My Point of Heu: Local Christmas trees are better

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Whether you like them fresh or fake, Christmas trees are in full bloom. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, with all the cheer, lights, decorations and gifts. I always look forward to purchasing a real Christmas tree. Like most, I love the smell and the process of picking out a tree, bringing it home, setting it up and decorating it.

Did you know there are only two Christmas tree farms in Hawaii, and one of them is on Oahu? Helemano Farms is nestled in Whitmore Village and known for its bounty of Norfolk Pine (Hawaiian Christmas) trees and the more traditional looking Leyland Cypress trees. What you may not realize is the farm is currently in the midst of experimenting with nine new varieties of trees. “We do have trees with (a mild pine) scent, but not compared to a Douglas,” owner Aaron O’Brien said. “We are looking for another tree that is affordable to grow in Hawaii.”

Visiting the farm is all about the experience. It involves interacting, communicating, touching, searching and finally selecting the perfect tree. I recommend you go and peruse the farm for free; the local workers would be happy to give you a tour. Here’s a look at how to get there, what they are experimenting with, what you can expect, and why I think it’s better to buy a locally grown Christmas tree.

Helemano Farms

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Once you make your way into Whitmore Village, you will see the signs. Follow them along Whitmore Avenue to get to the farm.

 
Helemano Farms
Open from Nov. 28 to Dec. 22
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday – noon to sunset
Saturday & Sunday – 10 a.m. to sunset
Closed Mondays & Tuesdays (open Monday Dec. 22, final day)

Go holoholo to Moloka’i

Our flight went from Honolulu to Lanai, then on to Molokai, and we were the only ones on board.

Our flight went from Honolulu to Lanai, then on to Molokai, and we were the only ones on board.

Last week, my husband surprised me with a staycation getaway to the “Friendly Isle” of Moloka’i. I had been to Kalaupapa before, but never “topside,” where most residents live. I must say it’s truly an island deserving of its reputation for being true Hawaii, almost untouched by development. It’s a lush, tropical and pristine place, where people are so eager to chat and get to know you.

Kalaupapa Lookout

Kalaupapa Lookout

With a population of about 8,000 and no traffic lights, you might think Moloka’i is a tiny island with nothing to do and not much to see, but that’s not the case. In fact, Moloka’i is actually the fifth largest island among the Hawaiian Islands, measuring 38 miles long by 10 miles wide. Surprisingly, there’s a good amount of activities, adventures, educational explorations, outdoor sights, historical landmarks and great food to eat.

I highly recommend adding Molokai to your bucket list of places to visit at least once in your lifetime. It’s very historic, reminiscent of old Hawaii, and the Aloha spirit is alive and well. Here are some tips on what to do and where to go:

Kanemitsu's Bakery & Coffee Shop

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First things first... As soon as you get off the plane, head to Kaunakakai and visit the famed Kanemitsu's Bakery. I had heard about Moloka'i bread and sweet bread before, but when I had it in Kalaupapa, I didn't think anything of it. This time I went right to the source, and it's as good as everyone says.

My Point of Heu: Kardashian didn’t break the Internet

Paper Magazine

Paper Magazine

It’s been one week since Kim Kardashian attempted to “break the Internet” with her revealing cover story and photo shoot for Paper Magazine. And, while most haven’t actually read the entire article as I have, comical parodies and copycats are littering the Internet and perpetuating the eye-popping showcase of the reality star’s photographed assets. I thought I would share my perspective on this controversial topic since I am a woman of the same age, with a similar figure, just trying to get by in this age of digital, social and mass media.

First, let’s review the facts: Kim Kardashian is famous; she is rich; and she is beautiful. What is she famous for? She had a sex tape with someone who was semi-famous, or at least had a famous sister. Kardashian was also an assistant to someone who had the same kind of fame, Paris Hilton, who also had a sex tape and a reality TV show that seemed to launch her career, if you want to call it that.

Second, Kardashian uses the Internet and social media accounts, including Instagram (21 million followers) and Twitter (25.5 million followers), to broaden her reach as a celebrity. She doesn’t post pictures every day focused on ending hunger, finding a cure for AIDS or inspiring others; she instead showcases her greatest asset — herself — by sharing selfies, modeling shots, family images and fashion photos.

Paper Magazine

Paper Magazine

Third, when Kardashian opted to do the Paper Magazine spread, it was an editorial gushing about how flawless and attractive the reality star is. The photo shoot was her idea to go fully nude. She was in control of the wardrobe, or lack thereof, and she did the shoot for free. Is this genius or naiveté? Knowing the buzz and reaction it would get, I think there is a stroke of genius somewhere in there.

The images taken by French photographer Jean Paul Goude are reminiscent of a series of photographs he took back in 1976 of a nude African-American model balancing a champagne glass on her backside. At the time, the photographer was dating Grace Jones, and had what he called, “Jungle Fever.” Those were very significant images at a time when racial tensions ran high and interracial dating was still taboo. Kardashian wanted to work with him, and whether or not she knew the cultural relevance of the images, she has stepped into a new elevated world of provocative celebrity.

As a woman who is curvy, I applaud her for loving and showcasing her body as she does. Society puts too much pressure on women to be thin and even ultra-skinny — a size 2 or to hide their “bigger bones.” Whether it’s enhanced or natural, Kardashian appears confident, proud and eager to showcase and sell herself. I must admit she is showcasing herself too much and too often for my taste, but I choose not to follow her posts or watch her silly television show. I hold myself to a higher standard and haven’t posed nude or ever publicly revealed that much of my body. Funny thing is after I competed at Miss America 10 years ago, I received an email from a Playboy publisher, but declined because I knew I wanted to be respected and taken seriously as a business person one day.

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Some, however, point out that she is a mother and question how someone with a young child could reveal so much? But you have to admit it’s probably because of her sensuality and sexuality that her daughter was brought into this world. Kardashian had done Playboy and other revealing published photo shoots before, so why should she stop now? All-in-all, it’s her choice and her decision to objectify herself. Some might say this demeans women and objectifies femininity. I think this being 2014 and soon to be 2015, a woman can do whatever she wants, and if she is empowered to showcase her assets, let it be. You can chose to ignore it, appreciate it, applaud it or hate it.

As you can see, chatter about her full-frontal images and shiny derriere will continue until the next shocking Kardashian installment is made. And if she wanted people to talk about her and her body, it’s working… even though the Internet didn’t actually break. She just left a dent some might never forget, even if they wanted to.

I finally made it to the Kona Coffee Festival

Aloha Kona!

Aloha Kona!

First let me start by saying… I don’t drink coffee. You’re probably asking yourself, why would anyone go to a coffee festival if they don’t like coffee? Well, thing is… for nearly 10 years I have been invited to judge the Miss Kona Coffee pageant, but due to work conflicts and schedule issues, I haven’t been able to make it. Thankfully, this year I was able to attend and made a full weekend out of it, with lots of sightseeing, special events, judging, eating and adventuring. I even brought along my dear friend, Cameo Fong, so we could celebrate her birthday during this trip.

Congrats to the new Miss Kona Coffee Ariel Enriquez and Miss Aloha Hawaii Keahi Delovio.

Congrats to the new Miss Kona Coffee Ariel Enriquez and Miss Aloha Hawaii Keahi Delovio.

From coffee, to crowns and culture… Hawaii Island is abuzz right now with special events centered around the 44th annual Kona Coffee Festival. Kicking off the weeklong event is the annual Miss Kona Coffee and Miss Aloha Hawaii scholarship pageant, a preliminary for the Miss Hawaii and Miss America pageant. As a former Miss Hawaii (2004), this was my first time judging a preliminary pageant, and I was honored to help judge this event and the Kona Coffee Recipe Contest the day after the pageant. See the gallery for more details on that delicious event.

After arriving on Hawaii Island on Thursday, I spent my first day visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (the lava flow is in Pahoa, not anywhere near Halema’uma’u), then taking a quick drive through Hilo and back to Kona. On Friday, I conducted pageant interviews at the Sheraton Kona Resort, then took a tour of Ueshima Coffee Company (UCC). Saturday was a free day, so I swam at the pool, got a massage at the spa, then judged the pageant that night. On Sunday morning, I had the honor of judging the KTA Super Stores Kona Coffee Recipe Contest, which also took place at the Sheraton. Later that day, I went to the beach and drove around Kona with my friend and Kona resident, Kalei Akaka, then had dinner with her parents before heading to the airport.

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It was an amazing trip with great experiences, awesome memories, good food and fun! It’s the perfect time of the year to experience Hawaii Island, with so many things to do, see, try and taste — even if you don’t like coffee. Funny thing is I like the flavor of coffee, but the caffeine makes me jittery and nervous. I loved judging the coffee recipe contest, though, because I was able to enjoy the nice flavor of coffee without the overwhelming kick from caffeine. Typically, the Kona Coffee Festival is the first weekend in November. If you love adventure, coffee and good times, check it out next year.

Here’s a look at my Hawaii Island adventures:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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After arriving in Kona, I hopped in a van and made the 91-mile voyage to Volcanoes National Park to see Halema'uma'u, the steam vents and lava tube. I had been before, but it was nice to see such a beautiful sight again.

Our Top 5: Shoyu chicken

FullSizeRender-5-350x283When it comes to local-style plate lunches, shoyu chicken is my go-to comfort food. With a divine combination of sweet and savory, shoyu chicken has long been a Hawaii specialty. It’s one of those dishes you can make by throwing all the ingredients into a pot, letting it cook slowly for hours and enjoying for days… if it lasts that long.

For the past few years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best shoyu chicken in Hawaii. Although some of the best I’ve had was made by a family member or brought to a pot luck, I’ve long been on the lookout for sumptuous, home-style versions available at restaurants and take-out spots. I even reached out to my friends and family members on the Neighbor Islands for recommendations.

saint louis 3When comparing shoyu chicken, I considered the following: depth of flavor, color, and the sauce had to be the right viscosity, seeping though the rice, but leaving a delicate layer on top that didn’t disappear. Most of all, the meat had to be moist and practically fall off the bone. I want to suck the bone dry and lick my fingers afterwards. Note: this criteria doesn’t take into account accompaniments like mac salad or tossed greens and is based on chicken and sauce only.

With that, here are my top 5 picks for the best places in Hawaii for shoyu chicken. I apologize in advance if you get a hankering for some shoyu chicken after reading this post.

No. 5: Surfside Spirits & Deli

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Located in Kihei, this deli's shoyu chicken ($7.95) is well seasoned and moist with a good balance of shoyu and sugar. Not too sweet and not too salty... just right! The portion is a little small, which is typical of most shoyu chicken plates. I really love the color the chicken gets from the sauce; you can see the nice sheen on this chicken that makes it look like it was immersed in shoyu and brown sugar for a good, long time.

Surfside Spirits & Deli
1993 South Kihei Road, Kihei, Maui
808-879-1385

 

Want more of Our Top 5

Here’s our full roundup of Our Top 5 picks