Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from Cathy Lee and RSVPstyle!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ooh la la! A working mom’s dream come true

Let me set the stage—or should I say table? It’s December, work is hectic as always and the schedule is jam-packed with holiday prep and activities for kids and adults. In the midst of all this craziness, a dear friend treated Darrell, Nicki and me to an unforgettable evening of total indulgence: she sent a chef to prepare a meal just for us!

Aline Steiner of A Table Hawaii came over to discuss the menu and scope out our kitchen, and then she was off. Meanwhile, because we were eating outside, I kept things simple. I cut some monstera leaves and areca palm fronds, and our centerpiece was a candle Nicki had made atop a ceramic plate she made four Christmases ago.

The Mediterranean feast that Aline cooked up in our kitchen that evening was amazing. Words simply cannot do it justice, so I’ll keep them to a minimum and let the photos do most of the talking.
Caption1: Trio of bruschetta, perfectly crisped, with shaved parmeggiano, yellow cherry tomato and mozzarella cheese. This was just the beginning!

Caption2: Fresh salad of market greens with fennel, slivered apples and pecans in a shallot vinaigrette—sweet, tart, crisp and so refreshing!

Caption3: Herb-crusted lamb chops. As Aline made the rub, she left a lot of fresh basil leaves on the side—if it was bruised or damaged, it didn’t go in. Also a vegetable Provencale, ratatouille style, with drizzles of syrupy balsamic. Darrell was sucking on the bones, it was so good!

Caption4: Mushroom risotto—moist and cheesy, mushrooms perfectly cooked. Exactly what a risotto should be.

Caption5: Homemade vanilla and rosewater-scented crème brulee. Nicki licked her bowl clean, then finished what was left in mine.

Aline was great—she let Nicki help her with dessert (now my daughter wants to be a sous chef!) and served us each course. It felt like an evening of fine dining right in our back yard!

It was over the top, a wonderful way to spend great family time at home—having someone else come and cook (and not even let me in the kitchen) and then clean up afterward!If you want to experience this indulgence, you can contact Aline at Your tummy will thank you!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My second baby—it was worth the wait!

What pain, what joy, what relief! After all this time, my second baby, RSVPstyle’s Starter Set, is in the delivery room—whoops, I mean in the bookstores!

Just as when people say about a child—oh my goodness, yesterday you were a baby and now you’re all grown up!—today when I walked into Borders at Ward Centre and saw our Starter Set on the shelf, I was filled with so much emotion. People have no idea how long it actually took to film that 3½-hour DVD series and write the accompanying book. The whole time we were writing scripts, building sets, shooting, doing post-production, and writing and editing the book, we were also building a website, designing products, organizing full-day workshops and just building the foundation of our company. I flashed back to all the joy and pain of those lo-o-ong months.

It took so long that… sometimes when shooting was interrupted for weeks by other priorities, I’d show up to continue the same scene and James, our director, would say, don’t tell me you got a haircut! Other times my hair was suddenly lighter, or longer, or fluffier. It drove James crazy. But hey, there’s no budget for a hairstylist on set!

It took so long that… by the time someone caught a faux pas I made and we decided to reshoot, the house we’d been using as a set had been sold! But in addition to not being one to really follow rules (or scripts), I’m also a perfectionist. So we got permission, restaged the set, hauled in the truckload of equipment and the full crew, and reshot the segment. (What was the faux pas? I said Sir Isaac Newton first saw the spectrum of colors when he shot a beam of light through a prism. Hel-LO! No flashlights in the 17th century!)

It took so long that… well, instead of reliving every moment, let me just sum up by saying that those seven long months sure were worth it!

Standing in Borders today, looking at our Starter Set on the shelves, Lissa and I high-fived and whooped it up right there in the aisles. We truly felt like proud parents, our little baby standing all grown up with all the other books and DVDs at Borders (and Barnes and Noble too, by the way!).

Just don’t ask us when we’re doing this again!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Decorating Can Be Delicious

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?

We had the first shift in the morning, and I noticed that Nicki was putting one marshmallow shingle onto her roof and the next into her mouth. Pretty soon all of us were eating almost as much candy as was going onto the houses. We were the last ones to finish, and boy, what a mess our table was! There were bags of candy and cookies and gumdrops all over the place. I sure am glad we didn’t have to clean up!
Even with all that snacking, we were starving by lunchtime, so it was on to Bucca di Beppo, where we ordered for the girls spaghetti and manicotti and for us, eggplant parmigiana, penne basilica, a Caesar’s salad and my favorite, the garlic cheesebread—mmm, mmm! Greasy and cheesy to the last crumb, it was delicious!
What made it extra special was the over-the-top Italian theme, with the blown-up pictures of Sophia Loren and in the Pope’s Room where we ate, the bust of the pope in the middle of the table. Gotta love that focal point!

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

Ho ho ho!

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 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

An Evening with Michael Jordan

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!