Photos from Europe 

Copenhagen: a good choice was to see the city by boat. Beautiful weather, a little cool but perfect with a windbreaker!

Småland, Sweden: treasures found in the forest! Very lucky to have wild blueberries, lingon berries, chantrelle mushrooms and Karl Johan mushrooms available for the picking.

Stockholm, Sweden: another city you should see by boat! We took a ferry into town from Drottningholm palace, and had my friend Christina with us who could explain the different islands. Perfect, sunny weather.

Venice, Italy: such a fascinating city that has no cars or bikes! Loved walking here, where every crumbling building and canal was so picturesque.

Zurich, Switzerland: we spent an afternoon here to meet up with a friend who originally stayed with me in Honolulu as a couchsurfer a few years ago. Very fun to check out the city’s fancy shopping area.

Reichenau Island, Lake Constance: perfect place and time for a bike ride. So. Many. Flowers. Great fish sandwiches and iced coffee at a few cafes.

Shave Ice :D

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The best way to beat the heat in Hawaii, besides going for a dip in the ocean, is to enjoy shave ice. This sweet treat comes in all sizes and flavors, from a tiny child – sized cup to one that looks as if 3 adults could happily share it. You can choose to have your shave ice with vanilla ice cream in the center, with azuki (red) beans, or with a snow cap of condensed milk on top. It’s amazing.

If you don’t need an icy treat where you live, maybe you need a reminder of the hot summer to come. Or a reminder for you to ‘keep cool’ like shave ice when things get heated.

In either case, check out my shave ice earrings on Etsy. These earrings will brighten any outfit, with their blue cup and rainbow colored tops. Standard sterling silver wire and chain. ^_^

Volcano Steam and Black Sand

A (Super) Quick Guide to some of my favorites on Hawaii: the Big Island

Hilo: For accommodation, I highly recommend Pakalana Inn, which is a family run little Bnb near the farmers market. You’ll need to book a table at Paul’s if you’ll want breakfast. Bayfront Coffee, Kava and Tea hosts jam sessions.

Volcano: I’ve enjoyed the Thai restaurant in Volcano, as well as darling little Cafe Ono that’s close to the entrance road to the National Park. Cafe Ono can satisfy your tchotchke craving, if you have one. The little town of Pahoa lies south of Hilo sort of on your way to Volcano. Charming but threatened by lava flow.

Kona: Island Lava Java has a great breakfast and coffee selection. Kenichi’s Pacific sushi bar is very fresh but a little bit of a drive. UCC is a lovely coffee roasting outfit where you can roast your own beans! And try different types of coffee before you buy.

Check out my vlog of a recent trip to the Big Island:

 

Parisian Sapphires: Sparkly Memories

In the fall of 2009, I had just moved to Freiburg, Germany for a 6-month internship.  Almost immediately after moving there, my college friend from Russia (she studied abroad at my southern Minnesota college one year) let me know that she’d be in Paris for a vacation.  Despite my low-paid status as an intern, I bought a train ticket to Paris for a quick weekend trip to meet up with her.

I had one full day, two nights and two half days in the city, so basically a weekend.  I remember arriving at my hostel and going to sleep very early that evening, perhaps even before it got dark out.  I slept for 12 straight hours, I think!  I was ready for strolling around, seeing some sites and enjoying some time with Russians in Paris. We met at Notre Dame, had some delicious food, and checked out an art exhibit at the Louvre.

Autumn clouds in Paris, 2009
Autumn clouds in Paris, 2009

I also had the idea, despite my meager financial situation (my savings was padding my lifestyle while I worked at the internship), that I’d want a nice piece of jewelry as a memento of my trip to Paris.  I looked online and found a discount jewelry store in a nearby part of town, and made my way there to peruse their sparklies.  I settled on a pair of earrings with tiny blue sapphires and cubic zirconia.

Tiny sparkles, big memories
Tiny sparkles, big memories

I don’t think I’ve worn them much in the past 6 years, but recently re-discovered them in a jewelry box and have been wearing them the past few days. While they’re quite minimalist and not anything you’d notice unless you’re looking for them, when I notice their sparkle in the mirror I feel a wave of nostalgia in the best possible way.  I think of traveling independently, meeting up with friends in exotic places, the fall weather in Paris, and the allure of European travel by train.

Lunch Sketch: Short Breaks from the Grind

On lunch breaks, I usually eat at my desk or sometimes go out with coworkers to grab some food. But every once in a while, I take my sketchbook and head outside for an activity that not only makes me appreciate my surroundings and notice things I otherwise dismiss, but also gets the creative juices flowing and rejuvenates my brain in a way that few things can.

I draw, usually for about half an hour. I’ve picked places where I can draw a building along with some trees or other natural feature.  I’ve found this to be more forgiving than strictly keeping to man-made, straight buildings.

St. Stephen's church
St. Stephen’s church (a little crooked, heh)
view of the Hawaii State capitol
view of the Hawaii State capitol
view of the back of the State Art Museum

So I’m not a professional artist, but I really enjoy the process of sitting down and capturing what I see. It’s tricky to decide which tiny part of the urban landscape it’s possible to draw in 30 short minutes. It gives my brain a break from language and editing and computer screens, which it seems to really appreciate!