Sunday brunch by the water

Sunday brunch by the water

Sunday brunching at the treehouse hammock.

Ian made probably the best avo tomato toast I’ve ever had.

He jumped in the water and swam a couple of laps.

Yodi girl followed him for a bit. I took some videos but they were too large of a video file to upload here.

Felt so good this morning.

Dad turns 60!

Dad turns 60!

My dad turned 60!! On Sunday, our church family surprised him with lunch, cake, random singing, and lots of fun and hilarious games. It was really nice to see him being celebrated by such a loving community. They even projected a really sweet video compilation from many other church members who had moved to other countries, wishing my dad a happy birthday and recounting their memories together. On Monday, Ian and I brought more cake and food over for dinner and enjoyed quality time with my dad and mom at their home. We had a great time talking stories about all the crazy things they did while growing up in the Philippines! I’m so glad I finally get to spend more time with them… I am feeling exceptionally blessed that our family can still find our health and safety intact, and that we are surrounded by love and warmth.

He’s nacho average dad. He’s got all the qualicheese that make him the best dad in the world, and taco bout 60 – he just gets cheddar with age! I’m so blessed with such a grate dad! Love you, and happy birthday🎂

BTS shell painting

BTS shell painting

Behind the scenes ‘before’ photos of a very large painting in progress earlier this afternoon. Ian sat down to help me with the blue background to make the shell really pop. We finished the painting tonight, so I’ll post the completed ‘after’ photos tomorrow!

Love these pics because it really looks like Ian did the whole painting, haha! He took a couple photos of me painting too but I was in my underwear and it’s on his phone lololol

Settling, social media, and snaps

Settling, social media, and snaps

Yay, my mail came in! Just got my bamboo lap desk that I ordered from Amazon, and I am loving it. Now I can comfortably use my laptop in bed, even while lying down. Still waiting on my memory foam pillow chair which will soon upgrade (downgrade?) my WFH setup to be the comfiest it’s been all quarantine.

I’m currently lying in bed airdropping my favorite snaps from this week on my iPhone. I took a bunch of photos on Three, but the raw files are still in my Lightroom waiting to get edited.

For now, an unrelated serious but not too serious soliloquy…


Am I “settling” because I don’t—at this present moment—feel super career driven or like I want to throw all my efforts into something?

I ponder this to myself whenever I see friends and strangers posting their squares of accomplishments on instagram. Good for them, I think, as I double tap and continue my scrolling habits, not thinking much else about it until later when the comparison game plays on in my mind, and I wonder if I’m not living up to whatever goals I allow society to place on me?

On the one hand, my own instagram grid is full of curated images that show only the best sides of my life–salty, sunny, and happy, I guess.

Not I guess like I’m lying about being happy, but I guess because I too am putting out what I believe others want to see from me. Come to think of it, a friend or stranger scrolling on their phones might also think these same “grass is greener on the other side” thoughts when they come across my photo…

Thank goodness that I have a decently healthy relationship with social media. I’ve seen how it affects some people who only see surface level obsessed with trends, filters, photoshopped faces, and unhealthy body image, and it’s so unfortunate.

On the other hand, I could be doing more. Surely, there’s always something bigger, brighter, better out there that I could aspire to do. It’s human nature to never be fully satisfied, no? And yet, life at home for me, amidst this global pandemic, is everything I want and need right now. I don’t feel like I need to do anything more, but simply be.

I don’t remember if I wrote this in a previous blog post but I recently came across this quote by the Dalai Lama that said:

“We are human beings, not human doings. Stop doing, and just be.”

That perfectly sums up my conclusion to the earlier thoughts on settling. I’m not “settling” because I do have other dreams and goals for the future, even though I’m not actively working on it right now. I’m reading Swell by Captain Liz Clark and feeling fueled by wanderlust to buy a boat (unlikely as it is), and I still have dreams to make it big one day with a creative pursuit even though I have no idea what and how…

On that note, I’m certainly content with my now. I must reiterate that I love my life, and I am sincerely happy with where I’m at at this stage of my life. There’s more to explore out there, and I’m thrilled for what’s to come as I rest and relish in this moment of waiting. As for what’s next, I’m just keeping my fingers crossed, and praying to God for a propitious journey.


Hope you’re safe, warm, and well friends and strangers of the interwebs!

Oh and here are some photos from a few days ago when I actually left home, feeling safe in the fact that we still have no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID, and joined Gabby for her work day location scouting with Land Grant for photos for their project proposal.

The day was so hot and humid that even the weather service was reporting higher than usual temps. Our first location was at an agro-forestry farmland somewhere in the A`asu mountain. I left my phone in the car, so photos from my camera to come later.

Thankfully, the next location was Nu`uuli waterfall.

My skin drank in the delicious light mist all around us from sparkling streams as we made the short hike to the first pool.

Gabby and Deej discussed photo concepts and tested angles, while I sat on the large boulder asking Tony, a forestry employee at the Land Grant, to identify all the trees around us. He knew them all by common and scientific names, and I was impressed and wanted him to write it all down in a guide book so I could recall their names later on.

I wished we could have stayed longer but Deej and Tony had a meeting they were late for, and since we carpooled, they were our ride back. We snapped some photos and started the jaunt back.

How we prepare for a tropical cyclone in American Samoa

How we prepare for a tropical cyclone in American Samoa

Talofa friends!

It’s cyclone season in American Samoa, and this weekend has been one for storm preparations at home.

My fiance is still a little traumatized from Cyclone Gita, where we learned that our windows are not weatherproof, and that any storm system coming from the north west will hit our house directly making us more vulnerable to storm impacts.

(And in case you didn’t know, Cyclone Gita was only a category 1 tropical cyclone when it hit American Samoa, but there was so much infrastructural damage to many homes… even for us! Our roof almost came off, water leaked in so we had a couple of holes in our ceiling, and our windows and front door were like a waterfall of rain gushing into our house creating an inch of water all over. And then of course, after the cyclone, we didn’t have power or running water for a few weeks… yeah it was pretty bad for us.)

So, since there are a couple of monsoonal troughs hovering over us with a slight chance of turning into a proper cyclone coming from the north west, we got ready.

How we’re preparing our home for a tropical cyclone:

  • Boarded up the north west facing front windows, and our kitchen window
  • Duct taped around the front door and side windows
  • Collected 3 very big buckets of water for doing dishes/ flushing toilet/ taking a shower
  • Filled up an additional 5 gallons extra drinking water
  • Topped up the fuel on our truck (in case of possible fuel shortage, as has happened in the past)
  • Bought canned food/ groceries that could last us a few days (we are also experiencing a food shortage on the island because the freighter hasn’t been back for over a month)
  • Charged our cellphones, power packs, laptops, e-readers, and other electronics we may need if power went out
  • Got battery operated fans, lots of batteries, candles, a hand crank flashlight/radio, and roofing tape (in case of leaks)
  • Checked functionality of camping stove
  • Moved all our plants from the balcony indoors
  • Took showers before the storm was expected to hit, in case the water went out
  • Got a couple bags of ice for coolers, in case power went out and our fridge got warm
  • Did all our laundry in advance
  • Moved the stand up paddle boards, kayak, motorcycle, and floaties to miscellaneous indoor locations
  • Got the pets’ beds, food, and poop situations sorted
  • Prepared a bail bag for worst case scenarios


And with that – we’re ready! Here are just a very few photos of what our house looks like right now.

  • Weather update: the storm never advanced to a tropical cyclone, whew! We’re still in the middle of some heavy winds and rain, but thankfully the forecast shows it will probably subside by tomorrow.


Roaring 20s Birthday Party in the Treehouse

Roaring 20s Birthday Party in the Treehouse

Roaring 20’s: Island Style

Celebrating Ian’s last year as a 20-something

Ian just turned 29, and in honor of his last year as a 20-something, we had a “Roaring 20’s” theme party, island style, in the treehouse! We couldn’t really do too much of a gatsby-esque theme since we were all pretty much wearing swimsuits, but we gave it minimal effort for maximum enjoyment. Big shout out to my amazing friends for helping me plan and set up for the party, and to all of our friends who showed up and helped us celebrate our special guy.

The sun shone for the first time in a really long time just for his birthday! And between champagne towers, festoon lights, puppies galore, shared finger foods, homemade chocolate cake, flare candles, SUP surf sessions, good music, and GREAT friends–it was a truly memorable night.

Happy birthday Ian! We love you!

My home on the reef

My home on the reef

My home on the reef.

I had come home from work and the tide was high and the sun was low in the horizon.

It was one of those days where the weather is just right, and the water is inviting you in. 


Coconut Point sunset


*sighs* marine debris *smh*

dip dive

staghorn coral village

underwater home




wish upon a starfish

it was a blur

do you see it?

moray eeeeeeel

ready for his closeup

always love these views

a diverse environment

4 easy tips for a sustainable home

4 easy tips for a sustainable home

1. Add greenery.

Literally make your home more green by adding your favorite plants. You can start an herb garden so you always have fresh herbs for mealtimes. Succulents are super cute and easy to care for if you’re the type to always forget to water plants. And there are a number of houseplants that thrive in low-light areas. My favorite right now is the golden pothos vine that drapes beautifully around my window frames.

2. Ditch harsh cleaning chemicals.

I used to have a spray bottle for every area of my home like the kitchen, bathroom, and the living room. They all claimed to do different things, but all I really needed it to do was clean. Now, I literally have one spray bottle that does the job without being too harsh, and is safe for pets and kids. The secret concoction? Water, vinegar, and dish soap. Yup, it really gets the job done and cuts grease like NBD. If you’re not keen on DIY though, try Meyer’s multipurpose cleaning spray made with plant-derived ingredients and doesn’t contain parabens and phthalates.

3. Make reusable cloth napkins.

Seriously, go grab an old lavalava right now, and cut down into small squares, or whatever size/shape you want. And voila. This is the easiest DIY project of all time, saves you money on sad-looking single-use napkins that end up in the trash, and makes you look and feel classy whenever friends come over and they’re like “how cute are these!” And you’re just like, “yeah I made them”… yeah, you did that!

4. Clean, declutter, and minimize your stuff.

We all have a weird attachment to STUFF, which makes it easy to amass junk along the way. I’m not saying you need to fully go KonMari on your house if that’s a little too intense for you. But go through your stuff, make a pile of stuff you don’t care about, and donate it or figure out a way to reuse it for a different purpose. Try your best to not buy anything else that might take its place.

(in love with the natural light in our home)

Post-snorkel stoke at Fagatele Bay with Claire and Lee Ellen

Tiny waves and long weekends

Tiny waves and long weekends

I have been craaaaving days like these – bright skies and clear waters.

On Friday we SUP’ed out to the break. Small glassy waves called for Ian. He caught clean little lines and kept asking if he could go back out; I laughed and told him to go. I jumped in the water to cool off.

I’m always so much more appreciative of my landscape when I’m out on the water looking back and seeing it big picture. Like it’s crazy to think my life and my little home has anything to do with what I’m seeing out here, but it’s all interconnected. I don’t know how to explain it. Deep water and tall mountains tend to make me feel this way.



Life Lately: January at Home

Life Lately: January at Home

January has come and gone. The government shutdown has come and gone. Money has come and gone. But here we are – taking life day by day and making the most of our time at home by working on projects here and there to keep us busy, spending quality time with our furbabies and each other, watching every sunset, cozying up for movie nights, and toasting still to the good life. So lucky to have this type of love. It feels so beautiful.

Remote work.

Lagoon stills.

Coming home from Ofu to this sweet face.

Mysterious mountain.

Wind socks.

After cold showers.

The smell of basil.

Aloe to cool burns.

Sashimi fillet meals.

Bird watching in the backyard.

Soft sunset glow.

Another sunset.

Can’t get enough.

Scraps for compost and spritzers for sunsets.

La vie en rose.

Restoring a SUP.