Island horses, guava cocktails, magnificent sunsets - and Oprah Winfrey!
Michelle Obama is reportedly enjoying it all at the media mogul's swanky estate in Hawaii where the first lady is squeezing out a few more days of vacation.
President Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia returned to the White House Sunday after a two-week vacation in Hawaii, but Michelle Obama stayed behind in the Aloha State as a bit of an early birthday gift from the president.
"This was her decision to remain at, actually, the president's suggestion in Hawaii, to spend time with friends ahead of her upcoming very big birthday," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday. "If you have kids, you know that telling your spouse that they can go spend a week away from home is actually a big present."
She'll be 50 Jan. 17.
Local media reports have speculated that Obama might be spending time this week at Winfrey's Maui estate. The Maui News reported that speculation about the first lady's presence at Winfrey's home arose because of "a caravan of Maui police cars and black sport utility vehicles" near the estate.
The Daily Caller reported that Obama is hanging out with Winfrey-confidante Gayle King of CBS News, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Sharon Malone, Attorney General Eric Holder's wife, while in Maui.
The White House has not responded to requests to confirm the reports.
And what does a day at Winfrey's Hawaiian getaway entail? In a blog for the Huffington Post last year, Winfrey described the fresh fruit drinks, sunsets, horse rides and gardening she and her guests enjoy at her estate in Maui.
"Every evening we sit on the front porch and watch the greatest light show on earth: the sun dipping below the horizon. Neighbors drop by. We sip drinks inspired by whatever is fresh and delicious - mango, guava, pineapple, cucumber, basil. We chat, laugh and rate the sunsets according to their magnificence," Winfrey wrote for the Huffington Post. "When there's a full moon, we hike up the mountain and sometimes ride horses to the top to watch the moon rise over the ridge. I love being in my garden, cultivating the most delicious organic fruits and vegetables. Radishes as big as your head. The land gives and gives. It restores my soul.
"I've never encountered anyone who doesn't love it. The soothing breezes and glowing sunsets, and watching the sun rise as you look down on the clouds below Haleakala Crater all manifest the splendor of the island. For me that's the bonus. The real substance and value of being in Hawaii is the unspoken "spirit" of the people and the surroundings. Hawaiians understand that the soul of the land is what matters," she said.
The media mogul is a close friend of the Obama family, and Winfrey and the first lady are both celebrating milestone birthdays this month. Winfrey will be 60 Jan. 29.
It's unclear when the first lady will travel back to Washington, but Carney said Monday she would fly back on a government aircraft and that the first family will "appropriately fund personal expenses."
While she celebrates her birthday early in Hawaii, the White House is reportedly planning a big birthday bash for the first lady in Washington, the Chicago Tribune reported last month. The White House has sent out save-the-date emails for a party called "Snacks & Sips & Dancing & Dessert" Jan. 18, according to the paper.
The White House has been quiet about the details, but the first lady offered a hint last month about how she might celebrate turning the big 5-0.
"I'm going to be 50 … Fifty and fabulous," Obama said at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington in December. "I'm not exactly sure yet what I'm going to do, but it might involve some dancing. A little Dougie."
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