Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vacation Rental Enforcement Bill on Oahu

Oahu, photo by Dianne Smith

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle’s proposed legislation against the vacation rental industry fell short by one vote, after heated debate during two public hearings in August 2011. His Bill to Amend #21 required five votes to pass, but results were four yea's and three no's, so the Planning Commission is allowed to take another vote. No further testimony will be heard on the issue, but votes will be recast 1:30 pm on September 7, 2011, at Mission Memorial Hearings Room, 550 South King Street, Honolulu. If the Amendment fails to pass, the Commission will send it to the Honolulu City Council without a recommendation.

Planning Commission’s Second Vote on Vacation Rental Enforcement Bill

The controversial amendment drew over 300 people on August 10, 2011, with the majority opposing the harsh enforcement. Fines of $1,000 or more and jail time are potentially in store for people in residential areas who open their homes to paying visitors. Since 2009 the vacation rentals have been denied a permitting process and stigmatized as "illegal," so many have gone underground. Enforcement of the vacation rental ban has been difficult, so the proposed Amendment was calling for the rentals to identify themselves in all advertising with their addresses and legal permit numbers.

Proponents for the Amendment argue that listing the information is similar to the requirement for contractors to list their license numbers on advertising, however, contractors don't list their home addresses or the fact that their properties may be vacant, inviting criminal activity. This identification would expose the properties to theft and vandalism, especially with internet advertising. 

The Hawaii Vacation Rental Owner Association (HVROA) urges everyone who hopes for the amendment's defeat to attend the meeting on September 7. They note that the Mayor, Councilmembers and news media pay attention to large numbers. HVROA wants their industry to receive legal permits or certificates to operate, especially since they are of the majority opinion.

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Kubota, Gary. "Votes Fall Short on Vacation Rental Statute" Honolulu Star Advertiser. August 25, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

In The Raw Clothing & Fashion Boutique in Capitola, California

Samuel Dong Coat

In The Raw Designer Clothing Boutique
A clothing store with trendy designer clothes for ladies is inside the Capitola Mercantile, offering California fashion at reasonable prices. The Capitola Mercantile is a mini-mall just a stone's throw away from the beach at 115 San Jose Avenue in Capitola, California, and is a fabulous find for travelers who love to shop. In The Raw is across from Nazar, a small emporium selling beautiful Turkish imports that shoppers may also want to check out.

Cheap Designer Clothes at In The Raw

In The Raw sells sunglasses, beaded jewelry, bathing suits, and handicraft dresses, jackets, skirts, pants and tops. The selection includes sleeveless tops and sun dresses by Santiki from Indonesia, stunning jackets by Double Zero with studs and extra zippers for $48, and Samuel Dong coats for $120. Designer tops sell in the thirty dollar range and 100% cotton art jackets from Nepal for $48. Some of the artwear is inspired by trends arising from Burning Man.

The store offers goods from about thirty suppliers, including Wow Couture, Up & Coming, Street wear, Jayli Designs, Solitaire Fashion by Ravi Khosia and a favorite from New York, Samuel Dong. "They're more like artists than designers," says owner Harleen Rana. "It is charming to deal with people like that. Dong is an engineer and a designer together, and the result is definitely a work of art."

Rana cheerfully demonstrates three ways a piece can be worn, explaining how his clothes fit today's eclectic lifestyles. "A particular genre is not enough for us anymore," he says.

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Rana has been the sole proprietor of In The Raw since 1996. Originally from India and then New York, he has traveled around the world, picking up unique wearable art along the way for his lucky customers. He attends trade shows several times a year, getting first dibs on styles before other retailers, and his financial savvy enables him to offer beautiful clothing at very fair prices.

Rana's exotic flair extends even to the store's decor, with driftwood dragged in from the beach used for hanging rods and other staging.

Rana said a turning point in his business came when he decided "to get out of the way and let the customer decide what looked best." Still, he has a great eye for styling on women's figures of all shapes and sizes, from full figured matrons to shapely teenagers, helping all to find outfits that maximize beauty and hide flaws. Camouflaging sarongs made of 100% rayon sell for just $10.

Within seconds Rana can size up a lady and choose a piece that will complement her dimensions perfectly. "I want to see the fashion show!" he will quip as he sends her off to the dressing room. When she reappears he is honest in his appraisals. "That looks amazing." He will also tactfully say what doesn't look good and suggest an alternative outfit, but he has a talent to choose styles in the first place that are flattering. "If you're happy in a dress, your body will feel it," he says.

In The Raw hours are 11 to 6 daily, but since Harleen Rana is chief cook and bottle washer of his shop, he sometimes has to close the store during business hours to run an errand. If he's not there, wait fifteen minutes for him to return. If customers want to call before driving over, the phone number is (831) 477-1291.

photos by Janelle McKellar

Things To Do in San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco, California; photo by John, as star5112

California, U.S.A. is a tourist mecca, especially the City of San Francisco. Attractions abound, so travelers won't be disappointed. You may have a hard time fitting everything in, but you will certainly enjoy trying. Here's a short list.

Things To Do in San Francisco

A highlight for many is to ride a bike from Fisherman's Wharf along the Marina, then across the Golden Gate Bridge with a stop at Vista Point, continuing into Sausalito, and then returning to Fisherman's Wharf by ferry. Families can take their children to see the animals at the San Francisco Zoo or hike through the redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument. It is exciting to whale watch on a excursion to the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary or ride a helicopter over San Francisco, looping around the Golden Gate Bridge. Fabulous vistas can be enjoyed on ferry boat cruises around the bay. For something no cost, meet for a free walking tour of San Francisco offered by City Guides.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (Bart) is the train that services the San Francisco Bay Area. At the Powell exit, people can then take a cable car to Fisherman's Wharf. On the way, they can also tour the Cable Car Museum or China town. With a car, one can visit Coit Tower or Twin Peaks to take in magnificent views of the City.

San Francisco Bay Area Vacations

Fascinating cities to check out are Half Moon Bay, Sausalito, Berkeley, China Town in San Francisco, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Palo Alto, Saratoga and Los Gatos. Exceptional parks in San Francisco Bay Area include the former military base and then prison of Alcatraz Island, Angel Island State Park, Ano Nuevo State Park which has elephant seals in their natural habitat, Point Reyes National Seashore with a trail along the San Andreas earthquake faultline, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Tilden Park for golfing and hiking in Berkeley, and Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo. Tourists could spend days in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, with attractions like the impressive deYoung Museum and Japanese Tea Garden.

If visiting college campuses is an interest, Stanford University in Palo Alto and the University of California at Berkeley offer free tours. Classic car buffs will want to visit Blackhawk Museum in the city of Danville, across the Oakland Bay Bridge.

Scenic Roads Around the City of San Francisco

With the Pacific Ocean, cityscapes, coastal mountains and pristine parks, many roads in the San Francisco Bay Area offer amazing views. Here are a few worth driving on:

  • Highway 1 along the coast
  • Highway 35
  • Panoramic Highway in Marin County
  • The Embarcadero in San Francisco
  • El Camino Del Mar in San Francisco
  • The Golden Gate Bridge
  • Lombard Street, San Francisco
  • Bridgeway in Sausalito
  • Skyline Boulevard in Berkeley
  • Grizzly Peak Boulevard, Oakland
San Francisco Attractions and Activities

Shopping is a must for many visitors to San Francisco. Favorite places are the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings at the Ferry Building, Union Square, Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf and Embarcadero Center. Just across the Oakland Bay Bridge is Jack London Square in Oakland. Don't forget to stop in Heinold's First and Last Chance Bar that London used to frequent.

What is a vacation without great food? San Francisco is multicultural and the dining reflects that with restaurant cuisine from all corners of the globe. For a list of the best ranked eateries, click here. Across the bay in Berkeley is Alice Waters world famous Chez Panisse, where organic restaurant fare began.

For the brave souls who want more daring experiences, iFly in Union City, about a half hour drive outside of San Francisco, offers indoor sky diving on a vertical wind tunnel. Or acrobatics can be learned at Trapeze Arts in Oakland. Sea Horse Ranch in Half Moon Bay offers horseback riding on the beach, and the adventurous can also rent equipment to go kiteboarding, kitesurfing, kayaking or windsurfing.

Locals and visitors love to shop, dine, visit local hot spots, roller blade, sail, scuba dive, surf, swim, sunbathe, visit museums and galleries, visit colleges, attend concerts and theaters, bike, hike, golf, and motorcycle or drive on scenic roads. It would take a year to fully explore everything, so many visitors simply have to make another trip!

Japanese Tea Garden Tour in Golden Gate Park Review

Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California
photo by Thierry

City Guides of San Francisco offers free walking tours, perfect for those on a tight budget who want to experience the City of San Francisco, California. Five or six strolling gardens with koi ponds, waterfalls, ducks, bridges and gorgeous vegetation comprise the Japanese Tea Garden walking tour, located on Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive in San Francisco's historic Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco Tours: The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

Although the City Guides tour is no cost, visitors must purchase a ticket to get into the Japanese Tea Garden. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for residents, children $2-5, and only cash is accepted. The garden is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but docents like Gwen Joe will be waiting just inside the entrance to give tours at the following times:

March and April Schedule:

  • All Sundays of the month at 1:00 PM
  • All Mondays of the month at 9:30 AM
  • All Wednesdays of the month at 1:00 PM
May Schedule:

  • Sunday May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 at 1:00 PM
  • Monday May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 at 9:30 AM
  • Wednesday May 5, 12, 19, 26 at 1:00 PM
June through September Schedule:

  • All Sundays of the month at 1:00 PM
  • All Mondays of the month at 9:30 AM
  • All Wednesdays of the month at 1:00 PM
"Japanese like odd numbers in their floral arrangements," said Gwen Joe during a recent tour. She led about a dozen visitors through a 50-minute stroll, describing the garden's history, differences between red and green leafed Japanese maples, the spiritual purposes of fountains (cleansing) and how to drink tea. "The cups don't have handles so that you have to hold them from the bottom," she said. "That way you will know if the tea is cool enough to drink."

History of the Japanese Tea Garden

The impressive front gate was constructed without nails in traditional Japanese style, with Buddha masks on the roof as guards, for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exhibition and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. After the Exposition, San Francisco wanted to turn the site into a Japanese garden. The granite tile entryway leads past white rhododendron and bonsai Monterey Cypresses, the largest being about six stories tall. The entry garden has a 300-year old Japanese Black Pine supported by wooden posts next to a koi pond, with Turtle Island in the midst.

A gentleman named Makoto Hagiwara designed the original garden. He was the second son of a Japanese aristocrat, an adventurer who would never inherit his family homestead, so he headed for California. What he found were wealthy San Franciscans fascinated by all things Japanese, especially the gardens. Hagiwara found a niche for himself as a landscape designer and brought many exotic plants and birds over from Japan. His family was granted a 99-year lease to live in the garden he was tending.

Hagiwara started with one acre which eventually grew into five acres of azaleas, camellias, Japanese maples, ferns, junipers, grasses and Siberian Irises. Other plants in the garden included palm trees, wisteria, flowering crab apple trees, Japanese Red Pines, Japanese flowering quince, and Japanese Umbrella pine trees. Lily pads floated in ponds near big boulders. However, not all plants from Hagiwara's native country thrived in San Francisco's climate, so some American plants were incorporated, like strawberries. A Mt. Fuji shape near the entrance is pruned from English and Italian shrubs.

The Japanese internment during World War II interrupted the Hagiwara family's idyllic lifestyle, and they never returned to Golden Gate Park. The City of San Francisco took possession of the "abandoned" Japanese garden, and today two full-time employees and one part-timer are the caretakers. Only the ornate doorway remains of Makoto Hagiwara's house.

Things To Do in San Francisco: Admire the Landscape

"Look at the tree pruned in the peony style," says Gwen Joe. Branches shaped in semi-circles or umbrella shapes throughout will cause the tree to look like a giant peony when it snows. Forty flowering cherry trees bloom around April 1st, she also explains, and then drop their blossoms like pink snow. Ginko trees come either male or female.

A black stone pathway shaded by Japanese Maples shines beautifully when wet, but the uneven pavement can then also become dangerously slippery. A zen garden, also considered a "dry" garden, has unusually shaped rocks from Asia, a water basin, and small stones raked to look like flowing water. Japanese Maples, camellias, azaleas and grasses complete the scene. William Randolph Hearst once bought a Spanish monastery and then donated some of its stones to the Japanese Tea Garden. They are placed as stepping stones in one of the ponds, topped with cement to keep them from deteriorating, now with baby tears dripping down their sides.

San Francisco Travel: the Japanese Tea Garden

The Chinese Pagoda, a relic from the 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition, was built quickly and never intended to last, sporting a rotting roof and peeling paint. The Siamese gate is also in disrepair. In contrast, a rock solid peace lantern given by the children of Japan sits quietly near the path. A massive Buddha statue, cast in 1790 for a Japanese monastery, was purchased and donated by Gump's Store. Other structures are bridges and a high wooden arch over a pond.

The tea house has open walls so patrons will feel a part of the garden surroundings. The air can get chilly, so the hot tea and miso soup are welcome. Chewy, flavored rice cakes called mochi and senbei (Japanese crackers), are also offered, all at reasonable prices. Nearby a small gift shop sells tea sets, ceramic owls, wooden dolls, chopsticks, Japanese lantern nightlights, toy samurai swords, fans, origami paper and wooden sandals. The usual touristy earrings, postcards and edible treats are also sold.

City Guides Walking Tours of San Francisco

City Guides of San Francisco is a non-profit sponsored by the San Francisco Parks Trust "to preserve and perpetuate the history and folklore of San Francisco and to celebrate its rich history of cultural diversity." They host 83 free walking tours, perfect for sightseers who would like to visit wonderful sites like the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Waikiki Review of Two Eateries, Pane & Vino and Siam Square

Waikiki, photo by Miss Rogue

Waikiki Restaurants on Lewers Street, on the backside of Waikiki, offer visitors an alternative to the usual Hawaiian tourist traps. For happy hour or dinner, stroll down to the corner of Kuhio Avenue and Lewers Street. On the second story above an ABC Store are Siam Square for Thai food and Pane & Vino for Italian fare.

Waikiki Travel to the Pane & Vino Wine Bar

Pane & Vino is a dimly lit, funky Italian wine bar that customers either love or hate, run by a Japanese bartender named Masa Fumi. He is a friendly host that sorely aims to please with his well chosen wines and sign on the wall, "In Vino Veritas." The wine bar has been around since 2005, built in an old style sugar shack with a metallic counter, exuding an industrial look with cozy seating.

Oddly, the wine menu doesn't go into detail with the names of vineyards and years, but the Pinot Grigio and Prosecco, Italy's version of sparkling wine, won't disappoint. They also serve Grappa, a strong aperitif made from the grapes of Gran Cru vineyards in Tuscany. This liqueur is easy on the palette, then settles with a strong warm afterglow. The bar has a great, though limited, collection of Italian wines, and if guests don't want to drink a bottle, the house wines are satisfying. The Chianti smells like cherry with a hint of vanilla and the Pinot Noir tastes like ripened fruit with a smooth texture.
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As for food, Pane & Vino offer classic antipasti with large portions that two can share, like their tasty insalata di mare, a seafood salad. Bruschetta and crostini antipasti, lamb and several pasta dishes are also on the menu. Their three desserts are tiramisu, chocolate mousse and cheesecake.

Waikiki Restaurant for Thai Food

Siam Square, next to Pane & Vino in Waikiki, offers genuine Thai cuisine for the adventurous palate. The servers are on "Hawaii time," meaning they don't pay too much attention to promptness, but if a customer is enjoying a leisurely vacation, he might not mind. The atmosphere is bright and casual, with a television on the wall showing Thailand travelogues.

The food is definitely worth the wait. The waitress asks which type of meat is desired or if vegetarian is preferred, and then the level of heat or spiciness: mild, medium or hot. Their most popular salad, Green Papaya Salad, is delicious and the bowls of soup are so huge they should be shared. Other favorites are beef satay, summer rolls with shrimp, pad thai and thai iced tea.

For anyone tired of ukelele music and flower-shirted waiters, Siam Square and Pane & Vino would be a great change of pace. And the prices are reasonable considering it's Waikiki. If coming by car instead of walking, park in the street nearby for free or use the muni parking lot nearby.
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

"A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard Book Review

Jaycee Dugard's Story

A Stolen Life is a fascinating autobiographical account of Jaycee Dugard, an eleven-year old girl who was kidnapped in 1991 by sexual predators Phillip and Nancy Garrido and held for eighteen years. She was handcuffed and kept naked in a soundproof shed in Antioch, California, and repeatedly raped by Mr. Garrido. She eventually bore two daughters and earned the couple's trust enough to have a small measure of freedom outside the shacks in their secret backyard, but her will and personhood had become so completely overpowered, she never dared escape.

Jaycee Dugard Story

Readers will naturally have a morbid curiosity about Phillip and Nancy Garrido, but the book won't fully satisfy with information about this dysfunctional pair. Dugard does much better than that by allowing readers into her experiences as she relives them, leaving one with a profound feeling of empathy. One can't help loving this girl, so innocent and yet so strong.

However, Dugard's first book does read like a rough draft, and her publisher could have improved her writing if they had provided an editor to better guide her. For example, early on she skips to 2010 and her feelings about her biological father's cancer, which should have been reserved for a spot near the end. Also, she omits an essential part of the story, which is Garrido's mother, who lived with the Garrido's. Did this woman not notice that her son was keeping a child sex-slave in her backyard? What was her part in the deception? There is mention that when the girls were born, Nancy introduced them to her mother-in-law as kids living down the street, yet they called her "Mom." Before the old woman developed dementia, didn't she notice anything awry?

Also, an addendum chronicling the Garrido's trial and its outcome, including Jaycee's statement that her mother read in court, should have been included in the book.

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Jaycee Dugard Kidnapping

The most obvious lesson of Jaycee Dugard's story is the failure of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The Garrido fiasco was a defining moment for them, and they have since changed the way the parole system operates. Dugard's victimization was foreshadowed by Garrido's earlier kidnapping and rape of Katherine Callaway Hall, yet no one made the connection or prevented him from repeating his crime.

The workings of her captor's deviant minds can also be held up for instruction. Mr. Garridos's mental compartmentalization of his sexual addiction allowed him to indulge his fantasies "in a box" and then proceed to live a normal life outside that box. He justified his actions by blaming society for misunderstanding him, and confined his victim to one so that others would be spared. And Mrs. Garrido's behavior shows how a desperate need to be loved can overrule sound judgment and decency. They also lived in isolation, not accountable to anyone. They had no friends, and in their limited contacts with people, rebelled when they did not get their way.

The most amazing lesson, though, is the triumph of Dugard. She was a human being reduced to a thing, yet her will to survive sustained her, as she learned to mute her feelings and comply with what was required. She coped by remembering her mother, cherishing a ring she still had that was a gift from her mom and the moon, which they used to watch together.

Child kidnap and rape survivors are rare, as the perpetrators often murder the evidence. How could Garrido have possibly thought the whole scenario would end well, no matter how long it would take to play out? His first conversation with Dugard may offer a clue, as she asked if she could pet his cat. Most people respond to those who like their pets, and this small incident might have given him an indication of her sweet personality, perhaps helping ensure her survival.

It is also interesting to note that the children Dugard bore seem to effect some change in Mr. Garrido. He wants them to live in the sunshine, so Dugard is finally allowed outside her prison walls. He provides a bunk bed and buys diapers, and says he doesn't want to hurt his daughter when the first one is born. Curiously, faint glimpses of natural parental affection do shine through the man.

The tragedy of Dugard's stolen life is that the natural flowering of womanhood was denied her. Today she lives in a world of women and seems to have no desire to find love, however Dugard's pure heart indicates she does have the emotional material to have a fulfilling marriage.

Another disaster is the damage done to Dugard's spirituality by Mr. Garrido's religion. She may never darken the door of a legitimate place of worship due to his influence. He used religious jargon to disguise his perversity, exhibiting no love, truth or repentance from sin. He reminds one of the Biblical story of the slave girl (Acts 16) who followed Paul the Apostle for days, crying out, "These men are servants of the Most High God." Paul was so annoyed he cast a demonic spirit out of her. Perhaps Garrido suffers from the same affliction.

There are myriads of people who haven't endured anything close to what Dugard has experienced yet suffer from the memories of people who have wronged them. These folks could learn something from Jaycee Dugard. She says, "I don't believe in hate. To me it wastes too much time. People who hate waste to much of their life hating that they miss out on all the other stuff out here. I do not choose to live my life that way. What is done is done. I am looking to the future...."

Reading A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard would be an inspiration to anyone. Though it has some flaws in its construction, they are overshadowed by the genuine transparency and triumphant spirit of this first-time author as she tells her gripping story.

Jaycee Dugard, A Stolen Life (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2011).

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Best Mexican Wedding Cake Recipe

Best Mexican Wedding Cake

Crushed pineapple and nuts make Mexican Wedding Cake a tasty dessert that belies its simplicity. Iced with cream cheese frosting, it's sure to become a favorite. The recipe for Mexican Wedding Cake is not to be confused with the recipe for cookies bearing the same name, which are also known as Butterballs or Russian Tea Cakes. Mexican Wedding Cake is a cake with a somewhat spongy texture, also known as Hawaiian Wedding Cake or Swedish Pineapple Cake.

Ode to the Luscious Pineapple

The crowning glory of fruits, pineapples originally were grown in Paraguay and then spread through South America and the Caribbean. When Christopher Columbus and the explorers arrived, they immediately took to this new fruit and introduced them to Europe. They thought they looked like pine cones so they named them "pineapples."

Pineapples need a tropical climate, so they could not be grown in Europe. Thus they were difficult to come by, and became highly prized and a treat for only the privileged. There is a portrait of King Charles II of England posing as the recipient of a royal gift -- a pineapple.

They were still rare even in the American colonies, so when a host offered one to a guest, it was quite an honor. Pineapples then became a symbol of hospitality among the wealthy. Exotically attractive, they were also used to decorate food displays and table centerpieces. Their image was carved into furniture, moldings and the gates of mansions as a sign of welcome, warmth and friendship.

Dancing Deer Baking Co

Pineapples grow best in volcanic soil, which is why James Dole started growing them in Hawaii in the late 19th century. When commercially grown, they could be widely circulated and so lost their status of rarity. However, their sweetness, healthful properties like bromelain, and enjoyment to those who eat them remain undiminished. Mexican Wedding Cake, filled with pineapple and topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting, is a dessert that takes the cake.

Mexican Wedding Cake With Pineapple

Mix All Ingredients
  • 20 ounce can (600 ml) of crushed pineapple, in its own juice
  • 2 cups (240 g) flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup (225 g) chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) vanilla

Allow Cake to Cool
The directions couldn't be simpler. Grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2" (32.5 x 23 x 5 cm) baking pan and preheat the oven to 350*F (177*C). Mix all the cake ingredients together by hand and then pour the mixture into the pan. Bake for 40 minutes, when the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Mexican Wedding Cake Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, softened (113 g)
  • 8 ounces (230 g) of cream cheese
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) vanilla
Cream the icing ingredients together, and then ice the cake when it is cooled. This recipe makes one sheet cake with 20 to 24 servings.


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Oahu Planning Commission Meeting August 24, 2011 to Discuss Vacation Rental Controversy

Oahu Ocean Scene, photos by Dianne Smith

Conflict simmers in Oahu ahead of the Planning Commission's Public Hearing 10 am. - 2 pm. on Wednesday, August 24th., continuing discussion on a controversial bill designed to root out vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods. The Department of Planning & Permitting asked the Planning Commission to approve ordinances that will improve the laws regarding the enforcement of "illegal" visitor accommodations in residential neighborhoods, which has inflamed the community. Many mom and pop businesses offer accommodations to Hawaiian visitors, but they have no legal process to do so and have been crying out for one. Permits have generally been denied since 1989.

"Oahu residents have the right to live in residential neighborhoods without the proliferation of illegal visitor accommodations operating next to their homes," says KIK (Keep It Kailua). "It’s time the City enforced the law!" However, their rhetoric flies in the face of travel industry demand, tourist preferences, and the rights of fellow citizens in Hawaii to earn a living.

Oahu Cottage Rentals, Condos and B&B's

Makaha Valley, Oahu
KIK further states, "Oahu’s residential communities have been plagued by illegal vacation rentals operating in residentially zoned areas. These illegal businesses, including transient vacation units (TVU’s) and bed & breakfast lodges (B&B’s), reduce the inventory of long-term housing for local residents and adversely alter the character and social fabric of residential neighborhoods. They take revenue away from properly licensed hotels in properly zoned areas such as Waikiki, Ko Olina and Turtle Bay and compromise neighborhood security watch programs. These illegal vacation rentals also compromise Hawaii’s sexual predator laws and negatively impact neighboring property values."

The City Administration and the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) proposed the Bill to Amend #21 and put it on the fast track for passage. Despite their haste, the word still spread among the citizens of Hawaii, galvanizing many to oppose it. A law that would have such widespread effects would need to be fully explored among the people, and not quickly instituted.

The law would identify illegal commercial visitor accommodations located in residential-zoned neighborhoods by requiring all B&B lodges and vacation rentals (TVU) to include a city-issued certificate number and their address in all of their advertisements. Operations that fail to do so will be issued warnings and ultimately expensive fines. Vacation rentals and B&B lodges in residential and resort zoning that already have grandfathered legal permits would not be negatively impacted, but these are few and far between. Almost no new permits have been issued since 1989 though the number of travelers to Oahu has exploded. There are not enough vacation rentals to accommodate the demand.

Hawaii Beach Cottage Rentals Under Fire

Stu Simmons, leader of KIK, presses to have the last word at the upcoming meeting. To prepare for the critical meeting, his organization has circulated their Talking Points:
  • The issue of allowing vacation rentals and B&B lodges in residential-only zoning was resolved in 1989 and again in 2010. The verdict is vacation rentals and B&B lodges belong only in resort zoning and are non-conforming is residential-only zoning. NOW the City needs to enforce the law and the illegal operators need to be cited.
  • The majority of those who oppose the bill do so because they are currently breaking the law and they know the bill will be effective in enforcing the law.
  • We should not allow a special interest group of illegal vacation rental owners dictate our zoning laws so that they can exploit our neighborhoods.
  • Our zoning laws should be upheld and the proposed bill will simply and efficiently help the DPP in enforcing the law.
  • Having the DPP inspectors examine the internet for locating and citing illegal transient rentals in place of on-site inspections will save the City money.
  • Allowing illegal visitor accommodations to prosper and profit with minimal enforcement effort is a violation of our trust in our Government to uphold the law for all citizens.
  • The simple requirement of including a city-issued certificate number and their address in all vacation rental advertisements is fair and reasonable. Other license practitioners such as contractors already follow a similar requirement. Including the address in advertisements for a most businesses is a normal business practice. Both White and Yellow Pages are a good example. On the internet, over 95% of the residential properties listed for sale will include their address in their advertised listings.
  • The Planning Commission, Fourteen of the most impacted Oahu Neighborhood Boards & Community Associations and the City Council all concluded the proliferation of transient accommodations are not appropriate for residential neighborhoods and their future growth should occur in resort zoning.

Every one of the talking points has been countered by the Hawaii Vacation Rentals Owners Association (HVROA), especially the assertion that the issue was resolved in 1989 and 2010. The issues continue to boil because they were and still are unresolved to the majority of citizens.
According to Hawaii Sunshine-open meeting laws, new voices can testify at the meeting, which will be held in the Mission Memorial Hearings Room, 550 South King Street, Honolulu. Anyone may submit written testimony by fax (808)768-6743 or by e-mailing




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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Oahu Vacation Rentals in Jeopardy by Unfriendly Few

Oahu, photos by Dianne Smith

Hawaiian tourists who prefer to rent condos, cottages and rooms in Bed and Breakfasts may be unaware of a serious effort on Oahu to outlaw these accommodations, limiting visitors' options to the resort areas in Waikiki, Ko'olina and Turtle Bay. The Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) and Honolulu Mayor Carlisle are pushing a Bill to provide the tools the DPP needs for effective enforcement, shutting down most vacation homes. It is shocking the mayor and Planning Department would draft such harsh legislation considering Hawaii's main industry is tourism, not to mention Constitutional issues like property rights and individual liberty.
Surfing on Oahu Beaches

Oahu Beach Rentals in Kailua

On August 10, 2011 a Public Hearing was held at Mission Memorial Hearings Room, 550 South King Street, Honolulu to discuss a Bill to Amend #21, of the Revised Ordinances of Honolulu 1990, as Amended Relating to the Regulation of Certain Visitor Accommodations. The proposed amendment is only about enforcement, without any permitting for vacation rentals, though many owners would like to have legal permits. Currently many Bed and Breakfasts, condos and beachfront cottages operate under the radar, pressing government officials to regulate their industry so they won't have to bear the "illegal" stigma.


About 300 people attended the meeting, with over 200 opposed to the bill. Not all got a chance to speak, so the hearing was scheduled for continuation on August 24 at 10:00 am. in the same room. Any interested parties can share their opinion even if they did not attend the previous meeting or sign up to testify.

Kailua, a city on the windward side of the island, has spawned a couple of antagonistic groups, Save Oahu's Neighborhoods (SON) and Keep It Kailua (KIK), to band together a few disgruntled residents in a war against their neighbors who operate the vacation rentals. The small business owners who open their homes to travelers are law-abiding, taxpaying citizens who have found a successful way to earn a living in Hawaii. A member of the Hawaii Vacation Rental Owners Association called the SON and KIK members "spoiled trust babies" who don't have to work to put bread on their tables.
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KIK and SON were dismayed by the sheer numbers of people showing up to fight their bill. They said their opposition "gave compelling testimony about the money, money, money ....... they made and the taxes, taxes, taxes they pay and the people, people, people they employ." Although the Bill was only about enforcement, two Planning Commissioners openly said that it should include a permitting process, which would allow the transient accommodations to operate. KIK and SON were surprised the Planning Commission would give a nod to any discussion of permits for the vacation homes.

Therefore, they are regrouping to show up en masse at the August 24, 2011 meeting, and may be successful if history proves to repeat itself. Vacation rental permits were heavily debated in 2007 - 2008. The first part of the Planning Commission hearing (November 2007) went to the pro-visitor crowd who won by their attendance and clear presentations. KIK and SON then mustered their troops, refined their testimony and covered all their relevant points to turn the tide at the January 2008 continuation. KIK's position, particularly against any new permits, carried unanimously as a result. They now feel they must repeat that performance because losing at the Planning Commission level will devastate their chances with the City Council.

Makaha Valley, Oahu
Hawaiian Vacation House Rentals at Risk

The anti-tourist crowd hopes to speak less about their personal griefs and more about the impacts of the industry. Their discussion points include the facts that eleven neighborhood boards and the previous Planning Commission voted for improved enforceement against Bed and Breakfast accommodations and NO permitting process, and that a similar bill, introduced by the late Barbara Marshall, was unanimously adopted by the Planning Commission in 2008. It never received a committee hearing at the council, though.

Other concerns involve housing prices, lack of long-term rentals for Oahu residents, homelessness, and the integrity of the planning and zoning process. They believe vacation homes attract burglars into their community and alter the neighborhood's character. For the August 24 meeting, they will wear blue in a show of solidarity, while those in favor of the vacation homes usually wear leis as an indication of their aloha spirit of welcome.

"With the economy in turmoil and Hawaii teachers being forced to take a pay cut, I do not understand how the city could even consider hurting the economy more than it is already suffering by cracking down on vacation rentals," says Rachel Murdock of Kapolei, Oahu. "Some owners are forced to rent out their homes to visitors just to keep from losing their homes. Others do it to help supplement their income during a time of inflation and economic turmoil. I understand that some regulation may be necessary in the industry, but attacking rentals is foolish for Hawaii and would destroy many livelihoods. It completely disregards what Hawaii is known for all around the world: the spirit of aloha."

Infrastructure that supports the tourist industry will also be hurt by the Bill. Cleaners, handymen, restaurants and retail businesses depend on visitors for their incomes. As long as the vacation rentals don't disturb their communities with parking problems or loud noise, most agree they should be left alone.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to Talk to a Guy

photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões

Women baffled by their unsuccessful efforts at communication with the men they love can adopt some simple but effective techniques. If a woman can approach her man on his wavelength, she will overcome her frustration and get her points across. Here's how to communicate with men so that they will listen.

Say the Punchline First When Talking to a Man

Often men complain that women "beat around the bush" as women generally tell the details first, leading up to the punchline. Men don't usually communicate this way. Marian K. Woodall, in her book How to Talk So Men Will Listen, states that "men want to know the bottom line first" and then, if necessary, learn the details. This may seem too condensed or even backwards to most women, but females will find conversations with men more effective if they get to the point early.

For example, a woman should say, "I spent $100 today," rather than beginning with a description of her foray into a shopping mall, what she observed, what finally caught her eye, the debate she engaged in with herself about the pros and cons of purchasing it and finally, the decision to buy. The man is mainly interested in a one sentence summary or conclusion (she bought something), not all the details unless he specifically asks for them.

How to Talk to Men About Feelings

Men generally proceed to fix things that are broken, like cars and leaky pipes. When a woman is crying or otherwise emotional over a problem, the man's natural tendency is to "fix" her. Often the woman simply wants to be heard and have her feelings validated. She may assume the man understands this, resulting in frustration when he tells her what to do to solve her issue. He is neglecting to validate her feelings or worse, may walk away or shut down because he senses he is unable to do the job.

According to relationship expert John Gray, the solution is to preempt this male predilection by starting the dialogue with, "I don't want you to fix this, I just need for you to listen." This gives the man a direction or path to follow, and she may be surprised to see him relax with relief that he is not required to do any repairing. She then can be listened to as she vents her feelings.

Another technique is to ask a man, "Would you?" or "Will you?" instead of "Can you?" The difference is subtle and lost on most women, but "can" implies ability or competence, while "would" or "will" imply a decision. "Can you help me?" questions the man's abilities or qualifications to achieve the task, whereas "Would you help me?" respects his right to choose to help or not. Generally, men like to have a sense of control over themselves, so the simple adjustment in the wording of a request can elicit a more receptive male response.

When Talking to a Man, Protect his Ego

A woman should be sensitive to a man's self-esteem by avoiding demeaning words that tear it down. On the flip side, she can build his confidence with a belief in his capabilities and good qualities, when she sincerely believes in him. Oftentimes when a man feels affirmed, respected and admired, he will rise to fill the shoes offered him. The old cliche about the fragile male ego is actually quite true. Men respond to admiration.

When bringing a problem to a man's attention, a woman can disarm his defenses by saying, "When you do such and such, I feel angry, disappointed or whatever." That way the woman is putting the emphasis on her reaction to what he is doing, so that he can see how his behavior affects her. If he cares, he will correct himself to avoid the undesired response.

How to Save a Marriage by Fighting Fair

In a verbal fight, when one side throws out, "You always ..." or "You never ...", the tactic usually fails to help in prevailing over the other person because the problem has just escalated from the current one to a broader level. If a woman feels justified and compelled to bring a chronic flaw to her man's attention, she should avoid the superlatives "always" and "never."

Instead, she should use the words "seldom" or "often." "You seldom call me" is better than "You never call me." This wording will keep the man's attention focused on the problem at hand and not sidetrack him to begin defending himself with supporting facts, like specific days he did call. If he can come up with even one example that refutes a superlative, he has won the entire argument, and the woman will be left feeling frustrated and invalidated. Avoid words that indicate a 100% level, and communication with a man, or anyone else, will stay on track.

If a woman talks to a guy with respect and consideration for his feelings and his time, she will build trust and most likely enjoy a healthy discussion on any subject.

Gray, John. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.

Woodall, Marian K. How to Talk So Men Will Listen. Lincoln, NE: Writers Club Press, 2001.

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How to Get Your Wife Back

photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões

Tattered marriages can become healthy again if both parties recommit, even ones damaged by adultery, but the only people who can determine whether a broken union can be saved are the husband and wife themselves. So before trying to win his wife back, a man must first honestly ask himself if the marriage is even salvageable. What was the reason she left? If there was infidelity, genuine forgiveness must occur or divorce may actually be the best option.

Win Back My Wife

At one time, a wife loved her man enough to make a vow of lifetime commitment. What made things sour, and what did a husband do to contribute to the demise of his marriage? Was he a control freak? Did he war with her over finances, sex or in-laws? Was it neglect for her feelings and interests? Was there an insistence on her becoming someone she didn't want to be? Did his efforts to love her miss the mark?

"Long before any decision is made to 'fool around' or walk out on a partner, a fundamental change has begun to occur in the relationship," says family therapist and author Dr. James Dobson in his book Love Must be Tough (Word Publishing, 1996). One spouse "begins to devalue the other and their lives together. It is a subtle thing at first, often occurring without either partner being aware of the slippage. But as time passes, one individual begins to feel trapped in a relationship with someone he or she no longer respects."

Though a husband in such a situation may feel extreme pain and rejection by a spouse who no longer respects him, his response at this precise moment greatly influences her decision to stay or leave. She most likely needs breathing room from her husband, and he would be wise to give it to her, even at the risk of further rejection. If she cannot choose her husband over an unhealthy friendship, affair or an addiction, she should be set free, painful as this may be to her husband. She may need to deal with the problem alone.
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The issues that sank a marriage may not easily be rectified, but re-earning the respect of one's wife is critical to winning her back. A husband who desires to restore his marriage should strive for respect in every contact with his ex.

Getting Back Together

Many marriage therapists believe pornography negatively affects men's relationships to their wives. "Tragically, many men don't see using porn as a problem, and many believe it will 'spice up' their marriage," says counselor Dr. Bill Maier. "This couldn't be further from the truth." Many women feel inadequate and devalued when their husbands look at porn.

If a wife has left her marriage because of her husband's addiction to pornography, he needs to stop looking at it. If it is a deeply entrenched problem, marriage counselors specifically trained in this area are available.

Save a Marriage With the Five Love Languages

Oftentimes husbands demonstrate love to their wives in the manner they like to receive. If they live for words of admiration, they may assume she does, too, and lavish her with compliments. If they appreciate acts of service done for them, they may cut the grass or wash and change the oil in their wives' cars to show love. However, these husbands may be completely missing the mark if their wives don't experience love through these methods. According to Gary Chapman, who wrote The Five Love Languages (Northfield Publishing, 1995), people feel loved primarily through one of five ways:
  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Physical touch, like hugging and holding hands
  3. Receiving gifts
  4. Quality time
  5. Acts of service
If a wife feels loved through acts of service, her husband can run errands and do handyman repairs to please her. If her primary love language is quality time, though, she will feel neglected and unloved when her husband serves her by doing chores. The point is to discover her love language and then speak it. If a wife feels loved when someone gives her a gift, her husband should bring her gifts or any other items she would enjoy.

One husband had completely driven his wife away through his years of business travel and neglect. She finally told him her feelings of love were dead but she wouldn't leave him because of their children. She would simply live in a separate bedroom of their home. He realized what he'd lost and vowed to win her back.

He wondered how to resurrect his marriage when he remembered how much she loved freshly squeezed orange juice. The next morning he squeezed some oranges to make juice, leaving it on the kitchen counter for her breakfast. She didn't drink it, but he continued to do it every morning for months. Then one day he discovered the glass empty. He continued to make the orange juice for her, and she drank it every day, though they still did not communicate. Then one day she thanked him for what he was doing, and it was like a dam breaking. His quiet actions of love had finally reached her, opening up communication and a new beginning to their marriage two years after he'd squeezed his first orange.

It is possible for a husband to win back his wife by restoring respect to the relationship and rebuilding on a foundation of genuine caring. Other men have done it, and so can you.


Dr. Dobson, James. Love Must be Tough. Nashville, Tennessee: Word Publishing, 1996.

Chapman, Gary. The Five Love Languages. Chicago, Illinois: Northfield Publishing, 1995. (accessed July 21, 2010).

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How to Talk to a Girl

photo by Sophie Mosgrove

Everyone wants a challenge, including girls, so a guy shouldn't initially let a girl know he's interested. He needs to make himself attractive to her and watch her response. If he has a great personality, his clothes and looks surprisingly don't matter that much to most girls. By smiling and acting confidently, he will be very attractive, but for those less outgoing, wearing trendy clothes can help make up the difference.

How to Meet Girls

Girls are everywhere: at stores, in classrooms, cafes, and other places where her peers are wont to hang out. At a grocery store, one clever young man approached a cute gal and said, "I have a very important question that is a matter of life and death." He over-emphasized his query and paused to build up the suspense before continuing, "Which color toothbrush should I pick?" while holding up two toothbrushes. His mock seriousness and enthusiasm made her laugh, opening up a conversation.

What to Say to a Girl

Another opening question at a store is, "Where can I find a pair of good mid-priced jeans?" Or a boy can approach a girl with two articles of clothing and ask, "What would look better on me, this one or that one?" Generally female shoppers take pride in their fashion sense and love to show it off.

Playful and funny questions are good icebreakers for cold approaches. "Who lies more – guys or girls?" or "What did you want to be when you were seven?" have been used by some boys with success. Other boys strike gold when they stun a girl with a compliment like "Wow, I just thought I saw an angel." Of course, statements like that cannot be said without absolute sincerity or they will come off as cheesy.

What Not to Say to a Girl

Girls are generally turned off when boys talk about something that greatly interests them but not girls, like comic books, gadgets or nerdy activities. Also, boys who brag about their accomplishments usually fail to score. If they boldly say, "Hey, I really like you," they oftentimes don't get anywhere either, as it is too forward and blatant. "Everyone wants a challenge," said one boy. "Everyone wants what they can't have."

A boy should never overplay his interest by following a girl like a stalker as she will probably change her mind about liking him. One young man from Kettering University, in discussing this mistake from his high school years, remarked, "She liked me and I messed it up." Cruel comments, including making fun of a girl, cross the line and shouldn't be said. Also, boys who tell someone else that they like a certain girl and then ask that person to tell her usually meet with failure.

How to Get a Date

Once a boy has gotten the object of his affections to talk to him, what does he do next? He should keep talking until she starts talking too, and the conversation reaches a comfortable level. At first, the boy may be talking 90% of the time and the girl only 10%, but he should continue until the ratio becomes 50/50. He should look for signs she is mutually attracted, like smiling and making eye contact. When he finally senses her interest, it is time to indicate he likes her and ask for a date.

He must move forward at this critical juncture and show he likes her because if he doesn't, he risks losing her. He can ask, "Want to go to Starbucks sometime?" or "I am having a party with a bunch of other people. Would you want to come?" If the girl says yes, he can give her his phone number so she can get the time and directions. Oftentimes a girl will feel more comfortable going out if the first date is a group date.

The more practice a guy gets with talking to girls, the more confident and successful he will become. Just by getting out there and doing it, he will eventually become pretty adept at meeting girls.

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The Five Love Languages

photo by Kjunstorm on Flickr

Everyone feels love in different ways, but there are five main methods through which it is usually expressed. Using them effectively will build healthy relationships.

Discovering a mate's love language is the key to filling his or her emotional tank. Oftentimes people show love according to how they would like to be loved, though it may not be the love language of the other person. Also, if a person can understand his or her own preferred avenue for receiving love, it will help to specifically ask for things that demonstrate it.

The Five Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

Praise, admiration and recognition for achievements are extremely important to someone who feels loved through words of affirmation. Sincere compliments on a regular basis accomplish much, but on the flip side, hearing criticism and fault-finding can feel devastating. Kind, affirming words of praise build confidence, trust and respect.

Quality Time

Just being together means everything to someone whose primary love language is quality time. Conversations, walks and shared meals are things couples can do together if one of them needs to feel loved this way. The modifier "quality" means that the time doesn't consist of time spent together without communion, or when distractions like the television preclude real conversation.
Physical Touch

Men often think physical touch is their primary love language because they confuse it with their need for sex. However, the two are not the same. A preference for receiving love through physical touch involves hugging, holding hands, kissing, caressing and patting that doesn't necessarily lead to sexual intercourse.

Gifts to Express Love

People who feel loved when they receive a present indicate their primary love language is through the receiving of gifts. It is the number of gifts, not the size or cost, that count. For those who love them, a tight budget shouldn't be an obstacle. One husband said of his wife, "It is so much fun to watch her open a present." He understood what made her feel loved, and obliged her with gifts.

Acts of Service

Preparing a meal, running errands, doing the laundry, cleaning a car, mowing the grass, fixing a leaky faucet, painting a room, vacuuming the floor and cleaning the bathroom or kitchen all are acts of service for the benefit of a loved one. Giving a massage or foot rub is another service-minded behavior, though it also fits under physical touch. When someone says, "If you loved me, you would help me," they are giving clues that their primary love language is through acts of service.

Although people at different times need all the methods of love demonstrated, they usually have one strong preference for one of the five love languages – words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, gifts and acts of service. When the primary love language of a person's mate is misunderstood or ignored, an empty emotional tank will occur. If the problem is not communicated and left unchecked, over time resentment can easily take root. Simple acts of love, one by one, can prevent this and even rebuild and restore a neglected relationship to a healthy state.


Chapman, Gary. The Five Love Languages. Chicago, Illinois: Northfield Publishing, 1995.

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How to Talk to a Woman You Love

photo by Frits Ahlefeldt

Communication is essential to any relationship, and many books have been written on the subject, but men who struggle to find things to talk about with a woman may be relieved to learn that oftentimes they don't have to say much of anything. Here's how to build bridges and achieve a great relationship with a wife or girlfriend.

Listen Reflectively When Talking to Women

Woman generally want to be heard and have their feelings respected. Therefore, when a woman speaks, carefully listen to her thoughts and then verbalize them back to her. When she hears her thoughts rephrased, she will know she has effectively communicated and will result in her feeling understood. Especially listen for clues to her feelings and identify what they are to her.

Get more specific than a broad "You're mad." Hone in closer to her core feelings with words like frustrated, confused, betrayed, excited, stimulated, empty, depressed, shocked, relieved, trapped, defensive, awkward, joyful, proud, envious, afraid or insecure. This is just a brief list.

Say, "It sounds like you are feeling overwhelmed, burdened, relieved, etc." or "What I am hearing you say is that you feel unappreciated." When a woman's husband or boyfriend nails down her feelings, she will feel understood and more apt to relax. She will open up more to him, even if her feelings are negative.

Communication in Marriage Using the Mirroring Technique

Pay attention to how she positions her body and mirror the pose. Also mirror her tone of voice. This may feel awkward and contrived at first, but with practice should become second nature. Mirroring her body language will subtly make her feel in sync with her man and again, understood.

Gender Communication Using the Five Love Languages

People usually feel loved best through one of the following five methods:
  • being hugged and touched
  • receiving sincere praise and recognition
  • having chores and errands done for them
  • receiving presents
  • spending time with their significant other
If a man is unsure about which way pleases his girlfriend or wife best, he can simply ask. Give her the five choices, see how she responds, and then consciously, regularly do those things that make her feel loved.

Talk to Women by Asking Questions

Questions that can be answered with "yes" or "no" are conversation enders. Instead, ask questions using "what" and "how" to get her to expand on the subject. Ask "What makes you want or feel such and such?" Inquiries like these are conversation openers, and provide great opportunities for listening. Asking, "And how did you feel about that?" is almost always appropriate.

If a man follows these simple guidelines – listen to her reflectively, learn her love language and mirror her body language and tone of voice – when communicating with the woman he loves, he will find her more responsive and receptive to him, and trust will be developed. His relationship with her will be enriched, and he will be more free to talk about the things he wants to discuss.

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