A Couple in Love, and on a Budget

24 Apr

My boyfriend, T, and I have been friends for five years now, and dating for the last two and half plus. In New York, we were both working a lot and had the means to have date night often. Over in Manhattan and Brooklyn, you can find the most delicious food for an affordable price all around the city, date night didn’t mean breaking the bank. For us now in Hawaii, there are two type of dates: the casual plate lunch, taco spot, acai/pitaya bowl brunch, and then date night. Date night means wearing makeup, heels (if my balance is good that day), and for him, no board shorts! We put in the effort for each other to make the night special. I read somewhere recently, “just because you’re married, doesn’t mean to need to stop dating.” And no, we’re obviously not married, but yes, it is easy to fall into the routine of a top knot and cutoffs and picking up our favorite pho each week and having that be date night. If you don’t make it special, you’re bound to fall into a routine and routines get boring…


Our last photo in Brooklyn before moving home to Hawaii


Here are some tips for dating on a budget:

1. Each week we plan one date night at home. We make Wednesday our bookmarked night, if plans come up that we can’t change, we move date night around but generally we try to keep Wednesdays for us.

2. Weeknight date night is cooking at home. We tried something new this week and each came up with an idea for dinner and we were going to pick our favorite of the two. Turns out, we both picked grilled steak, so “choosing” was easy. We save money by eating at home, but we still try to make it special, a bottle of wine, eating at the table not the couch, and helping each other cook and clean. I’ll be honest, I am a good cook, but T is a great cook, so this night is extra special for me.

3. Twice a month we go out to eat for date night. Unlike New York, if we want a special night out that isn’t just our go-to thai restaurant, or taco spot, it’ll be pricey. Most restaurants that are safe for me to eat at (as a Celiac), have a higher price per meal. We’ve built this night into our budget so we’re prepared for spending, and not worrying about being forced to pick the cheapest dish on the menu.

4. One of our favorite nights out are local markets around town. We have a monthly Honolulu Night Market with retail vendors, food, and music. It’s a way to go out without spending a lot, if anything at all. Sometimes we just walk around and listen to music and maybe pick up our favorite Wow Wow Lemonade. Farmer’s markets are a great “day date” spot too. We like to scour the freshest ingredients, and plan a meal with it for later that night or the week!

5. We really like to be active together. Some weekends we like to wake up early, get in a hike, and then relax on the beach for the rest of the day. In New York, we would wake up, make coffee, and go for a long walk from lower Mahattan around the water up to Tribeca. Even if you don’t have a mountain, or a beach nearby, just going for a long walk is a nice way to catch up after a busy week!

6. We try to treat each other in special ways. In New York, T would surprise me every Friday with flowers. A bouquet of peonies, or ranunculuses were under $10 at a bodega or trader joes. In Hawaii, peonies are $6 a stem! Eek. He does treat me to them on special occasions, like after my most recent surgery, but at that price Flower Friday had to be nixed. Instead, we find little ways that don’t cost a lot to treat each other: a Lanikai Juice smoothie, a bar of chocolate, a cool new home item (most recently a metallic coffee drip filter & cup, under $20). Or even cheaper, just small gestures: I love it when I come out of the shower and he’s made me my nightly cup of tea, or since I know he hates dishes, he loves when I wash the dishes post-meals he’s cooked.

I love that T is a romantic at heart, but also, treating little things as big things is what makes a relationship stay special. Making a meal together, brewing their cup of coffee while they stay in bed, I try to relish those even more than a gift or present, because that is what you’ll have for the rest of your life. We dream about trips around the world, and a house near the beach, and sharing those dreams has us looking forward to the future, but right now, in the present, there is nothing better to me than a man who will offer to run back to the grocery for Talenti double chocolate chip gelato at 9 pm because you have a craving for it. That’s love.

On Maui: Letarte

17 Apr

Our last stop of the day when we were in Paia, Maui was Letarte. Oh man, oh man was it a temptation of my credit card. I’ve been a fan of the Letarte brand for awhile now but actually seeing and feeling the pieces in person, wow, I’ve fallen more in love. These luxe looks are perfect for the elevated beachy girl. Letarte is the epitome of cool girl chic, with boho prints, bright colors in sleek designs, with the neon tassel necklace and fringe bag to match. It’s a one stop shop for an entire wardrobe overhaul, and believe me, if there was one store to do it, this would be mine. LETARTE SWIMWEAR

Sisters Lisa and Michele Letarte debuted their line in Maui but it has since grown to have stores in Manhattan, Greenwich, CT, Southern California, plus speciality retail stores. The ladies at the Maui boutique were so knowledgeable about the brand itself that I was given an insider view to the creative process, and especially loved hearing about how Lisa designs her prints, such as the skull & butterfly combo below.


Walking into the store I felt like I stepped into a super chic surf house. A home-y vibe, with bright colors, flowy fabrics, and yes, a few surfboards. Attached on the side of the store was also an art gallery with her husband’s work. What a talented duo! What I loved most about the store was the organization by color. I know what colors work best with my skin tone and prefer to shop by shade, so it was a cinch to go directly for the pieces I was interested in.



The unique print designed by Lisa. LETARTE SHARK CLUTCH

I’ve been stalking this bag for months. LETARTE TASSELSLETARTE BAG

If you couldn’t tell, this store is literally my heaven. And the best news is, they’re opening a shop on Oahu at the Royal Hawaiian Center soon. Oh, so dangerous, but I’m so excited! Check out their website if there’s a shop near you, or of course, you can always shop online…. get those credit cards ready, you’ll need it.

On Maui: Sophie Grace Maui

15 Apr

It was rainy the day we were in Paia so instead of a beach day, we were very productive shopping around town. I’ve followed Sophie Grace Maui’s instagram for over a year now and couldn’t wait to pop in when I was finally in town. Jamie, the owner, is also a “sister,” we both were members of the sorority Alpha Gamma Delta in college. Different schools, but it was such a fun connection we made online. Her photos on instagram are absolutely gorgeous and I was excited to see the store in person!


Epitomized in her hours sign, this is a true beachy brand, 10 am-ish to 6-ish. Luckily we caught them during their open hours and were able to marvel at all the color, druzy, sparkles, and the DIY bars. I love making my own jewelry and I wish I had more time to take part in her Bangle Bar. Most of the pieces are elevated chic with a laid back twist. Druzy shells with beaded chains, gold cowrie with colorful rope, and lots of shark tooth and shell pieces. I would absolutely wear those cowrie bracelets 24/7, and for the rest of the jewelry, layer over a swimsuit during the day, and pair with a kimono and heels at night, the perfect transitional piece.

SOPHIE GRACE MAUI jewelryKimono Jewelry Jewelry Bar Jewelry and Cards Druzy Dainty Branches Bangle bAr

If you’re in Paia, or in Wailea make sure you stop in and check out all their handmade pieces. If you are eager to shop, check out her website SophieGraceMaui.com or Instagram @SophieGraceMaui. I’m obsessed with the white and gold druzy pieces that she most recently posted online. I can’t wait to return and snag some of her gorgeous jewelry!

On Maui: Paia Pearl

13 Apr

When we were in Maui in March, my mom and I fell in love with the town of Paia. It reminded me a lot of a town called Bolinas, up in Northern California where I grew up. Very relaxed, colorful, with a little bit of a boho vibe. People were so friendly and gave us amazing recommendations for shopping, eating, and the cutest backyard coffee shop.


The first store we popped into was Pearl. A local version of an Anthropologie store. The buyers had great range, and the merchandising was on point for an eclectic but organized shopping experience. From tie-dye pom pom rompers, to home decor pillows, and comforters, to newly added baby designs, it had all you would need to revamp your home, wardrobe, and family. They carry many local lines, as well as brands from all around the world.


I walked out with only a turkish towel, but I still have my eyes on those two bags, especially the eye clutch. I could’ve spent hours in there, and truthfully we did spend over an hour just talking with the lovely staff. If you’re on Maui, I highly recommend popping in and shopping till you drop too. If you love the photos, but don’t have a trip to Maui planned, they have items online, or you can call into the shop. Their instagram @PaiaPearl is a great look into the store!

Positive Vibes Only

10 Apr

So if you follow me on instagram, twitter,  or on snapchat (username: LaurenABrenner) you’ll know I had surgery this week. A year ago I found out I had inner ear fluid leaking out of ear, causing a “dropping” or falling sensation consistently each day. I would trip out of no where and it could get so bad where I couldn’t even drive. I felt a bit better a few months last year, but this year it came back again in full force. So, we went in for round two last Wednesday.


Last year I went in scared, with no positive thinking, no preparation and as could be expected, I came out feeling awful, bedridden, unable to eat for days. I decided to never let this happen again. Yes, of course there are risks and I was a bit scared, but I’ve learned an important message: you manifest your life. If you only think negative, negativity will surround you. On the other hand, if you approach life and situations with a positive mind, you may still hit some bumps, but you at least have a positive outlook when dealing with them.


I still fully believe in Western Medicine, but I’m also exploring other avenues: meditation, reiki, continuing healthy eating, hypnotists, and believing in something greater than I am. I cannot tell you how much the simple concept of positive thinking has changed my health. I wanted to share some tips that I’ve learned. Regardless if you’re battling an illness or ailment, this is great advice for anyone:

1. Acknowledge the issue at hand. “Yes, I don’t feel well right now, but let’s see what else I can do.” Don’t push issues away, see them, acknowledge them, and then set them free. 

2. Just like with stormy weather, grey clouds are only temporary. No matter where you are in the world, the blue skies will come out again. Don’t focus on the grey, look forward to the blue. 

3. Take care of yourself. Eat well. Sleep. Take a nap. Don’t overcommit yourself. Drink tea. Stay hydrated. Read a book. Find a hobby. Find any pleasure that is away from technology. 

4. Thank yourself each day. Find one good thing you did for yourself, a loved one, or a stranger. When you’re having a bad day, read over this list and find inspiration to be better, to do better. 

5. Don’t be all-consuming. I like to focus on the macro, but my boyfriend is much more of a landscape person. When I can hyper focus, he brings me out of it. Find a support system to help stay positive, but never forget, you’re the only person that can take care of you. Be able to support yourself physically and emotionally. 

I have a few more reiki sessions left with my coach and I hope to share more in the next few weeks. But remember to stay positive, don’t let negative people or thoughts cloud those blue skies in your head.