Taqueria El Ranchero (Kapolei)

September 30, 2022

Other than the usual fare at Taco Bell, we had not had authentic Mexican street food in years, so we decided to have lunch at Taqueria El Ranchero, which literally translates as “a country style Mexican restaurant, specializing in tacos.” But, of course, more than tacos are served here. There are 2 branches: Wahiawa and Kapolei. Parking is free.

Taqueria El Ranchero is owned by a Hispanic American, named Hector Garcia Gomez. He first experienced Hawaii when he was in the U.S. Army, stationed at Schofield Barracks in Wahiawa. He married a woman from Wahiawa and then when he left the Army, he opened Taqueria El Ranchero in Wahiawa in 2015. He recently expanded his successful business by opening the branch in Kapolei in 2021.

This is Hector Garcia Gomez at his Taqueria El Ranchero in Wahiawa:

This is Taqueria El Ranchero in Kapolei at Ka Makana Alii Shopping Center on Kapolei Parkway. The covered lanai is on the left:

Here we are at the Kapolei branch:

We started with complimentary Tortilla Chips and 3 types of Salsa, all very spicy:

I ordered the Beef Fajitas Plate. The beef (tender and juicy) and veggies (Bell peppers, Zucchini, Onions, Mushrooms) came with tortillas, Spanish rice, and refried beans:

Warm Tortillas:

David ordered the Carne Asada Plate. Carne Asada consists of beef steaks, marinated in lime juice and seasonings, then grilled. This plate also included tortillas, Spanish rice, refried beans, and salad:

Dessert was Flan, which is a type of Spanish custard tart:

The food was fresh, tasty, and affordable. And, as advertised, it’s authentic Mexican street food.

However, Taqueria El Ranchero was very noisy. Customers cheered their favorite football team while watching several TVs. It was more like a sports bar than a restaurant. The loud noise bothered David, who already suffers from Tinnitus. We should have taken a table in the outdoor covered lanai instead of sitting inside, as there are no TVs in the lanai.

Still, it was a pleasant drive to Kapolei, and I don’t regret going there. Something different.

Next time, we’ll just dine in the lanai, where it’s quieter.

Hilo, Hawaii

September 28, 2022

I have beautiful memories of our vacation in Hilo on the Big Island in July 2011. The Big Island of Hawaii is the youngest island of the Hawaiian chain (600,000 years old) and is still growing and expanding with the lava flow. Hilo is the capital of the Big Island.

These are my photos of Hilo, Hawaii.

One of the restaurants we dined at was Cafe Pesto. It’s a cute restaurant, and the food and entertainment are excellent:

Dessert: Coconut tart with cream sauce.
Beautiful cheesecake.

All buildings in Hilo have metal roofs due to the rainy climate:

Palm trees along Hilo Bay:

University of Hawaii at Hilo:

Akaka Falls:

We flew by helicopter over the hardened lava fields on the coast. This is an example of how the island has increased in size due to lava flow from Kilauea Volcano:

This is Kamehameha School (blue roofs), which was founded by Hawaiian royalty to benefit the children of Hawaiian ancestry:

Lots of waterfalls everywhere:

Pu’u O’o crater was simmering when we were there. When it erupted later, the flow of molten lava caused much devastation to surrounding homes and properties:

I am so glad I live on Oahu, where the volcanoes are extinct. There is no need to evacuate our home, because there are no erupting volcanoes on this island. Thank God!

Well, I hope you enjoyed my photos of Hilo, Hawaii, taken in July 2011. We have beautiful and exciting memories of our vacation!

Hawaii Craftsmen’s Exhibit

September 26, 2022

We recently attended the Hawaii Craftsmen’s Exhibit at the Downtown Art Center in Chinatown. It is open 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM Tuesday through Sunday, closed on Monday. This exhibit will end on October 15 and will then move on to Maui.

Admission is free. However, parking in the municipal lot below the building is not free. We paid $1.50 to park there for 45 minutes on Thursday. That’s not bad.

Hawaii Craftsmen was organized in 1966. Its members work in a variety of mediums such as clay, glass, metal, fiber, wood, and mixed media.

This show was juried, and 22 cash awards were handed out.

These are some of the pieces that caught my eye. The price of each item is posted in the caption. Not all of these pieces won awards, but I have posted the cash prizes for those that did win.

Valerie Beck, “Under the Bananas,” Glass, $600. (This piece did not win an award, but it is my favorite piece in the show. I just love it.)

Daniel Moe, “Tattooed Makau,” Glass, $3,200. Won the Merit Award in Glass Arts, $250 prize.

Michael Mortara with Misato Mortara, “Pahoa Sky Lidded Calabash,” Glass, $1,800.

Mark White, “Bonsai Box,” Ceramic, $1,300. Won the Merit Award in Ceramic Arts, $250 prize.

Robert Butts, “Bamboo Umeke,” Curly koa, bamboo, epoxy, $4,200.

Sheri Levin McNerthney, “Color Play,” Fiber, $4,800. Won the Handweavers Hui Award, $250 prize.

The display room was enormous, and the pieces were arranged beautifully:

That’s David perusing the many works of art:

David and I were very impressed with the talent exhibited here.

I was tempted to buy the first piece (Valerie Beck, “Under the Bananas,” Glass, $600) pictured at the top of this post but decided against it. Kind of expensive, and where would I display it in my home?

Still, I do love to look at beautiful art. We had a glorious time just browsing.

I returned home, feeling happy and refreshed.

Mariposa Restaurant (Ala Moana Center)

September 23, 2022

Since we don’t travel anymore due to mobility issues, David and I have found other ways to entertain ourselves. Lately, we have been dining out every Sunday. We enjoy having lunch or brunch mid-day, because we are more alert at that time. It’s just wonderful that we can do this every week, something to truly look forward to. Oahu has hundreds of restaurants, which are attractive and serve great cuisine. So, expect to see photos of our weekly culinary adventures on this blog every Friday.


Mariposa Restaurant is located on the third level of Nieman Marcus at Ala Moana Center. The best way to access Mariposa is by parking on the oceanside of the mall level parking lot and taking their private elevator up to the restaurant. There is ample free parking.

In 2020, Nieman Marcus luxury department store finally emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Mariposa Restaurant also survived the Covid pandemic at its worst and recently reopened.

Lawrence Nakamoto, age 34, was hired as Mariposa’s Executive Chef in 2017. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu, Hawaii and worked at Elua Restaurant in Honolulu before joining Mariposa. His culinary style is eclectic (Hawaiian, Asian, Italian).

This is Executive Chef Lawrence Nakamoto:

I last reviewed Mariposa in 2017. Forgive me for reviewing it again, but I simply could not resist this opportunity.

This is Mariposa Restaurant (Ala Moana Center) before it fills up with customers. The covered lanai is to the right. We asked not to be seated there, as it was very hot and humid that day. We preferred the cool air-conditioned main room. The fans at the top gently circulated the air:

This is the gorgeous view of Ala Moana Beach Park from the covered lanai:

Here we are:

We started with complimentary Popovers and Strawberry Butter:

This was followed by a small cup of clear Chicken Broth, also complimentary:

I ordered the Chicken Milanese (Chicken breast, sauteed with an herb parmesan crust), Pesto and Marinara Sauce, Israeli Couscous, Green Beans and a Carrot. This was the first time I ate the green-colored Couscous, which is a type of North African pasta. It tasted very good:

David ordered the Grilled Ahi Fish Sandwich, Potato Fries, Salad, and Ketchup. He was asked by the waiter how he wanted his Ahi. David replied he wanted it done “medium.” It turned out very juicy, not dry at all.

Dessert was Mango Cheesecake with a slice of Chocolate on top, Chocolate Graham Crust, and bits of Kiwi:

We loved the wonderful cuisine, which was so beautifully presented, especially those yummy Popovers, which were so airy, light, and delicate! They were so addictive that I ate two. I also loved the Strawberry Butter.

On our way out, I photographed Kawika Kekoa, the featured soloist, who sang mellow Hawaiian pop music while strumming his electric guitar:

Mariposa is a very pleasant place to dine. However, do make reservations, as this restaurant is very popular and fills up quickly.

Taking a break from the violin

September 21, 2022
Sylvia and I having lunch in my home (September 2021).

My favorite sister, Sylvia, is almost 5 years younger than me, and we get along very well. The last time I saw her in person was in January, when David and I joined her for dinner in her condo. Since then, we have kept in touch by telephone.

She recently called to tell me that she and her boyfriend and their friends plan to vacation in Seattle, Washington this month. These friends are going there to participate in a Gypsy Jazz Festival in memory of Django Reinhart, who founded that genre of music in France. He died suddenly of a stroke at age 43 in 1953, but his legacy lives on.

Django Reinhard.

Sylvia wanted to get back into music, since these friends are all jazz musicians. Her boyfriend plays jazz guitar and plays Gypsy Jazz with his combo in Hawaii. Sylvia asked if I would give her violin lessons, again. I had given her several lessons last year, but we had taken a break this year.

Well, I had to inform her that I still had a torn rotator cuff and osteoarthritis in my right shoulder and could no longer use the bow. So, therefore, I would not be able to demonstrate how to play the violin for her. Sylvia was sorry to hear this. I was sorry, too. How unfortunate! I wanted to help her, but what could I do?

My violin.

I have not played my violin since last November. In fact, music is no longer a major part of my life. I seldom listen to music anymore.

I am more into blogging and social media. I just love Facebook. I spend a lot of time writing my blog 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), doing research on interesting topics for my blog. I also like to visit other blogs to see what people are up to.

Hence, the computer is far more important to me than the violin at the present time.

What would I do if I were to go blind? Oh, my. Then, I would have to depend on my hearing, again. Do I hear music, glorious music in the distance?

This is our Wave Bose Stereo.

I realize that it doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. But that’s how it is right now.

I think that once my right shoulder is functional again, I’ll resume playing my violin and return to the world of music. Let’s hope so.

Portable Pedal Exerciser

September 19, 2022

As you know, I have osteoarthritis, which prevents me from standing and walking as much as I would like. You won’t see me hiking in the woods or walking on the beach, not in my condition, no way.

However, I felt the need to exercise my limbs in the easiest possible way. So, David bought me a Portable Pedal Exerciser for $36 from Amazon.

I use it primarily for my arthritic knees and hips. But it could be used for my arthritic shoulders, too. This device is quite versatile and easy to use. I like it a lot. It doesn’t take up too much space and can fold for easy storage.

However, there are several caveats, as listed in the owner’s manual:

(1) The device can overheat with long-term high intensity exercise. So just use it for short-term light exercise.

(2) The monitor is supposed to gauge my cycles per minute, the duration, and the calories burned, but it is unreliable. I don’t pay attention to it. I just cycle for a few minutes in short bursts of speed, anyway. Then, I return after a few minutes for more exercise. I do this, because I don’t have much stamina.

(3) If you use it on a smooth floor, then you should use the nylon strap to anchor the device to your chair so it will not slide on the floor. I use mine on carpet, which is not a problem.

Other than these caveats, it works okay. What do you expect for $36?

If you prefer long-term high intensity exercise, then you really should use a stationary or recumbent bike instead of this Portable Pedal Exerciser. I don’t use the bike, because I can’t swing my short leg over it. It’s too high for me. However, David uses the bike with no problem.

This is David, demonstrating the Portable Pedal Exerciser:

So, for $36, this device is not a bad way for an old lady like me to get some exercise, even though it’s of limited duration and intensity. Further, it’s good aerobic exercise for me.

Eating House 1849 (Waikiki)

September 16, 2022

We had a delightful Sunday brunch at Eating House 1849, located on the third level of the International Marketplace in Waikiki. The entrance to the parking lot is on Kuhio Avenue.

International Marketplace on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.

Roy Yamaguchi, age 66, now owns 10 restaurants in Hawaii, and Eating House 1849 is one of them. He was born and raised in Japan but moved to the USA to study at the Culinary Institute. He has won many awards for his culinary skills, one of them being the James Beard award. He is the author of several cookbooks and was also featured on TV.

Roy Yamaguchi, chef and owner.

Roy Yamaguchi decided to open Eating House 1849 as a nod to Peter Fernandez, a Portuguese man, who opened the first restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1849. Fernandez called his restaurant “Eating House,” which was very popular with plantation workers. It no longer exists.

This is Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi. There is an enclosed air-conditioned area in the back, but we preferred to dine in the covered outdoor lanai in front:

Here we are:

David Aquino was the featured soloist that day. He sang mellow Hawaiian and pop music while strumming his electric guitar. I loved his beautiful rendition of my favorite song, “Fly Me to the Moon”:

We started with complimentary Edamame (Spicy Soybeans) as an appetizer:

Since this was Brunch, there were breakfast items, such as eggs, on the menu. David ordered the Short Rib “Loco Moco” (Boneless Beef Short Ribs, White Rice, Fried Egg, and Assorted Vegetables such as Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and Onions):

I ordered the Brown Butter Banana Waffles. Besides the Banana, there were Strawberries, Blueberries, and Blackberries. The Waffles were covered with Maple Syrup, and there was a dab of Butter on the side:

Dessert was Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle and Vanilla Ice Cream:

The food was very good, especially the dessert. What a delightful Sunday brunch in such a pretty outdoor setting! And I loved the live music!

On the way out, we had our parking ticket validated by the waiter and paid $2.00 at the Kiosk in front of the elevators. Then, we used the ticket to exit the parking lot. Without validation, parking would have cost us $9.00. Holy cow.

This is David at the Kiosk, which accepts cash or credit card:

This outing took us through Waikiki, which is a magnet for tourists. It’s where all the ritzy resorts and hotels are, close to the white sandy beaches and the blue Pacific Ocean. David and I have vacationed in Waikiki several times over the years. How relaxing it is to vacation in a luxurious first-class resort! It’s certainly better than staying in a grass shack, which has no appeal at all.

This is my photo of Waikiki Beach outside the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, where we vacationed in 2008. This hotel is called the “Pink Palace,” because the exterior is painted pink. Established in 1927, it is iconic, having ushered in a new era of luxurious resort travel to Hawaii.

Kind firefighters to the rescue

September 14, 2022
Burning World Trade Center prior to total collapse (9/11/2001).

Last Sunday (September 11, 2022), “60 Minutes” broadcasted a special tribute to the fallen and injured firefighters, who sought to rescue people from the burning World Trade Center 21 years ago. It was a horrifying catastrophe when those towers collapsed into rubble, killing everyone trapped inside. And it’s all due to terrorist attacks against the USA.

Anyway, I bring this up, because on the same day that special was being broadcasted, David lost his balance and fell down after closing the trunk of the car, which was parked in our carport. It was so unexpected. I brought a chair so that he could hoist himself up, but to no avail. Other than a bruised shoulder and foot, he was not seriously injured.

I called 911 and requested a “lift and assist” by the Fire Department. Within minutes, two strong firefighters arrived and lifted David up and placed him in the chair. They then brought him his walker, and he was able to walk into the house. We thanked them for their kindness, and they departed for their next assignment.

This is not the first time the Fire Department has come to our home. They lifted David up several times over the past 2 years. They also lifted me up after I slipped and fell in the slippery bathtub while showering.

I have fallen at other times mainly due to tripping over a curb or speed bump. I just have to look where I am going. David, on the other hand, definitely has balance issues that physical therapy has failed to resolve. Getting old is not for sissies, is it?

Those firefighters are such amazing people. They’re definitely worth their weight in gold. What would we do without them?

A firefighter rescuing an elderly man from his burning house.

R.I.P. Queen Elizabeth II

September 12, 2022

I am deeply saddened by the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8, 2022, at the age of 96. I am glad, however, that she died peacefully with at least 2 of her children by her side, Charles and Anne.

She was such an extraordinary woman. She conducted herself with great tact and diplomacy, never abrasive nor rude. She was a kind and gracious lady, a role model for us all.

During her 70-year reign, she met almost all of the U.S. Presidents from Eisenhower to Biden. The only one she didn’t meet was Lyndon Johnson.

The Queen will be truly missed by everyone all over the world.

She is with her husband, Phillip, now, and all the angels in Heaven are singing her praises.

Tadashi Restaurant (Pearl Kai)

September 9, 2022

I last reviewed Tadashi Restaurant in 2008. It was time to revisit this fine restaurant, which is located in Pearl Kai Shopping Center on Kamehameha Highway in Aiea. There is ample free parking.

Tadashi is owned by Curtis Chanthabandith and his wife, Coreen. They have a Thai surname, so I am very impressed that they own and manage such a successful Japanese restaurant. I wish I knew where they got their training and what brought them to Hawaii.

This is Curtis Chanthabandith at his sushi bar:

This is Tadashi Restaurant:

Here we are:

We decided to skip the sushi, as we have it twice a week when we shop for groceries at Safeway Supermarket. We always buy delicious California Rolls at Safeway.

Instead, David and I ordered the New York Steak and Tempura Teishoku. (“Teishoku” is a Japanese word, meaning “complete meal.”)

Side dishes (Miso soup, Cold soba noodles, Pickled vegetables):

Rice, Salad, New York Steak:

Shrimp and vegetable tempura and Dipping sauce:

Dessert was Ume guava sorbet:

Overall, the food was very good. It was fresh and attractively presented. I especially enjoyed the miso soup, the tempura, and the sorbet!

On our way out, a customer stood up and opened the door for us so that we could walk out with our walkers. So nice of him to do this without being asked. It’s such a pleasure to live in Hawaii!