life Archives

December 16, 2007

cute little critter running through the snow

Missing the snow, I did a little search today checking out all the new snow pictures on the web. I found the cutest picture on the Boston Globe's "Second snow hits hard" photo gallery page.


Photo 13: "A young opposum ran through the snow in front of Trinity Baptist Church in Arlington." (picture by: Globe Staff Photo / Dina Rudick)

January 8, 2008

the Feast of Saint Anthony in the North End of Boston

I was googling Montefalcione, the birth place of my great grandfather, to see if I could find any good pictures of the village to share. I was able to find one nice panoramic shot of Montefalcione posted on a TrekEarth gallery. If you scroll down, you can read The Story of Montefalcione.

As I continued to google, I was astonished to find that there is a direct link between the famous North End St. Anthony Feast and the little village of Montefalcione! A group of Italians from Montefalcione who settled in the North End created the San Antonio Di Padova Montefalcione Society. This is a great link for more information and history on the society and the feast.

The feast takes place the last weekend in Boston in the North End. It’s a huge event, with games, bands, parades, and of course, food. The highlight of the Feast is the ten hour procession of the Statue of Saint Anthony through the streets of the North End accompanied by devotees, marching bands and floats. The Statue of the Saint returns to confetti and streamers cascading from the rooftops. I have many fond memories of the North End, but have never been to this feast. Someday...

I found a few videos and slide shows portraying the feast. This one is my favorite. Warning, the music is very catchy!

February 1, 2008

national wear red day

Wear RED, post RED, eat RED, drink RED. February 1st is National Wear Red Day to show support for women’s heart disease awareness. My hope is that with this day being targeted yearly to increase women's awareness of heart disease, women will become more aware of how important it is to be aware of staying heart healthy. My mom died of a sudden heart attack in February, 2000. I wish she was more aware of her risks.

Tips for Heart Health

* Don't smoke, and if you do, quit. Women who smoke are two to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smoking women. Smoking also boosts the risk of stroke and cancer.

* Aim for a healthy weight. It's important for a long, vigorous life. Overweight and obesity cause many preventable deaths.

* Get moving. Make a commitment to be more physically active. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.

* Eat for heart health. Choose a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, and moderate in total fat.

* Know your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL, triglycerides), and blood glucose. Work with your doctor to improve any numbers that are not normal.

These are 2 of my favorite RED photos.

The first photo is of a red hibiscus flower. I took this photo for a photography class a few years ago.


The second photo is a photo which was posted on the Boston Globe website this past year. I believe it was taken during Spring Training. We don't have Willy on our team anymore but we still have Manny & Big Papi. GO SOX!!


February 8, 2008

game night

Today is "game night". We started having "game nights" at our school this year on Friday nights every now and then as a way to relax, spend time together in a non-stressful situation, and have fun together. There are board games, wii, this guitar game I just don't get, and Scrapbooking. I am a board game player. I love board games, always have, always will.

Leslie at Kaleidoscope asked on one of her posts what your favorite toys were as a child?”

This got me thinking about some of my favorite toys that I had as a child and how different childhood was "way back when" with the toys we played with compared to how childhood is today with the "electronic" toys kids now have. I remember playing with my Easy Bake Oven, my barbies, and always playing kick the can, badminton, and whiffle ball when playing outside.

My family also had a game closet full of board games, which included Mystery Date, Operation, Yahtzee, Risk, Rack-O, Uncle Wiggily, Clue, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Go To The Head Of The Class, Candy Land, and Game Of The States.

Did you own any of these original version games?

Remember Mystery Date? I always wanted to date or win? the "skier guy" but usually ended up with "dud guy".

And for those of you too young to remember or too young to have had any of these games, you sure missed out on some fun.

Continue reading "game night" »

February 27, 2008

If I won the lottery

Gambling is illegal here in Hawaii. That makes my chances even more difficult than most to win the lottery, but if I did win the lottery, what would I do?

Since many of my fellow bloggers have already declared their intentions, I have an advantage of getting some great ideas to help me lay out my plan. I hope I did not miss anyone's post on winning the lottery. It has been fun reading what everyone else would do.

I have decided that my winnings would be around 200 million as Kim did in her post. You gotta pick some number and I thought 200 million sounded like an good amount to win. However I would take my winnings in euros instead of US dollars (smart huh?). I am not sure how much I would be hit with regarding taxes, but I am guessing I would still have plenty left to spend.

I have to say that I was quite impressed with how Deborah broke down her winnings by dollar amount. I think I would have to hire someone to help me figure that out even with “pretend money”.

So here is my list:

*The very first thing I would do would be to get season tickets for the Red Sox. Some of you may ask, what good would season tickets be since I live in Hawaii? Quitting my job would be the next thing I would do. I would then buy a little condo right in the heart of the city of Boston where I would spend time when the Red Sox were in town. I would invite friends and family to the games and make sure that someone would be enjoying my tickets when I was not in town.

*Next, I would buy a bigger place here in Hawaii (I currently live in a little studio). My dream would be to live up on the North Shore, but if I had all of this money, I might want to check out the outer islands first to decide just where I would want my place to be. Nothing big, nothing fancy, just big enough for me with a couple of extra rooms for family and friends to visit.

*I would share in my winnings with my family so that everyone would be set with houses as well as having some extra money to splurge. Also college funds for my nieces and nephews as Kim suggested. I don't have any cousins.

*I would also treat my friends to trips with me to Italy, Boston, and other fun locations, traveling first class of course, as well as dinners and shopping sprees and I would like to join Angie on one of her shopping sprees since she is so familiar with Florence and because it would be fun to go shopping together.

*I would donate a big chunk of money to some sort of education improvement project. The only string attached to this would be that the project would not be tied to No Child Left Behind and all those ridiculous tests in any way! I would also want to do something about getting more books into kids' hands. There are too many kids that just don't own books of their own. I would also volunteer, helping mothers that struggle to read to become more proficient so that they could spend more time reading to their children. I believe very strongly in the importance of education and exposing children to books at a very young age.

*I love Jerry’s idea about paying for someone who has a dream with no means to go to college on their own and would do the same.

*I would donate a big chunk of money to migraine research. It has been much too long now that people have been suffering from migraines. I don't feel that there has been enough research in this area. It is about time to find a cure or at least a treatment that works for everyone. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some day a cure could be found? I dream of the day I can eat dark chocolate again as well as all of those other foods on my “do not eat anymore list”.

*I would seek out Deborah's help regarding how to invest some of this money wisely so that I could live and travel without any money worries for the rest of my life.

*Oh, and how could I forget about Italy? I would definitely buy a place somewhere in Italy, traveling first class to get there. I am just not sure where yet. Maybe I could start that needed B&B in Camogli? I might also think about some other places in Italy that Chiocciola suggested and even try to visit her in Nicaragua.

*And if I still had any money left over, I would buy a boat.

February 28, 2008

early bird or night owl - which are you?

I am definitely a night owl, no question about it. I have tried my best for many years to "fit into the land of morning people" but never with any luck. I can adapt for a day or two or perhaps a week, but I will never be as alert or as productive as I am in the evening.

There are four of us at my school who are all definite night owls. We dream of a school that would start at 9:30 or 10am. We would even be happy with a 9am start. Every day, we drag our bodies into work, always arriving last, right before the bell rings. We stumble down to our classrooms, trying our best to put on a cheery smile when one of our morning friends says hello in that "bright and cheery morning voice", while inside that cheeriness feels similar to fingernails scratching a blackboard. We are exhausted all week, never catching up on the sleep we need. It doesn't matter if we go to bed at 8 or 11 pm, we are still in a fog until at least 9 am the following morning. During school vacations, we start staying up later and later. We do our most productive work late at night. We could easily call each other at 1 am during our breaks and we would all still be wide awake. When school starts again, it is like dealing with jet lag, trying to adjust back to that early morning wake up call. The longer the vacation, the more difficult it is to adjust, but we never really fully adjust.

Continue reading "early bird or night owl - which are you?" »

February 29, 2008

or perhaps a hummingbird?

I did a little more searching on google and found an article which explains how some of us are neither early birds (larks) or night owls, but instead, hummingbirds. Here's an excerpt:

What makes some of us "night owls"--people who perk up in the evening and don't go to bed until 2 a.m. (or even later)--while others are "larks"--early birds who wake up bright-eyed and ready to go at the crack of dawn? The answer lies mostly in our internal body clock, which is largely determined by our genes. In addition to driving our 24-hour (or circadian) sleep-wake cycle, this clock regulates hormone levels, body temperature, blood pressure, alertness and performance ability.

The cycles themselves are controlled mainly by a region within the brain's hypothalamus known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This area responds to signals from the retina, specifically, the light that travels from our eyes to our brain, which is the most important factor in orienting our bodies to daytime alertness and night-time sleep.

But that's not the whole story. The "owl" and "lark" categories account for just about 30 percent of the population, explains Michael Smolensky, Ph.D., a professor of environmental physiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston and co-author of The Body Clock Guide to Better Health (Henry Holt & Co., 2001). Smolensky says the remaining 70 percent of us are "hummingbirds"--people who can usually adapt when they need to, though it's easier or harder to do so depending on where you fall along the body-clock continuum.

March 8, 2008

who owns the fish?

I have seen many versions of this puzzle. I am posting the version from Peter Rohde's blog where you will also find the answer.

There are 5 houses of 5 different colors. Each house is occupied by a man of different nationality. The 5 owners each drink a different type of beverage, smoke a different brand of cigar, and keep a different pet.

The clues are as follows:

* The Brit lives in the red house.
* The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
* The Dane drinks tea.
* The green house is on the left of the white house.
* The green house’s owner drinks coffee.
* The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
* The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
* The man living in the center house drinks milk.
* The Norwegian lives in the first house.
* The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
* The man who keeps the horse lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
* The owner who smokes Bluemasters drinks beer.
* The German smokes Prince.
* The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
* The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

Question: Who owns the fish?

April 11, 2008

bug on a flower

Krista's post, "A Rose in Bloom", reminded me of the photo I took of this flower while hiking in Mürren, Switzerland a few years ago.


Does anyone know the name of this flower?? OR the type of bug??

September 28, 2008


displayimage.jpeg Paul Newman was not only a great actor and quite a hunk; he was also a successful sports car racer, an extremely generous person, a devoted family man, and a remarkable human being.

My mother, a huge Paul Newman fan, had a poster-sized photo of Paul Newman hanging on our bathroom door when I was growing up. The photo was black and white except for his blue eyes. I can still picture that handsome face and those beautiful blue eyes staring at me whenever I closed our bathroom door. How fortunate was I to get to gaze at Paul Newman every day.

I have also been a huge fan of Paul Newman. He has made so many great movies including my all time favorite, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Whenever I watched Paul Newman act, he always made me smile.

Besides being a fan of his acting, I have been most impressed by his generosity. Paul Newman started Newman's Own as a joke in 1982 and ended up raising over 250 million dollars, all of which has been donated to thousands of charities all over the world. He has never even earned a nickel profit for himself from any of his food products.

I am so very saddened to hear of Paul Newman's death. My deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends. Farewell Paul Newman. The world will not be the same without you.

Below is a video from the Newman's Own Foundation website:

October 5, 2008

my "LOST" sighting...

Yesterday evening, after having dinner with friends in town, I went to Whole Foods. The grand opening for the first Whole Foods store on the island was September 10th. I have been waiting so long for this store to finally open and I was not disappointed. The first time I went was the day after the Grand Opening. The store of course was packed.

Because I buy most of my food at health food stores, the cost ends up being not that much different for many of the products I buy at Whole Foods and there are more choices for me there as well as free range chicken. The only downfall is that the store is located 30 miles from my house.

Last night was my second visit to Whole Foods. I bought some organic chicken and could not believe the difference in the taste. Not because it was organic (I have bought organic chicken before) but because it was so fresh! Wow! What a difference! The chicken tasted so much better than the organic chicken I have bought in the regular grocery stores. I found out that many of the products at Whole Foods are flown in. The chicken as well as many of the other products in the other grocery stores arrive after traveling by barge (which takes days).

Finally, we have the opportunity to purchase fresh products! I even found mozzarella bufala at Whole Foods! I enjoyed the most delicious caprese salad for lunch today. The mozzarella melted in my mouth. Even the tomatoes were worth the drive.

But I digress.... back to my "Lost" sighting (which was actually my 2nd Lost sighting)...

I drove into the parking lot around 8:30 last night and was thrilled to find a parking spot right in front of the store. I grabbed a cart and headed inside. I was pleasantly surprised to find the store much less crowded. Because this was only my second visit, I wasn't really sure where to start. For some reason I started in the middle of the store. As I was standing in front of the gluten free section at the end of the aisle, I noticed a a two-tier cart being pushed by someone. As I looked up, standing right in front of me was Sayid!! (Naveen Andrews) from LOST. He was even better looking than on TV. Our eyes met momentarily and then he walked on by. I was definitely flustered. I could not focus on shopping. Instead, I plotted a way to get another look in a casual way. I did not want to be a stalker but I just had to get another glance.

I pushed my cart by a few aisles until I spotted him again and then casually walked by him. With two quick glances, I could not take my eyes off his face. I remember him wearing a tight black shirt and I think he was wearing capris or long shorts but cannot be sure and I have no idea what type of shoes he was wearing. All I can say is, WOW, he is drop dead gorgeous! It took me about 30 minutes before I was finally able to concentrate on shopping again. What a thrill to see him in person, even if it was only momentarily. He is definitely my favorite character on LOST now. I can't wait til the season begins!

Here's more about my 1st Lost sighting....

On April 24th, 2007, I posted a comment on the Everything Else Slow Travel thread about my first “LOST” sighting ~ my Hurley sighting. Here was that post:

I just had to share! Today while shopping at my favorite health food store, I almost bumped right into Hurley!! If you watch LOST you will know who he is.

I was heading over to the hot food section to get a stuffed polenta pepper as he was just leaving that section. That area of the store does not have a lot of room to get by one another and so we almost bumped right into each other as we walked by each other. It took me a second to realize who he was. I tried my best to not look like I recognized him, although inside I wanted to yell out, "Hurley! I love your character and I love Lost!" but I kept my cool. After getting my hot food, I just had my papaya left to get. AND there he was again at the papaya section checking out all the wonderful papayas. I stalled at the other fruits waiting for him to finish choosing his papaya so as not to look like I was following him, but he was there for quite a while, and I was not going to go home without my papaya, so I headed over and grabbed one.

He then went over to the check out line. I was also done shopping, but did not want him to think I was stalking him and so I went down one more aisle since only one check out line was open. After walking down the aisle I went back to the check out area. Still no one else in line, so I got in line behind him. WOW, I thought, I am standing right next to Hurley!

He looks exactly like he does on Lost and was wearing basically the same type of clothing as he does in the show. Pretty Cool!!

Hope all is well with everyone! I have been busy watching the Red Sox. They lost a tough one in the 12th inning tonight but still only need one more win to move on to the ALCS. GO SOX!!

December 11, 2008

torrential rain, flooding, and power outages

Quoting part of today's Star Bulletin article: STORM PUMMELS OAHU

Schools are closed, power is out, homes are flooded and traffic is a mess.

Torrential rain overnight and this morning flooded scores of homes on Oahu, closed roads and dozens of schools, knocked out power and shut the Arizona Memorial.

More than 10 inches of rain fell at Makaha Stream in the 24 hours that ended at 8 a.m., and more than 4 inches of that fell between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.

(photo from the Honolulu Advertiser - click on the photo to see more amazing photos)

I am so thankful that I did not have to deal with the traffic nightmare today. I wasn't feeling well, so I stayed home from work. A little after seven this morning the power went out. I couldn't find any news on the power outage on the radio. I decided to call the electric company. That was when I realized that I had no way to look up the number. I don't keep phone books anymore since it is just as easy to look up the phone number on the internet. Then I remembered that there are phone numbers on the electric bills. After finding the number, I called. Not much info from them either. The only info other than what areas were experiencing outages was that they were working on it.

Around noontime, once the rain stopped, I decided to go to the nearby grocery store, hoping generators would keep the store open, to get a couple of bags of ice and some lunch.

About a third of the parking lot was flooded. I thought of Annie and the acqua alta in Venice. All the stores in the little shopping complex were open. All the lights were on. It was very busy inside the grocery store. I asked one of the girls if the store was running on generators. She looked at me surprised by my question and said they never lost power. How did that happen? I live so close, probably 5-10 minutes walking distance. The entrance to my townhouse complex is adjacent to the driveway of the shopping area. So close and yet so far.

I bought some sushi, chips, and two bags of ice. My hope was if I bought the ice, the power would come back on (sort of like if you wash your car, it will rain). Wishful thinking! I put one bag of ice in the freezer and one in the refrigerator and then transferred everything perishable to the freezer.

I called the electric company again. Less areas with power outages, but mine was still top on the list. No other information available.

Nine hours later, the electricity came back on at 4:24 pm. The neighbors cheered.

Right after the electricity came on, the wind kicked up and the rain began to fall again. More rain is predicted all night. I wonder what it will be like driving to work tomorrow. I hope I don't lose electricity again.

Things that I learned:
1. Get ice right away if possible and pack everything perishable in the freezer. The
food should last longer that way.
2. Have more food available that does not need to be refrigerated.
3. Have a phone book available.
4. Charge the iPod touch whenever the battery is low.
5. Make sure to have a good book available and alternate lighting (it was pretty dark
all day with the storm outside).
6. I am clearly not prepared for a hurricane.
Things I am grateful for:
1. I did not have to drive to work today.
2. I have a dry roof over my head.
3. My townhouse complex was not flooded.
4. There was no wind damage to my place.
5. My car is safe.
6. The grocery store was open.
7. My shower had hot water.
8. I did not buy all the ingredients yet to make batches of cookies (which I would now have to throw out)
9. It was not too hot and humid today (since no power for fans)
10. My electricity is back on!!

December 13, 2008

rain rain go away

The weather is crazy here!! It started pouring again this morning. The wind is howling. Here is a photo of the damage on Kunia Road from Thursday's rain.
(photo linked to the Honolulu Advertiser article)

CLICK HERE to see a slideshow of more amazing photos from the storm (including a couple of cool waterfall shots). Place your mouse near the top of each photo to see the description for each photo.

Yesterday the weather was calm most of the day. The skies began to turn black late in the afternoon just as I was heading to to an appointment.
When I finished, it was raining, but not too bad. The scary part though was the thunder and lightning, which is pretty rare here in Hawaii. Ever since I was little, I have always freaked out during thunder and lightning storms. Driving in one is definitely not one of my favorite things to do. Other than that, the traffic gods were looking out for me because I made it to the shopping center near my house pretty quickly (which is a miracle even on a sunny day).

Just as I stopped at Long’s Drugs, the sky opened up and it started to pour buckets, so hard that it sounded like pellets hitting my windshield. I ran into the store, still managing to get soaking wet even though I parked right near the store. As I was looking for some little containers for cookies in the back of the store, the lights went out. It was pitch black! Everyone in the store gasped loudly. The lights came back on pretty quickly, but those few seconds seemed like minutes while it was pitch black in the store. This little boy near me was very freaked out.

The news last night showed that the road into and out of my town was closed due to flooding. It must have happened during the downpour that started when I reached the store near my house.

I read that the traffic was backed up for miles on the freeway before the exit. I am sooooo glad I made it home before the rain started again. The traffic gods were definitely looking out for me yesterday. The weather is still crazy this morning. Let’s hope the power gods will do the same!

December 28, 2008

in the dark

9583718_BG1.jpgEarly Friday evening, as I drove over to a nearby school to drop off a couple of bags of recycling stuff, a few pretty wild bolts of lightning lit up in the sky. Lightning is pretty rare here in Hawaii. I could barely hear the thunder, so I assumed storm had to be far off in the distance.

The photo to the left was taken by Dave Weil of Wahiawa. I found this photo on the KHNL news website. (photo is linked to the source and an article about the power outage).

About 30 minutes after I returned home, a little after 7 pm, everything went black. At first, I figured it would only be out for a few minutes. After about 15 minutes, I thought that it was probably just my area of the island that was out. I watched a DVD on my computer to pass the time, still thinking that the power would be back on pretty soon. Two hours later, when my laptop was running out of juice, I decided to call the electric company to find out what was going on. I was surprised to learn that the entire island was in the dark. I found my radio and was grateful to find a few stations reporting what was going on.

HECO, the electric company, was saying something about four lines being tripped which caused the entire system to shut down. All the stations were saying to expect the power to be out throughout the night. The last time power went out island wide was October 15, 2006 when an earthquake hit the Big Island.

Because the entire island lost power, that meant that President-elect Obama, who is vacationing here with his family, also lost power. The mayor was in contact with his staff. Obama was safe at his Kailua rental. He was offered a generator but declined the help saying that they were planning to go to bed early and would be just fine.

I was much better prepared this time than I was two weeks earlier. I still had a big bag of ice and a half full bag of ice in the freezer. The very cool flashlight app on my new iPod touch came in handy helping me navigate in the dark. I listened to the radio for while, and then went to bed. I unplugged all of my electronic equipment but did leave all the light switches on hoping that in case the power come back on in the middle of the night, I would wake up since my refrigerated perishables were now in the freezer… and at 3:13 in the morning, the power came back. The lights woke me up as planned. My area of the island was one of the first to get electricity back. I was very grateful to have power again. I checked the Honolulu Advertiser for the latest news. Only a few areas were back up. I even got electricity back before Obama did! He got his back about 6 am. Some areas didn't get their power back until last night and a few people were out until this morning. A few areas even lost water for a while.

While the power was out island wide, traffic was crazy and there were many delays and cancellations at the airport. Some people ended up sleeping there overnight. Not fun. At least the weather was warm here. The scariest thing I read was that a Hawaiian Airline jet was struck by lightning. The jet landed safely but that must have been pretty scary!

Below are a few more photos of Oahu during the lightning storm and in the dark. The first two photos came from the Star Bulletin. I can't seem to find the first photo anymore to add the correct link. The second photo is linked to the article which is linked to more photos of the outage (where I found the second photo).


I'm not sure how the Christmas tree lights stayed on during the blackout.

The third and fourth photos are from the Honolulu Advertiser. Both are linked to the power outage article where I found these photos.



*Edited to add...since moving to Hawaii, I have only lost power three times that I can remember for more than a few hours - twice in the past couple of weeks and the day of the Big Island earthquake two years ago. I can't remember now if I lost electricity where I was during Hurricane Iniki. The news of this outage probably would not have even made national news if Obama was not vacationing here. Our last storm which caused much more damage than this power outage never made national news.

They are still not sure what caused this island wide power outage. Originally, it was thought that it was due to a direct lightning strike, but no damage was found to any of the lines or equipment.

December 29, 2008

grocery shopping before a storm

I read this funny article in the Boston Globe last week, written by Globe Columnist Sam Allis, called Grocery gridlock: Stuck at the intersection of storm panic and holiday stress about grocery shopping in December, on a weekend, right before a snowstorm.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Inside, the place was teeming with grown men and women dashing around the store like road runners, emitting stress every step of the way. They carried a sense of urgency reminiscent of the Running of the Brides at Filene's Basement. If they didn't get out fast, they reasoned, the authorities would find their bleached bones in the spring.

I vectored over to the deli section. This is the heart of the matter. This is where people in line watch their lives dribble away. This is where you find out whether any of that Zen stuff about acceptance is worth one Tic Tac.

The crowd was patient but tense. Men shifted their weight from one leg to the other. It was unnervingly quiet.

I noticed a guy named Bob Boynton reading a tabloid he had spread across a shelf of cheese nearby. I asked him how long he had been there, and he said close to 15 minutes. I glanced at his ticket for the deli. It read 307. I looked up at the electronic scoreboard on the deli wall and saw 281.

A lunatic friend of mine was also there Friday morning, I learned. In a separate countdown, his ticket read 337 when the scoreboard read 275. Let's be clear here. There is nothing in the deli section worth waiting that long for. You come home empty-handed, claim they ran out of the potato salad, and hunker down for Defcon 1 if that doesn't fly.

Bob informed me this was not the worst jam he'd faced there. That would be a Saturday after Thanksgiving some time ago. A chill came over him as he said, voice rising: "I'll never go again. Never."

If you have the time, check out Grocery gridlock. It is quite amusing.

This article brings back memories of my shopping excursion the morning of Hurricane Iniki years ago. I woke up that morning to the sound of sirens blaring. When I first heard that all schools were canceled, I was thrilled. That feeling only lasted a few seconds as the next thing announced was that a hurricane was headed our way and was set to hit later in the day.

I was sent to the store by friends I was staying with while they got the house prepared and filled containers of water. There was barely any food left on the shelves by the time I arrived. The lines were so long that they started at the back of the store. I was amazed at how many people I ran into that I knew that morning. It was one shopping experience I will never forget and hopefully one I will not have to repeat.

Have you ever had a crazy grocery shopping experience?

February 5, 2009

national wear red day

Tomorrow is National Wear Red Day.

Wear RED, post RED, eat RED, drink RED.

Wear Red Day is a day to make an important promise to yourself—the promise to love your heart by doing everything you can to reduce your risk factors.

Tips for Heart Health

*Don't smoke, and if you do, quit. Women who smoke are two to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smoking women. Smoking also boosts the risk of stroke and cancer.

*Aim for a healthy weight. It's important for a long, vigorous life. Overweight and obesity cause many preventable deaths.

*Get moving. Make a commitment to be more physically active. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.

*Eat for heart health. Choose a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, and moderate in total fat.

*Know your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL, triglycerides), and blood glucose. Work with your doctor to improve any numbers that are not normal.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

*High blood pressure
*High blood cholesterol
*Being overweight
*Being physically inactive
*Having a family history of early heart disease
*Age (55 or older for women)

March 15, 2009


Both Annie's post on Orbs from last week and Brenda's post with photos of Orbs from last summer reminded me of the photos I have taken with Orbs.

I used to think that Orbs were water spots or dirt on the lens of the camera. Wikipedia describes them as light reflections off normally sub-visible particles when using digital cameras. I have also read the theory that they might be ghosts or spirits or something else mystical in nature. I found this interesting website called What are Orbs which talks about some of these possibilities. After reading more about Orbs, it makes me wonder if they could be something more than just dust or light reflections.

I took this photo of the little church near Katia’s house in Coccaglio back in 2003. We stopped by this church on the way to the yearly festival event taking place nearby. When I returned home from Italy that summer, I almost dumped the photo thinking it was ruined. I saved it though since it was the only photo I had of the outside of this cute little church. I also thought about trying to clean up the photo in photoshop but never got around to it.

If you look carefully, you will see one Orb in this photo up above the light on the right and a few Orbs, which are more difficult to see on the floor.

There is just one Orb that I can find in this photo on the wooden bench on the right.

I don't think it could have been dust on the camera though because I took the second and third photos right after taking the photo of the outside of the church. If it was dust or spots on my lens, I would assume the Orbs would be in the same spots on all three photos. I am sure I did not clean my camera in between shots. I also took other outside photos that night without any Orbs in them.

Here is a link to a story I saw on the news the other night (Friday the 13th) about Ghost tours and Orbs. Check out the cool shirt! *The video is no longer available.

It makes you wonder...

April 7, 2009

how to help the earthquake victims in Abruzzo

The death toll is now over 200, an estimated 1500 are injured, and 50,000 have been left homeless by the devastating earthquake that hit the Abruzzo area of Italy early Monday morning.

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) has established a special NIAF/Abruzzo Relief Fund to help the victims and their families who perished from the recent earthquake in the town of L’Aquila and other small towns in central Italy in the region of Abruzzo. Donations from the US are tax deductable.

This is an easy way to help those who have been affected by this devastating Abruzzo earthquake. It only takes a minute to do. My heart breaks for everyone in the region and for all who have lost family members or friends.

April 28, 2009

my weekend, the sox, my new passport, & the tree!

What a great week! Family visiting, Sox/Yankees series, my new passport, and the tree that I have been cursing, which has been home to many birds who have all crapped on my car for years and years, has finally been cut down!

Family visiting - I really enjoyed spending time with my brother, sister-in-law, my niece and my nephew. The last time I saw them, my niece was about 10 months old and my nephew was two (I think). It was really nice getting to know my niece and nephew a little bit better.

Here they are on one of the rides at my school's Family Fun Fest Friday night:

Sox - As you can see, rooting for the Red Sox runs in my family. There was a big 3 game Sox/Yankees series last weekend, the first meeting of the two teams this year. Friday night, after buying food at the fair, we decided to eat in my classroom since all the tables outside were taken (a perk of working at the school). My brother has an iPhone and was checking the score on and off most of the night. When we went into my room, I turned Gameday Audio (the radio broadcast of the game) on my computer.

The game was tied and they were in extra innings. If it was up to my brother and I, we would have stayed in my room until someone scored, but the kids, my sister, and my sister-in-law were ready to play more games and go on more rides.

Just as I went over to turn off my computer, Kevin Youkilis hit a walk off home run and the Red Sox won. I started jumping up and down cheering. My nephew thought it was pretty funny, probably thought I was nuts, and was surprised at how much I love the Red Sox. I think I earned a few points with him that night :)

Saturday was the regional softball Special Olympics event for the island of Oahu. The games were played up on a military base with nothing around except a couple of softball fields, a bunch of red dirt, and a few disgusting porta potties. Before leaving my house, I caught the first couple of innings of the Sox/Yankees game. The Sox were losing 4-0. They were losing 6-0 when I got arrived at the softball fields. I figured that game was pretty much over for the Sox.

My brother and his family and I all arrived after my sister and my other brother (my other brother/not my brother visiting) played their first game. Their next game was four hours away. My brother checked the score of the game on his iPhone now and then. The Sox tied it 6-6 soon after I arrived. His kids got bored and wanted to go to the beach so they left. There went my Sox update...

My plan was to stay until I had to use the porta potty. The smell of the one I walked by when I arrived was horrible. I did not want to get any closer and especially did not want to go inside. One of the dads talked me into using the handicapped porta potty which was a little larger, saying it wasn't that bad (the smell actually was not as bad as the one I walked by when I arrived but the sight was disgusting!!). I will not go into that here...

The softball game finally ended about 3:30 pm and by the time they got their ribbons and I arrived back home it was almost 5 pm. I stayed away from the news, did not turn on my computer, and settled in to watch the game (recorded it when I left). It ended up being a wild game with the final score 16-11!!! Sox 2 - Yankees 0.

On Sunday, my brother and his family spent the day at the water park. I was pretty wiped out and ended up taking a short nap around noontime. I woke up just in time for the Sox/Yankees final game of the series. The highlight of this game was Jacoby Ellsbury sealing home.


This is a pretty rare event in baseball and it was the first time I have seen it in real time. Here is a link to video of his steal. Oh and the Sox also won the game!!! How *sweep* it was!! Sox 3 - Yankees zilch.

Now you have to understand, for years and years and years, the Red Sox have always lost. Maybe not every game, but enough games and usually when it counted. I have been a true blue Red Sox fan, win or lose. I was always the last person to admit that the fat lady had sung and the season was over, so it has been pretty exciting seeing them do so well the past few years and to see them sweep a series against the Yankees is a dream of all Sox fans.

After owning the cellar (being in last place) a little over a week ago, the Sox were in first place for a day and after today's losss, we are back in second place. The Red Sox had a winning streak of 11 games! Pretty amazing after their horrible start. The streak was broken today when they lost in the ninth.

Passport - New passport in the mail (4 weeks from the day I mailed my application)! I also received my old passport (in another envelope) AND I received my Federal Tax refund check all in the same day! What a great mail day!! Passport & check! Now I am all set! Italy here I come...less than 2 months away!

The tree - ever since I first bought my place, my parking space has given me grief. First, the sprinklers were turned on much to high and every night they sprayed all over my car (even on the roof of my car) leaving water spots which were impossible to clean off. After finally getting the person in charge to turn down the sprinklers, the tree started to grow out of control. Birds love this tree and crapped all over my car. In addition, every spring, these dark red berries would fall from the tree and land on my car leaving stains. I have been thinking about getting a new car but have not wanted to deal with the tree problems with a new car.

About two or three months ago, I noticed that the leaves on the tree were turning yellow and the branches were black. I finally saw the resident manager last week and pointed out the dead looking tree, pleading with him to have it cut down. He has known about the problems with the tree and said he would try his best but it was not up to him. Saturday afternoon, my neighbor told me that he heard the tree was getting chopped down on Monday.

I drove home Monday afternoon in anticipation of a big ole celebration by my parking spot. I turned the last corner and THE TREE WAS GONE!!!!!!!!! I did my dance and can now start thinking about a new car.

Life is good!!!

Continue reading "my weekend, the sox, my new passport, & the tree!" »

August 26, 2009

rest in peace Teddy

I was devastated last night when the news of Senator Ted Kennedy’s death was announced. I knew he was very ill. I knew he did not have much time left, especially after he did not attend his sister’s funeral two weeks ago. Still, it was heartbreaking to hear that he passed away late last night.

Thank you Teddy for all that you have done for this country. You have dedicated your entire life to public service to improve the lives of others. You fought for the young, the old, the sick, the poor. You fought for those with disabilities. You fought for equal rights for all.

Thank you for your fight to provide health care for all. It is my hope as it was yours that very soon every American will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

My deepest sympathies go out to your family and friends. Rest in peace Teddy. Say hello to Jack, Bobby, and John...

September 27, 2009

O foods contest for ovarian cancer awareness month

ovarian_cancer_awareness175.jpgO Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and for the second year in a row, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are hosting the O Foods Contest to raise awareness of this important health issue.

There are TWO WAYS to take part in the O Foods Contest:

ONE: Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato); include this entire text box in the post; and send your post url along with a photo (100 x 100) to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

PRIZES for recipe posts:

* 1st: Signed copy of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma, Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who is currently battling ovarian cancer, inspired this event, and will be choosing her favorite recipe for this prize;

* 2nd: Signed copy of Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home by Mario Batali (winner chosen by Sara);

* 3rd: Signed copy of Vino Italiano: The Regional Italian Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich (winner chosen by Michelle).


TWO: If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word and send your post url to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.

Awareness posts PRIZE:

* One winner chosen at random will receive a Teal Toes tote bag filled with ovarian cancer awareness goodies that you can spread around amongst your friends and family.


From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:

* Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
* The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose, but include bloating, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
* There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
* In spite of this, patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
* When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.

And remember, you can also always donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at Sara & Michelle's page through FirstGiving!

Please help spread the word about ovarian cancer.
Together we can make enough noise to kill this silent killer.


I am very late with this post but there still is time to participate in the contest if you start cooking right now.

January 3, 2010

my Christmas present to myself

I started drinking coffee when I was 5 years old. I drank coffee off and on much of my life, never really giving the taste of coffee much thought until the summer of 1999 when I drank my first Italian cappuccino in Italy. I now consider myself a coffee snob. I no longer drink American coffee and am very picky about my espresso.

I have owned two espresso machines. The first was a Capresso I bought at Macy's. It never really made a great espresso. It lasted three years.

The second was a Gaggia. Sadly, my Gaggia espresso machine bit the dust in September. With perfect conditions, I was able to make a pretty good espresso, but I could not replicate it daily, partly because I did not have a good grinder. I would stop at the store and grind small amounts of coffee every 2-4 days but that is not the same as grinding your coffee daily.

I loved making my espresso on the weekends. But it was getting more and more difficult to make my espresso and then get out the door on time during work days due to the traffic situation. Making a good espresso takes time in the morning, time that I often did not have when rushing around to get to work (I am NOT a morning person).

Last January, I made the difficult choice of giving up coffee until the traffic nightmare improved. I chose sleep over coffee and put my Gaggia machine into early retirement. My mistake was not descaling it once I stopped using it. The daily traffic problem got a little better in August when the extra lane was opened up. I dusted off my machine and attempted to get it running again. After a few weeks of trying to get it to work, I realized it was not meant to be.

I decided that if I was going to buy another espresso machine, I also wanted to invest in a good grinder. Decent grinders cost at least $200 and the espresso machines I had been looking at cost between $250 and $500, making this quite a big investment. I finally narrowed my choices down to two espresso machines and two grinders, all of which I would have to order from a mainland coffee shop. There are very limited options available for espresso machines and grinders in Hawaii.

In the end, I decided that the cost was just too much along the added hassle of having to deal with a mainland company if something went wrong. That was the main reason I did not pursue getting my Gaggia fixed. I was also concerned with the space needed for the two machines (I have a tiny kitchen with very little counter space) and the fact that making a good cup of espresso still takes time every morning. So again, I gave up the thought of drinking coffee.

Then a week before Christmas, I had the brilliant idea of checking out the Nespresso machines. George actually spurred me on when I saw one of his commercials on YouTube. Now if only George came with my machine...

The funny thing is that I briefly thought about getting a Nespresso machine a year ago after putting my Gaggia into retirement since it would be a quick way to make an espresso in the morning. At that time though I already owned a machine and thought it would be silly to buy a second machine. I also could not imagine that these machines would actually make a good espresso and questioned the freshness of the coffee in the capsules.

So, I started researching Nespresso machines. I was surprised to find so many positive reviews, both on the taste and the ease of making a cup.

Besides the question about the taste, my concern was that the machines only work with the Nespresso coffee capsules and the capsules must be bought from Nespresso. Most reviews said that it was very easy to purchase the capsules online. The regular capsules cost 55 cents each. The info online I read indicated that the shipping cost for any quantity of capsules ordered was a standard $4.95. After calling yesterday, I found out that a minimum of 5 sleeves must be ordered (50 capsules) and the cost is $6.95 $11.95 to Hawaii.

I figured out it would take a minimum of three years for the difference in cost between the capsules and loose coffee purchased to equal the extra cost of purchasing both a new espresso machine and grinder and the ease alone of making espresso every morning alone would be worth the extra cost to me.

I was also concerned about the environmental impact using the capsules. I did read that recycling options have been set up in Europe. My hope is that these options will eventually spread to the US. I am still a little concerned about this but will try to figure out a way to recycle the capsules.

I was happy to read that if there any problems with the machine, Nespresso will send a loaner machine to use while they fix your machine. I believe the cost to send the machine to Nespresso is free and the same standard shipping cost as for any other product ordered is charged to have the repaired machine shipped back.

While checking out the different machine options online, I found out that Williams-Sonoma, a store we have in Honolulu, sells the Nespresso machines. That meant that I could check out this machine in person.

On the Williams-Sonoma site, the machine I was interested in, the Nespresso Essenza C100, came as a package deal bundled with an Aeroccino Plus Automatic Milk Frother. It also came with two cups, one espresso cup and one cappuccino cup. In addition, the Nespresso company was having a special promotion which made this bundle an even a better deal. If you purchased a machine before January 17th, and it cost $299 or more, you could get a $50 credit for the Nespresso capsules. Amazon had a similar bundle offer without the cups for $269, but this meant that I would not get the $50 credit from Nespresso.

I could not commit though until I tried an espresso made from a Nespresso machine. I braved the Christmas madness three days before Christmas, heading to Ala Moana (the big shopping mall in Honolulu). I was on a mission. I went straight to the Williams-Sonoma store and asked the guy in the coffee machine section if I could try an espresso from a Nespresso machine. I was a little alarmed when he brought out a paper cup. At least it was not a styrofoam cup! I guess it is not realistic to expect Williams-Sonoma to wash coffee cups.

I had already watched a few videos on how easy it is to make an espresso using the Nespresso machine. It was even more amazing to see it done in person. Literally 30 seconds and the espresso was made. My drink of choice is a caffè macchiato (espresso with a tiny bit of milk) OR an espresso with a tiny scoop of ice cream so I asked the guy if he could also froth some milk.

WOW! It was a very good espresso. I was sold. I was ready to buy this machine right there and then. BUT… there was the question of the two cups. The guy checked and told me that the cups only came with the online deal. The Cube (another machine) did come with the cups but the cost of the bundle was just a little less than $299, meaning I would not qualify for the $50 credit, and the machine was larger, taking up more room on my limited counter space.

I decided to order the machine online instead. I would just have to wait a little bit longer. When I got home, I went back to the Williams-Sonoma site, put the machine bundle package in the cart and clicked the button "add to add to basket". When the button took me to the next page, a message in red said that the Nespresso machine and frother would not be available until February! Well that was out.

I could drive back to Williams-Sonoma to purchase the machine but I really did not want to go to Ala Moana again just before Christmas and deal with the craziness at the mall. I could order it from Amazon, but then I would not qualify for the $50 credit.

I continued to check the Williams-Sonoma site, hoping that perhaps they had restocked their supply and continued to check the price at Amazon, hoping it would either go down to $250 or go up to $299 to get the $50 credit.

At one point, I noticed on Amazon that the price went down to $233. Perfect! But wait… in fine print, it said that this product would not ship for 4 to 6 weeks. Everyone must be ordering these machines for Christmas. I still had the option to drive back to the store. Meanwhile, I continued to check both sites just in case the machine became available again.

On Christmas Eve, I could not believe my eyes. The price on Amazon dropped to $209! I hit that button and bought it! It would be my new Christmas present to myself! Heck, I waited this long, I could wait a few more weeks to start enjoying my morning espresso again.

Meanwhile, I continued to check Amazon daily hoping that just maybe the machine would be back in stock. Two days later, my wish came true. The fine print saying that the machine would not ship for 4-6 weeks was gone. Amazon had the machines back in stock and my machine was being prepared to ship!

According the package tracker, my Nespresso machine would be arriving on New Year’s Eve day. What a perfect way to start the new year, enjoying my first cup of espresso made from my new Nespresso machine on New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Eve day, I called my school office where I had my machine shipped to find out how long the office would be open. I was told that the office would be open all day long. I checked the package tracker on the Amazon site every 15 minutes waiting to see when the package was delivered.

08:34:00 AM Out for delivery

10:52:00 AM Delivery appointment scheduled

I was very excited.

At 11:15, it still did not say that the package was delivered. I decided to check the official UPS site. That was when I saw this…

Your package has experienced an exception.

ARGH! I knew for a fact that the school was not closed. I called UPS to find out what happened. It turns out the UPS guy decided on his own that the school office would be closed. Not only did he not even try to deliver the package, he did not even put the package on his truck. He left it back at the main UPS place!!

That meant I would have to wait 4 more days for my package to be delivered since Friday is a holiday.

So here I sit, waiting just a bit longer to enjoy my first caffè macchiato using my new Nespresso Essenza C100 and Nespresso Aeroccino Milk Frother.

January 4, 2010

no George... but my new toy has arrived!!

I just wanted to post a quick update to let you know that my Nespresso machine was delivered at 2pm today at school. I stalked the office all day long, walking through every 15 to 20 minutes. I finally let the secretaries know what was up. At 2pm, one of the secretaries called me and said "brown" (meaning the brown UPS truck). That was all I she needed to say and I knew that my machine was being delivered! I quickly finished up my conversation with a fellow teacher and rushed over to the office.

Two of my friends were in the office when I rushed over to the box with a huge smile on my face. I joked to them about how cool it would be if George was in the big box. I opened up the box and took out my machine to show them. They laughed as I opened up the box to find another one inside. Inside the second box was the Nespresso box. Inside that box was two boxes; a box containing the machine and a box containing the Aeroccino Milk Frother. My friends laughed saying my excitement was just like Christmas morning opening gifts.

My Nespresso machine is now sitting on my counter at home.

I have my machine prepped for initial use and ready to go tomorrow morning. The machine comes with 16 different sample capsules. Now I just need to figure out which capsule to try first. Decisions, decisions :)

February 27, 2010

tsunami warning in Hawaii

Update on the tsunami warning: Sirens rang at 6 am this morning to alert everyone about the tsunami warning after the 8.8 earthquake happened in Chile yesterday. Coastal evacuations are happening for all tsunami zone areas of Hawaii. I live not far from the beach, but fortunately far enough that I do not live in a tsunami evacuation zone. I am safe but do worry for all those living in tsunami evacuation zones. I hope everyone who does live in a tsunami evacuation zone will take this seriously and evacuate. My thoughts are also with everyone in Chile right now.

Sirens are blaring again. I guess they will be going off every hour. There are many closures on all islands. Tsunami waves are predicted to hit all coastal areas of Hawaii. Arrival time of the first waves is at 11:19 am. I am not sure if they are predicted to hit Hilo Bay first or all islands at the same time. I will update this post later on today with more news...

*More specific info on times: 11:05 a.m. Hilo, 11:20 a.m. Maui, 11:35 a.m. Oahu, 11:50 a.m. Kauai, 9-12 ft. surge estimates.

*Good link to follow tsunami info in Hawaii.

*Here's a second link (another local news station).

*Sirens just went off again (10:30 am). Very loud this time. They have been going off every hour. I guess now they will be going off every 30 minutes. We have been told not to flush. They are shutting down the waste water treatment sites. The fear if too many people flush, the waste will go onto the streets. Ewww!

*11:40 am. Nothing yet. They say they could be off by an hour with the predicted time waves could hit.

*12 noon - Definite receding of water in Hilo. Looked like a rushing river for a few minutes. Now waiting to see how big the surge will be. The second link above is showing the water in Hilo.

*1:45 pm. The tsunami warning in Hawaii has officially been canceled. We have fortunately been spared any damage. Hope the same goes for all other places with warnings waiting for waves to hit.

Thanks everyone for your concern. I am going to move my PhotoHunt post up above this post now that the warning has been canceled. Have a great Saturday!

March 15, 2011


My heart breaks for the people of Japan. The news just keeps getting worse and worse. There are many ways to help. Here are three. Just click on one of the images below and open up your heart. It's easy...




December 20, 2012


March 7, 2013


So what have I been doing this past year? Reading! I have been on a journey.

Here is the list:

~ Aleph – Paul Coelho

~ The Shack – William P Young

~ The Alchemist – Paul Coelho

~ The Zahir – Paul Coelho

~ Eleven Minutes – Paul Coelho

~ Quiet Your Mind – John Selby

~ The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

~ A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle

~ You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment – Thich Nhat

~ The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living – Dalai Lama

~ The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation – Thich Nhat Hanh

~ The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself – Michael Singer

~ Turning the Mind Into an Ally – Sakyong Mipham (the one book I started and then stopped BUT still plan on finishing)

~ A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course In Miracles” – Marianne Williamson

~ The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money, and Miracles – Marianne Williamson

and I am currently reading:

~ A Course In Miracles – Foundation for Inner Peace

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to shave ice & gelato in the life category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

italy: venice/veneto is the previous category.

photography is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.