1. DOCTOR WHO! DOCTOR WHO! DOCTOR WHO! I  Twelve. And Clara. And Jenny. And Madam Vastra. And Strax.

2. Sometimes I forget that I love to create. The other night I was working on something, staying up way past my bedtime, but it felt good.

3. Finding a Disneybound piece that will nearly complete an outfit I’ve wanted to try for a while.

4. Making cheesy buns.

5. Learning a new-to-me DIY crafting skill that, if I can successfully complete, I would love to share with ya’ll.

Photo by Arbine Villanueva-Hoapili

A little over a week ago my family and I got to spend a day at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa.*


Since our youngest has been talking non-stop about our trip to Disneyland this past May, we thought it would be fun to celebrate her birthday at Aulani. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Arbine, isn’t it hella expensive to stay there? The short answer: Yes. Yes it is. BUT, if you can find someone who is willing to sell you DVC points (making it considerably less than paying the rack rate), it’s totally worth the high-ish price tag.

I can’t say enough about how amazing Disney is at attention to detail. You could spend a day just looking at all the little things (from both Disney and Hawaii) incorporated into the design, architecture, and decor. I particularly loved the photographs in Kālepa’s Store of general stores across Hawaii.

Aunty’s Beach House. Seriously, one of THE BEST values on property. If you are traveling with kiddos and want some time to yourself, have a nice dinner, or maybe get a massage at Laniwai, you can drop your little ones off at Aunty’s Beach House FOR FREE.

That’s right. They offer complimentary child care. Some of the special activities and lunch cost extra, but the majority of the activities and just being able to hang out and play there is totally free.

Aunty’s Beach House has Open House from 8:00am till about 9:30am where children can check out the space with their parents. After that, no parents allowed. Let me tell you, Aunty’s Beach House is pretty darn rad. Dress up areas, coloring stations, video games, and a ton more. There’s even an outdoor play area. Our daughters LOVED it.

If your family is more the hang-out-by-the-water-all-day-long type, Waikolohe Valley is the place to be. In addition to a couple of big pools and kids only areas, it has a lazy river, water slides, an infinity edge and adult only pool, and a private snorkeling lagoon. If you want to indulge a little more, private cabanas are available to rent. Which, if you can afford, I would recommend. It was really tough to find chairs so we had to just lay our towels and bags right next to the pool we were swimming in.

If you feel the need to nosh after some pool time, there are several quick service dining options in Waikolohe Valley. And for all you Dole whip fans, you can get your fix at The Lava Shack. When we went, it was $4.00 for a self-serve cup.

The Starlit Hui isn’t something that is offered every evening, but if you are there when it will happen, I highly encourage you to attend. It’s unlike any hula show you’ve ever seen before. Plus, if you’re lucky, some Disney friends might make a special appearance.

Whenever you decide to visit Aulani, please don’t wait until your room is ready to enjoy the resort. There is just SO MUCH to do. And you can take advantage of ALL the amenities once you check in.**

We loved our time at Aulani and can not wait to go back.

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawai‘i
92-1185 Ali‘inui Drive Kapolei, HI 96707 | 808.443.4763 | Website

Photos by Arbine Villanueva-Hoapili, Marcus Hoapili, & A Disney Cast Member

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I am in no way affiliated with Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa or The Walt Disney Company. 

**We checked in at 7:30 on a Friday morning and left the resort at around 9pm the next evening.

My Newest Nephew

August 22, 2014 // Being a Parent, Family

This is my nephew Jeremiah-Reid.

He was born this past Wednesday.

I can’t believe my baby brother is a dad.

Just wait till you get old enough to eat regular food, Jeremiah-Reid. Aunty is gonna bake you a ton of sweets.

Photos by Arbine Villanueva-Hoapili and Marcus Hoapili

It doesn’t matter how old I get, I’m always excited to see Disney characters. Last week we spent a day at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa (full post on that soon!) and I think I was as stoked as my daughters to see them.

Yes, I know that they are just people dressed in character costumes. But there’s just something… different about Disney characters. Something nostalgic. Magical even.

When you’re a parent (or just an adult for that matter), you often get swamped with lots of grown up responsibilities. Like making sure bills get paid. Making sure there’s dinner on the table. Making sure that your kids wash their hands WITH SOAP. Lots of important things.

It’s nice, every once in a while, to just be a kid.

And for me, that means taking a picture with every Disney character I see at Aulani.

Photo by Marcus Hoapili

Shortbread cookies.

Super easy to make and you can customize them a thousand different ways.

The dough is so good that I sometimes eat pieces of it raw.

I like living on the edge.

Photos by Arbine Villanueva-Hoapili 

Almond Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies

Yield: 50-55 cookies


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. To a large bowl add flour, butter, sugar, poppy seeds, almond extract, and salt. Mix thoroughly until combined.
  2. Place dough onto plastic wrap and shape into a log. Cover completely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Slice dough into ¼ inch portions and place onto parchment lined baking sheets about 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
  6. Let cool on wire rack.
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