Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hello from the happiest place on earth!

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A great day (phew!)

Yesterday was a day of traditions and good wishes. As Nicki and I walked into the Hawaiian Humane Society for a Brownie troop outing, I made her promise that she would not beg me, as she usually does, to let her adopt a pet. With our busy schedules, we just cannot give a pet the time it needs and deserves.

The Girl Scouts are steeped in tradition, Nicki’s favorite of which is the annual cookie drive. That’s why we were at the Humane Society—the troop was donating their cookie proceeds. That was followed by another tradition: each of the girls, including Lissa’s daughter Megan and Kara’s daughter Keri, brought a canned good for the Salvation Army, which is putting together holiday food baskets for needy families. Two good deeds: hooray Brownies!
And then the girls were unleashed for what they had been waiting for all day: playing with the animals! There was the cat house, where they played with adorable cats and kittens, and the line of dog kennels with puppies to seniors up for adoption. Nicki, Megan and Keri made sure to read every sign and call every dog by name.

There was one special pooch who stole their hearts. Her name was Emily, a 5-year-old mixed breed who we were allowed to take into the getting acquainted tent. Emily patiently sat while the girls rubbed behind her ears and lavished her with love and attention. What I dreaded happened soon enough: “PLEASE, Mom, I’ll do anything! Why can’t we adopt Emily?”

Just in the nick of time, the loudspeaker announced that the Humane Society was closing in five minutes. So then began the final tradition—the friendship circle, where Brownies clasp hands and each girl makes a wish, then squeezes the hand of the next girl to signal that it’s now her turn. Our wishes canceled each other out: I knew Nicki’s wish was to adopt Emily; mine was that Emily would find a wonderful home. I’m sure the Humane Society will make that wish come true!

For more information on any of these organizations, check out their websites:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving back always comes back to you

This afternoon as I was straightening out my desk, I came across a thank you card I’d received a couple weeks ago from some teachers who attended our Invitation to Design workshop in October. Reading their really sweet and sincere note made me smile: just as our moms always said, it’s always good to do good, and you’ll get it back tenfold in return. The person who came to mind at that moment was Dr. Lawrence Tseu.

A few weeks prior to our workshop, I spoke to Dr. Tseu, an old friend and just someone I’ve admired over the years for his incredible generosity. Dr. Tseu was Philanthropist of the Year for the state of Hawaii in 2007. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.

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.

‘Deserving’? That was easy. I picked up the phone and invited a few teachers from my daughter, Nicki and Lissa’s daughter, Megan’s school. After all, who’s more deserving than the people who are educating our kids?
They were thrilled. They came, had a great time and sent me this beautiful card along with a note they sent to Dr. Tseu as well.

In our conversation, Dr. Tseu did tell me that helping others is all about helping without recognition, and he wanted no recognition. He even told me to tell the people I chose for his table that the tickets were from me. I said absolutely not, I want people to know what a wonderful and generous man you are!

And now you know!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I’m hungry—let’s go shopping! Part 2

A few months ago, I blogged about some of my favorite places to find something good to eat after working up an appetite from shopping. Now I have a few more yummy finds for you!

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.

Just downstairs is Matters of Taste, a bistro-type café that has sandwiches, salads, specials like the fish of the day, and pastas. But my main reason for going there has to be their carrot cake. In my opinion it’s the best on the island—if you have a better suggestion, you let me know! To me, it’s not carrot cake if it doesn’t have a crunch. Theirs is moist and sweet, the carrot has great texture and the walnuts offer just the right amount of crunch, and the cream cheese frosting is to die for. It’s just over-the-top decadent!

My latest shopping-eating discovery is right opposite Kahala Mall on Waialae Avenue. I was at Honolulu Lights and came across this amazing fixture that I thought was so fun, especially after I found out the name: Confusion! It certainly does look confused, it’s fun and fanciful and definitely would make a statement in any room. This was a bit pricey, but Honolulu Lights has a wide array of affordable fixtures starting from $100—pendant lights, sconces, great accent lighting as well as task lighting.

Then a light bulb went off in my head: hey, how about some lunch! Right next door is Chin’s, where Tony Roma’s used to be. The plum tree beef was what the waiter recommended—lightly fried beef with a sweet plum sauce over it. The green tea shrimp on bamboo net looked absolutely amazing. It tasted great too, but I would have preferred it without the shells—too much effort for lunch! And finally, my favorite, the Chinese broccoli with dried baby fish. The broccoli was sautéed perfectly, with a delicate sauce, and the dried baby fish was fried and sprinkled on top to give it a nice salty crunch. Mmm-mm delicious!

OK, just looking at all these pictures is making me hungry. I guess it’s time to go shopping again! Let me know some of your favorite shopping-eating combos—I’d love to add them to my list!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

So did your favorite win?

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

Time to cut loose!

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.

An hour later, devilish diva Lissa, radical rocker Kara, cutesy cheerleader Melissa and Hannah Montana Lee were getting lots of laughs and comments as we walked toward Primary Properties’ offices, and we cracked up everyone there too. But what we were all eyeing were the sweet treats. They had all kinds, lots homemade, like the ghost cookies and the red velvet spider cupcakes. They were all ghoulishly good!

Can you believe that Oprah herself was there to interview me?! But that darn Madonna kept trying to steal my limelight!

It was a hilarious, spur-of-the-moment day, but the best part was when we picked up our girls from school. Even in the drive-by pickup line, they could see their moms were different. Their eyes got big as saucers as they took in the wigs, bright makeup and costumes. Lesson of the day: Halloween’s not just for kids!

Here’s hoping all of you out there had a Happy Halloween!