Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

    As of right now, I would say this book will end up in my top five for the year. Time will tell, but it was a superbly written debut novel. Here is my book review The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris.


    The Civil War is in its final days and the Emancipation Proclamation has freed slaves, including brothers Prentiss and Landry. But when Prentiss and Landry encounter George Walker wandering in the woods and grieving the loss of his only son in the war, everything will change.

    George’s wife Isabelle is distraught over the death of their son, and angry with her husband for it. George decides to turn his land into a peanut farm, to channel his own grief in work, and hires Prentiss and Landry to work the farm and live in the barn.


    Neighbors and the town’s elite are in an uproar over the Walker’s giving room and board and work to the black men and the Walker’s are chastised and admonished.

    But while this is all going on a forbidden romance bubbles between two confederate soldiers, until Landry witnesses the lovers together.

    The result will change the lives of not only the brothers, the lovers and the Walker’s, but nearly every person in the town of Old Ox.

    Beautifully Written

    The writing in this book is perfect and the story unfolds in Harris’ hands like a fine painting. I was riveted and could not put this book down. It is sweet, sad, violent, hopeful, painful and honest. A fresh new look from the viewpoint of exquisitely crafted characters, of this turning point period in our countries history.

    Go read this book. I hope you enjoyed my book review The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris.

    Read last week’s review Lightening Strike by William Kent Krueger.

    My current read The Promise.

    We love it when you pin and share our book reviews. Thank you.

    *****Five stars for The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris.


    What’s Next For My Fab Fifties Life

    Damn the PanDamit. We are traveling. We have our vaccine and our booster and we are working to safely and conscientiously get back out there, the way we intended our retirement to go. We want to live our life and so we plan to do it – carefully. It’s time. So after two months in Hawaii, and a brief stop back in Washington State for family issues, off we go again. Here is what’s next for My Fab Fifties Life.

    This Month

    We have one week in Utah and Arizona doing some hiking, including a visit to Antelope Canyon, a bucket list item for me. We then fly to Mexico City for six days where we will eat our way through the city (not kidding – blog coming) followed by two and a half weeks at the beach in Puerto Escondido.


    Back to Washington State for Christmas with our family and then mid January we fly to French Polynesia. We have two months in French Polynesia on the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora.


    We will return to Washington State again in March, regroup and say Hi, then depart in April for New York City and Boston. May 1st we plan to begin a guided tour of the “Stans” (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan,Turkmenistan) to be confirmed shortly. Followed by attending a wedding in Morocco.


    If all goes well we will spend June back in Israel and Cyprus, the two countries we had to abandon on our itinerary when the world shut down in 2020. We also hope to include time in Malta before returning to Washington State for the summer, and returning to Hawaii for the Fall.

    Living the Gamble

    Not all of this is 100% booked yet, but we are deep into the planning and it feels good to be back into travel planning mode. Travel is never going to be as easy and carefree as it was when we began our Grand Adventure world tour in 2016. And we also recognize it’s going to be a bit of gamble, knowing how quickly things can change in the world. But we have coined a new phrase lately to add to our PanDamit phrase collection…”living the gamble”. And so we continue…

    Continuing to Write

    This itinerary above may not allow me to have a fresh new travel blog EVERY Friday. But I will do my best and I am grateful for all the continued support you give this blog. I also plan to step back from Tasty Tuesday, our weekly YouTube cooking show. I will do a Tasty Tuesday when I can but not every week. Tasty Tuesday was created as a way to travel internationally from my kitchen during lockdown. It has been fun and well-received during the PanDamit and I also thank you for that. Reading Wednesday will continue each week.

    Living the Dream

    So this is what’s next for My Fab Fifties Life. Living the dream, dreaming the life, finding the silver lining every day in this wild and wacky world. If we can encourage you to think outside the box, choose to be happy despite the world’s troubles and act positively and conscientiously in your Fabulous Life, our work here is done. Be Brave. Be Smart. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Be Fabulous.

    See last week’s blog My Favorite Maui Restaurants here

    See this week’s top performing pin here – Maui Top Five Things to Do

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger

    One of my all-time favorite books was by William Kent Krueger This Tender Land. But I had never read any of Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series. So now I have. Here is my book review Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger.

    Each of the books in Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series stands alone. You don’t need to worry if you haven’t read any of the many previous books. Lightning Strike is a fantastic novel all on its own.

    We are introduced to Cork as a 12-year old boy in the summer of ’63. Cork’s father Liam is the local sheriff in the small Minnesota town of Aurora on the shores of Iron Lake. Long simmering prejudice quietly eats away at this town between the Native American Ojibwa people and the rest of the population of Aurora and the surrounding region.

    When Cork stumbles upon a dead body at the sacred Native site known as Lightning Strike, Sheriff O’Connor will need to use every resource he can muster to decide if this was a suicide or a murder. Cork also sets out on his own to find answers as those living on the “rez” close ranks and those living in town point fingers, and the town’s richest man accuses everyone but himself.

    This is a wonderfully laid out crime novel with a message of truth and justice in a coming of age story. Cork and his family, and everyone in this novel must grapple with a battle between their heads and their hearts.

    I hope you enjoyed my book review Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger

    Read last week’s review The Warmth of Other Suns

    My current read The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

    We love it when you pin and share our book reviews. Thank you.

    Food & Drink  --  Island Life

    Maui Best Restaurants 2021

    Location: Maui Hawaii USA

    I’ve been to Maui more times than I can count and it is one of my favorite places in the world. But like everything else affected by the PanDamit, Maui has lost some restaurants (including one of my faves) while others struggle to keep their doors open. And yet still, this island is home to some amazing dining from take-out to romantic and every cuisine you can want. I have not eaten at EVERY Maui restaurant, but I feel qualified to recommend quite a few. So here they are – Maui Best Restaurants 2021 by My Fab Fifties Life.

    The Sea House – Napili – Beautiful view ocean side at the iconic Napili Kai Resort. Fresh fish and always delicious. One of my top restaurants on the island. Reservations a must.

    A ‘a Roots – Napili – Vegan tiny restaurant in Napili Plaza, farm to table, locally sourced and so delicious.

    The Gazebo – Napili – a bit over hyped, but still delicious breakfast with huge servings. Be prepared to wait in line at this tiny spot.

    The Sea House
    A ‘a Roots
    Gazebo Fried Rice

    Mama’s Fish House – Paia – Maui’s finest restaurant in food, ambiance and service. Incomparable. Reservations hard to get but give it a try.

    Star Noodle – Lahaina – One of my top favorite restaurant in Maui. Always perfect, outdoor ocean side dining. Creative menu and excellent service. Reservations needed.

    Mala Ocean Tavern – Lahaina – Great seafood, clever cocktails, ocean side dining. Reservations needed.

    Mama’s Fish House
    Mala Ocean Tavern
    Star Noodle

    The Fish Market – Kaanapali – purchase fresh fish and poke here to take home or order up fresh prepared fish tacos, mahi mahi and so much more. Delicious and worth the wait. Take out.

    Monkey Pod Kitchen – Kaanapali and Wailea – by the owners of Merriman’s (see below) a more casual restaurant for salads, burgers, fish and a great Mai Tai.

    Pint & Cork – Wailea – not your usual Maui vibe, this gastropub is a great place if you want a burger and a beer. Great service and reasonable prices.

    The Fish Market
    Monkey Pod
    Pint & Cork

    Paia Fish Market – Paia, Kihei, Lahaina – choose your fish and how you want it prepared. Always fresh but expect a wait.

    Sugar Beach Bake Shop – Kihei – come for the malasadas. Hands down the best on the island. Other yummy stuff too.

    Sale Pepe – Lahaina – A great Italian option right in Lahaina. No view but the food is excellent and the service is great. Try the lasagna.

    Paia Fish Market
    Down the Hatch
    Sugar Beach Bake Shop

    Coconut’s Fish Cafe – Kihei – Fish tacos, salads and more at a reasonable family friendly price. Choose your fish and your preparation preference. Always fresh.

    Down the Hatch – Lahaina – Order at the counter and they will bring your food to your table. Large seating area so usually not a long wait. Nice bar options too.

    Papa ‘aina – Lahaina – currently open just for breakfast and lunch but Top Chef Lee Anne Wong works wonders and Papa’aina often creates special dinner events too. Hopeful they will open for dinner soon. In the historic Pioneer Inn across from the Banyan Tree in Lahaina.

    Papa A’ina
    Sale Pepe

    Three’s Bar and Grill – Kihei – Casual and clever menu with both indoor and outdoor seating and a great Happy Hour menu. Try the brussel sprouts. I’m not kidding, they are amazing.

    Maui Brewing – Kihei and Kahana- Pizza, fish tacos, burgers and a delicious kale salad…and of course beer.

    Honu Seafood and Pizza – Lahaina – another excellent pizza option but also lots of fish choices and fabulous view. The Mushroom Pizza was excellent and so was the Banana Coconut Cream Pie.

    Maui Brewing
    Honu Seafood and Pizza
    Three’s Bar & Grill

    Miso Phat – Kihei and Kaanapali – the Kihei location is currently take out only so check the website. Delicious sushi and a great variety. Easy to order on line, pick up and enjoy at the beach.

    Kula Lodge – Kula – we try to stop here for wood fired pizza every time we are in Upcountry and the area known as Kula. It’s outstanding pizza and the view just can’t be beat. Only open until 5:00pm so be sure to check their website for changing hours.

    Morimoto – Wailea – the most beautifully presented sushi I have ever had. And the ambiance is amazing at the stunning Andaz Resort in Wailea. For a special occasion or any day, just go. Great to watch the sunset too. We always come back for this one.

    Kula Lodge
    Miso Phat

    Sam Sato – Wailuku – few tourists come here, but locals know about this amazing noodle shop in Wailuku. I love the Dry Noodles and the Chow Fun. Great kimchee too.

    The Pour House – Kapalua – no view but the ambiance is lovely and the food is divine. If you want a break from fish and Hawaiian food make a reservation at this phenomenal Italian bistro. Be sure to try the handmade fresh burrata.

    The Pour House
    Sam Satos
    Star Noodle

    A note about Merriman’s, one of the highest rated restaurants on the island. We REALLY want to eat at Merriman’s, but alas getting a reservation is really hard. So I have not eaten there and I cannot write about them. There are a few other highly rated restaurants I have yet to visit too….so maybe I can when I come back next fall for more Maui Best Restaurants.

    There are many food trucks on the island, but I haven’t visited them all. But if you are interested in take out options check the YouTube video we did Tasty Tuesday Maui Take Out Food.

    Feel free to share in the comments any other Maui restaurants you love. And I’ll take your recommendations and visit those restaurants when I return to Maui next year. Mahalo!

    Paia Fish House Take Out and Sunset
    Three’s Bar & Grill

    See last week’s post Six Great Hikes on the Island of Maui

    See our tips on visiting Napili Maui here

    See this week’s top performing pin Nine Things to do in Tucson Arizona

    We love it when you pin and share our posts. Mahalo!

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

    Reading Wednesday

    Not quite a year ago on our California road trip we listened to Wilkerson’s astonishing work, Caste. It was one of my favorite reads last year. And now I’ve discovered Wilkerson’s other work (2010), a look at a remarkable time in American history that nobody really has talked about or written about. Here is my book review The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.

    You don’t need to read Caste to understand the story being told in The Warmth of Other Suns, but I do recommend both books very highly. The remarkable years of research Wilkerson undertook for both books is staggering. But because of this attention to detail the reader is transported to another time in American history, the great migration of blacks from the south to points north and west during Jim Crowe.

    The Great Migration

    Beginning in about 1915 and continuing into the 1970’s, about six million black American’s, slave descendants, left the south in search of something safer and better. Using the routes most accessible to southern Negroes at the time, the great migration brought thousands to New York, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and Los Angeles.

    Years of Research

    Wilkerson interviewed more than a 1000 people for this book and dove deep into documents and records never before used to tell this story. With her research and writing talent she brings to the reader three incredibly brave real people;

    Ida Mae Gladney a sharecropper who left Mississippi in 1937 for a better life in Chicago where she lived the rest of her years.

    Robert (Pershing) Foster who left Louisiana in 1953 despite his success as a doctor but discrimination kept him from practicing in the way he desired. Instead he traveled by car to Los Angeles where he would become wealthy and successful but always feeling inadequate.

    George Starling who left Florida in 1945 to keep from being lynched and ended up in Harlem. Brilliant Starling wanted a college degree but he would spend his life as a porter on the trains but would make peace with his choices.

    The New American History

    Following these three individuals Wilkerson finds a way for the reader to feel all the slights, sadness, danger, injustice as well as happiness in these characters, their stories and all the people who they touch.

    Read this book. Open yourself to new American history we were never taught. Wilkerson is a writer for our times.

    *****Five stars for The Warmth of Other Suns – The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson.

    Read last week’s review of The Garden of Small Beginnings

    My current read Of Women and Salt

    We love it when you pin and share our book reviews. Thank you.

    Island Life  --  North America Travel

    Six Great Hikes on the Island of Maui

    Explore This Beautiful Island

    Location: Maui Hawaii USA

    We love to hike and when we are traveling we always set aside at least one day a week to hike and get out into nature. And during our recent visit to Maui we discovered another great hike to add to the many favorites we already have on this beautiful island. So today I thought I would share with you six great hikes on the island of Maui.

    West Maui

    West Maui

    The area known as West Maui is home to Lahaina, Kaanapali, Napili and Kapalua. We spent six weeks exploring this area recently. Here are two of our favorite hikes.

    Kapalua Coastal Trail

    This trail can be busy but it’s worth it because it is so beautiful and definitely one of the six great hikes on the island of Maui. Parking can be difficult but look for street parking near the Napili Kai Resort, or paid parking at Kapalua Golf Course. Start the hike right at Merriman’s Restaurant where the trail heads north. The trail then winds through spectacular lava flows where you can see crashing waves and nesting shearwaters birds nesting. Follow the trail along the road at the Kapalua Golf Course and out to the Dragons Teeth Labyrinth. Round trip about 4 miles. Learn more here.

    Kapalua Coastal Trail

    The Village Course and Duck Pond

    The Kapalua Golf Club closed one of their three courses in 2007. Today the cart paths of the defunct Village Course are a unique and somewhat eerie (and steep) walk through a golf ghost town. It’s astonishing actually how quickly nature has reclaimed this course, making the fairways essentially unrecognizable only fourteen years later. The walk is about four miles round trip at the top is Duck Pond, a nice stop to rest or picnic before returning down. Learn more here.

    The Village Course Trail

    South Maui

    South Maui is usually defined as Kihei, Wailea and Makena. We have spent a great deal of time in this part of the island and we love it.

    South Maui

    La Perouse/Hoapili Trail

    This is one of my favorites of the six great hikes on the island of Maui, but also a bit rough and difficult. Traversing over sharp lava beds, come prepared with the right shoes. It’s a hot and arid trail but provides some stunning views across to the Big Island of Hawaii. The trail is also a sacred trail for Hawaiians, once part of the King’s Highway that circled the island. Crossing the 300 year old lava field is a unique experience, if you are up for it I recommend it highly. Wear a hat and bring lots of water. Learn more here.

    La Perouse Hoapili Trail

    Central Maui

    The region sometimes referred to as Central Maui is home to the airport in Kahului and the government seat city of Wailuku as well as malls, shopping and industrial areas.

    Central Maui

    Waihee Ridge

    About a 7 mile drive north and west from Wailuku you find the parking area for the Waihee Ridge Trail. We have done this trail several times and had a wide variance in weather each time. Come prepared for rain, wind, fog or clear blue skies…you never know. Arrive early for parking. The trail goes up and up the green and beautiful ridge for about 2.5 miles and if you are lucky the views are phenomenal. Learn more here.

    Waihee Ridge


    The astonishing volcano Haleakala rises 10,000 feet (3048 meters) out of the island and can be seen from almost anywhere on the island. If you go to do either of these suggested hikes get an early start. Often the volcano is clear in the morning but clouds roll in later in the day. BE PREPARED, Haleakala can be very cold in the morning…cold enough to warrant a stocking cap and warm coat.


    Sliding Sands

    This is one of my favorite hikes on the island. Starting at the top of the volcano at the Visitor Information Center, Sliding Sands, as it’s name implies, is a red sandy trail that goes down inside the volcano crater. Don’t do more than you are capable of on this eleven mile round trip trail, because you need to come back up! Along this trail you will feel like you are on the moon. It’s beautiful, and you will also see the rare and endangered Silver Sword plant known only to grow in this volcano and the two volcanoes on the Big Island. Learn more here.

    Sliding Sands and Haleakala Silver Sword

    Halemau’u Trail

    Approximately 14.2 miles up Highway 378 but before you reach the summit, you will see the Halemau’u Trail parking on the left side of the road. This trail often starts in the mist and clouds, but don’t despair. As you walk the ridge and then go down the rock face trail into the crater the weather usually warms and clears. There is a picnic area that is a good turn around point. Or you can hike all the way through to Sliding Sands and back up to the Visitor Center. But you will need to either have two cars or someone to bring you back to the Halemau’u parking area. Learn more here.

    Halemau’u Trail

    Maui Hikes

    These are just a few of the many hikes available on the beautiful island of Maui. No matter your hiking skill level you can find a walk or hike on this island. If you are looking for additions to the six great hikes on the island of Maui check this out.

    See our post about things to do in Napili Maui here.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts. Mahalo.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

    After listening to a few books on Audible about Greek Gods, the Trojan War and a lot bravado…I was in search of something a bit softer. And I definitely found in in the sweet, sad and funny book, a debut novel. Here is my book review The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman.

    The Garden of Small Beginnings

    Although I am a writer, I do not write humor. Writing funny is hard. And it takes a very special talent. And Waxman nailed it in this sad story. This, her debut novel, is not about a funny plot…but she excels at dialogue that brings the reader right into the moment with hilarious quips and chatter. A big shout out too for the Audible reader Emily Rankin. She was a great.

    Lilian is a widow, a young mother with two small girls and a talented illustrator. For the past three years she has struggled to regain her footing in life after she witnesses the death of her husband in a car accident. She doesn’t believe she has the right to ever be happy again. She sees any future happiness as a slight to her husband Dan’s memory.

    New Beginnings

    But when Lilian’s employer asks her to take a gardening class in preparation to illustrate a vegetable gardening book, Lilian is thrust back into the social setting she has abhorred for three years. Here she meets an eclectic group of individuals each with their own mysteries and compassion, talents and foibles. The diverse group soon becomes close friends as they plant and bloom, and Lilian becomes even closer friends with the instructor, Edward Bloem. Edward’s family owns the European Bloem Seed Company the company Libby is illustrating the book for.

    Well of course there are many twists and turns, happy and sad moments and lots of plants and flowers as the gardening class individually and as a group all find their passions and small beginnings.

    I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it on Audible too. I hope you enjoyed my book review The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman. I look forward to what she does next.

    *****Five Stars for The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

    See last week’s review of Rain Shelters and Ghost Gods by Jan Walker.

    My current read The Descendents

    We love it when you share and pin our book reviews. Thank you.