Ohia blossom

Ohia blossom

In flight.

In flight.

During my morning ritual of coffee and writing, the most amazing sight greeted me. I noticed a clump of small dried branches on an ohia tree near our front door…a nest! The orange yellow beaks demanding food were barely visible. I grabbed a long lens, not to photograph them, but to get a better look.

Three three babies...mouths wide open

Three babies…mouths wide open

Feeding time.

Feeding time.

Two adult birds tending them.

Two adult birds tending them.

We live in a rainforest of native Hawaiian ohia trees and hapu’u on the slopes of Mauna Loa. Most morning red native honey creepers called apapane sing and do whatever these guys do. They sure sound happy!


I recently had dinner at an amazing restaurant in Maui. If you go there thinking you’re going to have something familiar that you’ve had before, forget. The menu is a great read with super inventive dishes. It was exciting to see such innovation…you could tell that the creators were passionate about the dishes. In addition to the interesting menu, the staff was welcoming and attentive. I thought they thought I was somebody. Ha!


I was alone and was seated at the tasting table even though I wasn’t doing the tasting menu. The staff was great about explaining the menu and I loved reading it. It had an energy rarely seen…local ingredients, too. I just knew I was gonna love it. I had a great view of every dish coming out of the kitchen and each was beautifully plated.


A slab of watermelon topped with goat cheese, nuts and micro greens was a perfectly refreshing way to begin.  Visually pleasing and, oh so light!


The reason I chose dinner here was that there was grilled octopus on the menu…I love its wonderful flavor and texture when grilled. The salad did not disappoint. The pieces of octopus were tender and super yummy. The Secret Sicily goat cheese from Surfing Goat Dairy balanced the bitterness of the frisee and kale. There were bits of grilled bread with a touch of olive oil that added another layer of texture. Throughout was a lemony deliciousness.


The abalone risotto topped with an onsen egg was delicious. The egg opened up to mix with the rice for a wonderful sauce. The abalone is farm-raised in Kona and there was a generous serving of its chewy goodness in this dish.
Ka’ana Kitchen so good that I brought Kris back the following night…for the same dishes. I guess I’ll have to go back to try more things. Can’t wait!

The location isn’t bad either. Here are two iPhone shots from the beach at the Andaz. It’s so beautiful there.

IMG_4680  IMG_4700

A while ago, we went to an orchid show and I bought a miniature lotus. I’ve always wanted a lotus because of the symbolism used in Buddhism. The beautiful lotus grows in murky muddy water…a reminder of the possibilities. And the lotus is just stunning.

The miniature lotus grows in a water bowl about two feet in diameter and two feet deep. It needs full sun to bloom and a pretty long day. So this one bloomed just after the Spring Equinox. It blooms about a month after you notice a tiny bud coming up and only lasts a day. I go crazy with my iPhone when it’s blooming.

“No Mud, No Lotus.” Thich Nhat Hahn


This version is edited in a Beta version of Affinity on my laptop. I like the coolness of the image.


This one was edited in Camera+, my favorite iPhone camera app. I use it to shoot almost everything. Painted in Waterlogue

This is the same image using Waterlogue on the iPhone for the watercolor painting effect. 


This one is a view peering into the flower. The pod grows into a shower head. I’ll post a photo when it’s ready.

We’ve talked about going through our closets and other spaces in our home to get rid of things and I’ve finally begun. I started with my clothes. I followed the method described in Marie Kondo’s book by pulling everything out of my closet and dresser – clothes, shoes, jewelry and bags. I have eight bags of stuff to send out into the world. My sister never buys clothes for herself so I called her first to see if there was anything she could use. I think I’m about three sizes bigger than she is so the only clothing that fit her were old clothes from a much younger (and thinner) me. The remaining bags will go to a women’s shelter.
I’m not sure why I decided that I had to do my books next. It’s against Marie Kondo’s way. The things you have emotional attachment to should be done last…when you have an idea of how things feel when they “spark joy.” In other words, you tackle the difficult areas after you’ve had experience at “tidying.”
I have a big cookbook collection as I’ve been collecting books since the 70’s. My first cookbook was Favorite Island Cookery. It was the first in a series of five books published by the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Mission. I was living in Portland, Oregon and really missed the food of the islands – sushi, teriyaki chicken, pork guisantes, and fried noodles. I didn’t know how to cook so my mom sent the book and I haven’t looked back. I’ve been a passionate cook ever since.
The cookbooks are more than recipe reference books to me. Each book reminds me of a time that I cooked food from the location or by the chef. Among the places I’ve “visited” via the books are Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Italy. Some of the chefs I’ve cooked are Charlie Trotter, Elizabeth Andoh, Rick Bayless, and Alice Waters. That makes each book a little time capsule bringing back memories of food, people and meals shared. I’ve spent hours pouring through the pages of the books…admiring the photos and reading about the background of each recipe and information about the ingredients. Pulling the books out of the hall closet was like reuniting with old friends I hadn’t seen in a while. They were hiding behind a layer of vases and candles. Many of the books from the closet went to new homes because it was a different me that purchased them and they don’t serve me now


the books in the bedroom.


A section of the wall bookcase.

Kris and our friend, Dale, installed a floor to ceiling book case in what was then a second bedroom many years ago. That is where the biggest mass of books lives…cookbooks, books on zen, novels to read, poetry and knitting. The cookbooks are somewhat organized by type of cuisine and the remaining books are on the topmost shelves. The other areas where books live are on the dresser in our bedroom. These are mostly zen books and poetry that I love. In my office, the books on writing, creativity and photography live along the wall of my desk. Did I mention that I love books?
Marie Kondo’s method would be to take all the books off the shelves and everywhere and gather them in one place. I didn’t do that. i did take the books off each shelf and put each one that “sparked joy” back. We now have boxes of books that are going to new homes…some to a used book store and some to the library. I’ve kept my favorite go-to books in highly accessible visible spaces.
The books are no longer jammed together so that every time I reach for one, others fall out. They really do seem happier. This sounds crazy, but dusting them off and handling them seems to have given them a new energy. They have room to breathe and I love looking at them.

The books on my desk below a smart phone photo by Franco Salmoraghi.

The books on my desk below a smart phone photo by Franco Salmoraghi.

Mickey at the photo bar.

Mickey at the photo bar.

February! My favorite month…my birthday month. Whoa! We ended 2014 on a program and welcomed the New Year while on that program on Oahu. We stayed at the Disney Aulani where we set up a photo bar for people to print on demand. We have three die sublimation printers, quicker than inkjet. We were visited by Stitch, Donald Duck and Mickey, the man. An alternate world there for sure.

Stitch with a camera

Stitch with a camera

Donald checking out the photo bar.

Donald checking out the photo bar.

Tail slappin'

Tail slappin’

We went on to Maui for a program at the Four Seasons Wailea. Maui has gotten so crazy for travel. The old standard hotels we use are way over our price range. Maui Coast was $515 a night plus all the taxes. That is so crazy. Maui Coast is in bad need of an update…it is a Courtyard Marriot type of hotel. Speaking of Courtyard Marriott…the one near the airport was asking $300 a night. Room rates always cycle around and they will come down, but, in the meantime, we’ve got a problem. We ended up staying at a dear friend’s house in Wailuku. Saved!

Face to face.

Face to face.

Coming up from under the boat.

Coming up from under the boat.

During the time in Maui, we were lucky to see baby humpback whales that were out with their moms. There were many sightings on the day we went out. The client hired one of us, but there was room on the whale watch so I went out with Kris. It’s funny, but those babies are cute. In photos, they kind of look like the adults, but without scars…and a lot smaller.

Baby whale checking us out.

Baby whale checking us out.

Baby humpback taking a peek.

Baby humpback taking a peek.

I’m working on designing photo books for both programs. Custom photo books take a super long time and requires all my focus. Luckily designing is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve learned to use Adobe’s InDesign…so much better than Photoshop for this. But for some reason, the keyboard shortcuts stopped working and really slowed my progress. Imagine working without undo, cut and paste on the keyboard. Ugh! I did a safe reboot and still not working. Last night I shut down and, magically, the shortcuts are working this morning. Menehune working in the night! (FYI, menehune are kinda like Hawaiian leprechauns).
On a totally other topic, I read “the life-changing magic of tidying up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo. I highly recommend it. She doesn’t believe in organizing tools – they are for hoarders (my interpretation). OMG…Kris is afraid. I went through my clothes and have six bags to go out. There is so much breathing room in my closet…love it.
Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 9.16.45 PM

I’m afraid to tackle my books as they are everywhere in the house. In two weeks, I have an appointment with BookEnds to sell my books. If you follow the Konmari method of deluttering, all books have to be taken of the shelves and other various locations and picked up one at a the time to access the joy factor. The ones that get a yes to the question,”Does this item spark joy?”, stay and the others go. I have books on my dresser, on my desk, in closets, in the kitchen, AND a big built-in book shelf in Kris’ office. We’ll see where this goes. Stay tuned.

I’ve been wanting to post about a blog that I love – Spoon and Tamago. It’s based in Tokyo and NYC. The posts that are my favorites are written by the editor in chief, Johnny Strategy…love his name!

The blog shares Japanese designs, art, and architecture. It is so fascinating. Let me share some of the posts. For more information on these, click on the image and it will take you to the original post on Spoon and Tamago.

Postcards for the New Year are huge in Japan and are mostly themed around the Chinese zodiac. So for 2015, it’s the year of the sheep.


Paintings that spill off the canvas onto the wall.


The custest tea bag holder ever:


Amazing bouquets of flowers frozen in ice:


Cats and sushi…


Goldfish in bubble wrap:


Goldfish in bubble wrap

The site also has a shop that carries some of the items they post about.

I’ve been dragging my feet to get back to my blog. For some reason everything I think about isn’t important or interesting enough. I’m afraid I’m going to bore anyone who might happen upon my blog. The longer I’ve procrastinated, the harder it becomes. Now it seems that what I post has got to be really interesting and important. Ha! I realize that whatever I write about will never be enough. So I’ll just dive in. Start where you are.
I’m going to start with my morning routine or, rather, the routine I would like to have. My morning routine is one of no routine. It depends on how tired or hungover I am and where I am (we travel a lot).
In order to quit wasting time and to start doing what I really want to do, I’m going to get myself into a routine. That is going to mean getting up earlier. It’s going to mean dedicating certain times for checking social media. I may need a twelve step program to accomplish this as I’m addicted in a huge way!
So here’s the plan. I get up just before the sun rises to do zazen (zen meditation). I love the sun rising as I meditate…the room slowly getting light. It’s such a wonderful way to ease into the start of the day.

Yes...very stark. Zazen is done with eyes lowered facing a wall. Interesting, huh? Not!

Yes…very stark. Zazen is done with eyes lowered facing a wall. Interesting, huh? Not!

Then I will make myself a cup of coffee or tea. My favorite coffee is one a small grower in Ka’u and my favorite tea is genmai cha out of a Clayton Amemiya tea cup. I will sit at the table that looks out at ohia trees to write Morning Pages. It’s a bitch fest on paper and it really is a great way to start a day. So often the bitch fest takes a positive turn and I’m ready to go with what is needed. In a Tim Ferriss blog post (I think he’s a brilliant lunatic), he mentions Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. Her guideline is to write three pages in longhand. I’m going to give myself the freedom to stop when I want to. I just am not disciplined and would rather not set myself up to fail. I’ve found that when I have had the Morning Pages habit, things go better for me. I can easily see how I did and track where my brain is taking me.

Moleskine notebook and Midori traveler's notebook. IPad. Clayton teacup.

Moleskine notebook and Midori traveler’s notebook. IPad. Clayton teacup.

So there it is. My first blog post of the year in all its boring glory. I certainly hope it gets better. Thanks for reading if you made it this far. I hope you stay with me.
How do you start your morning? What is your routine and how do you stick to it? Inquiring minds want to know. Please comment.

While I was in cooking class, Kris took a train…several trains and a bus out to Jigokudani Park to photograph the snow monkeys or Japanese macaques in the hot springs. He got some amazing photos of these creatures. They are wild and come to the hot springs in the cold months for the soothing heat of the hot springs…like us!

Here’s a link to the web gallery of his photos: http://www.eyeoftheislands.com/KrisScanlon/SnowMonkeys/index.html