Sunday, January 31, 2010

Making Sushi and Musubi

 Well, when in Montana sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands. There is absolutely NO place in this town, or within an hour to find sushi, much less good sushi. So I'm becoming quite adept at making it. We have also been missing some of the flavors of the islands, so along with sushi, we made musubi. It was fun and turned out really good. I was a little surprized. We ate it all! I also surprized a friend that used to live on the islands with some - she was pretty tickled.

Go Cougs!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Little red fire ants - a very serious pest

I read this blog "Loving the Big Island" and this post was on there today, very important that we know about little red fire ants and how to deal with them. They BAD!

Here's another link to University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources' publication

Sunday, January 24, 2010

We're scaling down

We've got a few of our properties for sale right now. I'd really like to move this one, yet sad to see it go. We love this place, we searched and searched this development for what we felt was the perfect lot - and it is! It's got some of the best views and still protected in the trees. The Stillwater area is BEAUTIFUL and we love going out there to fish, hike and swim - some of the best fishing and hunting in MT. When we bought this property we were still living in WA and planned to build a summer cabin, most of the cabins there are used only weekends and summer, but then we moved to MT full-time and purchased the cabin we now live in, which is in Red Lodge. So we no longer need this place. This development also comes with community water, power and phone, roads are maintained with easy access to the lot, open community ranchland, all it needs is a septic which was already located by the county sanitarian. We are offering easy owner terms on this.

Check out the link for the listing.

Here's a picture facing the lot, if you zoom in you can see a few of the cabins there, we are located to the left of the cute little A-frame only tucked down in the trees.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I recently read an article on the webpage and it started like this 
"On his recent trip to Hawaii, Barack Obama grabbed a couple of Spam Musubi at a snack bar on the golf course, sending journalists from all over the world rushing madly to Wikipedia to learn just what the heck he was eating."
I've been thinking about Musubi lately, probably because one of my friends was asking me about it recently. I remember first hearing about Musubi on the travel channel and was intrigued. I grew up eating spam fried with eggs and rice, always liked it. Later in life I became a fan of sushi. The thought of spam and sushi together sounded interesting to me, not disgusting as it can seem to others, some people I know... Hawaii is a place of blending of flavors from many cultures, spam and nori is a good example. After seeing the bit about it on the travel channel we started to look for musubi on our trips to the islands. It can be found everywhere, at most of the grocery markets, farmer's market's, even quickie stores like 7-elevens. We found and we liked. During our last trip to the islands we found musubi at the Hilo Farmer's Market and it was some serious yumminess. The vendor there had several varieties, we chose the old spam standby and also a terriaki chicken musubi (but it wasn't as good as the spam one).
Anyway, I'm on a mission to make some musubi here at home in MT. (To hell with Tom's diet and Nikki's pseudo vegetarianism!) I've looked up a few recipes I've listed below. It's a no-brainer for sure, but I was looking for tips and technique as well. I had read some where about a musubi mold, yet in looking online and talking with folks I see many just either use the empty spam can or make a free form hand roll. I will give this a go and then post some feedback and pics. Looking forward to it.

Recipe #1 from All Recipes

2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
2 cups water
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/2 cup white sugar
1 (12 ounce) container fully cooked luncheon meat (e.g. Spam)
5 sheets sushi nori (dry seaweed)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.Soak uncooked rice for 4 hours; drain and rinse.
2.In a saucepan bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in rice vinegar, and set aside to cool.
3.In a separate bowl, stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. Slice luncheon meat lengthwise into 10 slices, or to desired thickness, and marinate in sauce for 5 minutes.
4.In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Cook slices for 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Cut nori sheets in half and lay on a flat work surface. Place a rice press in the center of the sheet, and press rice tightly inside. Top with a slice of luncheon meat, and remove press. Wrap nori around rice mold, sealing edges with a small amount of water. (Rice may also be formed by hand in the shape of the meat slices, 1 inch thick.) Musubi may be served warm or chilled.

Recipe #2 Found online
Submitted by: Baron Fujimoto

[This was written in response to a thread in alt.culture.hawaii years ago when folks were asking about how to make spam musubi and I was thinking, "chee, not exactly rocket science..."]
cook rice (da sticky kine),
make 'em into one spam shaped block about 1"-2" high,
t'row one slice fried spam on top, and wrap da buggah wit' nori.
Da only hints I can 'tink of is,
try wet yo' hands and put little bit salt on top when you stay making da musubi shape wit' da hot rice,
and toas' da nori little bit first.
Hints from uddah peepo':
Use da spam can and use fo mold for da rice.
Den da slice of spam goin' fit perfect on top.
If you can fin' furikake out dea, mix it in da rice firs

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Insurance for Lava Zones

Here's a link from PunaWeb I want to save regarding insurance in Lava Zone 1 & 2. One of the members found some pretty good saving with Mutual Underwriters.

Also a comment from the agent

I helped puna residents collectively save about $150,000 in premium over the past 5 months.

I am offering a homeowners policy that does not surcharge for lava zone 2. Rates are comparable to zone 3 and higher with great hurricane rates as well. The main restriction for placing coverage with this insurer is that a fire station must be within 5 miles of the home and the home must be owner occupied. A volunteer station like the one in Hawaiian Beaches is acceptable. Spending time expanding volunteer stations to Kapoho/Kalapana would be very worthwhile.

For zone 2 rentals and homes farther than 5 miles from a fire station we have rates that are much better than HPIA. There is rarely a reason to stay with HPIA if you are in zone 2. Unfortunatlry Zone 1 is still stuck with HPIA with higher value homes going to LLoyds of London. Give me a call or send me an email for quotes.

Dan De Soto
Mutual Underwriters
Insurance Agent
Tel: 808-961-3207
Fax: 808-969-1120
275 Ponahawai St., Ste#105
Hilo, HI 96720

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Facebook Page!

Finally got our lavender business' Facebook page up. I invite you to visit.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Moving day!

I just started a blogsite for my lavender business, The Lavender Bundle I invite everyone to visit. I moved all of my website info from to the blogsite. I was really tired of trying to navigate the website tonight funky stuff and the blogsites are easier to use. Now, for my next amazing feat, I intend to set up a facebook page for my lavender business. We shall see how it goes.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back from Washington

Good to be home, traveling is tiring, even if it wasn't very far. While in WA I visited a few of my favorite places and took some pics. I had to force myself to spend more time doing chores at the farm than touring around visiting and seeing the sites. But I did squeeze in a day or two.

I spent a rainy, breezy afternoon in Port Townsend and visited some of my favs: the Food Co-op for some great apples and my favorite lemon zinger cookie from Candice's Cookies, our favorite little bakery for some of their yummy foccacia, Aldriches Grocery for some delicous hot soup. I drove down to Fort Worden to sit by the water to eat my feast. And on the way there noticed that some of the "Painted Ladies" are for sale, hmmm time for someone else to love them I guess. I also noticed pink flowering plum blossoms popping out.

I also squeezed in a visit to my friend Trudy's Eaglemount Winery and Cidery and scored a bottle of her absolutely delicious Peary Cider - my favorite! So good!

Anyway, as said, it's nice to be back home, but it's hard to return to cold weather and frozen ground. It felt so good to bend over and pull weeds while working in the garden at the farm and see the new growth sprouting already. A patch of sprouting iris in my gardens.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

This old house...

Why do I love it so? Our old farmstead home was built in 1896, wow, it's withstood a lot of life. Time for some TLC.

You can only ignore the elephant standing in the room for so long... Time to do some work on the old house. We knew we had issues with a rotted sill plate, just for starters. The last time I was at the farm one of the windows was showing some distress underneath. I found a guy that knows what he's doing with an old house like this - finally, and now to start slowly fix... slowly... as money allows... which means... really slowly. I've attached some pics of the rotting sill plate, but also, when we opened up under the window we discovered there was nothing left to support it! Yikes! So we will rebuild that too. The plan is to start at the back which has the most rot, then work our way around, also replacing the front porch which has a few holes (might only need decking we'll see as we tear in). This summer, we will address the old windows, probably take down and rebuild. Then we will finally paint the rest of the house as I've painted some parts, until I ran into the rot issues.

Oh fun!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reflections from my recent airplane ride...

So, I'm sitting at a bar in the airport in Seattle after my recent flight from MT having a mediocre crab Louie and a glass of wine. (BTW any mediocre crab Louie in Seattle is 100 times better than one in MT) I had a little problem with my rental car, so long story short, stuck in Seattle for the night.

One of the best places to people watch is the Seattle airport. I'm at the bar just after you leave security on the way to baggage, So, people are more relaxed and not as crowded. So many languages spoken here at the airport - cool. And, like the last airport I was in, they are carding absolutely everyone, it's quite comical to see these folks obviously who've not been carded in like 40 years have to dig out their ID!

Just a few during and after flight thoughts... first of all an open disclaimer, I HATE TO FLY, freaks me out damnit, but I'm gettin better. So we take off, the pilot tells us it will be a couple of bumps getting out of the Billings area, then should be a smooth ride. OMG, a couple of bumps, I get into my meditation mode I do on flights, and no big deal, but I'm still ready for them.... should they happen.... then the drink cart... then a couple glasses of wine and next thing I know we're cruising along, I'm totally into it, banking to the right and then to the left, you can see Mount Rainier on the left (poking up out of the barren cloudscape - beautiful) and then dive into the clouds only to resurface through to the green-gray of Seattle, and a relatively smooth landing - was totally into it, a good landing... so no complaints, not like the last two flights. So, have determined, I need to drink at least two "pre-flight" shots and I should be good. :-)

Wait, hate to interrupt the thought process, but it's mine so what the hell, note to self, just heard someone talking about riding the train to Seatac, the lightrail, free parking at light rail, and then flying, gotta check into this... **UPDATE** I found the light rail the next morning. This is a new offering in Seattle, it runs from SeaTac Airport all the way to Westlake. It was clean, efficient, is located up above most of the road so no waiting, then goes down through tunnels under Seattle. Several locations to choose from in Seattle, one right at the stadium, International District, Pioneer Square and University street (by Pike's Place Market). The cost was $2.50. Def doing this one again instead of all the other options, and also very easy to find.

Sitting here is totally different for me, I usually am the type of person that when I go places, plans, details, get there on time, arrive close to time, stick to a relative plan... this is diff.... I'm wasting time, I don't want to go to the hotel room, and then what, watch television (well maybe since we no longer have a tv and it's now rather like a new experience) but, just not ready to go there yet...

While flying, I always watch out the window, and darn it I didn't have my camera of course, but it was almost as interesting as driving along the highway with all of the cloud formations. As we flew over the top of those clouds, what are they called? - can't remember the name of them, they are like ribbons all lined up in a long line and spaces in between, it was cool to see it from the top of them instead of from the ground up. Then when approaching Seattle it looked like a barren snow covered (actually clouds) similar to what MT looked like when we departed, for miles, and then a huge mountain, volcano poked up - Mount Rainier! It was a beautiful site, I took pics for a passenger sitting on the other side who couldn't see the awesome view. Then as we descended, it was bright crimson off to the west, reminded me of the time we took off from Cabo San Lucus in the evening and there were fires burning and the sunset was crimson to deep red, the most intense I've ever seen, it lasted for almost an hour in the sky... well this one wasn't as good or intense, but still cool. Seeing things from the plane is always so different.

Mmmmmm, everyone drinking coffee around me in Seattle... must drink coffee.... but don't want to though because it's so late in the afternoon..... oh, I will consume in the morning... Seattle you just wait!

Other thoughts from the plane.... I was thinking on the way over how much I dreaded this trip, more maintenance on the farm, more elk damage, cold, cold, cold, and more stress and money associated with it. Then... as I start my approach into Seattle and see all of the mountains and water, I think, oh my gosh, I'm home, how beautiful;, I so miss it here. And a ferry ride on the water always reaffirms that I'm home as well. I have sisters and brothers here, but when I visit, I never see, I'm too busy or whatever, there's always an excuss... so during my flight I made a reslove, this trip will be about reconnecting with family. I will seek out my brother Jim and sister Lani this visit - whether they like it or not! (And I did!)

Anyway.... thems my two cents for this post...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Colors and cabin design

For years I've cut out pictures from magazines and stuffed them into folders marked "farm" or "cabin" or "Hawaii dreams" or "future ideas". I've return to these occasionally to review, and as my likes and styles changed I'd cull some pics. Funny though, many of my likes and styles haven't changed as I've got some of these picture ideas from a long time ago and someday may use them in my designs. Today, it's much easier to find stuff on the internet an do a copy/paste to keep track. I do try to also post where I've found the pics to give credit, but sometimes I forget.

I've gone from collecting vintage 40s green items and fire king jadite green dishes for the farm in WA. to deciding that I wanted to do cabin or lodge style interior and accents and have been collecting red and black, and some green, for our cabin in MT. Now moving on to collecting tropical colors, I'm partial to (yes you guessed it) green again, only this time a lighter more tropical green and a light mango color.

I found these pics initially from a post on facebook, then went to their link looks like a beautiful place. Anyway, I love their little "Avocado Tree House" the colors and some of the ideas. So I snagged a few pics for future reference.

I'm not a big fan of the taller addition to the little cabin with the porch, they refer to that as their meditation area, it's beautiful as shown on their website. I like the look of the little cabin with the deck and could see doing something similar only a little bigger. They also had some pics of their outdoor bathroom area. We would do our bathroom inside, however, as said many times, we're doing an outdoor shower.

And finally, an idea we really like, a covered outdoor bbq area!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Resources for purchasing tropicals when we're ready

I've gotten some of these referrals over and over by now from several peeps, so they must be the "go to" sources.

Plant It Hawaii concentrates on fruit trees. Their website is packed full of pictures and growing instructions. open by appointment only and also has a reportedly awesome semi-annual plant sale.

Big Island Association of Nurserymen, reportedly they have a semi-annual plant sale that is a must go to as well.

Hawaii Fruit Lovers Nursery for rare fruits, nuts, palms, etc.

This place looked interesting, specializing in azaleas and rhodies

I saw this place on our last trip to the island and on the way to Volcano and thought that I'd like to stop sometime. Akatsuka Orchid Gardens and have also been told several times about Rozettes in HPP and about Paradise Plants down by Walmart.

I also want to support my local neighbors if they are trying to make a living or earn extra from their efforts. Here's one: just down the road from Sea View in Kapoho area.

My favorite way of finding plants are gifts from friends and neighbors, found at yard and garage sales, or found at farmer's markets. This way one can usually get lots of planting details and tips.

And when all else fails and you're trying to find inexpensive prices Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot often have good stuff.

I did read something, somewhere, regarding suggestions on making sure your newly acquired plants didn't come with unwanted pests, including coqui frogs, fire ants, slugs and I don't know what else - but I'm sure there's more. One suggestion was to rinse the plants thoroughly, or even put it in the shower and shower them up to a certain temperature. I'll have to research that more though, as I could see scalding tender tropicals or killing the plant. It's my understanding that its very easy to transfer fire ants as they can be in the dirt pots the plants come in, once they establish themselves on your land, it's quite an ongoing battle. The same with the frogs, them sneaky lil' buggers!

I love the idea of recycling used pallets as a building material

So much free wood - so little time. Seriously, many companies just discard pallets. I gotta get me a list together (OMG yes another list) of companies in the surrounding area that are willing to get rid of these - for free. I'll post more when I do.

But in the mean time, here's more inspiration:

This page has a TON of pics and ideas for building structures using pallets. I love the posts about making a chicken house out of pallets and stuff from freecyle.

Building a fence out of pallets: (not a big fan of the end result looks of this, but I could see using them for screening in certain areas)

Or what about art projects with pallets? I'm sure I could sell artsy garden related signs painted on pallet wood at my shop. (note to self - try to convince artist friend Willow to paint some for me) this link has some funky art using pallets.

Heck if we were really into it, and Thomas would NOT cut off his fingers, we could build some really attractive furniture out of pallets, such as found on this site

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Other links from PunaWeb I don't want to lose.

I hate to just keep adding links from PunaWeb, but there's just so much darn good info I want to save.

In this particular thread someone asks about planting for privacy screening, many good suggestions followed.
I'm thinking that if we land on a small lot, which is likely, we will be considering privacy screening immediately. I like the look of a mix of attractive fencing along with tropical landscape. I'm sure we will fence around our outdoor shower, just to save the poor neighbors the horror, with wooden fencing, or possibly wooden posts and framework then bamboo screening along with some clumping bamboo plants. KathyH on the above thread had some great suggestions for bamboo that is quick growing and not invassive (never knew there was such a variety but there's several). I also like the suggestions of planting bushes like Ti, which has a lovely red variety, that tend to grow easily and fairly quickly yet they get leggy, so planting something lower growing to fill in the under-story is a great idea.

I also posted an older thread on PW regarding what to plant for part-time enjoyment. My meaning was that Thomas and I will only by on the island for a number of years part-time, likely during the months of October and April to begin with, and then maybe adding January, then transitioning into being there from October or January through the early part of May. At least that's the plan right now. ANYWAY, we both really want to plant tropical fruits and trees, yet we don't want a bunch of fruit falling to waste when we are not there to keep up on the mess. The responses on this thread offer some great suggestions.

This next thread also had some great information on choosing avocado varieties for year round production and type. We had two wonderful avos sent to us by a friend, OMG we soooo enjoyed them. I took them up and down the block to show them off, then we took pics of it with Ruby just to show how big they were. This got us pretty darn excited about gardening in HI.

Oh heck with it, I'm gonna post a few more links to PW threads all in this one blog post as this is all great stuff I plan to return to. Easier to have it in one place than searching PW for it again. So here's more!

This one is about starting plants from cuttings and also discusses starting Plumeria trees from cuttings

This one is about Hapu'u ferns which I just love (not sure why I like them though as I really don't like some of the ferns that grow at my farm in WA, except the maiden hair ferns)

This one was on purchasing a greenhouse and ended up discussing "screen houses" and how to put one together instead of purchasing a costly greenhouse. This proved interesting because a lot of folks in East Hawaii are not using greenhouses and screenhouses to elevate heat, but more for environmental control such as to lessen the impact of hard driving rains, to keep bugs and snails out and to control temps, and other ideas.

This one has a few suggestions for books to purchase for growing tropical fruits in HI. I posted this on PW because I really wanted to buy a few books to have to research during our time in MT and to make plans for planting in HI.

This post had some good info on the effect of VOG on plants, what folks were noticing as far as the types of plants affected and what tends to happen on the East side of the island verses the west side - interesting.

Well guess that's all for now

Monday, January 4, 2010

Growing tea

The more I think about growing, processing and enjoying tea, the more my entreprenuerial brain starts to buzz... for those of you that know me... well, you know the drill.

I think even though there is a large learning curve, growing and processing tea, is probably easier to deal with than growing and processing coffee. I'm sure it's less investment capital. Also, tea does ok at all elevation in East Hawaii, but does really well in the wet higher cooler elevations... hmmm.... that's kinda what we're lookin at.

Interesting article on growing tea in Hawaii published in West Hawaii Today.

Totally weird, I had NO idea Tea was a type or variety of Camellia plant, Camellia sinensis, an evergreen bush. Similar to all those huge Camellia bushes/trees I have at the farm in WA. Tea bush however does not like cold weather and tends to be found in the tropics and much warmer locations. The new leaves are harvested and dried for the enjoyable beverage, it can also be used as an edible in stir-frys and steamed veggies. Once the plant is established, little is needed except pruning for new growth and to control shape and occasional feeding.

Well, ask and you shall receive!! I posted on PunaWeb about growing and processing tea, Dr. Weatherford responded with info leading me to this link A full guide to small scale tea growing and processing in Hawaii. COOL!

Also a link the a PW thread about growing tea

Tea farms dot the Big Island, small operations, some bigger. Until we can play with growing our own, we will search for our small tea farmer to support. I do have to say however, I'm not a big fan of any farm that charges $25 for a tour... makes purchasing their tea and getting to know your farmer too commercial and too expensive. Some of the Big Island tea companies are content staying small boutique tea operations, much like a very small winery, offering tastings, tours and teas - I like that. Here's some links

Lastly, here's the link to the Hawaii Tea Society, great info and resource. Think we are gonna join.

WAIT! Here's one more! a document titled "Tea Notes" maintained by Ben Disco of Ahualoa Tea Farm, packed full of info and resources and links... I'm thinkin I wish I would have found this before researching and typing all of the above! But it was good education.

Growing coffee

Good thread discussion RE growing coffee and finding equipment on the BI. I'll post more on this soon as we're very interested in trying to grow a little of our own - would be cool. maybe a place to purchase small scale processing equip.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Shipping stuff.... to Hawaii... wow - lots of money

Ok.. posting this, but not done with this post, will return to edit with more info.....

Great info from our friends Mike and Liz:
Honolulu Freight will also ship your car loaded with stuff; they did ours from Seattle. The driver's seat area must be free but the rest can be packed to the gills, and the whole thing gets loaded into their container (by them). You just drive it to their yard. On this end it was waiting for us at Kona Trans in Hilo.

They have all the info on their website.

aloha, Liz
"The best things in life aren't things."

Link to further discussion with other companies providing frieght services.,containers

We've decided to explore Honolulu Frieght, I'll report back, because we want to load our pickup truck (which has a lockable canopy) to the gills and ship that, whatever fits goes, whatever does not fit stays. We would then purchase whatever else we needed on the island.

OK, just got off the phone with Seattle Honolulu Frieght, YES we can ship our truck fully loaded to the gills with our stuff... but at a price! $2500. Whoa - ouch. We'd have to really pack tight and make it worth that much much money. Our friends shipped their car over for just under $1200, but couldn't have anything in it and it wasn't put into an enclosed container. Things to think about.

Yep, just checked Matson shipping from Seattle (Pasha doesn't ship out of Seattle port) and for vehicle the size of our truck going to be $1072 and possibly some odd fees. But, everything that is not bolted down to the truck, inside and out has to be removed.

Growing Bananas

I'm wanting to document all I'm learning about tropical fruit/plant growing. We are enamored with the small Brazilian Banana or Apple Banana one can find in abundance on the island. Bananas have been discussed quite a bit on the PunaWeb blog and I want to save these threads as there is a lot of good info in them. A great thread on growing bananas and  different varieties.

A thread regarding variegated bananas. We saw these bananas cut up on a plate with the beautiful variegated skin still on and we were quite impressed and curious about them. After reading more about them however, we probably won't pursue growing this variety as we are not going to be there enough to pamper it.,bananas

A fellow punawebber named Allen Goodson  sent me some great photos from his banana farm he had back in the 90s. He's provided great info on variety and how to grow.