Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry, merry Christmas!

Hope you are enjoying the holidays and all the festivities that go along with it. I know it can be a stressful time for many, and yes, it has been for the Lee family as wellHoliday traditions are great, from baking and delivering Christmas cookies to decorating the tree (Nicki is still waiting to put the star on the very top, but Daddy says she’s getting too heavy to lift that far up). If you’re like our family, those traditions include a family Christmas photo.

Since Nicki was born 10 years ago, Darrell and I decided that every Christmas, we’d take a family photo so Nicki and family and friends can see how she’s grown from a baby into a young lady.

With me being the Type A perfectionist, this has evolved into a full-scale production. Now friends and family say they look forward to seeing what we’re going to do that’s new and different from the year before. That’s great, but it adds a whole new level of holiday stress!

This year I turned to Dr. Jon Yoshimura, who happens to be one of our experts. You’ll find him at He’s an amazing cosmetic dentist with an eye for beauty and detail. His other professional passion is fashion photography, and he’s done some headshots for me that I loved.

purple sweater

My concept this year was to do a glamorous, blinged-out, stylish card with a very simple, sweet, reflective message. Darrell, Nicki and I went to Jon’s studio armed with props—you know me, the homestyler! I brought in an area rug and a red-hot lounge chair along with the fake red gladiolas that sit on my desk, and the three of us dressed in black and bling.


In this image, Jon is taking a picture from atop a ladder so that the area rug becomes part of the background. I wanted the rug’s black-and-white pattern to almost serve as a retro backdrop, and the red to be the pop of color. John simply added a black cloth backdrop, and that was all we needed for a cool, contemporary, totally hot look!

As for the simple message, here it is:

I thought I’d share with you just a couple more favorites from years past. When Nicki was 5, we took a black-and-white photo on beach near the Kahala Hotel. An artist hand-painted Nicki’s grass skirt and I got little coconut shells for her bikini top. The effect was very simple and it felt like old Hawaii.


One of Darrell’s favorites was done two years after. My concept for this was our family all connected and holding hands, lying in a bed of rose petals. It was black and white again, with the color coming from the red petals.

It’s a labor of love coming up with the concept, finding the props and composing a special message. Darrell and Nicki are great sports to go along with Mom’s crazy ideas, but in the end they’re happy with it, it creates great memories for our family, and it’s something to share with others. Now I have a whole nother year to plan the next one!

Merry Christmas! Hope you’re enjoying your family’s holiday traditions!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A special kind of shopping


A few days ago, Lissa, Kara and I took our girls, Megan, Keri and Nicki, to the mall—not just for ordinary Christmas shopping, but for a very special shopping trip. The three girls are Christmas angels for the Children’s Alliance, a non-profit that helps sexually abused children who are taken out of their homes.

The Children’s Alliance runs programs to help the kids regain their self-esteem and create stable home environments for them. They post info to alert and educate people about signs of possible sexual abuse in kids. And during the holidays they find a Christmas angel for each child, who gets to make three Christmas gift wishes totaling up to $50. Kara has served on the board of directors of this amazing charity and has been doing this with Keri for years, and we thought it would be great to let Megan and Nicki become Christmas angels too.

shopping 1

Since Christmas angels don’t meet their kids, we requested children of about the same ages as ours to help them identify better as they chose their gifts. Nicki is 10 and her child is a 9-year-old girl named Jiana. Here’s what Nicki has to say about the experience:

“It makes you feel good inside about what you’re doing. I never guessed how little she wanted—stickers, a Roxy shirt and a board game. If it was me, I would have asked for a Wii game. ”

shopping 2

I loved that the girls really took this mission to heart. They took tons of time really shopping for their child. They worked together and helped each other, asking, How about this? Do you think she’ll like that? Nicki kept saying how she really wanted something special for Jiana to open up on Christmas morning.

That whole afternoon was a selfless activity—no shopping for themselves, just strictly a time to think of other kids.

Kara says that the Children’s Alliance found a Christmas angel for each and every child this year, but there are many other ways that you can help throughout the year. For more information on this wonderful charity, go to

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Here's thinking outside the box!

One of our RSVPstyle experts, broker extraordinaire Kay Mukaigawa of Primary Properties, decided to hold a sunset broker’s open at one of her mega-listings on Kahala Avenue.

How to attract nearly 100 Realtors and brokers to this event? Have a fashion show! Even more creative thinking: Kay’s models were Realtors from a variety of companies. Six in all graced the runway—oops, I mean staircase and hallway!

Fun, flirtatious and funky fashions were provided by In My Closet in Kahala Mall. The jewelry was by Riches, the fabulous accessory kiosk in the same mall, and the shoes were provided by Stuart Weitzman in Ala Moana Center.

And to make it all come together, Kay needed an emcee with a big mouth and a passion for fashion, so of course she asked moi. It was a lot of fun. Everybody noshed on appetizers, enjoyed the fashion show and took in the beautiful Mediterranean-style home, with its handmade wrought iron railings, movie theater, luxurious master bedroom and guest suites and waterfall and swimming pool.

Here’s a sneak peek at this fabulous $6.5 million house:

I had a blast getting the girls to work that runway, and even I was outfitted and had the accessories to boot, so of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to strut my stuff too! A beautiful setting, fun and fashion—what a great combination!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Attention, Hawaii: HGTV needs our help!

If you’d like to see some Hawaii homes on an upcoming episode of HGTV’s Bang for Your Buck, contact them right away! Cyndi, who’s in charge of tasking for the show, tracked me down through our website and asked me to help put the word out. She told me they’re on a very tight deadline. They’re coming to shoot in the third week of January, and they need three rooms that have been remodeled in the last year.

The show compares three similar-budget remodels of the same type of room to see which does the best job in increasing the property’s value. In other words, their professional designer determines whether the homeowners got a lot of bang for their buck!

Yeah, I know you think all your rooms are great, but they’re specifically looking for rooms that flow from kitchen to dining to family room—basically an open space that serves more than one purpose. The remodel budgets need to be within the $40,000 to $200,000 range.

I think they’re a little desperate here, folks, so we need to help them out. If Cyndi can’t find some rooms, they’re going to another state!

It’ll be fun to do and it’ll be great for putting Hawaii in front of millions of potential tourist eyes also. So if you’d like to be on TV and see your room on TV, you can get more information at or contact Cyndi directly at (303) 712-3177 or