Late afternoons in Mānoa

december-afternoons

It has been oh so chilly here in Honolulu and seeing the clouds hang low, covering the mountain tops behind my office remind me to take a moment to breathe through the holiday rush. Can we all just sleep in for once and enjoy this cool weather?

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Hawaiʻi Island

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I flew to Kona this past weekend to meet my boyfriend’s parents for the first time. I was about six-years-old the last time I went there. My grams brought me one summer to visit her brother in Hilo and he took us around the island. I remember the drive to Kona was so green and lush, we didn’t see any buildings or manicured residential areas anywhere. Hawai’i Island residents used to be spread out, mom and pop stores were the norm and fresh Hawaiian food was the best you’ve ever tasted. Those were the days!

Back to this weekend…we went hunting for the best açaí bowls on the island. The bf’s niece suggested that we head over to Big Island Juice Co. in Hilo. We took the new Saddle Road and passed chilly Mauna Kea to get there. Upon arriving at our destination, we found it was next to a hookah shop and other local businesses. We walked into Big Island Juice Co. and they suggested their signature Dragonfruit Bowl, which they served in a real pineapple bowl, topped with granola, honey, kiwi, and pineapple. It was glorious and oh so melty. The dragonfruit was a bit tart, but the honey and toppings made it the perfect light meal. It was a humid day in Hilo and we needed the refreshment.

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Look at how big it was! Served on top of their branded cutting board. It was actually so melty that my hands were stained pink the rest of the day.

While in Hilo, we also hit up one of my favorite places…Two Ladies Kitchen! I died. They had so many varieties of mochi. I’m usually very picky about mochi, my preference is either traditional plain mochi or with azuki beans. Two Ladies is so good…they stuff full strawberries, grapes, poha berries, and other seasonal fruits into their mochi and it’s even more delicious. I tried to be good and eat only one of each. My bestie in Honolulu requested some so I planned to eat the rest with her…only to realize I left it back in Kona on our way back. #epicfailure

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Here’s a better picture of the mochi that we bought but left back in Kona. I get sad every time I think of it. The box on the left is the strawberry mochi. The plastic container on the right had a variety of manju, blueberry mochi, ube manju, shiso mochi, chi chi dango, and peanut butter mochi.

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Who goes to Kona and doesn’t order Kona coffee? We drank AND ate it later that day. Kona coffee ice cream was so refreshing in the Kona heat. I can’t forget how yummy it was.

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One of the other things on my list was to visit the farmer’s market in Kona. We picked up a fresh Maui gold pineapple, which is super sweet and less acidic than most, a fan for the humidity and lack of decent air conditioning in our car, and I needed a hat (from Cookies Clothing) to hide the messy hair from the long drive.

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I’d like to go back soon and hike down Waipiʻo Valley. We drove through Waimea and Honokaʻa to get there, only to see that you have to hike to get down to the black sand beach below. Shucks. I should have done more research. Oh well, next time!

The sunset from Leo Palace in Guam.

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If you have anything good to say about Guam, it would either be their food or sunset. I’ve watched the sunset from many areas of the world and there’s nothing like seeing it from Guam or Saipan. The colors, cloud textures, and calm ocean fill me with such comfort and peace. The sunset from Tumon is very different from this one. Tumon’s sunset is pink, purple, lavender, and gold. Sinajana’s sunset…well up the mountain and from Leo Palace, is royal blue, gold, and gray. Mangilao’s sunset, seen from my parents’ house, is red, orange, and gold.

The last photos from our trip to Liverpool

LP2 copyMy mom (right) scans Bold Street for some Asian products and restaurants.

On the last few days of our trip in Liverpool, my dad and brother went to the British Open while my mom and I explored the city. We grew tired of English food, the meat, potatoes, fish and chips were not satisfying our cravings for bold flavors, so my mom spent half the day looking for an Asian grocery store that she heard of from a friend.

LP1 copy“Look,” said my mom, “they have noodles! We can eat here when they’re done with the tournament.”

We ate at Seoul Love the next day with another family that attended the British Junior Open. Korean and Chinese dishes in Liverpool are very different from Asian food in Hawaii, Guam and Saipan. Stan, the owner of our cottage, explained that when the Chinese immigrants arrived in Liverpool, they were so skilled in establishing and maintaining businesses, they heavily contributed to the development of the city. They’ve changed the way they cooked to cater to the British, so their kim chee jigae isn’t as salty (which is good!) and the Chinese fried rice isn’t sticky at all (not good!). Overall, we enjoyed our experience there, it was great to eat something with gochujang and chili garlic sauce after all that fish and chips.

LP5 copyOur mom & daughter exploration day included the famous Walker Gallery.

We then visited the Walker Gallery and viewed many original paintings from local artists, an art contest by children and teens from China and sculptures. The café inside the Walker Gallery is exquisite. You’ll see people from all walks of life walking in there just to grab a latte and a slice of carrot cake. My mother was lucky enough to grab the last slice and I grabbed a fresh, warm oatmeal cookie. It was one of the best grab and go breakfasts we’ve had in Liverpool.

LP6 copyIt was pretty awesome walking into the sculpture room at Walker. I’ve never seen sculptures so detailed up close.

After Walker Gallery, we walked to the Liverpool Central Library, where they had a café and three stories of books. My favorite part was the Picton Reading Room. It’s a circular dome reading room with three stories of shelves. Think Beauty and the Beast type of shelves. I went crazy walking around the room. I found Spanish literature books that I’ve read in graduate school (in ENGLISH!) and the staircases were so beautiful. I loved it so much, I think I could live there.

LP7 copyThe Picton Reading Room was my favorite thing about Liverpool.

LP3 copyAfter the Walker Gallery and the Liverpool Central Library, we headed back down to Bold Street. Each unit had a beautiful storefront.

Bold Street was our favorite street for food and shopping in Liverpool. It was a perfect blend of cultural diversity, good coffee, pastries and shopping. We spent two days in the city and always ended up spending most of our time on Bold Street. Just off of Bold, there is also what they call “Chinatown.” It really isn’t a town but a lineup of five Chinese businesses that sell moon cakes, rice cakes, custard and jin doi (excuse my spelling). I remember we also ate at a Lebanese restaurant for lunch, but we were too hungry to stop and take a photo. So here is the last stop we made that day…

LP4 copyAnd we ended the day with some cake! My mom loves cupcakes.

Can’t go wrong with a little cake. Hehe!

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.

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!

Rochelle Roberto

Rochelle RobertoHere is the second part of the Haani shoot: her mother, Rochelle Roberto. It was her birthday so she wore a sweet ginger lei and her usual gorgeous smile.

For photography inquiries, email brandisalas@gmail.com.