Friday, February 27, 2009

Birthday burger—mmm, mmm!

Food is very important in our office, and whenever it’s someone’s birthday, we go out to lunch to celebrate at the place of that person’s choice.

Lissa’s birthday is next Tuesday, but without even asking, I knew where she’d want to go: the newly opened Counter in Kahala Mall. She loves a good burger! Lucky for her, Kara and I graciously went last night, just to make sure things would be up to Lissa’s standards! Needless to say, they absolutely were—so I told Lissa to mark her calendar for lunch next week. I even called Mari and Mel to join us.

Well, as the morning progressed, Lissa announced, I’m hungry. Forget next week, I want to go now! I guess her stomach rules over her heart, because she didn’t even care that Mari and Mel couldn’t join us on such last-minute notice. So Kara, Melissa, Lissa and I dropped everything and headed out.

The place is pumping day and night. Fortunately we didn’t have too long a wait before we sat down to order. Lissa could not stop smiling!

Let me just say that as much as I love The Counter, I was not all that thrilled about going today. After all, my tummy was still recovering from last night’s hamburger, shoestring onion rings, fries and fixings!

The menu, for a first-timer, is pretty easy to grasp. You build your own burger. Pick your toppings from gourmet cheese to standard lettuce-tomato-onions to exotic shallots and homemade guacamole and dried cranberries.

We started off with the fifty-fifty combination of the sweet potato and regular French fries, and got a full order of the light, crispy and mouth-wateringly delicious shoestring onion rings—which can also be a topping for your burger, by the way.

Those delectables were almost gone by the time our burgers arrived. Birthday girl Lissa selected a pretty safe burger of grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce and tomatoes. Kara was a little more daring with her Gruyere cheese, shoestring onions, guacamole, honey-cured bacon and tomato. (Why don’t you just save yourself some time and pack it right on the hips?)

Melissa opted for the mushrooms, guacamole, sprouts and Gruyere with honey-mustard dipping sauce on the side. And I was trying to be good, in light of last night’s bacon cheeseburger, so I decided to try their turkey burger in a bowl over greens. I added some feta cheese, sautéed mushrooms, onions and tomatoes. It was good, but I have to admit, the beef burger with bacon was better!

We had a quick lunch because there were tons of people waiting for our table. Later, when Mari heard about the sinful thing we had done, she made sure to lecture Lissa about how it’s bad luck to celebrate your birthday early, so we’re just going to have to repeat the tradition all over again next week. That’s fine with me—let’s just not make it tomorrow!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An incredible home fashion show-and-tell

When I was asked to do a mini-workshop at Macy’s, I knew right away what I was going to teach. How I was going to teach it was another matter!

The topic of the evening would be shopping with focus, and how you can easily transform a bedroom, a bathroom, even a living room space on any budget. The exciting part was that the workshop would be on a special stage next to Macy’s Ala Moana’s fourth floor home department. What a dream come true for a local girl!

But that was exactly the challenge as well—I’d be right in the middle of the department store, meaning no PowerPoint images to illustrate my points as I would normally have. It was also theater seating—no tables, which make it easier for people to take notes.

I knew I had to do something completely different. Macy’s is known for fashion, so how about a fashion show for the home? Instead of models changing clothes, how about switching out onstage props? By changing clothes—whoops! I mean changing colors, textures and styles with bedding or towels or accessories, I’d change the look of three rooms!

About 100 people came on a Thursday night, and culinary students in chef’s whites circulated through the crowd with trays of fantastic pupus and non-alcoholic drinks. I felt bad that lots of people had to stand, but people were so nice and even gave up seats for each other.

I started out with bedrooms. ICI Paints was nice enough to paint 6x4’ poster boards in different colors to serve as my “walls.” Against purple and lavender shades called Pinot Noir and Wildflower, I showed how to create a beautiful plum-and-silver space in three different price points by changing bedding, pillows, lamps and accessories. And yes, I did use Bed in a Bag (but not just any Bed in a Bag—this was Martha Stewart’s line!).

Then I moved on to the bathroom. The point there was even if you’re stuck with white walls, you can create a spa-like bathroom or even an over-the-top diva glam bathroom by changing out textures and accessories like towels and soap holders.

I topped off the evening by transforming a living room from an island to a contemporary to an Asian look, all in five minutes, by changing paint colors and accessories.

Phew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. It was fun, fast and furious. When it was over, I thanked Macy’s Deena Nichols, who had invited me, for the opportunity. She made one of my childhood dreams come true—being part of a fashion show at Macy’s! All of this was not only fun, it was for a great cause. It was a free workshop, and we also raised some money for the American Heart Association.

And I have to give a high five to our fabulous crew, who came through as usual. Thank you to everybody who stopped in on a Thursday evening! Thank you, Macy’s! We had a ball!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines for your home

Roses, chocolate, perfume—all great gifts for Valentine’s Day. I hope you got (or got to give) some of these treats and that you had a fabulous Valentine’s Day yesterday!

This past week, as I was shopping for gifts for my big sweetie and my little sweetie, I came across some great Valentine-inspired ideas for the home. These are gifts you can even give yourself—and you can give them all year long!

The first I saw was an amazing glass vessel sink at The Kitchen Bath & Closet Showroom in Kilohana Square. It was red, of course, and would be just perfect for a hot, sexy, one-of-a-kind powder room. It was on a black granite counter, but really, you could put this atop almost anything. It was $690.

Paired with it was a stunning bronze faucet for $490. It would not be practical for a master bath that needs to be used constantly, but for a powder room it would be perfect.

Gifts that won’t break the bank: In Macy’s, I found a darling hand-painted glass votive by Kosta Boda for $65. This would be great on a vanity or bedside table to remind someone of your love all year long.

And how about the sweet smell of love? I found at Tori Richard at Ala Moana—yes, I do know they’re not a home store; can you tell I might have been shopping for an aloha shirt?—a Malie reed diffuser offering the scent of mango nectar. It smelled so yummy! That was $58.

Then finally, in Shirokiya of all places, a great gift that anyone can afford: a love mouse pad or coasters designed with cherry blossoms and the Japanese character for love. Either one is $10. Cute, affordable, a gift that speaks of the blossoming of love!

These are just some ideas that will keep the message of affection in your home all year round. So go out and treat yourself or someone you love!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Punahou Carnival—still a great ride

Boy, I must really be getting old. I remember when the thought of the Punahou Carnival would make me giddy with anticipation. But these days? Different thoughts come to mind—like the dread of looking for parking, the high prices, the lines for everything, and the heat and humidity.
But when you have a kid, what can you do but say Punahou Carnival, here we come!

So I put on my comfortable shoes, lathered up the sunscreen on myself, my daughter, Nicki, and her pal Keri, and off we went. My plan was to be there right as it opened at 11, to beat the big crowds and lines. I got there pretty close, at 11:30, but in no way did I beat the crowds and lines. It was just a sea of people.

The first thing the girls wanted to do was go on any and every ride they could get on. They both agreed that the Fireball was their absolute favorite. That’s the newer ride that goes upside-down and backward—insane! Looks like a lot of fun; didn’t try it. I took their word for it.
After we spent almost an hour between lines and rides—more lines than rides, by the way—we went into the game tent to get away from the heat. Can you believe $1 a dart? Gimme a break! But that ended up being their favorite game, because it was easy enough for two 9-year-olds to win some tiny teddy bears.
I was dying from hunger by this point. It was about 1:00. Time for another line! The girls were not interested. I wanted to try the gyros, the taco salad, the fried noodles, the teriburgers I used to enjoy. Unfortunately, all the girls wanted were malasadas. But hey, you can check out all the good eats at . This was the only way I could enjoy them!

Twenty minutes later, we got our malasadas. They were perfect, I have to admit. Thirty minutes may not have been worth it, but 20 minutes definitely were! We found a shady spot to sit and enjoy these mouth-watering treats.

Then it was back to more fun! We topped off our day with what the girls wanted from the moment they walked in. After all, what is a carnival without cotton candy? They each got their own cotton candy that was, seriously, bigger than their heads.

As we walked back to our $10 parking spot, it hit me once again how old I must be getting. I was hot, dehydrated, headachey and cranky. But seeing the smiles that Keri and Nicki could not wipe off their faces, and receiving their sweet, sticky kisses, I have to say it was worth the ride.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Macy’s, here we come!

Oops, I gave it away in the headline! I’ve been dying to share this with you for weeks, but everything was hush-hush while we worked out preliminary arrangements. Now I can tell you the BIG NEWS: Macy’s has invited us to put on a mini-workshop!

My first reaction was, are you kidding? Right in the middle of Macy’s Ala Moana?! That’s exactly how Deena Nichols, senior vice president of Macy’s West, suggested it, and let me tell you, there have been lots of excited little dances at our office since then!

So here’s the scoop: We’re having a free mini-workshop on the fourth floor, to the right of the home department, just off the escalator. They’re going to clear out some of the women’s apparel, build an 18x12-foot stage with backdrop, and set up 100 chairs for the audience. There’ll even be light refreshments!

I’ll be sharing tips on how to put together and layer colors and textures for a bedroom, a bathroom and yes, even a living room, all in the span of one hour. Those of you who know me know I can talk fast, and will actually cover all this. And of course it’s going to be fun!

Posters should be going up in the store by early next week. Macy’s has been incredible to work with, and we’re already talking about doing these sorts of events on a more regular basis.

Today was our first logistics meeting. Lissa, Kara, Melissa, Mel and I went over to scope things out with special events director Lavina Wong and say hello to Deena (in the red dress)

It just so happens that Macy’s is the platinum sponsor of the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Ball, and February is of course Heart Month. Since this mini-workshop is two days before the Heart Ball, I thought, why not make it a benefit for the American Heart Association? So anyone who makes a donation to AHA that evening will receive a free gift from RSVPstyle and Macy’s while supplies last.

The girls and I scoped out where the stage is going to be, figured out the logistics and then headed down to the Pineapple Room on the third floor for a yummy lunch, over which we continued brainstorming. Being creative always makes me hungry!

Lissa and I ordered the same thing (great minds think alike) the furikake ahi sandwich. It was sooo good! The ahi simply melted in your mouth, and the sauce—even though I’m not a big sauce-on-sandwich person—really complemented the furikake ahi. I opted for the fries; Lissa went for the wasabi potato salad. The salad was good, but I’ve gotta have fries with my sandwich—I’m a salty-crunchy girl all the way!

Mel chose the specialty burger, and both Kara and Melissa had the kim chee Reuben. As much as I’m a Reuben fan, I have to say my ahi sandwich was still better. Kara, however, couldn’t quite decide.

After lunch we went back for more logistics planning, and we’re not done yet. There’s a lot to plan for, and it’s going to be an exciting event, a lot of fun for a good cause, and even in an hour, I believe we will get people started in training their eye for design. Hope you can join us!

What: Learn to Shop with Focus: A FREE Mini-Workshop with RSVPstyle
Where: Macy’s Ala Moana, Fourth Floor Home Department
Date: Thursday, February 19
Time: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.