White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Nut Cookies from Awesome on 20

White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Nut Cookies

White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Nut Cookies from Awesome on 20

The internet is full of interesting facts. For example, today is Macadamia Nut Day. Who knew? Well, the internet did, I guess.

Mac nuts are kind of a big thing out here. I remember as a kid when we’d travel to Hawaii, and they’d give you a free chocolate covered mac nut on Hawaiian Airlines. Mac nuts have their own section at the grocery store. You can buy them in flavored snack packs like they do with peanuts on the mainland. Obviously, honey roasted mac nuts are my favorite. We don’t even bother to actually say macadamia out here anymore.

White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Nut Cookies from Awesome on 20

These cookies are loaded with crunchy, buttery mac nuts, plenty of white chocolate chips, and an extra burst of sweet and tangy flavor courtesy of baby bits of sweetened dried cranberries. Normally, if someone offered me one of these cookies, I’d pass. I’m not usually a fruit and nuts in my cookies sort of girl. But my husband asked me to make these for a party, so I gave them a try. They were awesome. Half of the cookies were eaten by his office mates before they ever made it to the party.

I took this batch with me to my first day at my new job. I’m really hoping they help me make a good impression. People will overlook a lot of deficiencies when they’re blinded by cookie love.

Mac nuts can be a bit pricey, even out here where they’re grown. I’m not sure what the prices are like on the mainland, but I try to grab some when they’re on sale. Nuts should be stored in the freezer to keep them from going bad. 

White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Nut Cookies from Awesome on 20

Just when you thought Labor Day had passed you by and you’d run out of reasons to celebrate, Mac Nut Day has come to the rescue. Make these cookies. It’s the right thing to do.

White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Nut Cookies
Yields 50
Yummy buttery cookies packed with crunchy mac nuts, sweet white chocolate, and tart dried cranberries
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
  1. 2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
  2. 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 3/4 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
  5. 1 egg
  6. 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  9. 3/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
  10. 12 ounces white chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Put the dried cranberries in a bowl and cover them with hot water. Let them soak while you get on with the rest of your work while the cranberries soften up.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugars and butter for a few minutes until everything is light and fluffy.
  4. Add in egg and beat until combined.
  5. In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Add dry ingredients to your butter mixture, keeping the mixer on it's lowest setting.
  7. Add in remaining ingredients and mix on low until just combined.
  8. Scoop cookie dough, a tablespoon at a time, onto cookie sheet. Leave about two inches in between each cookie.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes or until just brown around the edges.
  10. Remove to a rack to cool, if you can resist them for that long.
  11. Store in an airtight container. Impress your coworkers or just enjoy them yourself.
Adapted from Circle of Friends Cookbook - 25 Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes
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Goat Cheese Souffle from Awesome on 20

Manoa Falls Trail

Manoa Falls2

Whenever we have a long weekend, I always feel like I should use one of those days to get out in nature. I’m not sure what compels me, but it just seems right. Manoa Falls is beautiful, and it’s so easy to find.

Manoa Falls1

When people come to visit my island, Oahu, they usually only think about our beautiful beaches. A lot of people never even make it out of Waikiki. But if you just turn your back on the ocean for a moment (not while you’re standing too close, obviously) you can look up and see that we also have some pretty spectacular mountains. I never get tired of looking at them. Every day, it surprises me how beautiful they are.

Manoa Falls3

Pretty much straight up from Waikiki is the Manoa Valley, and a short hike that leads to a beautiful waterfall. Depending on conditions, this trail is quite easy. It’s not too steep, and it’s plenty wide. No scrambling over boulders or anything. Just a lovely walk through an amazing jungle. However, if it’s been raining, and up in the mountains, there’s a good chance that it has, the trail can become very slippery. This complicates things a bit. 

Manoa Falls4

I recommend wearing trainers or hiking shoes. This is not the time for sandals. Your shoes will get muddy. Also, probably not the best time to wear that pretty white linen skirt. I’d also probably not bring your baby. I’ve seen people do it, and I’m sure everything was fine. But I’ve also seen people slip and fall. It just makes me nervous. Use your brain. You know what to do.

Manoa Falls5

If you’re here on vacation, you’ll see people in Waikiki trying to sell you commercial tours to Manoa Falls. If you like throwing your money away, be my guest. But if you’ve rented a car, or moped, it’s very easy to drive to. If you park on the street just below the entrance, you don’t even have to pay the five dollars to park. If you don’t have your own wheels, just take the bus. It goes right up near the trail head, and a bus ride is $2.50. It’s much better than sitting on a stuffy tour bus.

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As for the experience itself, if you’ve never been in a proper jungle, you’re going to love this. There are the most wonderful plants and trees. You’ll want to stop and take photos about every thirty seconds. Or I did. Maybe I’m just weird. When you reach the falls at the end, you’ll see signs telling you not to climb out onto the rocks. I urge you to obey, even though you’ll likely see plenty of people who don’t. There have been rock falls in this area, and the more times people head off the trail, the more erosion is caused. Also, there is likely leptosperosis in the water. It can be nasty.

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If you’re an uberhiker, you can continue up another trail once you reach the falls. It keeps winding back into the mountains. I’m usually too hungry at this point to keep going, but I’ve always wanted to check it out. 

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One more tip. Remember those commercial tours I told you about? They’re only allowed on weekdays. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s probably quieter on the weekends. Oh, and don’t forget your bug spray!

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Manoa Falls is the perfect opportunity to see the other side of Oahu. The beach is fun, but the mountains are just breathtaking. It’s a relatively simple hike that’s easily accessible. It’s a great place to start for exploring. Be respectful of the aina, or land, and enjoy it’s beauty.

Be Awesome: Make a Comeback


Sometimes you need a do over. You just need to hit the reset button on your life. If you don’t like the direction your life is headed, you should be allowed to change it. And you shouldn’t have to apologize for it.

After seven years of teaching, we moved to Hawaii, and I decided not to pursue another teaching job. There were a million reasons behind my decision to leave my career, some more painful than others, but it left me wondering what to do with my life professionally. The things I really loved made no money, and money was not something we could do without. But how does one with no particular skills redefine oneself? 

For two years, I worked for a measly paycheck, first in retail, and then as an office temp. It made me a bit of money, but it didn’t give me purpose. In the meantime, I watched my former students living the beautiful lives they deserved, one of them even published her first novel. I worked at the mall. I was feeling like a total loser. I was depressed and felt like things would never change.

Starting next week, I’m making a comeback. I’ll be starting a new job as the development coordinator for a local homeless shelter. I’ll be coordinating all their small donor campaigns, assisting with fundraising events, and helping with resource drives and in-kind donations. It’s been a long road to this new beginning, but I have a sense of purpose again. I cannot wait to conquer this new challenge.

Okay, so hurray for me, but that’s not the point. The point is, I am not extraordinary. A series of circumstances led me down a path that resulted in feeling supremely frustrated with my professional life. I thought it would stay that way forever, but I managed to change my circumstances. If I can do it, anyone can.

It might not be simple, and for me, it certainly didn’t happen quickly. But I strongly believe that if you don’t like the direction your life is taking, you have to seize control and do whatever you can to change it. You may think you’re down and out, but you can make a come back. 

Believing in myself has never been my strength, but I believe in you. I believe in your own power to search for the thing that you love. I believe in your power to keep working toward finding deeper meaning in your life. I believe in your power to change yourself. It will feel awesome.

Anyone can make a comeback. Even me. Even you. 


Read more about my journey here.

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