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5 things we love

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 1:41 a.m. HST, May 20, 2011

Chocolate with crunch

A favorite stop for visitors to Hilo is Big Island Candies on Hinano Street for confections either as omiyage or to take home and enjoy. Now they can also pick up chocolate manju — a crisp, buttery pastry filled with melt-in-your-mouth dark chocolate, discovered during my recent assignment to cover the Merrie Monarch Festival. A 6-ounce box with eight wrapped pieces sells for $8. Visit — Nina Wu

A truly satisfying cup of tea

Over the past 70 years I have started each day with a cup of coffee. My Welsh daughter insists tea is better for my health and has sent me just about every kind of tea on the market. She finally won me over with Adagio Chestnut Tea, described on the tin as containing "black tea, sunflower petals, chestnut flavour." It's a wonderful drink. Like my coffee, I drink it without cream or sugar. Dieters will love it because it doesn't leave you wanting more, nor wanting crumpets — or anything else. It just leaves you satisfied! The tea costs $6 for 15 teabags, or $2 to $15 for loose leaf tea. Buy it online at www.adagio. com/holidays/chestnut.html. — Rico Leffanta, Honolulu

Mini pirates sail the plastic seas

I have to admit I never really bought into the whole "Pirates of the Caribbean" phenomenon — saw the first movie, thought it was OK, haven't had any pressing desire to see any of the films since. But Lego playsets, released in time for "On Stranger Tides"? Why, yes, I'll happily accept a Capt. Jack Sparrow minifigure, thank you very much. The series has eight sets, from the small Captain's Cabin to the giant ship Queen Anne's Revenge, priced from $15 to more than $100, and all including a figure of the good captain. You can find those sets wherever Legos are sold. Or on my desk. (I'm a sucker for cute collectibles.) — Jason S. Yadao

Searchable Civil War history

It began as a project to document the service of black or "colored" soldiers in the American Civil War so their names could be listed on a monument. It has since grown into the mammoth Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, administered by the National Park Service, an online library of the 6.3 million service records of everyone involved in the conflict. That means you can find your Civil War ancestor's military record in the easy-to-use online database at

It was 150 years ago that South Carolina, having already seceded from the Union, declared war on the North by firing on Fort Sumter. Thanks to the Soldiers and Sailors System, I discovered that one of my ancestors, Napoleon B. Burlingame, served with the 10th Regiment of the Missouri Cavalry throughout their campaign in the west. And survived. — Burl Burlingame

Fabulous photo features, for free

I love free stuff. At photo-sharing websites and, you can fill your home with personalized products with the steady stream of free offers the companies send out. I've gotten free address labels, photo mugs, mouse pads, collages and dozens of photo books and cards. Just sign up for a free account and wait for the companies to lure you back to their websites with do-it-yourself gifts. Make sure you read all the way to the bottom of the emails, where the free offers usually reside. To be fair, you usually need to pay shipping charges, but they are minimal, especially measured against the joy of a thankful grandparent. — Donica Kaneshiro

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