Thursday, March 31, 2016

100 Acts of Sewing and Other Terroristic Acts

Back in the 80's, I owned this shirt.  It was one of my favorites.  I still love the sentiment today.  You know me:  I'm all about crafting and sarcasm.

Many of you know I am an avid knitter (well, not if you only know me from this site).  I didn't learn to knit until I was 22 and taught myself.  It is a known fact that up until 1990, if you were left-handed, it was impossible to teach you nearly every craft, particularly knitting and crochet.

Fortunately, that was not the case with sewing.  I learned to sew when I was six and had free rein of my mother's sewing room throughout my childhood.  It was a small, oddly shaped room that shared a wall with the living room fireplace and was tucked behind my parents' bedroom.  My mother converted into a sewing room after she kicked my father out.  Prior to that, it was my father's radio room (your dad had one too, didn't he, full of navy surplus equipment and a full-size teletype machine?) which we were strictly forbidden to enter.  Franken Barbie was born there, too, but that's a story for another day.

As I said, I learned to sew when I was about six.  I was taught by my mother and first projects, I was told, were always sewn in gingham.  This is actually not a bad idea since the fabric's pattern is woven, so there are straight lines to follow.  

My first two projects were an eyeglass case (no one wore glasses in my family at the time) and a little 1/2 apron with grosgrain ties for me (I never wore it).  I still remember the delicate pink and white fabric -- I was not allowed to pick it out.

The last part is memorable, because I remembered loving sewing and creating things but I also remember that hand made things were ugly because the fabric I was allowed to use was always hideous.  It didn't help that this was the early 70's and definitely not fabric's finest hour.

I was also taught that you absolutely had to follow a pattern.  ABSOLUTELY.  HAD. TO.  Which is so not true, but creativity in my family had it's boundaries.

As a teenager, I remember going to the local department store (that still had a fabric department) and pouring through the pattern books looking for styles I liked.  I would do this for hours before picking something out.  I remember in the late 70's and early 80's when designers started putting their names on patterns.  Perry Ellis.  Swoon.  Those felled wool coats.  So gorgeous.  I developed a penchant for expensive fabric that my meager allowance could not feed.

In junior high and high school, I sewed a lot of garments and wore them with pride (but I didn't tell anyone I made them).  Along with many women, I also converted jeans to skirts by ripping out the inseams and adding fabric triangles.  Still a fabulous idea.  Why don't we see those now?  
That's the concept, but we used bright gingham fabric to fill in the triangle section.

Today I find myself wanting to sew more.  I have Bernina dreams but a Brother budget, so I bought a sewing machine from Amazon for about 88 bucks.  It works pretty well.  There are few adjustments and if anything goes wrong with it, you pretty much have to chuck it and buy another.  Most machines are self threading, and thank God for it because I can no longer see the tiny eye in the needle.  I know one of these days I'm going to have to get bifocals, but today is not that day.

So far I've sewn a few sets of curtains, but what I really want to do is sew some clothes again.  Hilo has an amazing number of fabric stores.  I know of at least four.  There are a few more on the Kona side of the island.  The internet also has hugely increased the availability of fabrics.  And patterns.

I am a little intimidated as it has been many a moon since I've sewn something to wear, but the internet is great for that too.

I don't know how I found Sonya Philip's 100 Acts of Sewing site, but I am grateful I did.  I will let you read all about Sonya on her site.  In a nutshell, she challenged herself to make 100 dresses in a year.  And she did.  She actually did it twice.  She designed her own patterns and now sells them on Etsy here.  They are graded from XS to 4XL so they will fit nearly everyone.  I bought them all.  I love supporting her and I really do hope to make several of the projects.

It is important not to lose touch with actually being able to make things ourselves and sewing our own clothes is a huge part of that.  It links you to the garment workers who make your clothes in factories and making things by hand grounds you like no other way can.  The satisfaction of self sufficiency is a great feeling.

So I have the machine, I have the patterns, now I need to get off of my duff and buy some fabric and get to work!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

First Look: Toxic Parents

I can't remember how I stumbled upon this book on Amazon, but I ordered a used copy, and after about a month, it finally arrived:

Toxic Parents, Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life

Probably something I should have read when I was 15.  I wish it was in print back then and I knew it was around.  It's sad to still be working on these issues in my 50's.  What a waste of time.

Anyway, I've barely scratched the surface, but near the beginning of the book is the following quiz:

I. Your Relationship with Your Parents When You Were a Child
  1. Did your parents tell you you were bad or worthless?  Did they call you insulting names?  Did they constantly criticize you?
  2. Did your parents use physical pain to discipline you?  Did they beat you with belts, brushes, for other objects?
  3. Did your parents get drunk or use drugs?  Did you feel confused, uncomfortable, frightened, hurt, or ashamed by this?
  4. Were your parents severely depressed or unavailable because of emotional difficulties or mental or physical illness?
  5. Did you have to take care of your parents because of their problems?
  6. Did your parents do anything to you that had to be kept secret?  Were you sexually molested in any way?
  7. Were you frightened of your parents a great deal of the time?
  8. Were you afraid to express anger at your parents?
II.  Your Adult Life
  1. Do you find yourself in destructive or abusive relationships?
  2. Do you believe that if you get too close to someone, they will hurt and/or abandon you?
  3. Do you expect the worst from people? From life in general?
  4. Do you have a hard time knowing who you are, what you feel, and what you want?
  5. Are you afraid that if people knew the really you, the wouldn't like you?
  6. Do you fell anxious when you're successful and frightened that someone will find out you're a fraud?
  7. Do you get angry or sad for no apparent reason?
  8. Are you a perfectionist?
  9. Is it difficult for you to relax or have a good time?
  10. Despite your best intentions, do you find yourself behaving "just like your parents"?
III. Your Relationship with Your Parents as an Adult
  1. Do your parents still treat you as if you were a child?
  2. Are many of your major life decisions based upon whether your parents will approve?
  3. Do you have intense emotional or physical relations after you spend or anticipate spending time with your parents?
  4. Are you afraid to disagree with your parents?
  5. Do your parents manipulate you with money?
  6. Do your parents manipulate you with threats or guilt?
  7. Do you feel responsible for how your parents feel?  If they're unhappy, do you feel it's your fault?  Is it your job to make it better for them?
  8. Do you believe that no matter what you do, it's never good enough for your parents?
  9. Do you believe that someday, somehow, your parents are going to change for the better?
So it's a used book, and the person who owned it before me circled nearly every item.  I feel you, man.  My quiz gets a lot of circles, too.

The author states, "If you answered yes to even one-third of these questions, there is a great deal in this book that can help you".

Well, I am reading on...slowly.  Honestly, it is not the first thing I want to pick up when I am getting home from work, but I am hopeful there really is something in the book that will help me -- and my daughter.

Here's the deets:

Toxic Parents - Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life
by Susan Forward, PhD with Craig Buck
ISBN 0-553-38140-7

I found it used on Amazon for just a few bucks.  The cover says it was a New York Times bestseller.

Be well.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Gardening on the Cheap

The cheapest way to get more plants in your garden or home is to propagate them yourself.  Here's a list of what we've been creating more of:

Spider plants - in just a few months, we have three babies from the parent plant with two more coming soon.

Dracena - cut them off in the yard, and stick them in a pot.  They grow like crazy.

Ti plants, Aloe Vera -- gifts from our kind neighbors.

Cabocha  -- growing from seed

Lilikoi, Papaya, Mango, Avocado -- these have all set seed from our compost pile.  We have carefully dug them out and planted them in pots.

Pineapple -- we are growing them from both seed and cut tops.

I am on the search for other houseplants we can add to the spider plants.  Dracaena is one possibility, but around here they grow to the size of trees and are used in the yard as large bushes.

We have tomato seedlings (every seed sprouted except for one) and pineapple seedlings (man, they're cute) slowly growing in peat pots.  Larry has started a raised bed in the yard, so I'm going to order beans, bok choy, lettuce, cauliflower, and onions (from seeds).  With a bit of luck, we should be in the vegetable business in no time.

Our favorite plant wholesaler should be having their spring sale soon and we want to pick up some more dwarf bare root bananas.  One of our bananas is off to a pretty good start, but the other one was overtaken by some sort of bug and died.

I suspect the property management folks has a scorched earth policy when it came to yard maintenance around here.  The favorite yard spray in Hawaii is, sadly, round up and it may be some time before the ground is completely fertile again.  Thankfully, with 130 inches of rain a year, it will eventually leach through the soil.  

I'll post some updated photos of our yard over the weekend on Instagram.  They'll show up on the blog along the right hand side (when viewing from a computer).

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Rainy Saturday Morning

Lilikoi Blossom
It has been so dry here thanks to el nino.  As if we actually moved to a dry, tropical locale rather than the wet one I know.  Finally, it's been raining most of the night and I woke to the sound of gentle rain hitting the roof.  

Thinking of the rain makes me think of all of the plants getting watered the natural way. We bought more plants last weekend when we took a holoholo drive up to Honokaa to visit a nurseryman there.  I am particularly excited about the lychee tree we bought, which we can successfully keep pruned to about 12-15'.  We also bought a few scented plants, including a pua keni keni tree, pikake plants, and star jasmine.  We are going to plant the fragrant plants and different points on the compass around the perimeter of the house, so depending on which way the wind blows, we will get a different scent inside. 

Olfactory wind chimes.  

Our other plants are doing fairly well.  We lost a banana plant early on, with some sort of bug infestation.  The Plant It Hawaii
s (it's a nursery near here) semi annual sale is in about a month so we will buy more bare root apple banana stumps there (about $6 a piece) and I'm sure lots of other things.  Some of our pineapple starts are progressing nicely, particularly the ones we bought from the farmers market in Puna.  I am hoping they are white pineapple, but I can't recall.  It'll be a surprise.

Our property was a rental for a number of years before we bought it and we are pretty sure there was a scorched earth policy in place with regard to all living things.  Round up is still used liberally in these parts, and we think that's why it is taking some of our plants longer to get established.  We'll, actually, they start to establish just fine, then they seem to stop advancing.  We are composting as quickly as we can and I am encouraging Larry to top dress the plants as much as possible.  What is the half life of Round up?  Thankfully the warm moist air means we can make compost very quickly.

Much of the property is also covered in gravel -- the volcanic kind, of course, and we are contemplating whether to move it or keep it.  I'd love to have pavers with moss or grass growing in between them at the front of the house, but we need a solid plan before we begin and that hasn't materialized yet.  I have the name of someone who does yard work and I'm wondering if it's time to give him a call for some professional advice.   

Well, no need to make any decisions in haste.  Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy this quiet morning, listening to the rain and the cooing of the doves.

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I'd Like a Better Class of Spam Please

About once or twice a week I go through my email spam folder.  I've had the same email address since the 90's and based on it's age alone, I get a lot of spam.  Asian women online, MILFs, Help for my impotence, and oil change coupons.  

I'm okay with all of those, but I'm really starting to get pissed off that the "you've won money" emails all are linked to Walmart -- like I only deserve the shittiest of spams.  Can't I get, "Nordstrom's just sent you $1,000 shopping spree" or "Neiman Marcus has reserved a diamond necklace in your name"?  

Just a little more class in my spam folder.  It's all I ask.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Preparing for your Hawaii Move -- Access to Goods and Services

In preparing to move to Hawaii, particularly outer islands, you want to eliminate as many surprises as possible.  What I mean is, you need to do your research to learn what items (food and supplies) are readily available in Hawaii and what can affordably be ordered and shipped here.  
  • Foods/Restaurants
  • Stores/Shopping
  • Special shoes, clothing, or anything else that can't be found at Macy's or Target
  • Lack of healthcare providers and access to specialists
If you can't live without Whole Foods and Trader Joes, and you're moving to the Big Island then you might want to rethink your stance (either about your move or figure out what stores you can shop at).  Costco is nearly two hours away from the east side.  So if you're weekly shopping trips currently involve Costco, bear that in mind.  The nearest Whole Foods is on Maui and there are zero Trader Joes stores here (and likely none in the future).  On the plus side, there are fabulous farmers markets just about everywhere.  Additionally, there are some top independent health food stores that will meet many of your needs.  Amazon Subscribe and Save is also very useful (although watch your prices).

If you are more than a DD bra size or wear plus size clothing, your options will be limited.  Research your mail order sources now and make sure they ship to Hawaii (many companies flat out refuse to ship to Alaska and Hawaii) 
Large feet?  Good thing Nordstrom's has you covered and ships.  Figure out how you are going to resolve these issues before you make the move.  Personally, if you are a plus size, I recommend Love Your Peaches for both swimwear and clothing. is an excellent source for intimates and sportswear and I purchase my sports bras from

You can't go without having your weekly dining experience at Red Robin?  You are going to be disappointed.  Maybe even frustrated enough to get you thinking about moving back to the mainland.  I have heard people speak of this as a real issue.  So ask yourself some tough questions before you commit to the move and start doing your research now.    

Lack of Healthcare providers

If you need access to specialist care, you need to be aware there is a physician shortage on the Big Island.  Diabetic?  There are no endocrinologists here.  The only listings I found were on Oahu.  This is true of any of the outer islands and it is not uncommon for you to have to fly to Oahu for most specialist care, so be aware. Health care plans used to cover this travel cost, however I understand that since Obamacare was enacted, those flights are no longer paid for by insurance companies.  

There is also a lack of Family Practice physicians and I have heard it is difficult to find a primary care physician.  Thankfully, the local hospital began a residency program a couple of years ago and they have a great clinic.  So access to basic care is improving.  

You need to work now toward achieving the best health you can.

The top three reasons people move back to the mainland are (not in order):
  • Lack of jobs/low pay
  • Being too far away from family and friends
  • Miss the stores/restaurants on the mainland
Regarding the lack of jobs and low pay...

You need to think differently about earning money here.  You need to understand the local market and compensation.  

I am currently earning 50% of my mainland job doing similar work as an analyst, rather than a department manager.  For my line of work, there is literally one employer within an hour of my home.  Jobs with my skill set are needed, but are few and far between.  You need adaptable skills and you need to be willing to work at any job just to get your foot in the door.  And you better act like you like it.  I researched and closely observed the job market for my field for ten years before we made the move.  I subscribed to a Google feed for my future employer and received daily updates in my email inbox every time they were in the news.  I watched the job listings weekly for the last four years. This helped me fully understand how often jobs in my specialty came available and what I could expect in terms of compensation. 

Figure out how to live well on less money and make a realistic budget.  Find ways to supplement your earnings with a side job.  How hard are you willing to work to make your dreams come true?

Missing Family and Friends

I am not sure I have any solid advice on living away from your family -- I brought mine with me -- but if you have close friends or family members that will be far away, I would suggest you think very carefully how you will resolve those issues prior to moving.  Maybe even doing something crazy like not visiting family during the holidays one year to see how it feels, or skipping some big annual get together to truly experience what being apart feels like.  

Traveling back home for vacations does work but it is clearly not the same or it wouldn't be one of the top reasons people move back to the mainland.  With numbers like that, you have to seriously take into consideration how you will feel.  Grandkids especially can be a more powerful draw than wanting to live in paradise and I think this comes as a shock to people.

Achieving your goal of moving to Hawaii is possible, but you need to work hard now to be successful.


Friday, March 11, 2016

The Common Mynah and Other Distractions

Mynas on our neighbor's roof

I started to write a post this morning about the interesting things we see on our street, but I got distracted.  First by the clouds from a passing storm this morning, then by the six mynah birds hanging out on our neighbor's roof.

I love the birds we see every day in Hawaii.  

The mynahs are most often seen in pairs, so I suspected they are mating birds.

Being the curious opposable thumbed mammal that I am, I wikipedia'd mynahs and found out some interesting facts:

  • They are a member of the starling family.  I try not to hold this against them.
  • They lay turquoise eggs.  Well, only the females.
  • They mate for life. Apparently they have iron clad prenups.
  • They arrived in Hawaii in the mid-1800's to combat a moth.  Like most creatures, they arrived with baggage, including avian malaria. This, and other reasons, makes them the avian bad boys of the islands.
  • They nest communally, usually within one kilometer of each other in a tree with a dense canopy.  I think we have observed this in one of the hotel parking lots on Banyan Drive.  They make "communal noise" (fancy bird phrase skillfully inserted into blog post) I can tell you it's quite a raucous.
  • They will eat almost anything, including road kill, although their main diet consists of bugs and fruit.
  • They make quite a range of interesting noises.  Some of the sounds remind me of the Predator.
For all their faults, I find them charming and love seeing them around.  After all, they aren't going anywhere (can't fault them for that, neither am I).

Yep, me and the mynahs, we be mates.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Headspace: I'm losing my way

By Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
I'm losing my way with my meditation practice.  

Lately, it has been difficult to commit and I think that is because I no longer notice the positive impact it has on my life.

I may have meditated twice this week.

Reflecting on this, I think there are two reasons. The first reason is I cannot seem to find a Headspace pack that resonates with me.  Since the first of the year, I have tried a few:  Relationships, Happiness, and Balance.  Each one has been unsatisfactory and have I been unable to feel the impact that I did with the basic packs and the Anxiety pack.  Much of this seems to do with the switch from focusing on the breath and noting to visualization of people and golden light.  I find it difficult, distracting, and unfulfilling.

The second reason is I am back to work and my "me" time has been reduced back to nearly nothing.  I admit I feel tired, resentful, and frustrated that I don't have the same control over my life that I did for the five months I wasn't working.

I have one more day of the balance pack and then I am going to try self esteem.  If that doesn't resonate, then I am going back and doing the basic pack again.  

I want my meditation to be relaxing, pleasurable, and have results.  If that means I am not progressing, then I'm willing to not progress and stick with what works.

Has anyone else felt these things?  Let me know in the comments.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Car Karma, Hilo Style

Eric Rolph via creative commons

In Hilo, there is a heavy duty car karma game going on at all times.  

Folks go out of their way to stop to let a driver turn out of a driveway into heavy traffic or let someone make a left turn.  I enjoy doing my part, and if I see a driver ahead trying to pull into traffic, I make the effort to stop or slow down to let them in.  In fact, I get excited about helping another human out. 

However, most of the time I am not successful.  Why?  Because it is more than likely one of the cars ahead of me has already let the driver in.  That's right.  It's tough to be nice in Hilo, because the other drivers are even nicer than you.

I invite you to play the car karma game when you are here.  If you're lucky and you try enough times, you'll get a chance to score a smile and an extra wiggly wave from another driver.

It makes your day.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Product Review: Berkey Water Filters

We have owned our Berkey Water Filter (Amazon) for over ten years.  We have the travel size and love it.  It sits next to our sink and holds about a gallon of fresh, filtered water.  It is our daily drinking water, our cooking water, and our emergency water plan all in one.  It is the perfect size for two or three people.  This is the smallest of their filters and I believe there are six in the line.

Berkey Water Filters are actually designated as water purifiers.

Berkey Water Filters were designed to filter dirty water in rough conditions in remote locations.  

Here is a quote from the Berkey website:

"Berkey water filters provide the ultimate in waterbourne contamination removal.  They are used worldwide to set the international standard for water filters used in clean or hostile filtration environments. Owning a Berkey Water Filter gives you the ability to utilize almost any outside natural water source and transform it into the best tasting, purest drinking water possible.  All while using a natural method without the use of chemicals or complicated processes."

The travel size is excellent for car camping.  

If you are considering purchasing property with a catchment water system, I would highly recommend this water purifier for drinking water and would not hesitate to use it in that fashion.

If you live somewhere that is subject to natural disasters (earthquake, hurricane, lava), this filter system can be a part of your emergency water storage system.  You can filter rain water or groundwater, etc.

It is simple to use an maintain.  Filters are changed rarely (per every 6,000 gallons) and are easy to change.

When you first set up your filter, you receive dye to place up in the top chamber to check to make sure that only filtered water is present in the lower chamber.  If there are any leaks due to improper installation, you will know it instantly.  No dye in the lower chamber?  You are good to go.  They dye packet comes with the replacement filters as well so you can have the confidence you are swapping the filters out properly.

Even though we are on city water here, we continue to use our Berkey filter for our drinking water as the taste of the water is excellent and we have the confidence to know that any impurities are filtered out (including viruses).

If you have been looking for a filter system that is a step up from your Britta, and you need something for your emergency back up plan (filters mounted to your water line won't work for this), consider the Berkey.  I can personally attest to it's function and value.

Note: links are affiliate

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Moving to Hawaii - Educate Yourself

During the time were were planning our move to Hawaii, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the area to help narrow down our search and to gain as much knowledge as possible to improve the odds of staying in Hawaii for the long term.

Once you've read every tour book (or even one) on the subject of the Big Island, you realize that the day-to-day information you seek is completely missing.

Here is a list of websites, social media, and alerts I subscribe to (and have done so for several years).

  • Subscribe to the local paper.  Many have e-editions which are cheaper than having a paper mailed to you, which I don't actually recommend, due to the high cost.  Now that we live here, we do subscribe to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, which is the easiest way to stay abreast of local news and shopping (sales and coupons).  Much of the information is available elsewhere online for free.  There is a new eNewsletter signup at, which appears to be free.  Additionally, there is usually a recent sample copy of the paper on their site as well.  Check the ads and sales as well as the articles for information about prices and availability of items.

  • Subscribe to  You can choose to receive emails, texts, or both about criminal activity, power outages, and road closures in your area.  This service seems nationwide, and I would recommend it to anyone anywhere.

  • Google news feeds.  I subscribe to all news articles that contain the words "Hilo" or "Hawaii" and get summary emails daily with all articles found with either of those key words.  This has proven to be a fantastic way to find out all sorts of information.  Local news, events, and articles of interest from all sorts of sources without doing any work whatsoever.  You can create a news feed on any key word or combination of words -- a terrific free resource.

  • YouTube.  I subscribe to many local folks but there are also news organizations that post their stories on youtube.  One example of this is Big Island Video News.  Excellent local reporting on a variety of topics, typically about the local government, the local economy, and area events.

  • Social Media.  I have found Instagram to be an excellent tool for finding local events.  I subscribe to local shops, grocery stores, and utility companies who use social media to inform the public about sales and events.  I have found out about daily food specials and unadvertised sales that haven't been announced elsewhere.  Instagram also provides suggestions for others to follow, so it's easy to build up quite a number of people and businesses to follow.  

  • Facebook . Check into this as well.  I'm not a regular user.  When I've looked up local businesses, I have found the they often are not up-to-date and rely on other social media to make quick announcements.  Your mileage may vary.

  •  Subscribe to local industry newsletters (or create a Google news feed) that pertain to your career or job.  I work in a specific industry and my google news feed about Hilo has provided me over the years with many articles about the organization with whom I am now employed.  When I interviewed for local positions, I had much knowledge at hand about the industry locally, specific information about the company, and it's employees.  Being well informed about the local industry  will definitely put you a step up in the eyes of interviewers.

  • Listen to local radio.  Many stations are accessible via the internet.  I listened to KWXX for years at work when I lived on the mainland.  You get local news, public announcements, and any emergency updates.  Additionally, you get the bonus of listening to some really great island music to keep you in a mellow mood while you work the 9 to 5 grind.

Use whatever tools you can to educate yourself about the local government, economy, and culture of the Big Island.  Remember, about 90% of folks move back home in the first two years.  My sense is that many of the reasons (miss family, didn't realize their favorite chain restaurant isn't here, the pay is low, etc.) people leave could have easily been understood up front before the big move.  If you are serious about moving, then you need to learn as much as possible before you move to increase your chance of success.

Now that I live here, I continue to use these tools to stay informed.  In this way, I can easily stay up-to-date on road construction, power outages, local politics, and local sales.

Do you have any other recommendations for staying informed?