Brentt Makana Salas in Liverpool, England

BRENTT13 copyBrentt Makana Salas has a drive of 270 yards. Here he hits from the white tees on the back nine at the West Lancashire Golf Club.

Hard work never goes unnoticed, especially when it comes to the humbling game of golf. My 14-year-old brother, Brentt, has worked for years on his swing, technique and his mental game, but he still has a long way to go. This summer, he qualified for the British Junior Open in Liverpool, England. Naturally, my parents and I accompanied him on his journey (the farthest he’s ever been from home). The British Junior Open was a big tournament for this kid because he competed with some of the best junior golfers in the world.

BRENTT15 copyBrentt practices every day at Starts Guam Golf Resort after school and enters in multiple golf tournaments on the weekends.

The West Lancashire Golf Club was one of the most difficult courses Brentt has come across. The tall, thick grass could easily swallow your ball. Brentt joked that he’d rather play on a course with lots of trees, he’d lose less balls that way.

BRENTT7 copyBrentt liked the challenging elements at the West Lancashire Golf Course. It was unlike any course he’s ever played.

The junior golfers started the tournament with a practice round, Brentt was able to familiarize himself with the brutal elements of the course: the precarious terrain, unexpected changes in wind and the cold weather. This would test his patience and his confidence during the tournament.

BRENTT18 copyMy parents and I were not only Brentt’s only cheerleaders. He had his golf teammate Nalathai (also representing Guam in the girls’ category) and a new friend from Cyprus, Nicholas.

BRENTT16 copyThis photo was taken around 6 p.m. in Liverpool – the sun does not go down until 9:30 or 10 p.m. at night.

The first day of the tournament was Brentt’s best day. He was paired with two girls, one from Qatar and the other from Uruguay. He broke 80 and shot a 79. His confidence was soaring and he had that little smirk on his face after every putt. On the second day, the weather was extremely cold and Brentt’s tee time was around 3 p.m. Brentt ran into some very challenging situations with the tall grass and it may have broke his confidence. Although he tried his best, he shot an 82.

BRENTT12 copyThe course was so difficult that many golfers ahead of Brentt and his group were busy looking for their lost balls. There was a lot of waiting between holes.

The last day of the tournament was much better. Although he shot an 80, Brentt was happy with his performance. He considered the experience very valuable in a sense where he knows how to handle his mental game as well as the actual game of golf. There were no words to describe his experience at West Lancs. He saw, he came and…well…maybe he will conquer one day.

BRENTT9 copyThe golfers had the chance to take a photo with the coveted British Junior Open trophy.

Enjoy more photos in the gallery!

 

Guahan Trippin

GUAM8The south side of Guam is so pretty. This is exactly the view I wanted to show my friends during our trip.

This summer I took a very long trip. My trip began with five wonderful women. My best friends (in Saipan) and I had planned to meet in Guam and explore the island. I then invited my good friend Kaydee, with whom I’ve worked with at Easter Seals Hawaii. Kaydee has always been interested in Guam and so I told her that there’s no better way to visit Guam than with someone who knows the island!

GUAM1From left to right: Kaydee, Annabelle, me, Janel, Abbey and Cinnabun at Sunday brunch at the Outrigger Guam Resort.

I took my friends around the island (which only took a couple hours) and we showed Kaydee what the locals really eat. We visited some local vendors along the road through Inarajan and Umatac and bought some pickled mango, starfruit and tuba.

GUAM9We visited Umatac Bay, where a family was barbequing nearby. It’s not a beach you’d necessarily want to swim at, but it’s a pretty sight.

GUAM4Kaydee enjoyed the calm water in Tumon, right outside the Outrigger Guam Resort.

This trip with my friends lasted four hot days. For my besties, they were used to the hot weather so they did some shopping while Kaydee and I tried to cool off with refreshing dips at the resort or at the beach.

Fever

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I’m kind of picky when it comes to graphic shirts. The design really has to be cool and complicated a the same time yet work with the basics of what I have in my closet. This morning, I received a promotional email from Threadless for their $10-12 shirts and tanks. I quickly browsed through the meaningless geometric prints, cutesy talking burgers and fries, even the I’m-trying-too-hard-to-be-different statement shirts. I found nothing for the first 18 pages of print-ready designs. Then I stumbled upon shirt with a round mermaid (named Fever) with orange hair, manifested by a graphic genius named Heliana, a 28-year-old Romanian artist who goes by pink.aitch. I fell in love with the extreme contrast and the fact that this chubby mermaid had fancy lace around her waist.

pink1Unfortunately a lot of the coolest designs that pink.aitch uploaded to print were no longer available. Bummer. So I kept browsing through pink.aitch’s products hoping to find something of hers that I could buy. I loved this poster of cute illustrations of hefty and round women dressed as fruit and vegetables. I swear it may be the roundness of her characters that I gravitate towards, or it may be the choice of vibrant colors she uses to bring out their personalities. Was it available? Nope. I’m kind of upset at this point.

pink2I searched for her other works and found this last illustration. The detail and exaggeration of the redhead’s dress are adorable. Still no luck buying a small print or a shirt. I guess I’ll just stalk Threadless or Society 6 for some of her new stuff.

You can view her artwork on her website here. I also found pink.aitch’s personal blog where she posts photos of her latest illustrations and projects.

Reid and Kamakana Watanabe

3My colleague and very good friend Kamakana and her husband, Reid, were married a year ago. They asked me to take some photos for their anniversary. We went to a Diamond Head lookout, where there was a little, neatly landscaped garden nearby.

Here are some of their favorite shots:

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The sweetest part of this shoot was that Kama and Reid each wore something new and blue for their anniversary day. Kama is a maxi dress fanatic and she found this flattering print just days before the shoot. Reid was treated to some new Cole Haan shoes just a few hours before we all met up.

New and blue…perfect little details to commemorate their first year of marriage.

Happy Anniversary to you both! Now make me a neice or nephew.

Frolicking around Kauai for the weekend


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This past weekend, my best friend Abbey and I took a trip to Kauai! My small wrist injury prevented us from doing some outdoor activities (hiking, snorkeling, etc.) so we made it a point to turn our trip into a food venture with lots of sightseeing.

canyoning1One thing that was on our list was to drive out to Waimea. The view was stunningly green, thanks to the rain these past few weeks.
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Here’s a pano of the lookout on the way to the canyon.

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Queso!

canyoning6We visited a friend of mine, a well traveled woman named Ellen. She lives right next to these beautiful waterfalls in the valley.

canyoning3Cheesy tourist shot at the Kauai Community College Farmer’s Market. I can’t ever get enough of fresh, young coconut juice and meat.

canyoning2Jackfruit is sweet. Like bubble gum.

canyoning4Abbey bought soursop mint juice. It was light, tangy and minty. Kauai is on this juicing trend and we love it.

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 The KCC Farmer’s Market is small in comparison to Oahu’s KCC Farmer’s Market, but it has a lot that kama’aina could appreciate. We liked to see a mix of locals and tourists buying fresh produce, kulolo, taro chips and freshly squeezed juices.

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Our former classmate, Donna, lives in Kauai. She suggested we stop by Kauai Juice Company in Kapa’a on our long drive down to Hanalei.

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Also along the way to Princeville and Hanalei…you’ll find this cute, quirky marketplace pocketed behind the signs to the lighthouse. It’s called Kong Lung and it has some really nice home decor, stationary, gifts and overly priced china. It’s the kind of place wealthy tourists would call “a wondrous treasure trove.” Although it’s fancy and pretty, you will never find locals here.

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On to the food ventures…it’d be impossible to fit all our food photos on this post, but we ate at the best places on the island. My friend Ellen took us to Tip Top Cafe (all locals, no tourists – comforting local diner food) and ate loco mocos with goteburg and fried rice, Monico’s in Kapa’a for the best Mexican food in the Hawaiian Islands and Brick Oven Pizza.

20140604-090542-32742198.jpgThe last cool place we stopped at was an old town in Hanapepe. We bypassed the tacky tourist shops and went straight for the bookstore. I could spend hours flipping through new and preowned books. I bought a couple by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Lois Ann Yamanaka.

Thanks to everyone who made our “staycation” trip memorable. Next time we go to Kauai, we’re definitely hitting up the Na Pali Coast.

Congratulations Momo!

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Last week, my cousin Momo asked if I could take her graduation photos. You may recognize her from the very first portraits I did two years ago, when she graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree. Well, she’s getting her Master’s Degree in Public Health this time! Whoo hoo! Momo is one of those individuals that excels in everything she puts her mind to. She’s a smart, innovative and bubbly type of woman and I’m so happy for her latest accomplishment.

MOMO3 copyOur shoot started out with some scenic shots. This was around 5:30 p.m. The city looked so beige so it was a nice contrast to the graphics on her dress.

MOMO2 copyI love this one.

MOMO6We did a jumping shot last time, so it felt right to do another this time around. That hill was pretty steep!

MOMO13Momo wasn’t too crazy about this shot, but I loved how it captured the light in her hair, the dimension in the bark and it was one of those cheesy, but not-too-cheesy shots.

MOMO15We found a swing and decided to go with it. Totally random, but it was a pretty spot.

MOMO9This one is probably my favorite because she was just about to tip over. If you know Momo’s personality, you understand how she makes silly look cute.

Thanks Momo, for asking me to photograph you. It was so fun!

MOMO7Congratulations on getting your Master’s Degree!

Charles Nii Nursery

photo(73)Succulents are all the rage in Honolulu. Out of all the odd island hipster fascinations, I’d say succulents deserve to go mainstream.

I have lived in Hawaii Kai for more than 14 years. I’ve explored almost everything in the town, except the Charles Nii Nursery. I had no idea this nursery existed until a few weeks ago. They have orchids, succulents and even achote (or achiote). I’ve been eating dishes made with achote seeds and I had no idea where they came from. It was just one of those things you never think about. An achote tree sprouts these red, hairy (or maybe more like spiny) and soft pods that hold these tasty, vibrant and skin-staining seeds.

photo(72)Chamorros use achote seeds to give their rice flavor and an orange-red color. The influence comes from the Spanish that settled and colonized the Chamorro people for more than 400 years.

The Charles Nii Nursery isn’t big at all, but it is a little local secret on the mauka side of Hawaii Kai. The nursery specializes in trees, shrubs and landscaping plants but may have some sweet smelling puakenikeni plants on hand. You can tell the owners love what they do and are willing to help you find the perfect shrub or plant.