Savor the Memories


Today is the 7 year anniversary of my father’s death.

It’s strange because I feel like he just died, yet my memory of him is fading and there are things I can no longer see clearly in my mind. The way he sipped his black coffee loudly, almost like a slurp that might annoy me had it been coming from anyone else. Or did he really even do that? Maybe it wasn’t really loud at all? I know he liked his coffee black, but it’s the noise I’m not so sure of anymore.

This week Janey brought home a permission slip for an upcoming field trip to the Sailing Club in Nawiliwili. She moaned and groaned about not wanting to go and asked if she could please skip it, it sounds so boring. “But Grandpa loved sailing,” I wanted to tell her, thinking it might change her mind. The thought of him down at the harbor tinkering with his old green sailboat warmed my heart. But as quickly as my mind filled with thoughts of my dad and his sailboat, I began to panic. What year was it? 2003? No, it couldn’t have been. What ever happened to that boat? How do I not remember? Was it even green?

I can’t help but feel like a failure when it comes to properly grieving my dad. Nobody showed me what to do, and I just know I’m doing it all wrong. I think I’m fine and have accepted his absence in my life and then I get a phone call from my uncle (his brother) and the sound of his voice, eerily similar to my dad’s, brings me to my knees.


Last month we opened our fourth Kalapaki Joe’s restaurant here in Kauai and my husband had been using my dad’s tools to build some shelving for the restaurant. The tools were strewn about the garage for several days after the project was complete and every day I came home to the tools still on the garage floor felt like a giant slap to my dad’s memory. In my husband’s defense, he was very busy opening a restaurant and dealing with the demands of three others. And, as I later found out, he was keeping the tools out in case he needed to adjust the shelving unit they had just built.

My irrational self let my feelings of grief overcome me and I couldn’t understand how my husband could be so heartless and cold and disrespectful to my dad’s tools. When I couldn’t take it any longer, I blew up at him in anger. “These are all I have left of my father,” I screamed at him through streaming tears.

“These tools were used to build all of our restaurants,” my husband had said calmly. “Did it ever occur to you that your dad might be proud of us and our accomplishments? And that his tools helped build this company that provides for our family?”

It was true. My dad was a very generous and loving man. He would have offered his tools and his help without a second thought.

I realized it’s not about my dad’s tools at all. It’s about me and the relationship I had with him, and the memories that are fading with each day that passes. Instead of feeling like I got gypped, I need to be grateful for the time I had with him. I need to savor the memories that I have instead of wishing there were more.


Julia and Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, September 2010.


This week my dear friend Julia lost her older brother to a stroke. I feel like I should know what to say and do to console her. But I don’t.

Julia is no stranger to grief. Already we shared a special bond in that both our fathers died in the month of January, but she has the added suffering of also losing her brother in January. Since becoming friends we have silently acknowledged each other’s pain while trying to be cheerful about the other January happenings (new year’s celebrations, my birthday, Julia’s husband Donald’s birthday). We both quietly sigh with relief as the month ends and we can finally move forward with the year.

Now she has one more death to add to her dreaded January memorial. And my heart breaks for her.


Julia and I in Paris, October 2012.


I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the grieving process, nor will I understand death.

But I do know that I miss my dad very much. And I am grateful for the time I have with the people that I love. And I’m working hard on being present in every moment so I never again have to wonder if the sailboat was really green. I will know for sure that it was.

Dad from Erika Valente on Vimeo.

5 Ways to Brighten Your Skin


I’ve spent 3 of the last 5 weeks away from the moist, humid air of Hawaii and my skin is most definitely suffering. The cold, dry air of Northern Nevada sucked the moisture out of my skin, leaving my face looking dull and lifeless.

Now that I’m back in Hawaii, I’ve found I’m still not free from the winter weather. Not even kidding. It’s been windy and cold (okay, maybe not your kind of cold but 58 degrees here means we make a fire and wear fleece onesies to bed) and I’m in desperate need of a brighter face come Friday (it’s my birthday and I def don’t want to look the part.)

Here are five ways to instantly brighten up your complexion:


I try to visit my aesthetician once a month or at least once every two months. She has access to professional product lines that treat my skin for specific problems I’m having (dehydration!) and I can walk out of the salon looking bright times a million. Totally worth the money, in my opinion.


If you don’t have the extra time or money for a facial, invest the five minutes needed for a super hydrating moisture mask. Right now I love the Paula’s Choice Hydrating Treatment Mask. You can use it like a regular hydration mask or you can leave it on all night long for extra moisture. (It also doubles as eye cream in a pinch.)


This one is such a no-brainer because when I take the time to exfoliate my skin feels amaaaaaazing…but I always seem to forget. This is likely because my sensitive skin keeps me from exfoliating daily, so it hasn’t been part of my regular nightly beauty routine. Until now. Enter: Kate Somerville ExfoliKate GENTLE.


Can we just have a tiny moment of silence for this younger, sweeter sister of the original ExfoliKate?

I adore ExfoliKate and even keep a travel size tube with me when I travel, but I love that ExfoliKate Gentle is an option during winter months when my skin tends to be more dry and sensitive than normal. This gentler formula can be used daily yet still has all the fruit enzymes to remove dead surface cells while hydrating Vitamin E and honey keep skin supple.


Pores & wrinkles vanish immediate with Olay Regenerist Instant Fix Wrinkle & Pore Vanisher. The silky formula fills in fine lines and wrinkles while the thousands of tiny, light-blurring particles create the illusion of perfectly smooth skin and primes the skin to help foundation last all day.


Blush is the quickest way to brighten up your face with a touch of color. It takes two seconds to apply and makes everyone look prettier. I love Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks in Fresh Melon, a peachy pink that looks fresh and natural on most skin tones (try Calypso Coral for deeper skin tones). Be sure to apply right to the apples of the cheeks and blend down and out toward the ears. I like to use my finger and gently tap to blend.

As always, hydrate with lots of water and fresh fruits and vegetables for beautiful skin from the inside out.

This is 2015


I’m kind of aiming for a complete overhaul of my life this year, so it makes no sense to list out my resolutions here. It might be October before we get through all of them.

It has been 5 years since I moved back to Kauai, made a career change and put this little website on the back burner. (Time certainly flies by when you’re working your ass off!) Now that the restaurant business has charred my soul and stolen every last ounce of benevolence I might have possessed, I’m attempting to take my life back.

2015 is my year, I’ve decided.

Janey and I taking a selfie before we disembark from our flight to Kauai on New Year's Day 2015.

Janey and I taking a selfie before we disembark from our flight to Kauai on New Year’s Day 2015.


I’m excited to be back at Makeup Bag sharing all my favorite beauty finds. In addition, I’ll be posting updates on what life is like living on a little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And of course, there’s my latest passion slash stress-reliever slash life-saver: running.

July 2014: Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon


Never did I imagine that running would become my form of meditation, my way to unwind and sort through the rampant thoughts in my head, my portal to staying sane. Running has become an essential part of my life.


So as we all get settled into the new year, here are a few things I’ll be doing this month to get myself on track and take my life back, 2015-style:

Are we friends on Instagram? If not, we totally should be.

Happy new year! This is going to be the best one yet.



Kiehl’s Overnight Hydration Essentials Set


This Kiehl’s Overnight Hydration Essentials Set is every jet-setter’s dream come true.

All your favorite Kiehl’s products in convenient travel sizes!

Set includes:

  • Ultra Facial Cleanser (1 oz.): Gentle cleansing formula dissolves excess dirt and debris without over drying
  • Ultra Facial Cream (1 oz.): a 24-hour, light-textured daily hydrator that leaves skin comfortable and visibly well-balanced
  • Midnight Recovery Concentrate Elixir (0.14 oz.): a natural replenishing elixir of pure botanical oils that provides vital nutrients to enhance skin’s nighttime recovery.
  • Crème de Corps (4.2 oz.): a superb allover moisturizer that’s ideal for extremely dry or flaky skin
  • Ultimate Strength Hand Salve (2.5 oz.): a heavy-duty moisture treatment formulated for the driest, most active hands that offers all-day care and protection.

Available at Nordstrom for $33.00

Alba Botanica Good & Clean Foaming Cleanser


Face cleanser is one beauty item I just can’t justify spending money on.

I mean, I’m certainly guilty of splurging on my favorites every now and then, but I would certainly prefer to not spend the money if I find a drugstore cleanser that I love.

This week I am visiting Bailey and needed some face wash so I stopped over at CVS and found this Alba Botanica Daily Detox Foaming Cleanser:


The creamy formula lathers nicely to break up makeup and oil yet it’s gentle enough for sensitive skin.  With no parabens, phthalates or synthetic fragrances, this oil-free cleanser rinses clean leaving skin feeling refreshed and balanced.

The best part? It cost me less than ten dollars.

Alba Botanica Daily Detox Foaming Cleanser is available at CVS and other drugstores for $8.99.