Being Roosevelt High grads, Neiman Marcus’ Veep Al Tomonari and I always exchange a few words when we run into each other in the store. As I was heading to the Mermaid Bar for lunch one Friday afternoon, he said the special was lasagna. Am I ever glad for the tip! I’m a lasagna lover and the Mermaid’s is one of the best I have eaten. Marc Freiberg, the store’s exec chef for all restaurants, uses a bolognese base and a savory pomodoro sauce. The generous portion comes with a small green salad and garlic bread, all for $11. Open 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily except Sunday. — Ben Wood
Hang ’em wide
This hanger is huge! I searched all over for a really, really big hanger, as my boyfriend was tired of those bumps that regular hangers leave on the shoulders of his stretchy shirts, and found a 22-inch tubular hanger that is 6 inches longer. Purchase them from Makao Beach Trading Company at pighuntah.com for $59.95 for a case of 50, or $17.99 for a set of 12. Save on shipping by e-mailing email@example.com to arrange pickup from their Halawa Business Park warehouse. — Laura Fontanilla, Kailua
FlowerPik is a plastic hair barrette with a miniature water vial to keep the flowers in your hair from wilting. Danielle Doyle of Brookings, Ore., came up with the concept while on vacation on Maui. The clips come in a variety of colors and styles, and sell for $7.99 to $9.99 plus shipping; order at www.flowerpik.com. — Libby Alakai, Makakilo
Keen on quinoa
It seems quinoa is finally catching on with the foodie crowd. I’ve been eating the seed — and enjoying it — for years. Just add a little dab of butter and a sprinkle or three of furikake, and you’ve got a tasty dish.
Not only is quinoa low in cholesterol and sodium, it’s a complete protein without the downside of meat.
To prepare, add 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water in a pot. Boil, then simmer on low for about 15 minutes until it is expanded and fluffy with a tiny bit of crunch. For recipes, check out www.cookingquinoa.net.
Quinoa is available at health food stores prepackaged or by the pound in bulk bins. Bulk prices run between $3.89 (Umeke Market) and $6.99 (Whole Foods) per pound. — Joleen Oshiro
Big Bird goes online
After years of encouraging preschoolers to learn their letters on "Sesame Street," PBS has found an engaging way to teach young readers online. Log on to pbskids.org/read and sign up for an account to access PBS Kids Island, a virtual amusement park where kids choose from different animated rides that teach letter identification, rhyming, phonics, reading and more.
They can earn virtual tickets that can be redeemed for printable coloring sheets, paper games such as memory or go fish, or virtual toys that you can play with in your virtual treehouse.
There is also a progress tracker that parents can monitor to see in which areas their kids need to improve. My 6-year-old will sit still and play for as long as I’ll let him. — Donica Kaneshiro