Photoshoot at Kealia

One of our favorite hangouts on Maui is the Kealia Boardwalk. We just had to go back and check it out again, and I just had to break out the big camera for some fun photography practice. It’s getting easier for me to get shots I like, though sometimes I forget that what I see in the viewfinder isn’t always what ends up being captured. More than a few times I’ll be snapping away, completely forgetting to check the preview to make sure the settings are correct. Oh well. Doesn’t Keola look like an awesome single dad? Wish I wasn’t behind the camera in these pics.




DSC_0524 DSC_0484 DSC_0485 DSC_0467  DSC_0489 DSC_0486 DSC_0586


P.S. SoPupuka is back on Instagram!

The Gardens at ‘Īao Valley

One thing that I’m coming to understand about myself is that I LOVE taking pictures. I love the challenge of seeing something interesting and trying to capture it with a camera. Sometimes I’m successful, and sometimes…not so much, but I love experimenting with different angles and lighting. I recognized this the other day, when we went to ʻĪao Valley and I went just a little crazy with the camera. It is SO GORGEOUS there and I just had to take pictures of everything.


Truth be told, we didnʻt actually go all the way in to the valley. We stayed in the park area where there are lots of pavilions. Itʻs a popular spot for locals to have parties. Thereʻs nothing special about the pavilions, but the surrounding gardens are amazing. The grounds are divided into different sections and each section represents a different country from which immigrants came to Hawaii. Japan, China, the Philippines and Portugal are the most prominent. Stepping into each area is like stepping into a new world. Thereʻs a traditional house with a surrounding garden in each area. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to exclude the parking lot and cars and other background objects that donʻt belong, so it feels like you’re completely immersed in that cultural world.


I’m sad I didn’t get more pictures of the Japanese house. I just love the minimalist design aesthetic. So calming. Doesn’t it feel like The Last Samurai?

IMG_1146 IMG_3754 IMG_3748 IMG_1144

The Chinese house was much more ornate but I just loved the lines in the architecture and the bold color choices. Keola took that pano and I love it. It’s so striking. I don’t think I’ll decorate like this any time soon, but there’s a lot to draw on from a graphics standpoint.

IMG_3752 IMG_3750

IMG_3766IMG_3761IMG_3768IMG_3772    IMG_3776

I fell completely in love with the Portuguese garden. I guess I’m kind of a sucker for European design. I loved all the white walls with the brown accents, the columns perfectly framing the statue of Mary in the garden.  The tile surrounding the door is amazing and the garden…so full of life and color, offsetting the white statue. I stayed and photographed this area for a while. I couldn’t get enough, but everyone else sure did. Leo was getting antsy and she was in the carrier, which made it REALLY hard to get decent photos. Photography 101: Don’t carry a baby while you’re trying to take pictures.

Keola told me that even though he spent his childhood playing in these gardens, he never understood what they represented. I couldn’t help feeling a little sad as I walked through them, thinking about all the people who left their homes and families to try to make a life in a completely foreign place. Today the internet makes moving relatively easy. There’s so much we can learn about a place before going there, but these people stepped into complete darkness with no clue what their lives would look like when they arrived, and not knowing if they would ever return to their homeland. Many did not, and that makes my heart ache a little. It also made me grateful. Being Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese and German, I wouldn’t be here if my ancestors didn’t take that leap of faith. But they did, and they made Hawai’i their home, and pieced together new families, a new language and a new culture.

Someday Iʻd like to go back to my other homelands – homelands I know almost nothing about, partly to learn more deeply about where I came from, but after this day, I feel the need to do it to (in a way) bring my ancestors home.

Celebrating Awesome: Maui Edition


Every week I’m sharing things from around the web that moved me – whether it was to laugh, cry, ponder or cheer. There is some really awesome stuff happening all around us and I want to celebrate it. This week since we’re on Maui, I thought I’d do a round up of some of my Maui faves.

This Maui author (and dear friend) is a force! Every one of her books is a winner (trust me, I’ve read every one.) Her husband Mike is also an amazing photographer and woodworker.

Randy Jay Braun is another favorite Maui photographer and the NICEST guy.

This juice looks amazing, but mostly, I want the jar.

Go native with a modern and stylish sensibility at Native Intelligence.

And just down the road…these guys can do no wrong with their fun, fresh clothes and amazing mission.

I could go on and on. Seriously. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I love Maui and the amazing people doing amazing things here. Such and inspiration!

Around Here


IMG_3607IMG_3665 IMG_3632 IMG_3668 IMG_3620 IMG_3622 IMG_3649 IMG_3617 IMG_3631
IMG_3661 IMG_3643 IMG_3674 IMG_3662 IMG_3673 IMG_3629

Since arriving on Maui we’ve been gorging ourselves on delicious food (like the entire Homemade Bakery doughnut that Leo shoved in her mouth in that first pic.) This morning we headed up to Kula Country Farms. I LOVE that they’re always changing up their little garden/play area for the kids in fun and creative ways. That whole area just screams “LIFE.” The produce stand is full of the most beautiful fruit and veggies you will ever see. We left with strawberries, asparagus, tomatoes and string beans, and I’m kicking myself for not picking up some zucchini. Their plants for sale are gorgeous. That tuberose? Reminds me of our wedding – we scattered tuberose all over the tables and it smelled INCREDIBLE. Whenever I go to Kula Country Farms I leave wanting a little house that sits on an acre of land, and we would farm just enough to feed our family, and I want it to sit on the slopes of Haleakalā so I can have that view every day. Problem is I’m NOT a farm girl haha, so I don’t know if that would actually work in real life, but it’s fun to think about.

Aloha Maui!

Aloha Maui Graphic-01

Golden sun, lively breeze, puffy white clouds…I must be on Maui. You guys, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to be here. It’s been almost two years since we left. We lived here for a year and a half before Keola got the job he has now on the Big Island, and despite going through some extremely tough experiences I came to really love Maui (beyond “Maui’s so pretty”). I think it’s because I really grew here as a person and developed great friendships and stronger bonds with my in-laws. It’s SO expensive to fly inter-island, especially with a growing family. The only way we could afford it was because of our tax refund, but we promised our nieces we’d come this summer so we just HAD to. Noweo spent many formative months with her two cousins and I’m sure that by the time we left they were more like sisters, so seeing them together again is so special. Keola’s grandmother and I got really close as well. She was the hardest person for me to say goodbye to when we moved away, and I’m so happy to be with her and know that she’s healthy and in good spirits.

We don’t have much in the way of plans. Our time on Maui (in my mind anyway) is going to look something like this: beach, Homemade Bakery, friends, beach, cruise Lahaina, mall, friends, movies, Leoda’s, beach, friends, cruise Up Country, beach, friends, hikes, Flatbread  Pizza, Wow wow Lemonade, beach, Star Noodle, Iao valley, beach, etc.

sigh…I missed you Maui.

Also, it’s our eighth wedding anniversary today! Yay! I can’t believe how dangerously close we’re getting to 10 years. For reals. Here’s to eight years of crazy that wouldn’t be nearly as amazing with anyone else. I love you Keola. I’m so glad we get to celebrate in such an amazing place.

Nature Walks No. 3

IMG_1961 IMG_1953 IMG_1948 IMG_1947 IMG_1954

I’m finding that my nature walks photos aren’t the most amazing photos in the world (just like the rest of the photos on this blog I suppose) but I love them because they’re snapped spontaneously, without a plan or intent to get a “great” shot. Each one was taken while I was walking and I just stopped and thought “That’d be a nice picture,” after which I’d quickly snap a photo and move on. Despite this, they’re some of my favorites because they remind me of a time when I used to be outside a lot more.

A few days ago I was running errands and had about half an hour to kill before picking up Keola. The kids were asleep in the car so I drove to our church which has a large field in the back, parked the car, kicked my shoes off and laid down on the grass next to the car. It was almost magical, and I noticed a significant difference in the way I felt. It was the most relaxed I had been in a while, and I realized that I had really been missing out on the outside. I NEED it. It’s life-giving, energizing and nurturing, especially for someone like me who often feels depleted and utterly exhausted. It’s seriously, the best stress reliever, and I highly recommend, if you’re going through a stressful time, to ask yourself when’s the last time you really spent time outside doing nothing but enjoying what’s around you? And if you can’t think of the last time you did that, close your computer at get outside. NOW.

Nature Walk No. 2

IMG_1614 IMG_1617 IMG_1619 IMG_1613 IMG_1615

Just some quick snapshots of Wailuku river from one of the bridges. I did some touch ups on a few but eh…I’m too tired to do the rest. We had to make a stop in the area a few days ago and I just HAD to take Noweo on the bridge so she could see the river. She was completely enthralled, and so was I.

Nature Walk No. 1

Introducing my new Nature Walk series. This stems from the desire to get out more. It’s really hard sometimes for me to want to get the kids ready, pack up their stuff and go somewhere, but I almost never regret it. Some days I just want to park myself in front of the computer and work, but HELLOOOO!!! I live in HAWAIʻI. It’s like when you were a kid, and your parents would tell you there are starving kids in China who would LOOOVE to eat your eggplant. Well, there are freezing people in Michigan who would LOOOOVE to be outside enjoying the foliage, ocean and warm sun. On THAT note, I want to start taking nature walks with greater regularity and posting about it every week – typically Wednesday. I don’t know if I’ll be really strict with myself about the weekly posts, but that’s what I have down for February, so SOMETIME each week I will make a special effort to spend some time outside walking and taking pictures (weather permitting).

Errr…today I made it in to the yard, but in my defense, I only decided to start nature walks on Monday so that didn’t leave me much time to plan one. ANYWAY, enjoy these pics. I love looking for pattern in nature. They’re so organic and irregular, but not at the same time, and the designer in me just loves the irregularity and predictability that makes nature so rich.

IMG_1478 IMG_1481 IMG_1482 IMG_1485

The Best of January

Part of “thriving” to me, is recognizing big and small wins so you feel good about the things you’ve been a part of, so I’m kicking off a “Best of” series which will to up at the end of the month, highlighting my favorite moments of that month. In no particular order:

Best Sleeping PositionIMG_0773

Best Business BuyIMG_1335

Best FriendsIMG_1382

Best Photo of Moss on a TreeIMG_1286

Best seat in the houseIMG_1343

Best New ExperienceIMG_1156

Best thing I could’ve done for this blog

Best Panoramic Shot


Best New DesignIMG_1075

Best New Guilty PleasureIMG_1155

Best use of $18IMG_1160

Best Lunch


Best DriveIMG_1214Best Conversation (it was about butts)IMG_1318

Best Reason to Turn off the TV


Best Shot of the Girls’ Room (It normally looks way messier)


Wow. It really was an amazing January. I’m so glad I wrote this post. I’m so grateful for the life I have, for the people in it, for the place I live in. Grateful grateful. What were your best January moments?



MLK Day at Volcanoes National Park

IMG_1267IMG_1287 IMG_1284 IMG_1266 IMG_1286 IMG_1285 IMG_1283IMG_1306IMG_1291IMG_1258IMG_1305IMG_1261IMG_1320IMG_0797 IMG_1274 IMG_1325 IMG_1318

I almost don’t want to mess up this post with words, but I just loved Monday so much. We went to Volcanoes National Park since national parks are free on Martin Luther King Day, and I just love it there. It’s an incredible world of lush forest alive with the songs of native birds, barren rock, steam, lava and fire. There is blackness and destruction, and incredible life and re-birth. It was so good for my soul to explore this place with my favorite people.

p.s. It’s perfectly safe as long as you stick to the marked trails and roads. If there is any danger the park rangers will close off those areas. Sometimes the air quality can be bad depending on which way the wind is blowing, but overall it’s an amazing place that can be enjoyed by most.