalk it all the time looking for good deals! I love the design on this pair (http://us.havaianas.com/women-sandals/brasil-torcida-ii.html). I’m really into colorful designs for my flip flops. The pair I bought was white and had huge pink flowers with green leaves. Colors that pop are my go to. The highest priced flip flop I would recommend is Tory Burch. The flip flops are awesome! They’re super comfortable and that’s a rare find because of my high archs. Now Tory Burch doesn’t come cheap so I would say the price range is from $40-50. I got a pair of black and white ones for $40 because they were on sale. I LOVE flip flop sales. Designers like Michael Kors, Rebecca Minkoff, and Tory Burch have great selections when they’re on sale. Usually it runs around $20 a pair when they’re on sale but they’re good quality.

Anyway, I hope that helped you out Miss Montana. If anything scope the shops. You can always find a good pair where you least expect it. I would have never guessed Payless had durable flip flops. Toodles!

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

Frances Bakery (Los Angeles, CA)

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CRONUTS!!! It’s no secret I’m a sweets lover but cronuts have a special place in my heart. I LOVE cronuts. Donuts are okay but none of them bare any comparison to my beloved cronuts. I’ve been bugging the big brother about bringing me some donuts. I had a crazy craving for them and reallyyyyyy wanted a donut. He laughed and said he was busy. Now what? He then said he’d take me to a bakery in Little Tokyo that sold really good cronuts. Eh..Little Tokyo? They’re more known for their Japanese food but wowza! He took me to Frances Bakery and I got myself five delicious cronuts. There were five flavors on display and not wanting to miss out, I got one of each. There were blueberry, original, nutella, strawberry custard, and chocolate. The original is by far the best. It reminded me of a french puff. Those things are so darn delicious! 🙂 Frances Bakery is awesome. The ladies behind the counter were real nice and friendly. They explained everything to me when I asked questions. The only down side is the parking. They do validate parking but the lot is so freakin tiny. It’s hard to navigate in and out without other car trying to fight you for a spot. They sell an assortment of cakes, puddings, cheesecakes, and French macarons in addition to the cronuts. The lot the bakery is in also has a bunch of sushi restaurants. I really wanted to try one of them but we didn’t have time. BOO! No sushi fix but sweets fix is cured.
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What does your big brother do for you when you’ve got a craving? 🙂

Fail Sweetly,
Justina

The Fail Sweetly Project (formerly Project Give)

Hi all! I hope everyone is doing well. I’ve officially changed my project’s name. I debated with myself over and over and have finally made a decision. Project Give is now the Fail Sweetly Project. It sounds kind of funny because what I do with my project has almost nothing in common with the name. However, Fail Sweetly is my blog and I just felt that it made more sense to name it after my blog so people will associate it with my blog. I have no idea if that made sense but there ya go. The categories for the FSP hasn’t changed. I’m still working on it. My project is almost at its one year anniversary since I started and I’ve decided to keep on truckin.

Plenty of people have questioned my sanity about continuing but I love helping others. I mean it really doesn’t have to have anything to do with the military. I just like helping out, no matter who they are. Helping others is probably one of my hidden qualities. Strangers see me as a stone faced serious person when I’m kind of the complete opposite. Well, because I like helping others…why stop now? I’ve thought it through and through and it really makes no sense to stop now. I’ve got a good thing going here.

There will be a few changes. The giveaways or events for my project will not be every month. I would love to do something special for someone every month but the cost is just too much for me. As of right now, most of my plans for FSP is for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes the vets I volunteer with will randomly give me donations and say it’s for my project. If that does happen, I will have an event when the funds are in. Toodles! 🙂

Fail Sweetly,
Justina