Category Archives: Holidays

A Very Maui Christmas

I had the opportunity to take a last-minute vacation this month and decided to make my first trip to Hawaii.  The initial challenge was choosing an island.  I searched the internet and found a scorecard.  Less than ten minutes later, I was looking for flights to Maui.

Coming home from Hana

After a few days there, you forget you are in the United States.  It’s so tropical, and beautiful, and diverse.  Then, you ask for directions or suggestions and the person easily understands you; the stores don’t give change you’ll have a hard time spending.

My most memorable experience was a whale-watching trip on the first day of the breeding and birthing season.  We started out at Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment shop where we had a brief introduction to the humpback whale, then were off in a Zodiac boat which quickly found a calf and mother with an escort!  The yearling entertained us by waving his fins while lying on his back (their fins are the largest appendage in the animal kingdom), and later leapt halfway out of the water!  He will eventually become larger than a school bus and weigh 40 tons IF he can avoid disaster, which normally comes at the hands of humans or something we have put in his way.

Being from Florida, I’ve seen my share of surfers BUT I have never seen surfers and windsurfers like in Hawaii.  Ho’okipa Beach is perfect for the sports and even has sharing rules.  Surfers have priority until 11:00 a.m. when windsurfers take over.  One morning, there were 60+ surfers visible from where we stood.  Another day, 30+ surfers and 30+ windsurfers shared the spot.  The churning waves make the water look like larimar.

There’s also great snorkeling from the side of the road.  It’s odd to lift your head from viewing healthy coral with beautiful fish and hear cars driving by.

You can visit black sand beaches, which I didn’t realize are made of black pebbles of varying sizes.  My favorite was at Wainapanapa State Park.  We found it on the ‘road to Hana’ which we luckily drove clockwise so we were against the mountain rather than the cliff when meeting cars on blind turns.  That road also took us to Coconut Glen’s roadside stand, which offers tasty diversions.  Glen sold my goodies to me, and his humble demeanor didn’t give away his secret.  Turns out he was an actual chef who found his paradise selling incredible ice cream and coconut candy on a mountain in Maui.

The road to Hana leads to beautiful sunsets, such as the one above from our drive or those seen from the Sea House, where we had multiple meals.  But, the restaurant we frequented most was Maui Brewing Company’s brew-pub.  They have wonderful craft brews (and unique cycling shirts – men’s sizes only).  My favorites were Old Chinwig and Island Hopped Red, which are occasional brews.  Their staple brews are available daily and even sold at other outlets.

Obviously, I’m not the only one that finds Maui awe-inspiring.  This is easily demonstrated by the property prices.  I could tell Makena Beach was a nice area and my smart phone quickly proved just how high a price beautiful views can demand.  Check out this house for $19.5 million or this one for a mere $3 million.

Thankfully, there are homes or hotels that are more in reach.  And, the great views are always a short drive or walk away.  That means normal people like me can share the beauty of Maui and have a very Maui Christmas!

~ Lori

My kind of theme park


Sheality’s Top Ten Bad Holiday Gifts for the Busy But Balanced Professional Woman

When you’re a successful professional woman without children, many times, people have no idea what to buy you for holiday gifts; especially those who don’t share your lifestyle. People with children imagine us going straight from the office to the spa to the restaurant. Our weekends are spent shopping at luxury label stores, clubbing all night and napping and brunching all Sunday.

While it is true that we often have gotten anything and everything on our wish list for ourselves already, there is a way to gift a gift that means something and is nice…

What do you get the woman who has everything? Well, here’s some idea of what not to give….a lot of well intentioned but really crappy gifts.

  1. Anything Doga: I love yoga and I love my dog… but there is no reason on this green earth to combine the two. Don’t even think I would be interested in anything related to Doga (yes this is real)… dogs don’t need yoga. Period. 
  2. Toys: The kind of toys that children get, and apparently me at the age of 28 because my mom wants to “keep it fun.”  A cabbage patch at the age of 28 is not fun, it’s just ridiculous.  What on earth do you do with it when you go home? Put it on your bed?  No, it goes right in the trash.  Save your money.
  3. Desk accessories:So yes, my job involves sitting for hours on end at a desk in front of a computer …. BUT, a desk is a piece of furniture and I can tell you, it doesn’t need to be accessorized!  I travel light at work and highly recommend it (everything you can pack in a box!). It seems to me that any $$ spent on these hunks of crap imported from China (or other exploited workforce country) would be much better spent donated (here are my favorite sites for that…,, or )
  4. The Visa Gift Card: My brother has taken to giving me (and asking for) Visa gift cards. Aside from whatever is in your wallet, can you think of a gift requiring less thought? And how annoying are they? They are for a set amount so unless I am buying something for EXACTLY 50 bucks, I have to put the rest on another card or have like $5.85 left on it – sitting in my already crowded wallet – taunting me.  I propose that my brother and I just save the money and pass the same card back and forth to each other.
  5. Bad gifts for the cook:  I’ve posted in the past about having every kitchen gadget one could possibly have.  However, every once in a while, someone comes across something that I don’t have… and there is usually a reason I don’t have the gadget.  Past gifts have included a cherry pitter (I hate cherries) and a jalapeno popper grill rack (doubt that will make it out of the box). Really?? A grill rack specifically for jalapenos?
  6. Doggie Decorations:  Because I love my dog, I get a lot of dog gifts. And by dog gifts, I mean home decorations with dogs on it. Picture frames, pillows, throws, and my personal favorite – a yard sign with “Spoiled Rotten Dog Lives Here” on it.  I don’t even have a yard. Owning a dog doesn’t mean I want to decorate my home like my vet’s waiting room. 
  7. “Gifts” with advertisements or corporate logos: I have a family member who thinks that because I have a computer, I love anything that involves technology.   Every tchotchke she receives from vendors that pertains to computers, I get.  Think: wrapped thumb drives, cd cases, a reading light that attaches to a PC, etc.-  all having a vendor’s name stamped all over them.  Hello…. I know you got these free.
  8. Art: Let’s just say art is as personal a gift as lingerie… if you know me that well, by all means, get me art. But if you don’t, I would highly suggest you stay away from the gift of art and go for some great dark chocolate! 
  9. Heavy, breakable items that you then have to travel with: When I say the best gift you can give me is a Costco gift card, get me a Costco gift card.  Don’t give me a large, heavy gift from Costco that I then have to lug home on a plane… oh… say…  huge serving platters (12 x 12 and 5 pounds each) that sit on metal stands and a 2 foot wide lazy susan with five ceramic sections for goodies.  These items, while very nice, were purchased at a Costco in Tennessee, hauled by car to Florida, wrapped, and given to me.  I then have to carry them on my flight home due to the 50 lb checked bag limit.  Did I mention that these came from Costco? There is one less than 5 minutes from my house – I could have picked them up there… with the gift card.
  10. Bath and body anything: Two words: no thanks.  Like art, I think the scents that you choose are very personal and just because YOU smell good in something called Vanillatini doesn’t mean I will, or even want to.

In the actual spirit of giving, we would also like to add some good gift giving ideas:

Personally, I think you are always safe with the 3 C’s: Chocolate, champagne and cashmere.  – Jen

As for me, Lululemon, Athleta, chocolate and your favorite book. You can’t go wrong! – Michaela

Wine, books, and cute scarves are top on my list! – Erin

A phone call or personal email are wonderful.  If you feel the need to spend money, red wine or a donation on my behalf are great.   – Lori