On this post, resetting and taking breaks from social media and more. New spots to visit on Hawaii’s Big Island, books I’m reading, and pretty wool rugs at good prices I just added to cozy up the house.
Hello friends! Happy 2024. It’s the weekend post where the girls and I ( Juliet and Elizabeth), share what’s in our brains and on our radars.
I hope you had happy holidays. I am excited to be back and missed you all. Like everyone, I was on a bit on hamster wheel with the holidays and was so glad to have a chance to catch my breath and a break.
I can’t wait to take down the holiday things and start fresh this weekend. I put a big bowl of Meyer lemons from my three year old tree that has been going bonkers. I think I’ll make some lemon chicken and pasta this week.
We just took a short six day break with the guys in the Big Island of Hawaii. Renting a place in The Big Island of Hawaii for a few days has been what we’ve done after Christmas for a while, as it is the only time my boys are all off school and work at the same time.
We usually rent along the Kona coast and this year found a place that shares the Mauna Lani Beach Club which is a great beach with a spot for lunch and a cove for great snorkeling and swimming.
I tried my best to spend the time immersing myself in books, away from social media and the phone and the news. We played games, watched some movies, took walks and laid in the sun. I enjoyed a lot of salads, fish and fruit.
The best part of all on this trip? The unplugging from the internet and the world. I think we all need more of that in 2024.
Checking out the new Kona Village Resort
As we were in the Kohala area we had the chance to check out the newly remodeled Kona Village Resort that had recently reopened after being wiped away in a hurricane ten years ago. After January 3rd, the resort was open to the public, so we decided to have a dinner there and bop around the newly rebuilt property.
Many families were longtime regulars at KVR as they call it, and even went the same time every year, meeting up with the same regulars. Meals used to be all included and everyone had a sort of hut on the water with no A/C or television. I always wanted to go. It seemed very authentic Hawaiian.
Today it’s a Rosewood property, and while it still has that shipwreck island vibe, it exudes the ‘quiet luxury’ that is meant to attract the one percenters. I wonder what those original families think of the revamp?
Clearly some things are a nice addition like air-conditioning and your own bike to get around. All the paths of the resort are made of crushed coral, so do not bring your nice sandals like I did. You’ll want soft flip-flops, or slides. All the lighting is by torches or soft candle sort of light. It’s quite lovely.
The resort is spread out along an expansive beachfront and we saw few people except at the restaurants and at the adorable Shipwreck Bar made out of a sunken boat found off the bay here. I recommend visiting for the Shipwreck Bar and having a Banana Colada, their specialty.
There are two restaurants, two oceanfront bars, and a little coffee and snack spot. We had dinner at the casual Kahuwai Cookhouse restaurant. The food was good, but made to be shared…. Not the best thing with guys in their 20’s. We had about seven ‘small plates’ including a Cornish hen, grilled salad, Brussels sprouts, and pork fritters and fried rice with spam. The desserts were amazing and I had the best rosé I have ever tasted from Austria. The crusty loaves of purple bread made with ube root served with infused olive oil and Kona sea salt was our favorite thing. We enjoyed sitting in the sand and seeing the sunset.
The Auberge Mauna Lani
On another day, we stopped by the newly remodeled Auberge Mauna Lani. This hotel was reimagined in 2020, but due to the pandemic had a slower rollout to the public. We walked over and had lunch there at the beach shack and it was delicious.
There is a marketplace where you can order pizzas, baked goods, a deli, and an excellent coffee bar. This resort feels very family centered. We used to take our kids here when it was the old resort and it still has that homey feel, albeit more upscale and pricey. It’s also quite gorgeous! I was glad to see so many young families enjoying it.
Finding Holiday Rentals in the Big Island
I’ve had more than a few folks reach out and ask about how we found out holiday rental at that busy time of year. Let me share where I look…
We knew about 6 months before we wanted to do the Big Island on the Kona side as we love the beaches and the less crowded feel of the island. We have been to both Maui and Kauai and like them too, but they are even more busy at the holidays. The Big Island is more spread out, and though it’s a busy time, not nearly the same feeling.
We usually look online. We like to find a place that has a dedicated beach to use, and sometimes they are even connected to resorts. This year we stayed at The Villages at Mauna Lani and rented a large duplex with three bedrooms. It has a beach to use called the Mauna Lani Beach Club that has a lunch spot, great snorkeling and a beach with chairs and some with shade and parking. You can also walk over to the Mauna Lani Auberge when it is not high season ( after Jan 3), and use all the restaurants.
Also always available and in this small area is The Fairmont Orchid with three restaurants, and the shops at Mauna Lani with a great grocery, and a Tommy Bahama restaurant, a pizza spot, juice place and a coffee spot. There are a few condo complex’s that share all these. Another that we have rented is called the Mauna Lani Terraces which is closer and walking distance to it all. This time we had a short five minute drive or a 15 minute walk.
As we couldn’t find anything 6 months ago, we just kept checking on the internet for things to open up as people cancel. About 3 month ago we found our spot on this website..
Our rental was here:
You can find more on the Mauna Lani Terraces on this website..
Also try VRBO and Airbnb and using Mauna Lani to search.
We have also rented in the Mauna Kea and Hapuna Beach area, another favorite. Those houses and condos share the two resorts Mauna Kea and Hapuna Prince, which are the same company nearby and you can buy an affordable family day pass to use both beaches and all the resort amenities for the two hotels. Those beaches are also excellent, as are the hotels. Those are a little north of this area about 15 minutes.
There are also more pricey homes to rent near Four Seasons Hualailai and those are found usually through the resort. They use the resort facilities and beach, for quite a big daily fee, but often come with a golf cart and more. ( This is also in the same exit and area as the new Rosewood Kona Villages, so you can use their restaurants and bars easily if it’s not a high season.)
We really just read a lot of reviews and look at photos to find our spots..Just remember this is the sunny side and Hilo is the wetter and more residential side.
Hopefully that is helpful! Please reach out with more questions as I have rented there so many years and I am happy to help guide anyone to a good area and with more tips!
Plan a monthly or quarterly reset..
I felt lucky to be able to get the chance to reset before the new year began, but I started thinking why do we only do this for ourselves once a year? Why not do this quarterly, or heck even once a month? It’s a good way to get back on track, and checking out of social media and unplugging is good for our mental health.
One of my resolutions for 2024, is to mark a week off the calendar once a month to take a break from the phone, the internet, tv and spend more time with books, in the garden, with nature and on walks. Sort of breather to recalibrate and focus on my fitness, health, good cooking, eating right and enriching reading. All of this feeds our souls and is a nice example for our loved ones too.
A plug for starting tennis ( or maybe pickle ball)
I am not a super sporty person, but I play tennis a few times a week and also on a USTA team. I started playing tennis as an 8 year old. We had just had a tennis and swim club built a few blocks from our tract of homes. While we couldn’t afford to belong, I could take a weekly lesson and ride my bike across the orchards that surrounded our neighborhood to the club. Thus began a lifelong love of tennis and a sport I could actually play and enjoy.
I played at the public courts occasionally with my sporty parents and in P.E. and later in high school. I really didn’t play again until I was in my 40’s when a neighbor asked me to join a tennis clinic one day a week. At that point I think I hadn’t played tennis for almost 20 years! I started taking a weekly lesson and met so many nice women.
If you are considering tennis and never have, start with a weekly clinic at your local park or tennis club. They are surprisingly affordable and when you are there, you will run, twist, hit, laugh and make new friends who are also just starting!
It’s always surprising to me how very much I check out when playing. I forget about everything else and it’s good for the brain. I know it’s also strengthens my back, my legs, builds muscles and flexibility. Just the few weeks tennis was rained out and cancelled during the holidays, my back and flexibility, not to mention my sleep suffered.
According to the USTA, tennis reduces stress and anxiety, leads to increased self-esteem, helps with cognitive function, social interaction, better sleep, reduces depression, increases your resilience, improves mood, brain function, and mindfulness.
Studies of life expectancy show tennis and the racket sports like badminton ( probably pickle ball too) add the most years to a life, 9.7 to be exact. The social interactions of tennis are also thought to be part of it as, being with others lowers the stress level!
I’m curious how many of you have tried pickle ball? I just did for the first time with tennis pals and had fun.
So get out there and try some tennis or pickleball! Next week, Cindy and I are sharing workout and athletic clothes for the new year’s Signature Style and I’ll have some for racquet sports too.
Great wool rugs at a good price.
Are you floors feeling cold? One thing I did is add some soft wool rugs in December when the floors were the coldest. I found these well-made nubby rugs on Amazon and I have a 2.3 x 8 runner in the hallway and a 4 x 6 size in my main bathroom. They feel great underfoot, almost like a foot massage as they are bumpy. I love the look, and that they are 100% wool, made by Safavieh and came in a few days. The quality is excellent for the price. They come in other colors too. If you need a rug pad, they have options here. I used one of those you can cut to size .
On My Radar – Resort Pieces
Are you going to the islands this year? These are some cute things I spotted while on my holiday…They will be great for spring and summer and are at good prices now too!
I loved these UPF 50 rash guard shirts by Roxy and bought this one which is longer in the back and not tight. I bought a medium and wore so much over my suits last week.
These Sedona Hats by Wyeth are so good for travel. They are soft and can be packed. I bought mine I am wearing in pic a while back, but they still have two colors.
So many women had on the bucket bag style hat and this one from J. Crew in raffia is a cute option for that trend and on sale. I am getting one!
I also spied the cutest gal wearing a beach sweater over her swimsuit and I think this is it. It’s a bit longer than shown and really darling! You could put this over a slip dress as well or with a tank and shorts.
I never leave Hawaii without a trip to my favorite place SOHA Living. They have the coolest island themed decor and souvenirs. They design darling pillow covers and bags and now have their own pretty cocktail napkins and I brought home a variety of them for gifts.
I will add a few more this weekend, but ran out of time doing this on the flight home!
The Lost Kitchen
I read two books during the trip and one was Finding Freedom by the Lost Kitchen’s Erin French. I may be late to this party, but I really was pulled into the story of her life, her struggles in an abusive marriage, pill addiction, and humble and rough upbringing in rural Maine.
You may have watched the show on Magnolia, which I haven’t yet, but I found her writing is so descriptive and transporting. It reminded me the best kind of food, isn’t something from a Michelin Starred restaurant, but rather the meals made with love the best ingredients you can find..The setting and the atmosphere are all part of what makes the magic. Finding Freedom here and her latest cookbook.
On the other end of the spectrum, I read Anderson Cooper’s latest book, Astor. I was compelled as I enjoyed his Vanderbilt book so much. I appreciate his perspective as a kid who grew up in one of these families and it’s not a pretty portrait of either one, but well written and eye opening about this nation and how the wealthiest came to be.
What are your favorite blog bits?
As I am resetting and planning the year out for the blog, I’d love to know what parts you enjoy the best? What things resonate with you? I know travel was a big interest to you all, as my UK trip posts were quite popular! I also love sharing local and California specific things and places as so many of you are California natives as well or just California lovers.
Please share below as I’d love to hear what you want more – or less of!
I hope to have more fun and fresh things coming for you all in 2024. Thanks again for being here!
I’ll be back Tuesday with the first Signature Style of the year with Cindy. We will be talking athletic and leisure wear so subscribe below if you don’t want to miss those monthly posts.
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