living her best life…#21: the big 50

It’s been a decade and a half since I was there…the Big 50. 

Can’t even remember that it was more special than any other birthday. Other than going out for a nice dinner, birthdays have just been another day for which I’m glad to be alive.

Now if I’d been surrounded by special friends with whom I’d shared a history for decades, I might have done as Pat did. She celebrated the Big 50 …a few times. Not that she stopped aging at that point, like some choose to do when they’re 29.

Better than that. Pat rung in the Big 50…with girlfriends she’s known since the 4th and 6th grades. A truly amazing accomplishment!

 

Carla got the party started in March. Her husband and kids had a beautiful, intimate birthday party, with family and a few girlfriends. Sadly, her mom was in the hospital. Conflicted about that, her family assured her it was okay and they needed to celebrate. The party was at Miyako…a Japanese restaurant at the New Otani Hotel in Waikiki. At the Diamond Head end near the Natatorium, it was away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the strip. Wine flowed while the sun was setting. Picture postcard perfect. We had personalized menus from which to choose our entrees. The food, service, atmosphere and company were incredible. We even got grown-up “goody bags”…as though we were still kids…filled with a few of Carla’s favorite things, including cookies and wine.

As the night was winding down, Lei was already thinking…”Hmmm…I’m next…what can my husband do for my 50th???”

I looked at Jeri…pretty sure she and I were thinking the same thing…and asked “Were you planning a party for yourself?” Her reply “No. You?” “No.” We agreed Carla’s husband, Steve, had set the standard…and set it high. Damn him!

So Lei was next…in May. It was the four of us…Lei, Carla, Jeri and me…and Lei’s husband and son. We had a very nice dinner at Stage Restaurant in the Honolulu Design Center…part of the INspiration furniture store. The decor is funky, eclectic and just cool. Kinda like Lei. Each table was different. The chairs were different as were the lighting fixtures over each table. It was as though we were dining at tables staged for selling. (OK. As I was writing that I realized it was probably the idea for the restaurant…a little slow on the uptake here.) It also just struck me that while the restaurant was uber-modern…I ordered meatloaf! Seems “oxymoronic!” (Is that even a word?) Like Carla, Lei had gifts for us, including small cacti in porcelain bowls and blinged-out “Happy Pills” pill containers. What Lei said that night changed my attitude about turning 50. Not only was she celebrating her 50th, but she was also celebrating the fact that she made it to 50. You see, Lei is a cancer survivor. (She had worn a wig when she was one of my bridesmaids more than 20 years ago.)

The pressure was on. Jeri’s birthday was coming up in August and we had to celebrate it! Her birthday dinner was comfortable and casual, just like her. She invited just the three of us…no husband, no kids…to dinner at Assagio Bistro in Kahala. It serves really good Italian food in a nice setting, where you can choose to dress up or not. Pasta…bread…seafood…bread…wine…and more bread. Can you tell? I really liked the bread! I’m sure we had dessert. We always do. I just can’t remember what it was. Like Carla and Lei, Jeri gave each of us a gift…Godiva chocolates! One of her favorite things.

September rolled around and now it was my turn. I wanted to go somewhere nice, but not too fancy. I didn’t want to hassle with traffic or parking. So I invited my girlfriends to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Le Bistro, in Niu Valley. Again, it was just the four of us. I had half-heartedly invited Brad and Ethan realizing they wouldn’t want to join the girls. (Do you remember this place? That’s where we had dinner the last time you and your family were visiting. Remember how it was elegant, yet casual…with the waiters wearing jeans and white shirts?) I don’t remember what I ate other than induging in the foie gras…as I had when we dined there. I do know whatever I ate was delicious…it always is. The waiters served us complimentary birthday creme brulee and sang “Happy Birthday” to me. My gifts to my friends was a box of chocolate dipped strawberries and apples. Yummmmm…

In early December, I thought it was too bad Lesly wasn’t here to celebrate her birthday. She lives in Sacramento. Then I decided that we could celebrate for her. So we did! It was pretty last minute so it was just three of us…Jeri, Lei and me. Carla wasn’t able to join us. We told Lesly what we were doing and that we would call her. Since she was going to be at a function with her husband that night, we text her and sent pics instead. We raised our wine glasses, toasting Lesly’s 50th at Roy’s in Hawaii Kai. I remember I had fish (sea bass?) As much as I wanted to savor every morsel I had difficulty eating it because of my swollen tongue. Ethan got most of it in a “doggy bag.” I did manage dessert, however! We ordered not one, but two, melting, dark chocolate souffles with vanilla ice cream. One would not have sufficed for the three of us. Our waitress was great. She had the pastry chef write “Happy Birthday, Lesly” in chocolate on the plate. There was even a party hat on the table. Can’t remember who brought it along. (Was it there? Or did Jeri bring it?) Anyway, we took pictures of everything and texted our best wishes to Lesly all the way in Sacramento.

…good friends are like family…pat, carla, jeri, lei, lesly…

This piece is kinda long and personal…meaning no one else will really care…so I don’t know if you’ll blog about it. I wrote it because I don’t want to forget what happened. I’m sending it to you since you are the “keeper of my musings.” I also sent it to my girlfriends because it’s about them. I’ve known them all since either the 4th or 6th grade. These are the friends I include in updates I send to the family…because that’s what they are to me.

…ohana…the aloha spirit in action.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

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growing older…together

Just celebrated my 63rd birthday…

Having my daughter with me to mark the passing of another year was by far the best present she and my husband could’ve given me. She for wanting to spend it with me; he for making her trip home possible.

Though 37 years her senior, my daughter and I relate to one another as if we were contemporaries. We chat, we gossip, we giggle, we laugh, we tease and joke, we toast and advise one another, we discuss men and relationships and friendships, we talk politics of which we’re in agreement.

Shopping together is like hunting for treasure. Finding clothes for my daughter is a breeze since youth and a dance career keep her marvelously fit. Past my prime, with my body in constant need of a tune-up, repairs or a major overhaul, clothes that fit is a hit-or-miss venture for me. Mostly it’s a dead-end street. Nonetheless, we have a blast whether or not we return home with anything to show for our to-ing and fro-ing.

My daughter keeps me young. While in Pittsburgh with her a few weeks ago where she danced with a friend’s contemporary company, I kept her theater hours. Finding somewhere to dine at 11 p.m. every night was a challenge, as was rising early the next morning to breakfast before she headed off to do run-throughs for that night’s performance.

We kept up the pace the following couple of weeks while she was home visiting.

Most nights my daughter and I would watch old movies together, while nearby my husband caught 40 winks, head back, jaw relaxed, snores streaming from his open mouth.

Sleeping in very long was never an option for my daughter and me. There was so much we wanted to do…8:15 a.m. exercise classes, chiropractic and doctor appointments, visits to favorite haunts as well as discovering new ones, errands, shopping, playing with our pets, family walks in the evening.

When did my child become my best friend?

It’s been less than a decade since I was parent and disciplinarian. Unlike some who preferred to be friends with their children, rather than mothers, I relished being guardian and teacher to my only child. I wanted to make the most of what seemed a miracle birth after 16 years of marriage.

I was no Blessed Mother, but I gave the job my all. Love and communication were my tools of choice. Still are. Something I took away from the oft times difficult relationship between my mom and me.

Today I reap the rewards of a foundation well laid.

Growing older and wiser…and more in love with one another as the years pass…

…my daughter and me…

………hugmamma. 

64 years later…???

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wasn’t there when he was pulled from his warm, inner sanctum screaming at the top of his newborn lungs. And for obvious reasons. I was probably just a thought away from conception myself. Funny, how 2 infants, complete strangers at birth, are  inseparable soulmates 42 years after tying the knot. From umbilical cords to marital ties, a quantum leap…taken…one step at a time.

Faced with the conundrum of celebrating yet another birthday, I happened to mention it to my hairdresser Zorianna. We’re best buds, having my “crowning glory,” my hair, in common.

“I’ve no clue what to do for my husband’s birthday. After 42 years, what can I give him that he’ll really like. Men aren’t really into chachkas like we are.”

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

Candles spell out the traditional English birthday greeting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To which Zorianna brilliantly responded, “You should take him to the iPic Theatre in Redmond Town Center!” Thanks to her, hubby and I had a fantastic date night on his birthday.

Prior to the movie, we snacked on seared ahi tuna atop won ton chips. While I sipped on a delicate blackberry mojito, the birthday boy guzzled a tall glass of a real man’s beverage…beer. A half-an-hour later we made our way to our plush, reclining seats. Yep! You read right. We were going to lie down in public to watch Men in Black III in 3-D! And like the Greeks and Romans before us, we were going to be further wined and dined…lying astride our couches…underlings running back and forth to do our bidding. Well, not quite…

Eating our Angus sliders and truffle french-fries in the dark was a trick. Trying not to dribble ketchup down our fronts was impossible for my husband. He remarked a couple of times “I shouldn’t have worn this shirt.” It was comfy…but white.

Struggling to add cream and sugar to my coffee in the dark without spilling it on my lap was a juggling act I thought I’d lose. You see the cup’s cover was not giving up its grip without a struggle. Me and the plastic cover battling it out in the dark, while Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones were duking it out with gross-looking aliens on the big screen. I could appreciate what they were going through.

An hour into the film, I think hubby and I both nodded off. I don’t think we snored. At least I hope not. Thankfully, I’d selected 2 seats with aisles on either side which put some distance between us and our neighbors.

Not being a fan of the Men in Black films myself, I thought this, its third, was pretty good. The story line was a little sentimental, to my liking. The action was fun, without being loaded down with a lot of blood and gore. What there was of it was more corn than protein. Albeit at times it was both…corny and cheesy. 

We decided, hubby and I, that as a destination iPic is a once-in-awhile luxury. Twenty-two dollars a pop for each member is fine in small doses, as is the decadence of dining on gourmet food while covered with a light blanket. Comfy, cozy…but more preferable…

…in the comfort of our home…and on my wonderful…memory foam mattress…aaahhh…

………hugmamma.  😉     

New luxurious movie theater coming to Redmondof course…we didn’t have to recline…but hey, when in rome…  😉

coincidence…or extra sensory perception?

Among the birthday greetings I recently received were a couple from 2 long-time best friends, Katy with whom I worked almost a decade ago at the Performing Arts Conservatory High School my daughter attended, and Becky with whom I had coffee (she had tea), when I lived with my daughter for 2 1/2 years in Atlanta while she trained towards a career in ballet.

Three ballet dancers performing a grand jeté jump

Image via Wikipedia

Moms whose children venture down career paths less traveled usually become comrades in arms. Only they know what challenges their offspring face, and what accolades possibly await them. The dance world, especially as it pertains to ballet, is like a world apart. If it weren’t for our daughter being a professional ballerina, my husband and I would be aliens to that art form. It would be as foreign to us as the French that is the basis of all ballet positions. In fact we often tell others that dancers, choreographers, company artistic directors and staff, experience two worlds, ours and theirs. And unless you know someone in their world, gaining entree into theirs is improbable…if not impossible.

So while Katy, Becky and I may not be in touch with regularity since we all live in different states, busy still with families, we are still linked through the common experiences of our children, past and present. And we continue to support one another… as moms who continue to support our children in their uncommon lives.

What prompted this post was the uncanny coincidence of receiving the same birthday card from both…Katy and Becky. And they’ve never met…living on opposite coasts of the U.S. So since I’m the common denominator in our trio…do I look exactly the same to my two friends? And what exactly are they trying to tell me?

Am I the cat’s meow?…queen of the felines?…queen mamma?…or maybe…just one of the girls who like to think…

i’m “queen for the day!”………hugmamma.

🙂  Both Becky and Katy have been readers of hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul since its days as a “seedling.” They’ve encouraged me to write my stories, both being fine writers themselves. When my prolific posts have slowed to a trickle, or ceased altogether, my friends have let me know my stories are missed. In her birthday card to me Katy wrote:

I love your blog and read it every day; so many times your opinions echo my own. Keep writing!!
          Love…Katy

Both cards were inscribed:

Everyday you sparkle,
but today you rule!
Happy Birthday

friends…moms…forever entwined………hugmamma.

 

 

freshly pressed…wordpress lottery

From time to time, I take a gander at WordPress “Freshly Pressed” pages. Like tonight when I happened to see that another blogger had listed FP on her blogroll. The pages seemed endless. I don’t think I got past 9 or 10 of them. Each one contained 10 or more blogs, recognized as being the best on any given day. I think I perused the guidelines for winning a coveted spot once, but decided I couldn’t recommend my own blog. The Catholic nuns who’d taught me humility would surely roll over in their graves. God bless their souls, and mine for even thinking of self-aggrandizement.

But more importantly it seems a blogger must jump through certain hoops to be chosen. Can’t remember what they all were, but at my age, and with my limited knowledge of technical wizardry, I’m certain I wouldn’t make it through all the hoops. My arthritic back would give out. It’s like when I watch all those reality TV talent shows. I give the thousands who show up to audition a mountain of credit. I could do equally poorly as most of them, but they have one thing I don’t have…guts! Sometimes I must admit to many looking like idiots. But hey! To each his own; whatever makes their world go ’round.

So back to FP. For the life of me, and it’s getting shorter by the hour, though I’m in no hurry, I’ll never, ever in a million years figure out how to get on that moving locomotive. And I’ll soon be looking down the gun barrel of my 62nd birthday, so there’s no hope in h—k that I’ll be able to throw myself onto the train as it speeds by my hobbit hole.

So I wish all those with membership into the exclusive Freshly Pressed club a no-holds barred, hearty congratulations! I’m glad someone hits the lottery every day. “You’ve gotta be in it to win it,” as the saying goes. And those bloggers are obviously doing something right. I applaud their efforts, because blogging is hard work. But those of us with a passion…

reap its rewards…even when it’s not an FP award of recognition   …hugmamma.

tears…of joy

When my husband recounted a conversation he’d had with our daughter this morning, it brought tears to my eyes and laughter to my lips. I couldn’t stop myself from doing either, so I gave in to both.

To celebrate one of the dancer‘s birthdays, her friends, fellow dancers, staged a scavenger hunt throughout town. My daughter and 2 others came up with the list of clues, shared them with Kelsey’s boyfriend, and passed them along to the other dancers who were involved in the hunt.

An example of a Trader Joe's storefront

Image via Wikipedia

As a ruse, Kelsey and her boyfriend were to spend the evening alone. First he told her he wanted to stop at the coffee shop he manages, and where they first met. When they arrived, one of the dancers happened to be there and in conversation passed along the first of the clues. Kelsey was confused but cooperated, with a little nudge from her boyfriend. Driving to Trader Joe’s they were “surprised” to see Kim, another dancer, who dropped the second clue. At this point, Kelsey, a very savvy girl, caught on to the game, and was raring to continue. Along the way, they encountered my daughter, and on it went.

Much to the chagrin of the dancers and friend Heather who was hosting the party following the hunt, Kelsey was ahead of schedule by half-an-hour. Everyone was texting one another to hurry on over to party-central before the birthday girl arrived. Needless to say, she was enthralled with the entire evening’s fun, and her friends were pleased with themselves for having pulled it off.

A man and a woman performing a modern dance.

Image via Wikipedia

The evening was bitter-sweet for Kelsey and her friends, for she will not be returning next year. Instead she will be moving to another state to work with a modern dance company. She’s been a great friend of my daughter’s, but I know they’ll keep in touch for dancers are great that way.

The previous evening our daughter had accompanied another dancer friend, Kim, to a symphony concert. Having played the violin for many years, our daughter has never lost her love of it. Continuing to dance to classical music, keeps her relationship with the instrument a perpetual one. She was quite taken with the guest violinist who performed with the symphony.

Following the concert, our daughter drove to another friend’s home where a party was underway. The group had a great time playing a board game, with which I’m not familiar. Their fun lasted well into the wee hours of the morning. Like Kelsey, Robert, who hosted the game party, will be leaving the ballet to pursue a modern dance career elsewhere.

It amazes me how these young dancers dedicate themselves to their passion, sometimes working 2 or 3 jobs to live their dream. And when they come to a crossroads, as Kelsey and Robert have, they do what they must to continue their journey in pursuit of that dream. Because of their dedication, work ethic, discipline, and unwavering ability to hope, these dancers will be alright. Wherever their paths may lead, they’ve already accomplished more than some folks twice their age. They’ve figured out how to deal with life and its many pitfalls.

So while I’m sad they must part company with good friends, my daughter in particular, I’m happy for the joy they will spread as they make their way among others.

glad for knowing…and sharing hugs…with kelsey and robert…hugmamma.

the “good old days”…in merry ole england

The following is from my English friend Sylvia, whom we’ve not heard from in a little bit. She’s been saving it up for this one. It’s kind of an in-your-face reminder that people of a certain age lived “on the edge,” by today’s standards,…and are still here to tell, or brag, about it. You have to admit, they’ve got a point. Enjoy, guvnah! As Sylvia would say.

CONGRATULATIONS to all my friends born in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s!

Tatto-Flavored Wine

Image by Joe Mud via Flickr

First, we survived being born to mothers who drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw eggs, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.

Our baby cots were covered with bright-colored, lead-based paints. We had no child-proof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets. And when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes. We would ride in cars without seat belts or airbags. We drank water from a garden hose, not from a bottle.

Balmoral KFC workers and allies picketing the ...

Image via Wikipedia

Take away food was fish and chips. There were no pizza shops, McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, or Red Rooster. Even though all the shops closed at 6 p.m., and didn’t open on weekends, we didn’t starve to death.

We shared one soft drink with 4 friends, from ONE bottle, and no one ever died as a result. We collected old beverage bottles, and cashed them in at the corner store.Then we were able to buy toffees, gobstoppers, bubble gum and some bangers so we could blow up frogs.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter, and drank soft drinks that contained sugar. But we weren’t overweight because we were ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!!!

We would leave home in the morning, and allowed to play until the street lamps were lit. No one could reach us all day, but we were okay.

We would spend hours building go-karts out of old prams. We would ride them downhill, forgetting that we had no brakes. We built tree houses and cubbies, and played in river beds with Matchbox cars.

Matchbox 1-75 models typical of the modern (Ma...

Image via Wikipedia

 

We didn’t have Play Stations, Nintendo Wii, W-boxes, video games, DVDs, 999 channels on SKY, mobile phones, personal computers, the Internet, and its chat rooms. WE HAD FRIENDS, and went outside in search of them.

We fell out of trees, got cuts, broke bones and teeth. But no lawsuits were filed because of these accidents.

Only girls had pierced ears.

We ate worms, and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms didn’t live in us forever.

Easter eggs // Ostereier

Image via Wikipedia

We could only buy Easter eggs and hot cross buns at Easter time. 

We received air guns and catapults on our 10th birthdays.

We rode bikes or walked to friends’ houses, knocking on their doors, or ringing the doorbells, or just yelling their names.

Mum didn’t have to go to work to help dad make ends meet.

Football and cricket had tryouts, and not everyone made the teams. Those who didn’t, learned to deal with disappointment. Imagine that! Making the team was based upon merit.

Our teachers used to hit us with straps and sand shoes. Bullies always ruled the school playground.

Parents never bailed us out if we broke the law; in fact, they sided with the law! They didn’t give us stupid names like Kiora, Blade, Ridge or Vanilla.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and learned to handle them all.

Congratulations! You’re one of us.

You might want to share this with others lucky enough to grow up as we did, before the lawyers and government regulated our lives for our own good. While you’re at it, you might email this to your kids too, so they’ll know what brave parents they have.

pip-pip…cheerio…and all that rot!…hugmamma.

buffet brunches, worth the money?

Our family has been to its share of buffet brunches, usually on special occasions, like Mother’s Day or someone’s birthday. If you’ve ever been to one, you’ll probably agree that leaving with “doggy bags” would be a great idea. And I don’t mean taking home your leftovers, I mean carting off platefuls of new servings of items you couldn’t get enough of at one sitting. But, of course, restaurant management might not be keen on people loading up on doggy bags for the next few days meals…at home.

Now there are buffets, and then there are BUFFETS! When my husband and I still lived in Honolulu, “many moons” ago, we frequented the Flamingo Restaurant’s “All you can eat” buffet. I’m sure it’s no longer around, the restaurant that is. I’m sure it was great, especially for local food, which I do miss though it’s been 30+ years since we’ve moved to the mainland. We use to remark that the ones who really got their money’s worth were football teams who ate at Flamingo’s after their games. Pity the restaurant owners who probably “lost” money those nights.

When we moved to Garden City, Long Island in New York, my husband and I found another eatery which served a great buffet. Just around the corner from our apartment, we’d walk there, mouths watering at the thought of eating as much shrimp as we could. I can still picture peeling off the pinkish-red shells, dunking them into spicy cocktail sauce, and shoving those tasty little critters into my mouth, whole. That and the prime rib, kept us going back time and again. 

Our favorite brunch here in the Seattle area is at Salty’s on Alki Bay. Walk, fly, or swim there. You won’t be disappointed. But make sure you bring along a healthy appetite. Remember, it’s “all you can eat,” there!  A long line of cars usually awaits, and then another line of people waiting to be called to their tables. How long, depends upon the day of the week, if it’s a holiday, if the weather’s good, and so on. Reservations are necessary. Getting in without one might be possible, if all the stars are aligned perfectly in the skies above.

The spread at Salty’s brunch buffet is heavenly, ranging from the usual breakfast fare, pancakes, french toast, scrambled eggs, sausages, ham, fruits, pastries, muffins, breads and hash browns. Then there’s the usual buffet offerings like carved roast beef, eggs benedict, and desserts. Other buffets might also offer pasta stations, which Salty’s does as well. What is the “piece de resistance,”  as far as I’m concerned, is their seafood table. There’s oysters-on-the-half shell, mussels, clams, CRABS LEGS, and all the shrimp you can eat! Now if I could only shovel loads full of these into doggy bags, I’d have died and gone to Heaven.

While Salty’s is incomparable here in the Pacific Northwest, my all-time favorite buffet brunch is at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Canada. The hotel itself is a destination, a castle with turrets, winding staircases, banquet halls, even an armored knight on permanent display. While much of the hotel seems like the real thing with naturally dark, but well-lit corridors, one dining/lounging area boasts a panoramic view of the Canadian Rockies. When we’ve stayed at the Banff Springs, we made sure to take afternoon tea in that space, gazing out at God’s handiwork. 

While meals in any of the hotel’s eateries were scrumptious, none were as eye-catching or pleasing to the palate as its buffet brunch. Elegantly laid stations offered international food from Japan, China, Mexico, the UK, Italy and France. From soups, salads, appetizers to desserts and every imaginable type of entrée in-between, The Banff Springs Hotel aimed to please. Although attired in white jackets and black slacks or skirts, the waiters and waitresses were helpful and pleasant. As with Salty’s, reservations for this buffet brunch are recommended, unless you’re again fortunate to have the universe line up just right in the overhead, Canadian skies.

perhaps you’ll agree, buffet brunches are definitely worth lots of hugs, if not lots of money…hugmamma.

hawaiian goodies

I share this with you because I can no longer partake of these scrumptious delicacies as I would like to do. Doctors orders. Having high cholesterol, and a genetic disposition for diabetes and arthritis (both aggravated by too much sugar intake), I haven’t enjoyed these baked goodies in quite some time. While I would love to have them on hand just for a nibble every so often, one bite into this sumptuous, buttery snack and I’m hooked until every wrapped piece is “pau.” That’s Hawaiian for “gone, kaput, finished.”

So, you dear reader, are in luck, or bad luck, depending upon your perspective. If you decide to open this “Pandora’s Box” don’t fault me for the consequences. I pass this along because I can’t keep it to myself. That’s how great I think these yummy delights are, and you know how fussy I am about details by now. By the way, don’t succumb to “knock-offs.” Someone generously gave us look-a-likes once, and I could tell they weren’t the real thing. So buyer, beware! Remember my mantra “If you don’t enjoy eating something, don’t waste the calories!” I guess I should add that if you do enjoy something, beware the calories! I leave it to you to decide which applies, when you sample these delicious Hawaiian goodies. Good luck in deciding…

Big Island Candies, established in 1977, boasts “Hawaii’s Finest Handmade Cookies & Chocolates.” And I’m here to tell you, they’re not lying. Their macadamia nut shortbread cookies are “to die for.” I live to tell the story. “The famous award-winning diagonally dipped shortbreads” are coated with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel chocolate. Or there’s the chocolate shortbread dipped in mint, the coffee shortbread dipped in dark chocolate, or the coconut shortbread, or the chocolate chip shortbread, or the lemon shortbread.

Your choice selection comes in a variety of boxed packages: the chocolate dipped original shortbread, the dark chocolate dipped original  shortbread, the coconut shortbread, the mint dipped chocolate shortbread, the dipped chocolate shortbread assortment, 2 types of the caramel chocolate dipped shortbread, the lemon shortbread assortment, the dark chocolate dipped coffee shortbread, the dipped original assortment, the lemon shortbread combo, the dipped shortbread assortment, the shortbread assortment, the original shortbread, and the chocolate chip shortbread. All of these are offered in a variety of sizes, i.e. Gold Box, Small Gold Box, Small Gift Box.

Besides their cookies Big Island Candies bakes and sells other items like their Kohala brownies, golden macadamia nut, chocolate covered macadamia nut and dark chocolate covered coconut. They’re very rich and dense, so they’re to be savored, not gulped in bunches like the cookies. Then there are items which might appeal to gourmet palates, green tea macadamia nut shortbread cookies, ultimate chocolate chip cookie, and the chocolate drink mix. For those liking a little “snap, crackle, pop” Big Island Candies offers the almond wafer crunch bar, the corn chip crunch bar and the peanut butter bar. (My mouth is watering.) Truly different are the Mika mints described as “A smooth and lightly whipped blend of dark and milk chocolate, cream and butter with the cooling touch of mint coated in dark chocolate for a truly decadent treat.” Just as delicious it seems is the Macnut toffee and the Hawaiian macadamia nut biscotti. Beyond my comprehension, but maybe not yours, is the Hawaiian red chili toffee where BIC claims “We carefully cook our Hawaiian red chili butter toffee in small batches to bring out its rich butter taste and crunchy bite. It is studded with roasted almonds with a touch of hickory smoke salt and the subtle heat of the small fiery Hawaiian chili pepper. We coat it with rich dark chocolate for a tantalizing treat.” Sounds like a smokin’ hot, eye-popping snack!

And finally, the list wouldn’t be complete without Hawaiian macadamia nut chocolates in a variety of box sizes. If this old standby doesn’t excite your taste buds how about Hawaiian crunchies, containing crisp potato chips, macadamia nuts, and creamy milk chocolate, or Hawaiian macadamia nut rocky road, or Hawaiian macadamia nut crunch, or Hawaiian macadamia nut caramel cluster, or truffles?

For several years my husband has given a number of these mouth-watering snacks to staff, as Christmas gifts. Needless to say, we’ve not heard any complaints, only sighs of “ono-licious,” Hawaiian for “yummy in my tummy!” BIC can send out pre-packaged, wrapped gifts like Ha’Aheo Basket (large, medium,small), Kona Basket, Chocolate Mailer, Cocoa Box, Orange Mini Pillow, Salmon Colored Sheer Bag With Beans, Brown Oval Box, Fall Butterfly Keepsake, Sable Box, Purple Metallic Sheer Bag, Fall Amazonia Glitz, Purple Ballotin, Signature Tin, Mauna Kea Basket (large,small), Fall Lovely Glitz, Lei’Ahinahina (Hawaiian for “silversword”),Copper Ballotin, Fall Flutter Tin and Cherry Blossom Mini Takeout.

I know I’ve left nothing to your imagination, except perhaps, the price. The goodies, which taste like homemade, are priced well for what they are, “boutique” delights. The shipping might be the deal breaker. But as a special treat for yourself, your “significant other,” someone’s birthday, or holidays, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

If you think this has been a “paid commercial,” you’re wrong. I’m handing off something I’ve held near and dear to my stomach for years. You do with it what you will. But if you do make a purchase, maybe you can mention my blog and this post. Maybe as a “thank you” they’ll send me the Petite Box of Hawaiian Crunchies #1201, or the small gift box of Chocolate Dipped Original Shortbread #3450, or the Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Clusters #1206.

Big Island Candies toll-free #1-800-935-5510 or online @www.bigislandcandies.com.

eating my heart out, while you fill your “opu” (Hawaiian for “belly”)…hugmamma.

caring friends

The company of dancers to which my daughter belongs, are an especially caring group of young folk. People unfamiliar with their world might conclude that its competitive environment would prohibit close friendships. As with any career, there are individuals who refuse to look beyond their wants and needs. But having witnessed my daughter’s experiences first hand, I know that most dancers reach out to one another, offering a shoulder or a pat on the back, as the situation warrants.

Dancers work under demanding physical conditions. Their minds are also constantly challenged with learning choreography for several pieces simultaneously. Add to the mix, their ongoing concern for keeping healthy and fit. Their jobs depend upon their doing so. And yes, there is some anxiety about what roles they will get to dance. While they can hone their skills to achieve their personal best, the artistic staff, and sometimes the choreographer, have their own selection criteria. The dancers must abide by their decisions.

Unlike many professions, dancers must be passionate about their choice of a career. Given the unique demands and stresses, someone doing it half-heartedly could not withstand the physical pain nor the extraordinary mental stimulation. (Although some have tried, and still try.) Dancers rarely take sick leave, that’s how “crazy” they are about what they do. (I have to admit to taking mental health days once in a while during my stint at a career outside the home. Actually, I still do.) Working as a team to bring a ballet or contemporary piece to the stage, the dancers support each other’s efforts. For the good of all, they forge close relationships based upon respect. They celebrate together, and they share disappointment together.

Making big bucks is never a consideration for dancers. Unless they are with major metropolitan companies with $15 million budgets, dancers barely make a living wage. Many work 2 jobs to support themselves. Again, that’s how “crazy” they are about what they’re doing. Occasionally they may dine out on shared appetizers and desserts. Or they may splurge at a sushi joint or a local, college hangout. Most times they relax at one another’s apartments, having already eaten their meals at home. There are group celebrations for birthdays or Christmas, where everyone brings pot luck. They are as generous as they are frugal. That is to say, they spend within their means.

I admire my daughter and her dance friends. They are passionate about their careers, while showing compassion towards each other. They have showmanship, but are not flashy. Each believes he or she is the best, but realize there’s better, when they see it in another dancer. They congratulate each other when great roles are garnered, and they cry together when they are not. Their hearts are big; they pet-sit for free when friends are away for a few days or a few weeks. They transport each other to and from the airport, even during  rush hour traffic.

My daughter has a family of caring friends, and we, her family, cannot express enough appreciation for those young men and women. They are the siblings she did not have growing up.

those who care for our children as we do, deserve our thanks…hugmamma.