Thursday, November 5, 2015

How to Make House Cleaning More Fun: A Hula Maid - or Two!

I’ve often complained about the challenges of keeping a house clean on Maui. It’s hard work, because the dust and dirt reproduce constantly. 

There’s a reason we call them dust bunnies – they’re always breeding.

Insolent dust bunny on Maui.

So I was thrilled to be contacted by a new cleaning company on Maui called Hula Maids. What a great name. It sounded so upbeat, like maybe the cleaners would dance hula while cleaning, like Snow White whistling while she worked. I’m often not cheerful when cleaning, more like Grumpy Dwarf having a hangover. I think it’s because I secretly resent the dust bunnies being on an endless tropical honeymoon on Maui

How to make house cleaning more fun on Maui.

Disclaimer: Hula Maids provided a free 2 hour basic house cleaning in exchange for a review on my website. No guarantee was made that my review would be positive.
An hour before the cleaners were due to arrive, DH and I were having one of those typical husband wife arguments that happen during long term marriages.

DH asked me if they were insured? He was suddenly concerned about having unknown people enter our jungle bungalow. Gosh, he’s never been concerned about unknown bugs or geckos entering our house!

Were these cleaners bonded? I looked at the website and assured him, yes, they were bonded. But he was still concerned – he hadn’t met them before, so they could be evil boogiemen hacking into our wifi network and gaining control of all our ooooh outdated technology!

I found these floppy disks cleaning the house a couple of years ago. Our cat is  embarrassed about this antiquated technology.
The other more pressing issue:
What would they clean? What would be included in the cleaning?
DH insisted that he had asked me to write a list of tasks several days before AND I insisted he had asked me only THE day before. Having different memories is so typical of these husband/wife disputes.

I rapidly wrote a list of tasks and we looked at the basic house cleaning description on the Hula Maids website. We gaped at each other. Oh dear, the house was actually TOO clean! How ironic! The cleaners would be done in 5 minutes. The basic house cleaning included a lot of basics but did not include more involved jobs like the bath tub or windows. Uh oh. The bath tub needed cleaning.

Hula Maids Screen Shot. At the time of our cleaning, the regular cleaning did NOT include the bath tub. It now includes a LIGHT bath tub cleaning.

We were faced with a dilemma. Did we want to waste the cleaners’ time or try to reschedule when the house was more dirty? Which, let’s face it, being Maui, would probably be in another couple of days. It was bad timing and Murphy’s law. The house is never that clean except when a house cleaner is about to show up.

Frantically, I called Hula Maids and talked w/ R. What would the cleaners end up cleaning? Was it a waste of time? R. explained that two cleaners would be there for 2 hours, so whatever we wanted them to clean, they would clean, even if it wasn’t on the list of basic house cleaning items. So if the bath tub needed cleaning, then they would do the bath tub. Point settled. Phew! All we had to do was wait for them to show up.

When our two cleaners arrived, I felt a wave of relief. 

They would pass DH’s “ok to enter the house” test. Hate to be so shallow, but first impressions are important. 

They were not scraggly hippy types with matted, dirt laced dreadlocks wearing stained purple fairy skirts. They didn’t look like they had partied all night and had to drink eight cups of coffee to drag themselves out of bed. They weren’t stoned, eyes glazed and looking at me as if I was a martian, when I spoke. They communicated clearly and were easy to understand.

Hula Maids in an "American Gothic" pose.
We talked. I mentioned what I thought was worth cleaning and what they should skip. They brought their own equipment and cleaning products. They moved efficiently and easily through the house. They did clean the bathtub, yay! And it was very shiny and sparkly for at least a full week. I did ask for one window to be washed and they didn’t have the right equipment because window washing is not part of a basic house cleaning job. But A. still managed to get the window nice and clean.

Hula maids in our jungalow kitchen.
Because I find people so interesting, I ended up not working at my desk as planned and kept talking with them and asking questions. In Hawaii, we call this “talk story” when you’re chatting with someone and connecting with them. The two cleaners I’ll call A. and O. rather than using their full names.

O. used to be a cleaner with a luxury vacation rental manager on Maui. Once I knew the name of her former employer (perfectionist, over the top company), I knew how great she would be as a cleaner. O. is from Russia and also teaches gymnastics. Her mother was a clean-o-phile and would wake up before the rest of the family to scrub the floor on her hands and knees every morning. O. likes cleaning so much that it was making her boyfriend crazy and he asked her to find a job as a cleaner! 

Innocent mouse toy.
The funniest moment was when O. discovered the wind up mouse in the corner.  We heard a shriek! Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised to have a mouse in the house... our cat tries to sneak them in ALL the time. DH later got rid of the mouse since it didn't work very well. The cat was NOT fooled by it. 

This photo is taken off an Ebay site, if you want to buy a wind up mouse to scare your guests or your cleaner. FYI, I'm not getting a kickback.

BTW, I also loved that as O. was passing the wall under the counter, she insisted she had to wipe off the dust which you can only see by looking at the wall a certain way, because the dust was bothering her! 

O. cleaning the dust off the wall. You can see the dust if you are looking at the right angle. I never paid much attention to it.

My husband wants to marry O.

A. likes to cook Middle Eastern food and is interested in gardening. A. cleaned the kitchen window, the kitchen table, and the little slotted areas in the back rails of the kitchen chairs as well as the chair legs and the cushions and other things that I would never have noticed.

A. was very careful about a tiny ceramic dish of red beans on the kitchen table, lifting it up and setting it back down gently after cleaning one side of the table. I’m often careless about how I empty my pockets after gardening, grabbing everything out of my pocket with grubby fingers, but A. handled my bean seeds like fragile art objects. I was touched. If I was cleaning the kitchen table, I’d probably spill the beans while overreaching to swipe the dust off the edge of the window sill. To avoid such mishaps, don’t clean the window sill. Problem solved. Unless you live with a neatnik.  

The tiny bowl of red bean seeds that A. handled gently.

My husband also wants to marry A.

Both cleaners were very careful with all items, moving them gently to the side and then back. They rearranged items slightly so that one knew that the area had been cleaned. No rushed or jerky movements. They climbed up on stools, crawled into the scary bug-infested cabinet under the sink, crawled into the kitchen bay window. They had ipods but didn’t end up plugging in earphones, so it was easy to talk to them at any time.

I also loved the vacuum cleaner that A. used. It’s a European vacuum cleaner that is designed to be worn on the back. NO knocking the vacuum into the wall or tables or having it fall over because you’ve tried to overreach with the extension hose. What a beautiful design. 

I want to marry A’s vacuum cleaner.

I am in love with this vacuum cleaner. DH is in love with the cleaner.

Overall, my impression was great. I took pics, gave them a decent tip I think, and was pleased to have a free and professional house cleaning. The house looked great, at least for a few more days! Sigh… 

O. told me that if I think Haiku is hard on houses, that I should go to North Kihei. She says you wipe the dust off the counter. In a few hours, the dust is back on the counter like it never disappeared! Nightmare!

Hula Maids brings their own cleaning supplies and offers the option of cleaning with eco-friendly cleaning products.

Hula Maids is not for everyone though. 

People who enjoy haggling or are pake (meaning cheap in Hawaiian) will not be good clients for Hula Maids. The prices are set prices, and they reflect the price for two cleaners who are well trained as well as the overhead of a cleaning company that has to report income properly to the state. 

What I’m saying is that private cleaners on Maui can be found for $25 - $40/hour but they want to be paid in cash. They don’t have to report their income. I know of NO individual cleaners who take credit cards. Maybe there are cleaners who take personal checks. I haven’t met one yet. Hula Maids happily takes credit cards.

For MOVING IN or MOVING OUT services, I think Hula Maids might be the way to go. My friend's move out cleaning bill was expected to be around $500 - that's what she told me. It was $920! Hula Maids wasn't in business yet. Hula Maids can do quotes in advance so there is no big surprise after the cleaning.

Hula Maid A. is climbing in the bay window. O. couldn't resist reorganizing the plastic ware covers!

Hula Maids is good for people who want consistent good cleaning and need to know that all days desired for cleaning will actually have a cleaner show up. 

Private cleaners have their own lives and their own schedules. Many individual cleaners won’t clean on Sundays, don’t like cleaning in the late afternoon, and heaven forbid you should ask them to clean at night!  If you need a place cleaned daily for a month, it’s going to be hard to find a private cleaner willing to do that. I know, because I have had to do this for work and there are some days the cleaners are NOT available.

With Hula Maids, there is a staff of cleaners, so that should minimize any “missed” days in an intense cleaning schedule.

Last thing: Hula Maids is getting pretty popular. It’s a relatively new company, only launched a few months ago and you still have to arrange a cleaning in advance. I’m not sure they can do a cleaning on the same day that you book online or call them.

By the way, I’m happy to write reviews for local companies when I have time. I have to be upfront and admit I don’t always write them immediately because my life can get busy - right now I'm volunteering with event promotion for Hawaii Farmers Union, and I want to write a detailed and fun review, which takes time and thought. But you can still contact me! 

Visit the Archives for more posts.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November 2015 Maui Events At A Glance

Please visit the websites to make sure the event dates, locations and times are still correct. Abbreviations: MACC stands for Maui Arts and Cultural Center.
For a list of ongoing Maui events, which are held monthly, scroll to the bottom.
If you know of an event that is appropriate to list here, please let me know!

November brings cooler weather to Maui, more festivals, and local persimmons (pictured above).

Now – Tuesday, November 10. Aloha Classic Windsurfing Competition. Watch and/or volunteer. Hookipa Beach Park, Paia.

Sunday, November 1 – Saturday, November 7. Restaurant Week in Wailea.  Dine out in style at Wailea restaurants, which offer a 3 course prix fixe meal at different price levels. Benefits the Maui Food Bank. Wailea.

Sunday, November 1, 5:30 pm. Day of the Dead Party – Fundraiser for Imua Family Services. Continue celebrating Halloween for one more day. Costume contest, live flamenco dancing. Sangrita Grill, Ka’anapali.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

October 2015 Maui Events At A Glance

October – A month for Halloween festivities and excitement. The crowning event is Halloween in Lahaina which always has packed attendance, crazy costumes, and plenty of traffic.  Other events include ghost stories at the MACC, Haunted Hikes and Hitchcock films. Fall festivals include Oktoberfest, Lahaina Plantation Days and Kula Country Farms Pumpkin Patch.

Please visit the websites to make sure the event dates, locations and times are still correct. Abbreviations: MACC stands for Maui Arts and Cultural Center.
For a list of ongoing Maui events, which are held monthly, scroll to the bottom.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Harvesting and Eating Wild Kiawe (Hawaiian Mesquite): A Talk by Vince Dodge

Intro: Back in 2011 or 2012, I wondered if kiawe, the thorny tree that grows on the dry side of most if not all the Hawaiian Islands, was edible and wrote a blog post exploring its edibility. I was thinking it might be a form of mesquite, a desert tree in the southwest after reading about mesquite flour in Gary Paul Nabhan’s book Coming Home to Eat. Apparently mesquite is a very delicious flour.

A thicket of kiawe trees. Interestingly, kiawe often twists and turns as it grows, even growing horizontally.

Note: Kiawe is usually pronounced, "kee-AH-vay." It is also known as Algarroba in Spanish.

Last year, I found out about a presentation at UH Maui college on eating and using kiawe flour, including making and sampling kiawe flour peanut butter bars. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t attend but excited to know that other people had explored kiawe as an edible wild food source and were even milling it commercially. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September 2015 Maui Events At A Glance

Please visit the websites to make sure the event dates, locations and times are still correct. Abbreviations: MACC stands for Maui Arts and Cultural Center.
For a list of ongoing Maui events, which are held monthly, scroll to the bottom.

The Maui Fair is the biggest event for the month of September and an annual tradition for many local families. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Frew.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Life on Kauai vs. Life on Maui

A month or so ago, E. asked on email what I thought were the differences between Maui and Kauai, not for tourists but for residents. This topic is one I’ve thought about off and on, especially after blogging about life on Maui vs. Oahu, but it hadn’t grabbed me yet. As I thought about how I haven’t sent out my email newsletter for the end of July and didn’t want to send out a newsletter since I hadn’t really blogged in July, the words popped into my head.

I lived on Kauai for a year, a decade ago, so I’m sure some things have changed, but mostly it’s still the same. So, in no particular order, although subject to lots of editing later, here’s a comparison of life on Kauai versus on Maui.

Smaller population
Kauai has about half the population of Maui, and even though populations on both islands are growing, I’ve heard that Maui County is the fastest growing county with new residents. Smaller population means that Kauai is more rural, with less traffic, less shopping, less jobs, less events, less dates, less everything except peace and quiet.

Yes. Kauai is quiet. Quiet. 
Which sounds a lot like the word Kauai. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August 2015 Events At A Glance On Maui

Please visit the websites to make sure the event dates, locations and times are still correct. Abbreviations: MACC stands for Maui Arts and Cultural Center.
For a list of ongoing Maui events, which are held monthly, scroll to the bottom.

Updated 8/6/15.

Saturday, August 1, 10 am - 2 pm. Paula Fuga and Raiatea Helm, Saturdays in the Shade Concert at Queen Ka’ahumanu Shopping Center. Prizes, including a trip to Las Vegas. Kahului. FREE!

Saturday, August 1, 11 am – 2 pm. DOGust Shelter Dog Birthday Party. Maui Humane Society. August 1 is the universal birthday for all shelter dogs with unknown birthdays. Celebrate with music by the Haiku Hillbillys, bouncy castle for kids, scavenger hunt, and more. Food trucks available. FREE but birthday gifts of toys, treats, blankets, and donations are welcome. 

Saturday, August 1, Grand Opening of aFeinberg Gallery. The Shops at Wailea. 5 pm for VIP/Collectors, 6 pm for the public.

Sunday, August 2, 7 am – 10 am. Kraig M.K. Vickers Honor Run (5K and 3K). Kanaha Park, Kahului. In honor of Maui’s own Kraig M.K. Vickers, killed in action in Afghanistan.

Thursday, August 6, 7 pm. The Nuclear Age at Seventy: David Krieger, founder of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will talk about the 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. UH Maui College, Pilina Building. Free. 

Thursday, August 6, 6 pm - 9:30 pm. International Support with Aloha.  Learn about Hawaii’s history, international support, and international law regarding events from the 1890s. Na ‘Ai Kane O Maui, 562A Front Street, Lahaina. Free.

Friday, August 7, 5:30 pm – 9 pm. Maui Huliau Food & Film Festival. A farm-to-table celebration of local chefs and student-produced films. Live music, silent auction, student film competition, and aerial silk performances. For 21 and over. Seabury Hall, Makawao.  
Saturday, August 8, 10 am – 2 pm. Family Day at the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center. Scavenger Hunt, Face Painting, Bake Sale, Hands-On Art Workshops, and more! Makawao. FREE!

Saturday, August 8, 10 am – 4 pm. Doorway Into Light Open House. The Death Store – live music, prizes, etc. Does death have to be a scary topic? Learn about living wills, conscious end of life planning, and resources for you and your loved ones. Haiku Pauwela Cannery, Haiku.
Saturday, August 8, 5 pm – 8 pm.  Moonlight Mele Concert at the Bailey House Museum, featuring George Kahumoku, Neal Yakamura, the UHMC Institute of Hawaiian Music, and the keiki of Halau Na Hanona Kulike O Piilani. Special concert price of $5/person, FREE for children under 12. Wailuku. 

Tuesday, August 11, 6 pm – 7:30 pm. Governor Ige’s Community Forum on Health Care and Availability of Medical Services on Maui. Provide your input. Maui Waena Intermediate School Cafeteria, Kahului.

Thursday, August 13, 7 pm. The Real Food Revolution: An Evening With Ocean Robbins, founder of the Food Revolution Network. A candid and inspiring look at the truth about food. Ocean is the son of John Robbins, of Diet for a New America. Makawao Union Church, Makawao. $20 suggested donation.

Friday, August 14. 6 pm. Maui Calls: Celebrating the Old Boat Days of Hawaii. The MACC’s annual signature gala, with live music, dinner, dancing under the stars, and silent and live auction. Must be 21 and older. MACC, Wailuku.

Saturday, August 15, 8 am – 4 pm. Auwahi Volunteer Forest Restoration Trip. Volunteer in a conservation area of Maui. Upcountry.

Sunday, August 16, 10 am – 6 pm. Pop Up Jungle Boutique. Local artists offer their handmade creations. Pauwela Cannery, Haiku. 
Kiawe Harvest, July 1 - September ?, all islands. Join with others on Facebook and participate in kiawe seed pod harvesting. Free. 
Saturday, August 15, 9 am – 12 noon. Revitalizing ‘Ulu (Breadfruit) Learn about ‘ulu planting, harvesting, preparing and eating with Ian Cole of the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s Breadfruit Institute at Kahanu Gardens. Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Kahului. $45 visitors, $20 members.

Saturday, August 15, 4:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Whale Trust Maui Benefit Dinner and John Cruz Performance. Farm to Table Dinner, silent auction, live music hosted by Lumeria Maui. Makawao.

Friday, August 21 – August 30. Various times. MAPA Live presents Evita, with Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom. Hawaii’s top selling female vocalist returns to her musical roots to perform the title role of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical. MACC. 

Saturday, August 22, 9 am – 12 noon. ‘Uala (Sweet Potato) Workshop. Learn about the cultural importance of ‘uala, traditional farming practices, varieties, recipes, and harvesting. $45 visitors, $20 members. 

Saturday, August 22, 11 am. Sweet Paradise Chocolatier 4th Anniversary Party. Sweet Paradise Chocolatier is celebrating 4 years in business with random acts of chocolate, samples to try, a chocolate fountain, and giveaways. The first 50 people to arrive will be entered in a contest to win 3 months of free chocolate. Wailea Gateway Plaza, Wailea. 

Saturday, August 22, 8 am – noon. Maui Friends of the Library Warehouse Sale. All books and media will be 10 cents or 12 items for a dollar. Items are free if used for Maui County by educators, librarians, staff, or parents homeschooling. One free item per child. MFOL Warehouse, by the MFOL Bookstore in Pu’unene. Hansen Road will be open. 

Saturday, August 22, 7 pm – 9 pm. Soul Kitchen Maui at Charley’s. Concert by popular band Soul Kitchen Maui for the first time on the North Shore at Charley’s. $10

Sunday, August 30, 7 pm – 8:30 pm. Maui Improv Show. Enjoy live, unscripted entertainment with local Maui residents. Doors open at 6:30 pm. $5 only. Pro Arts Playhouse, Kihei.


2nd Monday of the month, 6:30 pm. Barefoot Essential Theater (BET) and One Night Only – ONO performance: play readings, comedy nights, poetry readings. Iao Theater, Wailuku. FREE.

1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Fridays of the month: Maui Friday parties, held in a different town each week. More info at

WOW - Wailea on Wednesday: On Wednesday nights in July at the Shops of Wailea, learn to play ukulele at “Ukulele Mix Plate,” 6 – 8 pm.

Labyrinth walks, on or near the full moon each month and on Thursday afternoons at the Sacred Garden of Maui, Makawao.

Hawaii Farmers Union public potluck meetings – held on the 3rd Thursday of the month, usually at the Maui Tropical Plantation and the 4th Tuesday of the month at Haiku Community Center. More info at HFUU Haleakala, closer to the day of the meeeting.

There are many other events on Maui at Calendar Maui, Maui Time, and Meet Up.