Thursday, January 31, 2008


On Tuesday we heard there was snow on the mountain. We unearthed our winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves, packed a lunch and headed up. Our attempt at reaching the summit of Haleakala to check out the snowy peaks was foiled by a security guard at the gate. He kindly informed us that the park would be closed though Wednesday due to severe weather. Curses. Well it is still closed today. We will make another attempt when the conditions are less dangerous.

As we got closer, there it was... the snow covered summit of Haleakala.

Looking back to the central valley was spectacular. You could see curtains of rain floating by as we drove through the clouds. Kahului Harbor to the right and Ma'alaea Bay to the left

Along the way we noticed several waterfalls which we have never seen on our many trips to the summit. Then as we came to a clearing in the clouds we noticed waterfalls all the way up the slopes. YIKES... yep... all that water had nowhere to go but down which obviously resulted in our flash flood yesterday.

When we got home later that day, the clouds that had blocked our view of the mountain finally floated out of site for a 20 minute window. I managed to get these images from the back yard before they rolled back in. You can just make out the snowy peak in the upper right corner and in the detail image above.

Click HERE to see some awesome images from Maui News.
And HERE for an article on the conditions.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


We woke up this morning around 8:00 AM by our neighbor banging on our door. We flew out of bed and when I saw him with a shovel in hand I knew it wasn't pretty. Thank god he came over because we were having a seasonal flash flood. It's been rather cold here so we had all windows and doors closed, therefore we did not even know it was raining. We had been told of the flood happening at least once a year around this time. It has been raining for about a week solid now and I knew it was coming. It rains so hard up the mountain and eventually has nowhere to go but to come spilling down towards us.

Water was within a foot of coming in the front door and the gulch was a white water filled gushing stream. There is a drain pipe under one segment of the driveway, but the pipe was doing little good with all the water that was rushing down. It had crested the drive and was close to washing out all the gravel. Other parts of the yard were giant pools of water. We dug out the gravel by the front of the house just in time so that the water drained away and toured the property snapping pics. I have to say... the stream was pretty cute when it calmed down... and the sound is really nice... the water trickling in small waterfalls. That was a lot to take in... cold and wet before our eyes were even open or coffee in out bellies.

All is fine for today... no damage... maybe a few lost plants and some gravel from the drive. We're just exhausted from the unknown...will it happen again? I'm hoping that was it.

Sit back and enjoy the show.

Within inches of creeping under the front door.

Cleaning out the drain pipe on the right side of the drive. As you can see the water is about 24" deep.

The right side of the drive. You can see where the water crested over the drive.

And again a few hours later.

Another shot a few hours later of the left side of the drive.

There is a reservoir under all that water... which is not doing very much to slow the water.

This is a small waterfall that is coming from the gutters on the house. It is also from all the water by the front door which gets channeled out under the deck.

Looking back toward the driveway from the gulch.
Now keep in mind, we have lived here for almost a year and have NEVER seen water run through here AT ALL.

The same scene last March.

Pushing debris along.

The view today and a view last March.

And a later shot from the opposite direction after the water went down.

Another view from the gulch after things died down a bit.

From the end of our drive, you can see where it exits our neighbors property and washes across the road.

I stepped on a patch of dirt and sank about 6".

Swimming anyone?
The large ditch we have in the very back corner of the property.
It is about 10' wide by 40' long and about 3' deep in spots. As you can see it is full and overflowing. It's a good thing this ditch is here as it helps retain a portion of water that would otherwise be gushing toward the house.

The retaining wall I built in order to help divert water from rushing to the house.
It's kinda working.

A view from the roof.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Orange marmalade, guava jam and lemon marmalade.

When do I sleep you ask? Good question seeing as I was up until well after 1:00 AM yesterday making Guava Jam. But this is what I love to do... creating something new. And a week before that it was Lemon Marmalade and the week before that was Orange Marmalade. Which one on toast? How do I choose? I can't have more than one open at a time... or one will surely go bad.

To date I have made the following jams... in order of my personal preference.
Lemon Marmalade
Carambola Jam (Star fruit)
Liliko'i Jam ( Passion Fruit)
Orange Marmalade
Guava Jam
Lime Marmalade
Banana Jam
Banana Papaya Jam

Looking forward to a Surinam Cherry when those are in season and a Pineapple too.
I just had a thought... you'll have to wait and see if it makes it past the test kitchen.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Some of you may recall the LEMON SNOWBALL COOKIES I was making during the holidays. I used the same RECIPE but substituted orange juice and zest (from our orange tree) for the lemon juice and zest. I also swapped out the pecans for macadamia nuts and topped them with chocolate instead of icing.

Oh and instead of rolling them into balls... I used my icing decorator as a make shift cookie press and made them into "S" shaped cookies. So you see, they really are the same but different. I think I will call these Orange Zesties.

These are so good I danced around and squealed with every bite! Think orange Milano's, but much better since they are homemade.

I am also taking this entry as an opportunity to show you how I prepared the chocolate for the drizzle effect. I used an icing bag, but a plastic one instead of a a plastic coated cloth one. You could also use a zip lock type bag as well. Just as long as the bag you are using is sealed at the bottom corner(s). I like doing it this way because I do not have to melt the chocolate in a pan then pour it into the bag... which saves me from spilling it and makes one less pot to wash. I used dark chocolate candy bars... because I had them on hand and I melted the chocolate right in the bag. I used 2 regular size Hersey Bars for a double batch of these cookies (about 7 dozen) and had just enough. See below for my secret technique.

I place the chocolate in an icing bag and seal it with a rubber band or twist tie. I then wedge the bag onto a wooden spoon which I use to float the bag in a pan of boiling water... actually it does not have to boil. I just keep it on low so the spoon will not burn hanging over the pan.

As you can see, it works like a dream.

Make sure to dust with powdered sugar while still warm so that it stick. Then you want the cookies to cool on a wire cookie rack before you drizzle them with chocolate so it will not melt off.

When ready to drizzle the cookies, cut a small hole in the corner of the bag. How big, depends on how thick you want your chocolate. Start with the smallest possible hole, then adjust slightly to your liking, because once you cute the hole too big... you're stuck with it. I like the thin stipes it creates with the small hole because I think it looks fancier than a big old globby mess. But it's gonna taste good no matter how you top it!

Take all your cookies and lay them out on a cookie sheet once cool. It's ok if they touch on the sides, that way you can drizzle a lot at one time. Now dig in!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


This post is all about the vegetable garden. I should have been posting more as the garden grew throughout the year but alas, time flew by and here we are in January and it's a mess! No where near ready for it's closeup. So here is a medley of images showing it in various stages...I've rotated the crops at least twice since the first planting in April of last year.

These were picked just this week. I made a guacamole with the tomatoes and cilantro and onion and avocados from a friends yard. There are also carrots and a scallion and 2 peppers.

Here's a shot of the garden from December. You can see the Kava, Dill, Carrots, Chamomille, Gourds (ipe) and parsley on the left. Basil, Tomatoes, Brussel Sprouts on the right.

This shot is from October 20, showing the second crop of corn that I kept a close eye on. I sprayed it often, at night sometimes, with an organic bug repellent. The rose beetles devoured the first crop. And I think I had it in a somewhat shady spot so it got moldy. ick. But when I planted them more central in a sunny spot, they took off. Ok, so the yield wasn't bountiful, but it was enough for a meal or two.

Bok Choy in our old sink so this must be from September. Delicious sauted in garlic and butter, them simmered in broth until tender.

This was our first head of broccoli, from August I think. It seemed like a miracle for I had given up hope on the broccoli. I was losing the battle against the green caterpillar.

Gourds, or ipe in Hawaiian, drying in the winter sun. These are one of the dozen or so plants brought over by the early polynesian settlers, also known collectively as "canoe plants."

Other garden growers include beans and peas, strawberries (in season now) eggplant, arugula, red lettuce, green lettuce, red onions, chinese celery, and swiss chard.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Aloha... I'm sure some of you thought we had fallen off the blog-sphere, but we have just been hard at work on so many projects. We'll get into more on that later. The other day while taking a break I noticed that the Cup of Gold (Solandra maxima) is in bloom again. It is a tropical vine native to Mexico, brought to Hawai'i as an ornamental. It can grow up to 40 feet high and 200 feet wide. The thick yellow, leathery skinned flowers are 5 to 7 inches across and up to 9 inches deep with deep purple veins. They are heavily scented like coconut and are very intoxicating, especially in the evening and after a good rain. Cup of Gold is considered an invasive species here in Hawai'i so we try keep ours under control. A new plant can be propagated by carelessly tossing the cuttings onto a moist rubbish pile. It is best to let them dry out before throwing onto a moist mulch mound. When they are still closed, they remind me of a stuffed animal's plastic nose...
...and I leave you tonight with a good laugh!
Note: The entire plant is poisonous if eaten.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Before the holidays, I got the chance to create a seasonal animation for Hillhouse Naturals' homepage which is now live. They wanted a crisp, fresh feeling evocative of spring. You can also see it in my recently launched online portfolio. It sure was hard to narrow down the interactive projects. There were a lot! I read somewhere once that designers should gather their work together in this manner more often than we ordinarily do because it reveals truths about the way each of us works. Seeing your work as a whole can make one feel as though they have accomplished more than what our over-saturated memory can hold. And of course the bonus of sharing it with a greater audience is wonderfully satisfying.