Thursday, December 25, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
This past Sunday was a real sweet treat: the RSVPstyle big and little girls headed out to the Blaisdell Center for the Easter Seals’ 9th annual Gingerbread Family Festivals. This was our third year decorating the houses with our girls, but the first year we came loaded with bags and bags of candies and treats to add texture and decorating style. After all, that is part of our business—we gotta start our girls out young, right?
The big and little girls had a great time decorating and eating in style. But I have to say, after all the carbs and refined sugar, boy oh boy, I already know what my New Year’s resolution is going to be!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The holidays are here, and that means it’s time to think about gift-giving! It was also time for me to think about what to do for my KITV segment this week. I decided to share some great gift ideas for the home.
I showed up on the set bright and early as usual at 6 a.m. with a few surprises for Mahealani and Dan. I decided we should be a little festive—it is the season, isn’t it? So I brought cute reindeer ears for Mahealani and me and a surprise hat for Dan!
I started out by showing them a recent discovery. For those who still have shoeboxes full of photos or collections of photo CDs and memory cards, why not turn those precious memories into a special, one-of-a-kind book for Christmas? Wouldn’t this be a great gift for grandparents, or for a family reunion? I found these at a local company, Valenti Print Group. Their custom photo books start at around $30—affordable, practical, memorable, and it looks beautiful on the coffee table!
Next, if you want to splurge and really do something special for someone, how about an antique Chinese wedding basket? This is an Asian accessory that adds an understated yet sophisticated flair to any Island-Asian room. As a gift, you just open it up and place some potpourri inside, and you have a gift basket—easy, beautiful, fabulous! I found both at C.S. Wo: basket for $75 and the gorgeous potpourri for less than $25.
Something a bit more affordable? I love the whimsy of these cupped hands holding tea lights. A fun accessory for a powder room, foyer or even your desk. It’s perfect for the holidays because you could display them with some scented or holiday colored candles, but the piece itself is not holiday-themed, so can be used throughout the year. And it’s only $33 from HomeWorld.
Finally, a really amazing gift that’ll be available for the first time in bookstores: RSVPstyle’s affordable Starter Set! Wow, what a great idea (hee-hee)! It’s $69, three how-to DVDs and a training guide book with fun lessons and tips on home design and décor on any budget. It could save you thousands in mistakes you’ll avoid, plus add value to your home. It’ll be available at Borders from next Wednesday, and in other bookstores shortly after.
The segment wrapped up with my final gift: the holiday hat on Dan’s head, which magically came to life! For a full appreciation of what I’m talking about, you have to check out the video at http://www.rsvpstyle.com/. It was hilarious! People on the set couldn’t stop laughing once the cameras stopped rolling.
We had a ball, another fun segment. Hope I gave you some special gift ideas for the homestyler you love!
Monday, December 1, 2008
No, I’m not talking about the Michael Jordan of Chicago Bulls or Hanes underwear fame! Better than that, I’m talking about Michael A. Jordan, host extraordinaire of Napa Rose, the premier restaurant at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.
Darrell, Nicki and I were at Disneyland to celebrate Thanksgiving weekend with Mickey Mouse and all of his friends. Daytime activities were all about Nicki, from roller coasters to cotton candy and silly stuffed animals with mouse ears. But evenings were a treat for Darrell and me, with the amazing cuisine of Napa Rose right in our hotel.
Our old friend Michael Jordan is the general manager and master sommelier of Napa Rose, which was voted “Most Popular Restaurant” in Orange County in Zagat’s 2008 survey. Many people will remember Michael from Matteo’s restaurant, which his family owned. We enjoyed an incredible Thanksgiving feast at Napa Rose, and Michael invited us back on Friday, this time to be a part of his weekly live radio broadcast, which he does right out of Napa Rose to inspire people about wine.
On Friday evening we walked in, and I was totally shocked when someone yelled, “Is that Cathy Lee?”
Lo and behold, it was Clint Schroeder, advertising guru for the Honolulu Advertiser, having some Disney fun with his friends! We got a kick talking about what a small world we live in. Then I joined Michael at a broadcast table covered with microphones, headsets and bottles of wine.
Michael’s guests included Tony Lombardi of Ascentia Wine Estates and Michael Horn, president and CEO of CRN Digital Talk Radio. When he told me they reach 25 million households in 250 markets in the U.S., I had to have a gulp of one of the wines to start the interview.
It was lots of fun. Michael interviewed me about our new Starter Set coming out in bookstores and what we do at RSVPstyle, so I tied it into their wine show and said hey, just as Michael educates people so they can expand their palates, we inspire and educate people so they feel more confident when they’re out there looking for furniture, finishes and accessories.
Phew! The show ended with high fives and we headed to the dining room. Joining us was Tracy Rafter, principal of the Rafter Group, former publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News and a really fun gal to talk to. Mike, being the incredible host that he is, arranged an unforgettable dinner that began with sautéed, hand-harvested scallops made with a sauce of lemon, lobster and Tahitian vanilla. Oh my God, it just melted in your mouth! I think we licked the plate clean.
Then we had the duck meatballs with pumpkin fettuccine and roasted shallots in a sage duck sauce. Duck meatballs? Dare I saw they tasted like chicken? Just kidding—they were delicious! I don’t know that I really tasted duck, all I know is they were exquisite!
We had to have the steak (because of all the amazing red wine, more coming right up)—a grilled petite fillet mignon of Angus beef. And finally, for dessert, a warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream, and yes, it tasted even better than it looked.
As only a master sommelier could, Michael introduced us to some absolutely fantastic wines, like the 2000 Domaine de la Romanee Conti St. Vivant, which is a mouthful! It’s a pinot noir. We also had a ‘96 Chateau Petrus and an ‘82 Leoville las Cases. They were refined, elegant yet complex—just a few of the words I heard around the table. My words? Absolutely delish!
We just about had to be rolled out of that restaurant. It was a wonderful evening with an old friend and meeting new ones. Nicki was an angel throughout. After that feast she still wanted a snack, and only Mickey Mouse would do! Boy, did this night live up to Disneyland’s billing—this really is the happiest place on earth!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Hope you all enjoyed your turkey feast with all the trimmings! I’m sure many of you even ate it outdoors in Hawaii’s beautiful weather while this local girl is freezing her butt off in Anaheim, California. With highs in the mid-60s and lows in the high 40s, brrr, it’s WAY too cold for me!
But hey, the holidays are all about the kids. Darrell, Nicki and I are enjoying a much-needed vacation in the happiest place on earth—for kids, that is—Disneyland! I’m having a great time and riding roller coasters til my head is spinning, so I’m going to keep this one short.
Despite a year that’s been crazy-busy with work, there’s so much to be thankful for. I’m thankful that the people I love are healthy and happy. I’m thankful to be surrounded by amazing friends and colleagues. I’m thankful for you, all of you who’ve been there with us, for us, encouraging us on. And I’m thankful that I get to live this wonderful life in Hawaii—where I hope you all are basking under a warm sun, surrounded by bountiful food and lots of love and good things today.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Dr. Tseu told me he has been watching the growth of our company and would love to come to our workshop, but was unable to attend. Instead, he wanted to purchase a table for others. I said well are you sure you want to do this? He said I want to support you, and I know the people who would be at the table would enjoy your show, and I want to be a part of that. He said, Cathy, just give the tickets to some deserving people who could benefit from being there.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
If you’re in need of new cushions, window treatments or just something fabulous to re-cover a piece of furniture, IDS is the place to go. International Design Source is on the second floor of the Gentry Pacific Center. They have everything from sumptuous fabrics to fantastic wall coverings and draperies and even some furniture and accessories. But the main reason to go is for fabric, and lots of it. I could spend hours in there looking for just the right zebra print, faux fur, or amazing sheer for a window panel.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
No, I’m not talking about the election, silly, I’m talking about Top Design! I just finished watching the finale and it was a doozie! I hope I’m not spoiling it for you if you Tivoed and plan to watch later.
I’m so excited because my early fave, Nathan, won the title and in my opinion was totally deserving. The final challenge was incredibly daunting. It was to design and fully furnish a townhouse, about four rooms, in just a matter of days. As Ondine says, it normally takes her up to a year to do an entire house—this was absolutely insane. But of course this is made for TV, so there needed to be stress and trauma-drama, and I’m sure we only saw a fraction of it.
So where do I even begin to give you a recap? Let’s start with Preston, or as the judges called him, Perfect Preston. He’s won a number of challenges with his perfectly polished, pristine design style and execution. His rooms all looked finished and were styled impeccably: clean, masculine, subtle, elegant, but ultimately a little too safe for the judges.
Ondine completely surprised me. Throughout the season, her designs have been quite erratic. She’s done a few great things but a lot of times she found herself in the bottom two. I was surprised when she made the final three and was completely wowed. Her rooms were playful, original, and I loved her pink, black and white room—it was fresh and fun and really looked like a room you would want to hang out in. It was a space that put you in a good mood—isn’t that what design is all about?
And finally, Nathan. Truly a talent. Many of his rooms, you could totally see them being photographed for Architectural Digest or Elle Décor, which is one of the prizes he won. His style is controlled, wild creativity. He was fearless. When I saw him dripping paint on a canvas, I thought, oh my God, that is so brilliant, it’s going to be amazing. It was such a simple thing, but it made such a huge impact in the room, and the judges loved it.
The other room that I really enjoyed was his office, where he chose some quirky pictures to put up on the wall—Jonathan Adler called them ex-boyfriend pictures. It was so out of the box and something you would never think of, but seeing it made you smile, and it spoke to his talent and fearlessness.
One of the things I hated about this show is how they bring back contestants who were just kicked off, like Eddie. Gag me, he was so obnoxious that I was glad to see him leave last week, and then to expect him and everybody else who just got booted off to help the others who are still around goes back to more trauma-drama. But that’s television!
So it’s a new day. We have a new president, and bravo! We have a new top designer!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Anyone who knows me knows I'm a planner. My Halloween plans have been in place for a long time. After weeks of insane hours leading up to our big workshop last weekend, the big girls would work a well-deserved short day and then pick up our little girls from school. We had a party to go to and Nicki and I had our costumes weeks ago—we were going to be matching Skull Fairies, with black dresses, wings, skulls and bones around our necks and daggers dripping with blood. (No, I'm not that creative, we bought these at Price Busters!)
But Halloween came a little early! Lissa, Kara, Melissa and I were working when we got a call from Kay of Primary Properties inviting us to their Halloween party. Tough decision: work? Or eat, play and dress up? Quick thinking: no meetings, no deadlines. It took us all of 30 seconds to shut down the computers.
Give me a break, it usually take me days, if not weeks to plan one costume, and now I had to think of four. Lissa ran home to get her devil costume from last year, and I went to my daughter's bedroom for inspiration. I found her Hannah Montana wig and her Barbie guitar from a few Christmases ago. Then I dug up my old high school cheerleader uniform and pompoms for Melissa, and took out my skull necklace and wings for Kara to go with a wig that Lissa brought.
Here’s hoping all of you out there had a Happy Halloween!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
To my amazement, there were 75 people standing in line before the doors opened at 8:15. We set up for 320 attendees, and we even had to bring in another table. In today’s economy, we were thrilled that so many people decided to spend most of their Saturday and their hard-earned money to attend.
The energy from the audience was amazing—everyone really seemed focused and ready to learn. Early on I talked about putting textures and patterns together, then gave people a chance to work with their tables to try their hand at it. It was great to see how excited and involved everyone was. But that involvement is always heightened when there’s a prize on the line.
Friday, October 17, 2008
You have no idea! Lissa and I just got our federal trademark registration for RSVPstyle in the mail this week. Thank you, United States Patent and Trademark Office! Yahoo! It's been almost a year and a half in the making.
We went to godaddy.com. It's the biggest domain name registrar in the world, and sure enough, IDesignNetwork.com wasn't taken. All set! We registered it, printed business cards, and got ready to open for business.
Even though we had registered IDesignNetwork.com, if anyone else was already using that name, even if they didn't own the dot com, they could potentially sue us. Come on, IDesignNetwork?! OK. Back to our search.
Every time we came up with a name, we would immediately check Go Daddy to see if there was a dot com. Nine point nine times out of 10, our brilliant idea was already taken. So we started grabbing any name we could think of and registering it before anyone else could—we’d grab the dot com first, think about it later. After all, each dot com only cost a few dollars.
So, what’s catchy? What words would set us apart? How would the name look in advertising? To give you an idea of how all over the map we were, how hard our brains were working, and how stymied we got, we were blowing through names like jewelboxhome.com, koahouse.com, mydesignnetwork.com and indeconet.com. Let me tell you, about $500 later we were still searching!
Finally, in frustration, we took a cue from the founders of Apple, who at the end of their own agonizing name search said that if they could not come up with a name by the following day, they would just name their company Apple. We said if we cannot come up with a name, we'll just name our company TheBrownChair. And you know what? The more we thought about it, hey, brownchair.com, that's kind of catchy! We like that! Let's get the dot com!
Can you believe brownchair.com was taken?
Four months later and counting, I decided to go back to the drawing board. OK, Cathy, think out of the box. We're not going to get any name that has home or decorating, they’re all taken.
I started just rattling off ideas. We're fun, we're inclusive, almost like a party, and we want to invite everybody to join in. Invitation, party, how about RSVP? And whatever we’re going to do, we're going to do with style. That’s it! RSVPstyle!
And guess what? We got the dot com, sent in for our trademark, and now, almost a year and a half later, we can officially use the magic trademark stamp. We're now truly legit and we have the mark to prove it.
After all that angst, I could honestly say I would give up my daughter's name before our company’s!
Monday, October 13, 2008
No, Wisit—as in the latest contestant kicked off Bravo’s reality TV show Top Design. As judge Jonathan Adler says, Wisit is absolutely j’adorable. He has such a sweet quality and talent in his own style—what did he call it? Timeless design. Wisit has a special elegance about him, a look of gracious self-consciousness, eyes downcast, very geisha-like. He is multitalented, trained in art history, fashion design and interior design, and to top it off, he is an opera singer—and a fairly good one, at that!
But unfortunately, he has no talent when it comes to eco-friendly design. Last week’s challenge was to redesign an office for an environmental consulting firm. Wisit, eco-friendly? Going green? I don’t think so. Mr. Frou-frou Flamboyant wanted no part of this challenge, choosing instead to stick to his own preferences and showing complete ignorance of green materials and sensibilities. And sure enough, he found himself in the bottom two with Natalie.
Bottom line was, Wisit wanted to do what Wisit wanted to do, and all in all, his room was quite boring.
But I have to say, when the final curtain came down and Wisit was told that the judges could not live with his design, it was a very sad moment for all of television-land. And as the credits rolled and he sang his final aria, I shed a tear for poor Wisit.
That’s the bad news. Wisit’s gone. The good news is, I heard that they’re auditioning for Madame Butterfly (joke!).
Friday, October 10, 2008
Forget Michael Phelps. I know who should be on the cover of the next Wheaties box: Perry and Price! The state of Hawaii has been waking up and having breakfast with these two pros for the last 25 years, can you believe it? When it comes to the breakfast of champions, they take the cake—or the pancake, hahaha! (I crack myself up!)
This past weekend, I had a chance to be interviewed on Perry and Price’s live Saturday morning broadcast from John Dominis. Kara, Lissa and I were there bright and early. We noticed a very rowdy bunch of people wearing these funny red hats. When I took a closer look, they had shrimp on their heads! They were from Turtle Bay Resort, promoting the Seafood Festival that’s coming up. I thought that was really cute.