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Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude!

Today, I have the urge to show the love... Even though I feel the love everyday of my life; it's better to get it out than to keep it all in.  When I think of everything I'm grateful for in my life, I easily get tears welling up in my eyes. For a girl raised by basically all boys, tears are not something that come easy for me.  You could give me a solid punch in the face and I would probably not even come close to shedding a single tear, (please don't though). =]  But when it comes to my amazing friends, my fabulous family, my husband, my dog, my life... My salty gratitude drops flow easily, with no fair warning. 

So a huge, giant, enormous MAHALO to all of you in my life that make each day so special!!! :-)

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it."
--William Arthur Ward
These gorgeous "wave"earring were given to me... Handmade by my gorgeous, extremely artistic, and multi-talented friend, Genelle.  I got them in the mail... and have worn them most days since.  They are more than earrings though, they are a constant reminder of the friendships I cherish, no matter how far away I may live, or how little my friends and I get to talk. 
Thank you GENELLE! :)

Seriously, Tommy and I could not have been more fortunate than to get stationed in Maui... with the added bonus of getting to meet a great group of friends here.  So grateful for all my favorite people who keep me laughing til' it hurts. :) This was on my b-day when I walked in and got pelted with balloons. =]

Family is a no brainer I guess... but I really have to say, I feel I've got one of the best in the whole wide world. :) I honestly don't even know who took this picture, because most the family is in it.  The bonus to my already great ohana? 90% of us love to cook.  Take the 25 of us that get together at Grandma's on holidays and you've got yourself a drool worthy smorgasboard!  (Not too mention all the comedians!)

And my guys of course!  Without these handsome dudes, most my life would be a major dud. =)

Tommy's birthday is this weekend and he has MANY surprises in store.  I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Who loves dog-sitting? ME ME ME!!!

Meet Billy! We watched this beautiful poi boy while his parents were on Kauai, and I must say, I was sad to see him leave.  His Pops works with Lono's Dad at U.S. Coast Guard Station Maui.  We're all friends, so Lono and Billy have had the joy of runnin' rampid together at social gatherings. They are the perfect pair in size, weight, and playing style.  Lono had such great company, but I must admit I was "a little" freaked out by just how much they love each other.  They were always cuddling and kissing... and did other things I wont mention. ;) But so is the way of the dog I reckon!  (Boys!) =]


About Billy:

He is approximately 2 1/2 years old, adopted from MHS a few months ago when Mark and Lorain got stationed in Maui. Billy is extremely loving all the time and I got use too, and fond of, the out of nowhere face plops he did with his adorable fat head in my lap when I wasn't looking.  His eyes tell a story... One no one really knows of his life before, but I only hoped to catch a little of it in a picture.  He is hyper and mellow, and extremely loyal.  He snores louder than any dog I know and he will eat whatever you put in front of him.  He doesn't chase the ball... he chases whoever is chasing the ball.  He is more into humans and animals than toys.  He is very obedient, and Mark and Lorain have given him such a beautiful life.  They will be giving him a beautiful (human) baby brother or sister next March, and I have no doubts, Billy will be the best big brother there is.  I LOVE BILLY, (and Lono boy does too!).

Handsome little devils, aren't they?

I caught them out on the lanai like this. YEP, they're smiling. =]

Lono running with his ball... Billy running because Lono's running. hehe.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

From Cherry to Brew, Danielle's Coffee Roasting How To!

We live in a world where life is as easy as the money or plastic you carry in your wallet.  We don't think twice when it comes to our daily cup o' joe... But have you ever wondered where it comes from?  How it's made?  Or even if you can do it yourself right at home?  If you have been following my camping excursion, my last post concluded the trip with my bounty of fruits and coffee berries that I found and brought home.  During my hike in Kipahulu, I picked coffee for a good half hour and looked forward to bringing it home to roast.  For those of you who have never seen coffee on the plant, I took this picture to show its beauty.  The red "cherry" contains the bean with its soft outer shell.  The coffee is ready to pick when the berry reaches a deep red coloration like those seen here.  *CLICK on pictures to enlarge*

Step 1
 There are various methods used for roasting coffee, and they tend to vary greatly from country to country, and even household to household.  For home roasting, you can do the skillet method, (which produces a rather uneven roast), or you can purchase a home roaster, (which is great, but expensive), or you can roast it with a popcorn popper, (which is perfect for minimalists like me, and very effective for an even roast). 

Step 1:  I remove the casings by putting the whole cherries in my Vitamix blender mixed with water at a high speed.  The red casing comes off first, which is soft and pulpy and very quick to remove.... Then there is the second hard shell around the bean, which takes a bit longer to "blend" off.  After words, I seperate the beans from the pulp, saving all of the pulp for step 2.

                                                                         Step 2:  I lay my beans out in the sunshine to dry.  Here in Maui, it doesn't take very long because the sun is usually always shining. :)  While the beans are sunbathing, I take my pulp over to our worm "composting" bin.  Our wiggly pets gobble it right up and then poo out lovely fertilizer.  We also feed our worms all of our scraps from fruits, veggies, egg shells, and certain grains... As well as coffee grounds with their unbleached filters and even tea bags!

HOORAY for the Worm Composting Bin!
Step 3:  Once the beans have dried, they are ready to be roasted in the popcorn popper.  I double up two soup cans because those beans can really jump! Once they start roasting, I stir until the beans start popping up on their own.  I like my beans on the darker side, so I do the two "crack" method.  They let out an obvious crack about 5-7 minutes into roasting, and another a couple minutes later.  After that, I unplug the popcorn maker, knock off the soup cans with my stirring utensil (because it is SUPER hot), and then transfer the beans immediately into a deep pan or metal coliander and shake them around to cool them off to prevent them from over-roasting. 

Step 4:  The beans are done!  Now, I just grind them up in my Vitamix, (most people would likely use a real grinder).  Now it's off  into the coffee maker or french press it goes! 

I always roast outside... For one, it is a very high heat process.. And two, there is smoke.

It takes a bit of work and time, but it is SO worth it.  I take my steamy cup of deliciousness with a spot of soymilk and ENJOY the fruits of my labor! =] 

Beans Roasting

The finished product!

Ready to be brewed...

I saved a shell from each to show the differences.

Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment down below! =)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Camp Trip Day 4- The Grand Finale

Sunrise from our camp site
Being as during this entire camping experience, I slept better than I have in awhile... I woke up again a little late, with just enough time to throw in my contacts, jump out of the van, and snap this sunrise shot.  A beautiful sight over the ocean... One I enjoy every time I spend the night in Kipahulu.  After sunrise, we headed up to do our solo hike on the Pipiwai trail.  It's always wondrous how we manage to be the only hikers at that hour, but to my advantage, because the 2 mile hike up the trail was incredibly peaceful and the scenery was "fairy tale" intense. 

This hike is perhaps my favorite hike of all.  Every 1/2 mile is something different.  First you start in the guava forest, (which felt like I was walking through an air strike, there were guavas pelting down from their branches so frequently).  Next comes the incredible banyan tree, with its towering limbs and scattered roots.
Onwards you hit one of the BEST bamboo forests I've ever seen, with stalks that can be well over 6 inches in diameter.  It is hovering so thick over the trail, it can seem as though you are walking in near pitch dark.  We crossed two streams, me taking extreme care not to slip and harm my camera... Lono on the other hand, splashing and swimming and drinking merrily without a care in the world.  The final destination we reached is Waimoku Falls.  It is a breathtaking sight and it is also Maui's largest waterfall, towering 400 ft. high, and a real struggle to get all in one frame.  It was there we ate our breakfast and sat in awe for a good thirty minutes undisturbed.  I picked some awapuhi ginger and squeezed it into my grimy hair, (it smells amazing and is the soapy consistency of shampoo).  It is believed to be the key ingredient in Paul Mitchell's hair care line, he himself has a farm of it on the Big Island.  Lono and I headed back slowly to gather fruit from the secret places Tommy and I had found from our first diversion trip off the trail over a year ago.  I packed my alpaca sack with lillikoi, guava, and coffee beans.  So many people walk right by coffee plants, not ever knowing what it is due to its red berry disguise. 

My scary experience for the day was the first hiker I came across on my way down.  He was rather close to the falls so I hoped to give him the joy in telling him that he had it all to himself.  The man old enough to be my Dad said to me, "Do you mean you?".  (*Shutters*)  I said, "No, the falls", and with one hand on my pocket knife and the other on my pepper spray, I made sure to walk past him as far away as I could.  Talk about creepy!  The rest of the hike was lovely, and I shared some of my fruit with a woman from Santa Barbara, California who was a real estate agent visiting Maui alone.  A very nice woman, but I felt awful when she took the lillikoi and tried to bite right into it's tough and bitter rhine. I stopped her in time to tell her to save it until she gets a knife and just eat the seeds on the inside. =]  For the rest of
the day, I was on a fun mission I had developed the night before.  I wanted to bring home Tommy a bunch of apple bananas, a taro kalo, and some coconuts, on top of my other fruit gatherings.  I knew it would impress him and he'd be delighted.  The apple bananas came easy enough, next came the coconuts at "Coconut Glen's" stand where I met the cutie pie doggy and his sister pictured down below.  A definite stop for divine vegan ice cream that will make your taste buds explode with delight.  I also met a very interesting man who has started, "Recycle Maui".  He showed me his incredible cigar box ukuleles. Both the bananas and coconuts I got for next to nothing, but made certain to throw in an "attitude of gratitude" tip.  The taro is seemingly impossible to get whole and not in the form of just leaf or mashed into poi. 
Awapuhi Ginger
In my search for it, I stopped in Kaenae and ended up hanging out with a HUGE local family that were having a cookout in remembrance of someone they had lost a year ago. They made endless phone calls on my behalf to their Uncle's and cousins,
trying to get me just a couple Kalo roots.  I tried to stop them, but their generosity was immense.  I left empty handed, but my heart was full and I made numerous nameless friends that I feel grateful for.  Back at Hanamanu Bay, I got reception and decided to do my check in call with Tommy.  He said our friends were having a get together... and after a brief conversation with him and our great friend Matt, it was determined I was to go home that night and be with the people I love so dear.  A quick shower, and then a great night of scrumptious food, music, and laughter.... This was indeed a camp trip I will never forget.  And so it goes, I think I've made an accidental tradition for myself.  Every year for my birthday in October, I can see no gift better than the gift of solitude and peace back in the heart of nature.  To, in fact, go into the "REAL" world, and leave this crazy, chaotic, concrete jungle for just a week.  It has made all the difference... 

Lono made friends at Coconut Glen's on the Hana Highway.

Cigar box ukulele's and  an upcoming project.

My fruit bounty I brought home with me.
The day after the camp trip ended, I took the day to unpack and roast the coffee I'd collected at home.  Next blog, I will show you my step by step process on how I do it.  Coming up still, I have some new pet shoots to share, as well as a BIG SURPRISE you are NOT going to want to miss!!!  Be sure to enter your email address into the box on the right to receive my blog posts via email.  I've been so busy that I didn't get a chance to blog about the MHS pet costume contest, but you can find the pictures of the cute contestants on my fan page on facebook.  Mahalo for reading! =]

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