Monday, January 22, 2018


A year ago I was stuck on the side of the road in Nowhere, South Carolina (not a real town). I had struck a deer in my rental car and I was unable to continue my drive to the coast. A seemingly random event that, all things considered, was really just a random event has actually changed the course of my life. I look back at a year ago and the heavy heart that I carried around with me. I was newly divorced, had a really bad experience with an ex over the 2016 Christmas holiday, and was in such a bad place. The open roads of Georgia and South Carolina called to me. I needed the time and the space and the open road to just think and ponder how I would lift myself out of the dark place I was in.

I flew from Honolulu, Hawai'i to Atlanta, Georgia. I had not planned to hang with family in Georgia but I selected Georgia specifically because I had family nearby. I like having the comfort of knowing that people I can count on could be called in the case of an emergency. I was searching for something, anything, to make my heart happy again. My intention was to find that place in me through the silence of the dark roads and the seemingly endless open highway. As I picked up my rental car, I selected to travel east, south east to the eastern shores of South Carolina and Georgia. I wanted to look out onto the Atlantic Ocean to see if maybe I could find a new ocean to love - far away from the Pacific.

I have a love affair with the ocean. I will never stop loving the ocean and the feeling of being submerged in its waters. The Pacific, though, reminded me of all the good times I have had with the two loves of my life - both are ex-husbands now - and I just wanted to run away. Run far away from the place that I loved so much. I was hungry for new experiences and new places. I wanted to let my hair down and find the authentic me that was so caged up in Hawai'i. I wanted to run away from the pain and the hurt that I felt at the hands of my newly single ex-husband. I wanted to love him forever and I suppose a part of me always will but I needed to run away.

5:30 p.m. I pull out of the Atlanta-Hartsfield airport and make my way to I20-E. I drove for hours and hours through Augusta, GA through Columbia, SC. As I made my way toward Myrtle Beach, I pulled off the interstate and onto the lonely county highways. It was dark, so very dark, and I found myself so lost in the sadness and grief that was my life. Nothing like a broken heart to bring a person face to face with all of their flaws and brokenness. I felt alone.

I was just an hour away from Myrtle Beach when I hit the deer. It took hours for the tow truck to get to us because I was in such an isolated location. My cell phone didn't work, the State Trooper took about thirty minutes to get to me. The whole experience had brought me to my knees and illuminated all of my hurt places - not physical hurt but the emotional broken down places inside of me. The tow truck took me to the nearest town and dropped me off at a hotel where I checked in to hunker down for the night.

And then I met someone.

The electric between him and I was thick and so tangible. There is no way to duplicate that kind of fireworks and that kind of chemistry. I am still at a loss when I think of that evening. A seemingly random event like hitting a deer and wrecking my car has changed the course of my life.

Fast forward one year and here I am in South Carolina. I am settled in and about to buy a house on my own. It's all rather bittersweet for me because I have been married for all of my adult life, it seems. I have always had a partner to help me make decisions, especially the big ones like buying a house. There was always someone to share financial responsibility for the household. And here I am doing it But this is what I wanted - new adventures, new beginnings, and that is the life I have chosen for myself.

And that someone that I met?

The conversation has been ongoing since that fated evening. #1yearLater

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Poke Bros | Columbia, SC | Fresh Fish NOT-Hawaiian Style

Imagine a girl from Hawai'i (ME) in South Carolina. I'm craving yummy raw fish. (In Hawai'i we call it poke - pronounced po-kay). I'm walking up to the theatre to go watch a movie and to the right of the entrance is a restaurant called Poke Bros. "Fresh Fish Hawaiian Style". Of course, I'm going in there! Of course I want a taste of home whenever possible.

I made a rookie mistake and did not grab a menu pamphlet when it was offered to me. It would have been nice to look at it now that I'm out of the store and ready to "review" the menu. Also it would have been nice to take a closer look at how they're marketing this "Fresh Fish Hawaiian Style". I am positive that whatever was on their pamphlet can be found on their website. Which, by the way, is well developed and to my surprise there are four restaurants that are already open here in South Carolina. Two stores that are within thirty minutes of me. And they are opening five more locations in this state. I didn't know that the interest in raw fish was so high here in South Carolina to warrant a total of nine stores in this state. Wow!

In my opinion, this operation is a very cookie-cutter, assembly-line style restaurant that was conceived for the sole purpose of franchising. On the one hand, it's a great business model for the owner but on the other hand, the food suffers because there's just NO SOUL in this food. I suppose that sums up my review for Poke Bros - the bowl I ordered had NO SOUL in it. I have to compare it with the fish counters at home.

My #1 Favorite Poke spot in Hawai'i: FRESH CATCH | Kaneohe, O'ahu.

What you find at Fresh Catch that you will not find at Poke Bros are variations of poke from all types of ocean animals. I say animals because fish is not the only thing that is served poke-style in Hawai'i.

There's tako poke. Tako is the Japanese word for octopus. The Hawaiian word for octopus is he'e, pronounced "hay-a". Octopus can be caught fairly close to shore in Hawai'i. As a teenager I often went with my father on his diving expeditions. When he didn't need to go quickly, he would allow me to swim along. We would stay in the water for hours. The only reason we would return to shore was because we were thirsty and hungry. I remember one specific time being out in the water for eight hours straight. Me and my dad! When he was out diving, his main search was for octopus and it was usually for someone's luau. I remember my father coming out of the ocean with loads of octopus still writing along his t-bar. He would tenderize it by beating it and pounding it in the sink or in a pot. Then he would hang it to dry in the sun. The he'e would turn a deep purple and white. Though there are some recipes for raw he'e, most times it is served after being dried or smoked and tossed with a poke sauce and green onions.

There are two types of tuna that are most commonly served poke style. Aku, pronounced "ah-koo," is a skipjack tuna and was my most favorite fish when I was a child. I especially liked it dried. It is sort of like jerky. The high blood content is probably why I like the flavor so much. After it is caught, the blood rushes into the flesh and will turn black quickly. For most people that is not appetizing but me, I love it! The other tuna is the yellowfin tuna or better known as ahi.

There's scallop poke - the scallop is cooked and tossed with a poke sauce.

There's mussel poke - also cooked before tossing with a poke sauce.

There's crab poke - raw and cooked variations.

I feel like I'm rambling like on Forrest Gump when he talks about all the different ways of cooking shrimp. Because there's opihi poke, smoked meat poke, pipikaula poke. Seriously, the list can get extensive.

The Hawaiian yellowtail or amberjack, known by it's Japanese name in Hawai'i -hamachi- is another great fish to use in raw preparations. The fat content is high in this particular fish, which makes it melt like butter when you eat it. So delicious!

All poke preparations in Hawai'i boast a variety of ingredients:
Seaweed - Hawaiian word is limu
Hawaiian salt - typically red alaea, unrefined sea salt
Green Onion
Sweet Onion
Round Onion
Chili pepper flakes
Mayonnaise (Best Foods or Kewpie)
Tobiko and/or Masago - fish roe
Fried Garlic - my fave
Inamona - dried and preserved kukui nut (another fave)
Shoyu - everyone has their favorite brand, mine is a toss up between Kikkoman and Aloha Shoyu
Oyster Sauce
Sesame Oil
The list of ingredients could go on and on.

Considering all of those ingredients and the variety of seafood at a typical poke counter in Hawai'i, Poke Bros is not a place I would consider a leader in "Fresh Fish Hawaiian Style." Sorry - it just isn't! I am almost offended that they even reference Hawai'i in their advertisements. It is what it is - clever marketing, exploiting Hawai'i's unique flavors.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Choosing Happiness

I told him when we split that I can't be "just his friend."
He was keen on telling me that, "We'd always be friends."
He insisted, "I'll always look out for you."
I know that I don't want to see him in that light EVER. I don't want to be "just his friend." It feels like a horrible torturing technique and I don't want any parts of it. I can be civil but I don't want friendship.

Just last night, I wrote in my journal that I don't really think of him and that I don't see how we made it work for thirteen years. I believe that he wanted a submissive woman, a stay-at-home housewife. He wanted to make all the decisions and for the woman (me) to follow. I think I was like that for everything except for where we lived. I just wanted to be in Hawai'i. Oddly enough, as soon as we split, I moved away from Hawai'i within the year. I don't know what kind of sense that makes but here I am in South Carolina and I am loving EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE of my time here. A good portion of why I left is because he was/is still there. The thought of running into him with another woman was way too much for me to consider. A friend of mine had already run into him with someone else and it shut me down for a couple days. My heart just cannot deal with that right now or maybe ever.

He was my best friend - the one man that could talk me down from any amount of stress. And I loved him so much. God, I loved him. I know there are pieces of me that will always belong to him. When I talk to him on the phone or through text, I get sucked into being friends like we were when we were married and I cannot allow that to be my reality. Yet the truth is that we still have accounts and bills together. There wasn't a clean break when we divorced. Our world was so intertwined and because of that, we still have to be in contact with each other. **sigh**

Parts of me wish for it back and then I remember the not-so-good things and realize that I am good. I am making my way in the world and I can do this. The freedom at which I move about the world makes me so very happy. So I have a few bad days when I wish for my old life but for the most part, I am doing oh-so-fine and feeling great. The sadness that was me for most of 2016 and 2017 is way out the door. I am choosing happiness today and everyday. YeahYouuu!!

Friday, January 05, 2018

Marie Makeup On YouTube

This girl is too much! I love her!!

Brand new MakeUp Review girl. She's so entertaining. Just love her to pieces!

YOUTUBE: Marie Makeup
INSTAGRAM: nmarie_makevp

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Hello 2018

What a whirlwind of a holiday season it has been. I am exhausted from all my travels. I went home to Hawai'i. That was so fabulous! I love being with my family. It's alllllll love. I arrived back in South Carolina from Hawai'i on December 30th. From the airport, I went home and did a quick unpack and repack. Within 3 hours of my arrival I was road-tripping it to Maryland alone. That was a ten-hour drive all while fighting the jet lag, eight hours of driving and two hours of random stops. Honestly, I think jet lag is all in the mind. Though I was exhausted, I am a trooper and drove and partied right through it. On my way back from Maryland, I did a short, overnight detour through the backwoods of South Carolina and went straight to work from there the next day. So today is my first "normal" day in quite some time.

The holiday season flew by so quickly. Probably the biggest highlight was watching The Greatest Showman. It will forever remind me of Christmas. I am going to blog about the whole experience later. The story and the music and the cast -- very moving and I am excited to share my incite about it.

Christmas Day was spent singing our hearts out at karaoke with my dad's side of the family. The food was fabulous. The singing fun. And I just enjoyed hanging out with my family. The rest of my time in Hawai'i was spent hanging with friends and running around collecting goodies for me to bring back to South Carolina. Can you believe there was a shortage of luau leaves? I was not able to make the laulau and palusami that I had planned to make and bring back to South Carolina. Some days, I just want some fob food.

I rang in the New Year in Maryland. My nephew turned 21 on New Years Eve so it was an extra special new years party. He looked like he had a great time. We did the spa in the morning, had the party at the house for his birthday and to ring in the new year then he went out to hang with friends. I had such a great time. It was so nice to be there with BooBoo and her Maryland family. I love that they are right up the road. Both she and I have been through some ish in 2017. We were glad to be together to kick 2017 all the way out the door and welcome 2018 with all of its possibilities!

Good Morning World! Hello 2018!