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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pregnant nun, cross-dressing gangsta: Who are these people??

Seen any great musicals lately? I did, this past weekend: the Gridiron by the Society of Professional Journalists. The theme was “Doing Less with Less”—we all know what that means! It was hilarious and I’m still laughing!

Of course I have a soft spot for KITV’s Mahealani Richardson, who is in her eighth month of pregnancy. She was singing and dancing her little but off (and boy, that butt is growing—just kidding, Mahea!). She spent a lot of time in a nun’s habit—pretty hilarious, a pregnant nun, she kept blessing herself and rubbing her tummy!

pregnant mahea

Here’s a backstage photo of her with Justin Cruz, who was also really good. I never knew he could sing and sashay so well!

One of the highlights was Dan Cooke’s impersonation of Linda Lingle, always a crowd favorite! My favorite bit was when Dan did a rap called “Lindalicious,” a takeoff on a song from Fergie, while dressed up in risqué black bondage outfit. It was the combination of his makeup, his outfit, his rap (I was amazed at the natural gangsta that came out of him!) that proved just how well he can combine being a female impersonator and a gangsta rapper all in one. He had everybody rolling in the aisles.

dan cooke w backup

Here you’ll find him with some of his bootie-licious backup dancers including Esme Infante from—she sure wasn’t acting like a mom that night! You go, girl!

And there was a tribute to Corky Trinidad, the legendary political cartoonist who passed away this year. They showed a lot of his work from the Star-Bulletin, put to song, and it was really touching. You realized how truly talented he was.

Sorry I couldn’t take any photos—I would have forgotten anyway, I was having too much fun! I have to thank Gordon Pang for these backstage photos.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bravo, Spike!

c and spike

Those of you who attended Macy’s Come+Together event at the Ala Moana store last night know what I’m talking about. It was a huge success, not only for Macy’s but also for the Hawaii Foodbank, beneficiary of the event.

Spike Mendelsohn, cheftestant of Bravo’s Top Chef Season 4, was the main attraction, and what an attraction! In addition to the RSVPstyle fans who turned out, we had a good number of Top Chef fans who were dying to see for themselves if Season 4’s bad boy was seriously that over the top in real life!

c demo at macys

Well, Spike was picture-perfect. He was extremely nice, friendly and fun! After a meet-and-greet pupu hour, I opened the show with a quick lesson on how to put together four very different tablescapes worthy of Spike’s menu, all with items from Macy’s home department (you can see our Tablescape article series beginning next week at Mixing colors, styles and textures is not just for your rooms, it’s for your table as well (and even for fashion! Check out the $49 INC top I found at Macy’s just the day before).

c tossing food

Then I joined Spike in the kitchen, where I admittedly do not spend much time, and that’s when the fun began. The only way I know how to stir ingredients on a stovetop is with a spatula. But Spike told me to go ahead and try my hand at flipping his chutney in the pan. I warned the people in the front row that this could be dangerous! Sure enough, a quarter of Spike’s chutney flew out of the pan! Fortunately I didn’t burn anyone.

c eating spike's dish

Spike made a seared tuna to go on top of his Korean pear chutney, with a simple palate cleanser of Big Island hearts of palm and cilantro—yum! We all got to sample it—along with amazing pupus and desserts prepared by the awesome student chefs who helped out.

Then we opened it up to Q&As, which gave the audience a chance to ask questions about cooking, Top Chef and Spike’s brand new handmade burger joint, Good Stuff Eatery, in Washington D.C. The night ended with a chance for people to get an autographed Top Chef cookbook and a photo with Spike.

It was a fun night. Spike was a great guy. Even though he was the cheftestant you loved to hate, in person you could only love Spike. It was his first trip to Hawaii, but we look forward to having him come back soon!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

All about scale and proportion

I am not completely packed yet and we’re leaving in a few hours for our first trip to the Big Apple. I’m so excited!

Darrell, Nicki and I are headed to the New York City Wine & Food Festival. It’s going to be a short trip because Nicki’s going back to school on Monday. We’ve got tickets to the sold-out Burger Bash that Rachael Ray is hosting. I love Rachael Ray, I’m so excited! And we’re going to Godiva’s SWEET tasting, hosted by Duff Goldman.

We’ll see all of the sights—the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty—and we scored tickets to the show Wicked. And with all the things I’m doing with Macy’s, I’m looking forward to seeing their flagship store on 34th Street with the original wooden escalators.

So I was deleting pictures to clear space on my memory card, and I came across some from Sacred Hearts Academy’s 100-year gala last month. It’s a great visual tip to share with you all. When they asked me to design the stage, I thought, are you kidding? I’ve never done a stage before! But it’s for my alma mater, and Lee Webber of the Honolulu Advertiser was the honorary chair—how could I say no?


Anyone who’s been to our workshops knows it’s about layering colors and textures and considering scale and proportion. For a 24 x 18 foot stage at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, I was going to need a lot of scale and proportion.

planter cu

I designed these tall gold planters with cascading yellow popcorn orchids and asparagus and other ferns to give them height and width proportional to the size of the stage and ballroom. With a Batman-like light shining on the backdrop drapes, we could create any color backdrop.

stage purple

When people first walked in, the backdrop was amber. Throughout the evening it changed: With Cathy Foy entertaining, you saw lavender, and with Jason Segundo it was royal blue.

stage blue

Boy, the RSVPstyle fundamentals sure do come in handy! It was a great event for a great cause.

Anyway, I know you’ve probably forgotten about Top Design, but I hope you’ll forgive me for this delay. I have to say I agree with the judges—they picked the right winner, who as you know by now is Antonio.

Poor Dan! Overall, he is the better designer. He knocked the final challenge, designing an entire home for a family, out of the park. I thought his house was completely pulled together. What won the contest for Antonio was his hosting ability—after all, they were looking for the next Design Star, not designer. But Dan has a huge future, and Antonio’s going to be fun to watch.

Gotta get back to my packing. I’m looking forward to a great first trip to New York City, but I’ll check back with you real soon … promise!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A day of beyonds

cathy at workshop

The word that keeps coming to mind as the workshop is behind us and I’m writing this blog is beyond:

  • Beyond expectations. The energy and feedback from the 470 guests who came to learn were incredible. We were trying out a brand new format, combining our workshop with a tradeshow, and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but everyone loved it. During breaks, attendees had a chance to stretch their legs and meet people they wanted to meet with, and our sponsors got to meet face to face with people who had been checking them out online. So that was a huge highlight.
  • Beyond grateful for the words from people who came up to me and said they had their Aha! moment. The perfect quote was from Susan, who said, ‘Cathy, I had the Aha! moment. Without even going home, I can see my living room and now I know what’s wrong and how to fix it.’ Susan and the others had no idea how much that meant to me, how their words made all that work worthwhile.


  • Beyond cute: For the first time ever, we had our RSVPstyle logowear. Mel and Mel looked beyond cute in the hoodie and T-shirt that will soon be up on our online store!

winner joyce

  • Beyond fabulous—did you see the $10,000 Grand Prize diamond necklace? When I drew her name, Joyce Cranmer literally jumped out of her seat! She was shaking so hard that jeweler Dale Cripps needed several minutes to get that clasp fastened around her neck. She turned to me and said, ‘I’ve never won anything except a tape measure from a hardware store!’

At the end of the day, when everybody had packed up and we left the ballroom, Lissa, Kara, Marie and I headed over to Roy’s to have a cocktail and some pupus. We were beyond exhausted! But just extremely satisfied at how the day went.


And now we’re all beyond tired and ready to go to bed for a very long time! We’ve got lots of highlights and photos coming up on our website, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ooh la la--$10,000 worth of fabulous!

No, no, no, I have not forgotten about you—I have just been so overwhelmed with preparations for our workshop on Saturday. I’m taking a break to post this quick blog because we just saw jeweler Dale Cripps yesterday. He’s donating the most amazing prize: Can you believe someone will walk away with a $10,000, five-carat white and natural yellow diamond necklace?

The girls in the office all threatened to quit when they found out they’re not eligible to enter the drawing for this prize. As a matter of fact, I thought about quitting myself!

It’s a modern-style piece that would look fabulous with jeans, or dressy and elegant with a black cocktail dress. Just imagine a woman telling her husband she’s going to this workshop, and then coming home with these diamonds draped around her neck! Well, that’s going to happen to someone, male or female, and it could be you if you already got your ticket to the workshop, because we’re sold out!

Lots more details to plan and we’re setting up the Kalakaua Ballroom at the Hawaii Convention Center tomorrow. Just had to share this fabulousness with you!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Last Mediterranean photos: Shipboard fun!

Ever since my first cruise to the Caribbean on our honeymoon almost 15 years ago, I've been in love with this way of traveling, and my favorite cruise line is Crystal Cruise. For this Mediterranean food and wine tour, we were lucky enough to be aboard the Crystal Serenity. With Crystal, at-sea days are possibly even more fun than days touring on shore!

p1000882Uncle Joseph does a magic trick for the kids on a formal night at sea

p1000715Mom and Carolyn on the slots. Can you believe it? My mom hit a $1500 jackpot that night! (Won't tell you how much she gave back!)

p1000708Dads and daughters dancing. How cute is that?!

p1000846Breakfast with mom and dad. The ocean breeze makes you hungry!

dsc_0528Lobster, anyone? The Grand Buffet certainly lived up to its name!

dsc_0531There's so much food... where do I begin?!

p1000892Nicki and classmate Preston celebrate their birthdays together

p1000912'The Boys' bonding in the Connoisseurs Lounge over cigars and scotch. (It's a guy thing!)

p1000722Mayumi learns a few dance moves from one of the Ambassador Hosts, while Carolyn and Joseph dance in the background

p1000902Nicki and new gal pal Alexia make dancing plans of their own

p1000840Ahhh! Now this is living! Lounging on the balcony as we sail into a new port

cdnYes, this was a wonderful family vacation, and Nicki is already asking when our next cruise will be!

dsc_0751It's time to go home. I interviewed Gary Hunter, the Cruise Director, on our last night about the Crystal Cruise experience. (I'll post the video shortly.) Until next time, Crystal Cruise... yes, it is a wonderful world!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Last Mediterranean photos: People

Beautiful places and amazing food and drink are always fantastic perks of travel, but it's the people you meet who make the experience just that much more special. Here are some of the people I was lucky enough to become friends with.

p1010079I loved meeting Eleani and her adorable daughter Anna from Moscow. She's working on their home with an interior designer and bought our DVD to get more inspiration.

p1010026Vicki was traveling from Hong Kong with her husband and son. This was her first cruise. We met while dancing at Palm Court. Here, she's dancing with the ship's professional dancer... looks like she could be one herself!

p1010082Susan and her sister Shirley are from Scotland. Susan just downsized: She was living in a castle, now she's in a modern townhouse. She came to my workshop to learn how to transition her decorating styles. Wow, I never met anyone who lived in a castle before!

p1010088I ran into Jean and her husband David from New York at the photo gallery. David is the wine director for Tribeca Grill and was the favorite guest lecturer on the ship! Darrell and I hope to see Jean and David when we go to New York in October.

older-coupleRita and Les are from Arizona. They're in their 80s and are the most adorable couple you could ever meet--they're newlyweds! Four months of marital bliss, and they dance together like they've been married for 40 years!

p1000919We met Gina and Tony from Toronto through Nicki, who met their daughter Alexia while both were swimming in the pool. Nicki and Alexia became fast friends. They had a ball together and promised to stay in touch.

dsc_0757Finally, Gary Hunter is the Cruise Director and famous ventriloquist on board the Crystal Serenity. Gary was an absolute doll to work with! He recently built the home of his dreams with his wife in Florida. We had lots to talk about!

NEXT BLOG: Shipboard fun!

Last Mediterranean photos: Places

Sorry it's taking me so long to wrap up this cruise blog! I just finished sorting through countless photos, and I want to share the last of our beautiful ports, let you meet some of the people who made this an unforgettable trip, and show some shipboard fun! First up: The Places.


The beautiful port of Sorrento

p1000799A bakery in Pompeii... can you see the brick oven?

p1000814The body of a slave as he took his last breath. What a terrible way to die.

p1000836Pompeii's justice center. Can you imagine how impressive this was thousands of years ago? It still is!

dsc_1037Art, Suzi and Kara's mom Angela enjoying the tour with the Wagners


p1000926The gang's all here in Pisa. Let's go see if that tower really is leaning...

p10009321Yup, it's leaning this much!

p1000968Perfect way to cap off a warm day in Italy ... coconut gelato! YUM


p1000979Here we are in Cannes, and it's just how I imagined it ... FABULOUS!

p1000981The biggest private yacht I've ever seen with my own two eyes. It's incredible... and I can't imagine what it must look like inside!

p1000989I stumbled upon this home decor store. Totally over the top--looks like Hollywood royalty shops here. I love it!

p1000995Walking back to the ship, we passed these gentlemen playing baci ball


dsc_0233The Coliseum. Do you think there might still be gladiators here?

dsc_0202Yeah, there's one right there!

dsc_0313Trevi Fountain: Scotty makes a wish as he throws in a coin. His wish? To come back to Rome!

dsc_0414St. Peter's Basilica. In a word, awe-inspiring (oops, is that two words?)

p1000855Have to shop on the run--we only have one day in Rome!


p1010057Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi's masterpiece. Still a work in progress

p1010046Gaudi's Undulating Bench--colorful, beautiful and magical

p1010076La Pedrera, Gaudi's last civil job, had intricate ironwork inspired by seaweed

NEXT BLOG: New friendships made from around the world