AVEDA Stress-Fix Body Creme


Bree brought home this Aveda Stress-Fix Body Creme the other day and I seriously can’t get enough of it.

The creamy texture is super thick and moisturizing (it’s kind of greasy so beware if you’re not into that) and the lavender scent smells divine.

I’ve been slathering myself from head to toe before bed and I feel like my entire body has been restored.

This is most definitely my new favorite winter night time moisturizer.

AVEDA Stress-Fix Body Creme is available online at Aveda.com for $50.

Lash Extension Life Lessons


My first post-lash extension selfie. These are strip lashes left over from Halloween. Much better than my sphynx look.


I’ve been traveling quite a bit over the last several months and so has my lash girl, Robin. When I finally got back to Kauai after the new year, it had been over three weeks since my last appointment and I was desperate for a fill.

My right eye was reluctantly hanging onto a handful of lashes, but the majority of them had fallen off. My left eye was as bald as a sphynx. Only, not as cute.


After a frantic, late-night text where I basically begged Robin to let me come over for a slumber party/lash fill, I realized I’d have to accept my naked eyes: Robin was on vacation.

Fast forward about ten days and I’m living a lash-free life. This is totally by choice as I could have easily made an appointment somewhere else, but I didn’t. (I’m loyal, what can I say?) And when Robin texted me to say she was back and had an opening yesterday, I decided to wait it out. I haven’t experienced extension-free lashes in over three years and it’s kind of… liberating. Only, not really.

Here’s a few life lessons I’ve learned from having lash extensions:

1) If your lash girl doubles as your therapist, you win. I’ve had my lashes done in New York, Chicago and San Francisco and there isn’t anyone that compares to my Robin. When you have a lash girl that gets it right, all else in the world is right (see #2). It’s a crazy bonus that Robin is super smart and doubles as my life coach/therapist. My twice-monthly lash sessions are equally as good for my soul as my self-esteem. It’s like I win the lash lottery every single time I see her.

2) Everyone looks prettier with lash extensions. Especially me. This is my biased opinion but there’s something super fabulous about waking up in the morning and catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror with lash extensions. Oh, hello gorgeous. A few times a week I meet my girlfriends at the ungodly 5:45 a.m. hour so we can sweat it out before starting our days. Grabbing coffee on the way home in my sweaty running gear isn’t as gross as it could be when I have mile-long lashes to bat at the barista. (Maybe I don’t actually look prettier with lash extensions, but I definitely FEEL prettier. And, frankly, that’s all that matters.)

3) Rubbing your eyes is overrated. I really thought I’d LOVE rubbing my eyes again after three years of obstructed access, but it doesn’t feel as good as I remember. It could be that I wear contacts and I can’t really go after the rubbing, but… meh.  Not as satisfying as I had hoped.

4) Prepare to give something up. As with most good things in life, having lash extensions is an investment in both time and money. Be prepared to give it up. If your lash girl doubles as your therapist then YOU WIN. Otherwise, you don’t. Decide if the cost and time commitment are worth waking up to Bambi staring back at you in the mirror every morning. I know, it’s a tough choice.

5) There’s a fine line, don’t cross it. As long as you find a lash girl that has your back and won’t let you walk out of her lash lab looking like a hooker, you should be fine. But try to steer clear of the uni-lash look. Pre-Robin, I went to this lash girl that would basically glue all my lashes together for the sake of time. I mean, I’m not sure what she was thinking but we are no longer on speaking terms. Find a lash specialist that takes the time to glue each lash on individually. Someone who prefers you look like Bambi and not a porn star. (Disclosure: I am FULL AWARE that the strip lashes I’m wearing in the photo above have dangerously crossed the line of appropriateness. But I’ll have you know those lashes were for photographic effect only and were not worn in public. Therefore I shall not be considered a hooker.)

Why did I decide to live this sphynx-like life, again? Ugh. I’m getting Robin on the phone, stat.



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.