Wednesday, November 26, 2014

We Get To...

I'm sitting in my dad's office right now at my parent's house. It's funny to be in an office with no computer. It even took me a while to find a plug for mine. Of course, there's a tiny iPad sitting here, so I guess this room isn't void of all modern technology. There are notecards scattered around the desktop with words written on them like "Good afternoon" and "Thank you all for coming" and "My dad's life was filled…". 

It's still a little startling knowing these words were spoken at my Grandpa's funeral; being aware of how temporary this life is. 

I had to move a few stacks of photo albums just to find somewhere to sit. I'm so glad we have all of those pictures of my sisters and me with messy faces and matching outfits; of my mom catching a big halibut in a homemade bathing suit; of my dad with long blonde hair; of my grandpa at his wedding to my dad's mom and after she died, pictures of him at his wedding to our Grandma Nancy with frosting on his chin because Maddie insisted on "Cake in the face!" 

I want the voice in my head that speaks to something bigger and greater than me to scream "Thank you!" for allowing any of this to happen; for giving us a life so full that we cry just thinking about it being over. 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. This year we will have a few less guests, and not just because some of them have died, but maybe because some things have changed.

Last night I went into my parent's attic to find this stuffed giraffe I bought with money my grandpa gave me on my seventh birthday. It was there next to a broken music box holding some of my old molars. Then the Thanksgiving decorations got stuck in the dumbwaiter shaft and fell three stories, shattering into hundreds of pieces on the garage floor. Now we'll have a statue of a pilgrim lady holding her head along with sweet potatoes and corn. The holidays can be so entertaining.

My mom told me a thought this morning that I've heard a bunch of other times about saying "I get to" instead of "I have to". "Sometimes I think we start dreading half the things we have to go through in life when instead we should be grateful we have the opportunity to even do them," she said.

In the foreground we see how far away we have to park from Costco, wishing someone else would offer to cook this year, while in the distance babies are being born, long lives are being celebrated by hundreds of people the deceased never knew they touched and food is being served by busy hands to chapped-lipped mouths who look forward to this meal every year. 

This season is filled with so many things that we get to do. And the world breathes a collective sigh of relief when we remember that.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Hostess Gift: Succulents in a Mug

I put a succulent in a tiny vintage mug I found in the springtime and when I saw it the other day, I thought recreating it would be the perfect little host/hostess gift to bring to Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations this year. Making three took me an hour total, including the time spent buying the plants and mugs. This DIY gift is just about as easy as it is to keep succulents alive. 

Here are the steps:

1. Buy mugs (or use some you already have)
2. Buy succulents that fit in the mugs (the kind I used are: haworthia attenuata | moon cactus | mixed variety)
3. Place succulents into mugs. I tried to place them in the mug in their original pot when it was possible, since it's best for succulents to be planted in a container that allows for proper drainage. 
4. I'm probably going to go get some cute holiday ribbon to tie on them. Maybe something like this.

The lady at the potting store reminded me that succulents are under watered when they feel too light in their container. Their soil should never be soaked, but should also never dry out completely. I usually use a little spray bottle and spray all my succulents a few times about once a week. For indoor succulents, I make sure they get daily sun exposure. 

Maybe you'll find this gift idea helpful if you're heading to any holiday parties soon. Of course, wine always seems to be appreciated too :) ! 

And finally, here is Mariangie, from The Good Life, with her favorite Thanksgiving memory. Thanks for sharing with us Maria!  

My one holiday memory that I always treasure is Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico when I was about 7 or 8.  Even growing up in the island, our big tradition on Thanksgiving was watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. I remember seeing this little girl in one of the floats wearing a red coat and red mittens and I became obsessed with getting red mittens. I bugged my parents so much the weeks after the parade that for Christmas they got me a pair of mittens (I don't even know where they got them) and I wore them for days... in 90ยบ F weather! My hands were hot, but I was so happy with my mittens that I did not care. I love that memory because a) it shows why I am still obsessed with the Macy's parade and b) I love that my parents realized the importance of that little pair of mittens for me and how much happiness it would bring me. 

p.s. + An awesome appetizer: Carmel Apple Cream Cheese Dip

Thursday, November 20, 2014

San Diego Eats: Kealani's, Encinitas

I've received a few emails asking about places to eat and things to do in San Diego and if I happened to have a guide written about these things on this blog. It seemed silly answering no to this question, so I decided to start documenting and mentioning our visits to our favorite places in San Diego. You can find all of these things indexed on the newly created (and still in progress) San Diego page on the main menu. Here's my first restaurant review...

On our first trip to Hawai'i together, Scott and I stayed with some friends up in the hills above Waikiki. We got dropped off at the beach by our friend, who raced us down there in the rain in his bald-tire minivan. He cut-off about nineteen people on the way there, always throwing a shaka out his driver's side window, as if it made up for all the blatant traffic fouls. 

We surfed a spot in town that had a short jetty you used to get in and out of the water. On our way out, Scott took my board and allowed me to climb up the rocks first, reaching to hand it to me once I was safely out of the water. The problem was, when he stepped up to pass me my board, he stepped on a colony of sea urchins, or "vana", as the Hawaiians call them. Our friend said he's never seen a case so bad. The lifeguards said the same. Scott said he thought he was going to throw-up. Luckily some good Hawaiian plate lunches helped make this day memorable and happy. Hawaiian food after surfing always makes me think of good waves and vana, and it always tastes perfect to me when we get out of the water. 

After a sunset surf that quickly turned into night surfing yesterday, we were so hungry I said I didn't think I could bear to take the time to shower off before we got to Kealani's, a Hawaiian restaurant specializing in plate lunches and dinners (very much like the one our friend took us to that infamous day). We love the authenticity and simplicity of the menu. Rice and macaroni salad are served with just about everything (but you can get three scoops of one or the other if you ask). So is teriyaki sauce. They have teriyaki marinated tofu (pictured) as well as chicken, mahi mahi, beef and kalua pork. The atmosphere is really casual. You pay at the counter and can then choose to sit under a little hut by the window, listening to Hawaiian music, or shop at the Hawaiian gift shop located in the restaurant while you wait for them to bring you your food. They don't serve alcohol, but the various flavors of Hawaiian Sun compliment any order. The only downside to me is that the food is served with plastic utensils and plates, but if you're on the fence as to whether or not this is worth the stop, it might be worth it to know that native Hawaiians own and love Kealani's. As they would say, it's good kine grinds, perfect after any kind of beach day. 

Kealani's: "Living Da Aloha Spirit" 
Address: 137 W. D St, Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone:(760) 942-5642
Price: $ (under $10 per entree; cash only) 
Hours: Monday and Wednesday 11:00 a.m. -6:00 p.m.
Closed Sundays 
All other days 11:00-8:00 p.m.

here's Scott soaking his foot in vinegar after the vana incident

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Duck-Dive

Pictures taken in Fiji in 2008

Duck-diving is a maneuver shortboard surfers use to sink their boards and bodies under waves to get out into the line-up quickly. 
I remember the summer I first learned to duck-dive. I had been surfing Salt Creek, this photogenic, punchy little beach and point break by my parent's house. I felt like I was the only person out there who couldn't get out to the line-up using the simple duck-dive, and in hindsight, I probably was. 
I had read about seven duck-dive tutorials in detail, but transferring what I read to the water hadn't happened until one glassy little peeler rolled towards me and I finally did everything those books said and pushed my board successfully underneath it, allowing the wave to glide over the top of me and my board without pulling me back. After that, I never forgot. 
All of this is to say that duck-diving can be tricky to learn, but easy to master once you get the hang of it. So don't get discouraged if you haven't figured it out yet. Getting in rhythm with the ocean is an art that takes time and dedication. 
Here are some tips to help get you started with duck-diving. I find this maneuver can sometimes be as awesome and magical as riding a wave because it's kind of like what the ocean animals do. 
Step One: Paddle hard towards the wave. This is important and will give you the momentum you need to penetrate it. 
Step Two: Timing is key! If you dive too early, you will get caught by the wave and get pulled back. If you dive too late, you will get taken out by the front of the wave before you have the chance to get deep enough to go under it. Usually you will begin the dive a few feet before a wave that is approaching you. If you are dealing with white wash (a wave that has already broken), you will need to dive sooner. 
Step Three: Place your hands right under your shoulders onto the rails of your board, about two feet from its nose, and submerge the nose of your board under the water. It kind of looks and feels like a push-up. Shift your weight forward to help this motion. At the same time that you are doing this, place your back knee on the deck of the board to help you sink the board under.
Step Four: Once you are under the wave, you will feel it begin to pass over you. If you are in clear, sand-free, water you can even open your eyes and look around! As you feel the wave go by, use that knee (or *back foot) that you already have placed on the deck of the board to push on the tail. Kick your other leg straight to balance the maneuver and give you an extra boost. This motion will point the nose of the surfboard towards the surface. 
Step Five: Bring your legs together again and hang on to your rails as you rise to the surface. 
*You can use your back leg or knee to complete this maneuver. I usually use my knee in waves of less consequence and my leg when I really need to dive deep. 
All of this may sound a little complicated, but just remember, all you are really doing is sinking yourself and your board under a broken or breaking wave with a scooping motion so that you don't get taken out by it or taken further back. Have fun practicing! These are especially fun in bigger waves and clear, tropical water! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thanksgiving on Tape

A couple of years ago my dad transferred a bunch of old home videos onto DVDs and external hard drives. I was feeling kind of sick this morning, walking around like I had ice skates on, barely able to lift my feet, so I thought I'd feel better watching a few. I found the above clips at about 8:30 in the morning and was laughing loud enough to wake my nocturnal neighbor up and crying all over my sleeves watching them by myself (even though there's nothing all that earth-shatteringly interesting about the clips). 

The first clip in this video is from Thanksgiving at my Nonny's house. It was the first one after Poppy passed and also Maddie's first Thanksgiving ever. I like my cousin Michelle's comments about money. The last clip demonstrates our obsession with American Girl dolls. Poor dad. He's a good sport filming them "dancing". 

The other point of this post is to see if any of you would like to share a holiday memory here too. Last Christmas I really liked reading the holiday stories shared by Tale of a Mermaid sponsors and a lot of people I ran into in real life mentioned how much they enjoyed reading them. So... does that sound fun? If it does to you, then you should do it! Send a sentence or a few paragraphs about a favorite holiday memory of yours, along with a picture, to: devonkh{at}gmaildotcom (written this way to avoid spam). I think they'll be a nice way to get in the spirit of this season. (p.s. If you have any Thanksgiving memories you'd like to share, be sure to send them soon! :) 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Knee High to a Sandpiper (San Diego to Santa Cruz Part 1)

(like Christ-like, cuz he's nice to everybody)

We began our road trip to Santa Cruz to camp with my college roommates Basia and Nicole last Friday morning around nine. We stopped to surf a spot in Ventura that I've checked a few times, but have never surfed because it's always sucked when we've been by. This was kind of the case again on Friday, but it was so warm and uncrowded that we paddled out to get a few little ones to ourselves despite the lack of swell. It's too hard to drive in the car on the 101 past all the beautiful ocean views without going in at least once anyways.

There's a saying that Scott says that goes something like "The waves were knee high to a grasshopper." I've never heard it except from him and he doesn't know where it came from, but on this morning he said the waves were "Knee high to a sandpiper" then captured a few pictures of me riding a ripple with a sandpiper in the foreground to prove it. 

Back on the road, I was thinking about all the phases of my life that I've been in while driving this part of the 101 Highway. 

Scott and I were listening to the song Hospital Beds by The Cold War Kids. We love singing it loud and say we'll sing it at Karaoke, if ever given the chance. The only problem is that once Scott secretly recorded me belting it out in our living room and I am terrible. I demanded that he delete it and he insisted that he keep it, as long as he promised never to show it to anyone. I conceded. 

When we were almost to Betteravia I started thinking about how I got a ticket here once for going 86 mph in a 65 mph zone. I was trying to make it to San Francisco to see Kelly Slater win his 11th world title. I know I probably don't have to tell you this since my motivations may make it seem obvious, but I was in my early 20s.

I cried real baby tears trying to get out of it. It was my first and only ticket so far (and somehow) and I had just quit my job and was driving instead of flying to San Francisco to save money. I could tell the officer kind of felt bad, but it was too late to do anything about it. Later when I talked to Danielle on the phone she said "You have to make your case before they go back to their car to write the ticket, because afterwards it's too late." She was right. Later when I told Scott what happened he said "Now you're having a road trip!" Which is the same thing I told Danielle a year later when she called me crying about a ticket she got on her way to Arizona. 

Listening to Eminem as we drove through the fog in the valleys before Santa Cruz was very distracting. I didn't think about any of the things that have been consuming my thoughts lately, which was a relief. 

Mom says "Remember that everything happens for a reason and your life has always been good because of that". I wrote that advice in my journal to make sure it stayed somewhere so I wouldn't forget. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Matsumoto Studio Giveaway!

Sisters Jes and Jen, of Matsumoto studio, are here today giving away some of their beautiful cards! The other day, after a meeting at work, we were all asked to write a card to someone at the office who we would like to thank. The activity reminded me to send more 'just because' cards, since they always make people feel good. 

More about Matsumoto Studio"We are sisters who were born and raised on the island of Maui, Hawaii. We officially opened Matsumoto Studio in the summer of 2012 and we specialize in designing the annie + flo notecard line, stationery, invitations, announcements and more.

We take pride in designing eco-friendly products that are inspired by and printed on Maui. We also believe that good design should be accessible and affordable to everyone. "

{U.S. addresses only}

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 7, 2014

One Thing

Normally I'm an ADD tornado, trying to shop for Christmas presents online while talking on the phone and skateboarding to the mailbox, maybe over-boiling some water at the same time, but lately have have been trying to focus on one thing at a time.