A Sunny Home Tour

A Sunny Home Tour

The morning sun is up in the sky, streaming through the windows at home.

I am always inspired by the way the light hits—sunbeams dancing with the shadows of tall coconut trees.

I felt compelled to pick up my camera on this particular morning and take photos in and around my home, to capture my feelings and freeze these seemingly mundane but sentimental vignettes of light and space.

Welcome to my home!

Please take off your shoes, and enjoy this little home tour.

The view outside my door looking up at the mountains. Can’t find a more appropriate way to describe this other than that it’s majestic.

Morning light streaming in through the kitchen windows. When it’s super clean (not in this pic), I always feel extra happy to make my homemade iced matcha turmeric lattes.

From the hallway to the studio/home office. I am so grateful for this space. I’ve always dreamt of having a studio dedicated to my crafts and creative pursuits. I especially love working on this workbench table that my husband and I made several years ago.

The large paogo (pandanus) tree outside my kitchen. It’s in the neighbors yard actually, but it’s so tall that I feel I really get the most benefit of its lush crowning glory.

The coconut tree outside the back door balcony that I always spot bats and birds in. It’s like having the music of nature living right here.

Ian’s surf rack in the studio/office that is also home to our snorkeling gear. It makes a great backdrop for my work video conferences. And this map I always reference for little known spots around the island.

A recent addition is this wooden stool I picked up at a neighbor’s going away sale. It houses my wifi routers on the bottom, Echo dot (on top behind the terra cotta planter), and it’s a great little propagation spot.

A realistic, not-so-tidy spot on my workbench in the studio/office. I love this limited art print by Ohkii Studio because she painted it out of inspiration of American Samoa in the 1940s, and the fact that the two brown women in the va’a (outrigger canoe) are wearing red tropical print dresses very similar to one that I made for myself (DIY Upcycled Tahiti-Inspired 2 Piece Outfit) some time ago. It felt very “me”!

Samoan fish motif art by Warren King. Photo of me and my hubba hubba on the day that he proposed to me at the top of Mt. Alava. Betwixt the new curtain panels to shade us from the heat of the afternoon sun.

One of my favorite views is the view outside my living room overlooking the Pala Lagoon and the Nu’uuli mountains. This view is my daily source of gratitude and honestly I feel like a house plant thriving whenever I look out these windows.

Same view, I just opened the window to take this photo of the lagoon and mountains. It truly brings me so much joy.

A diy beaded tassel that I made earlier in the summer hanging here on the screen door that leads to our porch balcony.

We left the screen of the sliding door open so that Yodi and Officer Scruffles can go in and out of the balcony and take long afternoon naps.

This bookshelf where we keep some of our favorite books, books to read, random shells, and our small collection of classic games like chess, cards, dice, dominoes, and bananagrams.

Officer Scruffles lounging outside by the front door balcony. He likes to roll around on the cement and lay in the sun.

Outside the back door balcony, looking towards the beach in the front of our apartment. I go out the back door pretty much every day to check the tide, or see if our friends are in the treehouse to hang out.

Downstairs below the back balcony where we share a compost with our neighbors. It’s great for us too because we can just open our back door and chuck our food scraps into the pile, and on weekends the guys will turn the soil. Also, the main source for my rich garden soil.

Shadows cast onto the tin roof of the house downstairs of our front door balcony, with a net I don’t think anyone realizes is lost except us.

Me, blurry, because I need to clean the dust off this mirror we placed in our entry so we can check ourselves before we head out, and pick up reusable tote bags, our keys, or a mask if we need one from the hanging rack.

The pantry shelf above the mirror. We have a small space, but we try to make each space as functional and beautiful as we can. This houses most of our snacks, canned foods, extra milk, and jars.

And a portrait of sweet Yodi girl, who was born and raised here at Coconut Point for as long as I’ve lived here.

Yodi spends many afternoons on either this side of our gated balcony, or on the porch balcony because she and our neighbor’s dog do not get along, so we have them outside on a rotational schedule.

She actually recently got into a pretty nasty fight with the other dog, and she’s almost fully recovered from her big scars. She went swimming with us the other night too.

Well I hope you enjoyed this little home tour—my personal slice of paradise!

Hope you’re staying well, healthy, and getting sunshine wherever you can.

xo, Nerelle

Mood Board

Mood Board

I’m starting a new category on my website, filed under “Mood Board”, where I will be sharing things from around the Internet that inspire and motivate me, like quotes, graphic art, and words of wisdom to share.

And of course, credit to where credit is due… I linked to where I found them on Pinterest.

The theme for this mood board is affirmations and wellness (and my favorite color is green).

These are just some vibes that I am channeling this week, plus gratitude for my health and wealth.

Hope you’re all well, safe, and enjoying the sunshine whenever you can!

xo, Nerelle

LONG HAIR DON’T CARE: Getting My Hair done

LONG HAIR DON’T CARE: Getting My Hair done

In my last life lately update, I totally forgot to mention another lil update I wanted to log for future me to look back on…

I got my hair done for the first time since like Christmas of 2019! It’s grown very long… from my shoulders, now down to my waist. I still haven’t cut it, though I’ve gone back and forth with myself on whether I should chop it all off and go short again, but I was really digging the balayage look and had a leftover gift card for a local spa/salon (Le Fofo Salon and Spa) from my lovely coworkers that was set to expire. I called the salon and set up a booking, and I was good to go!

I was only slightly worried about my hair not turning out because I knew I could just cut my hair if I absolutely hated it. The guy who did my hair was super sweet — his name is Allen — and we got along well even though we had a bit of a language barrier. I showed him photos from my phone of what I was envisioning, and he pulled out a book full of colored hair samples with color codes, and asked me to help him pick the color.

These were the photos I had as examples for what I wanted my hair to look like. The first photo was more of the color I was thinking, since my hair is naturally black and I felt the warm light tones better complemented my skin complexion. The second photo was the lightest I was willing to go. I also showed these two pictures because he didn’t know what balayage was, just ombre… so I tried my best to explain using the photos.

The look of cheerful trepidation whilst in the wash basin, and the look of doubt as my hair was getting curled. I was very uncertain about the whole thing, but hey it’s something new.

I sat in the chair reading (hot tip* always go to the salon prepared with a book!) for a couple of hours, and Gabby also came by to see how it was turning out. She got there right on time after the dye was washed out and he was drying and curling my hair. I think the last time I bothered to curl my hair was like back in 2014, after I returned home from college and was “readjusting” to island life and standards of hair routines. My hair is very fine but I have lots of it, so curling my hair is always a short lived endeavor.

Anyway, I’m blabbing…

The point of the story is that I got my hair done, and I actually really liked it!

The Final Look

What I Asked For Vs. What I Got

After getting my hair didddd, I was really feeling myself. My hair was cayuuuute! I took some selfies on my iPhone and then grabbed my camera and tripod, set it on self timer and draped myself in my coral print lavalava. I didn’t much like my closet curtains as the background so played around with it on Photoshop, adding a photo I took here at Coconut Point a few months ago. Haven’t done something artsy fartsy like this in a real long time!

The funny thing is, looking back at this a few months later… I’m looking at myself, and I think I looked the same; my hair is just a little lighter and a little wavier. And yes, maybe a little nicer too because I honestly hadn’t really brushed my hair in a long time I’m sure before getting my hair done.

But I felt like a brand new person. When my hubbe got home, I showed off my hair and excitedly asked him to go out on a date with me. Of course, he said yes. How could he deny this hottie with the long luscious locks? We got a table at Manuia Restaurant, where the lovely lady who takes our order calls us her regulars and she always treats us so well when we go for date nights. Ian grabbed my phone and snapped a bunch of photos of me, and we sipped on our gin and tonics (the lady always makes it strong for us haha), and we were in such good spirits.

So about getting my hair done? It was a great experience, all in all. 10 out of 10, would do it again!

Life Lately: A Roundup Reel + Get In My Headspace

Life Lately: A Roundup Reel + Get In My Headspace

Hi hello how are ya —

I shared this round up reel on instagram which pretty much highlights my entire month of July in half second snippets… and shared in the caption how I’d been feeling.

And with that… here are a few updates of my life lately that I thought would be worth posting on here to look back on… please don’t mind my rambling… I feel like I haven’t written for myself in a long time so I just want to write without thinking too much.

My hard drive went kaput

My primary external hard drive stopped working suddenly last month, and I’m devastated because it contains the last three years of my life in photos, videos, and other random computerized parts of my life. It’s been a few weeks since, and I’m hoping that my new hard drive comes in so the Pago Tech guy can clone all the contents of my drive into this new one, but he’s indicated he’s not sure if it’ll work because the partition that my files are on are encrypted and who knows if it’ll clone over properly or come out as jumbled nonsense. Pray for me ya’ll!

Work was nonstop last month

I am finally getting used to not working anytime I’m in front of my computer, because I was constantly uploading, editing, emailing, and researching for work, for all odd hours of the day so much so that my eyes were starting to go cross eyed. So I’ve been avoiding my screens and resetting my computer habits. On the plus side, it wasn’t actually too bad because I enjoyed the type of work — filming a video for our annual Get Into Your Sanctuary summer program. You can find the completed video here if you want to watch it!

A few home projects

The hubba and I upcycled our sun-beaten leaf dining table and DIY’d a tile mosaic with epoxy resin to seal it up. It looks pretty cool, if I do say so myself! We’ve also just added curtains to our south/west facing living room windows because the sun comes in directly for a few hours in the late afternoon and it makes our house so hot and has affected our furniture (clearly, I mean if you’d seen our sun-beaten dining table, you’d know). I have always been a bit anti-curtains for some reason, but after way too many an uncomfortable sun-drenched late arvo in the house, I caved and we bought white curtain panels and wood rod dowels, and I sewed up some canvas to make loops to hold the rod dowels. I can’t tell if I like it or hate it, but I certainly don’t love the curtains, it’s really just there for function. The nice thing is we can always stow it away too.

My island fever is acting up

I feel like I always complain about this on here, but the last few weeks have been like salt on the wound, because we missed my husband’s family reunion that was postponed to this year from last year, and I’m also missing one of my besties’ weddings in a couple of weeks, and I’m one of her bridesmaids so I just feel crap for not being there to help and to celebrate with her. Of course, I also miss my brother and sister, and her little family. I don’t get to video chat with them enough as it is but every time I do, they seem to grow an inch or suddenly know division and have the most hilarious chats.

Online shop update

I have temporarily shut down my sticker shop on my website so that I can work on a photo prints shop. It’s been one of the biggest goals on my list for this year, so I am going to do my best to make it a reality! I’ve been wanting to sell prints of my photos for absolute years now, and I’ve gotten a few requests from people too, which has been super encouraging. I don’t know exactly how just yet, but I’ll figure it out, and I would love any advice or tips if you have any ideas to share with me!

Back to blogging

I really want to get back to my blog, because especially after losing the contents of my hard drive, which is essentially my life’s work, from the last few years, I want to still hold on to the highlights and little bits of memories that mean the most to me. I still am a pretty private person (for a person who overshares on the Internet), so those parts I tend to keep vague but they’re still there. I am learning to just have fun with it, and even if I misspell something, or make grammatical mistakes — I’ve made plentyyyy — that’s okay. This is truly my safe space on the Internet, a place to call my own.

If you’ve read all the way through to here… wow thank you for joining me in my headspace. I hope you have a beautiful day or evening, wherever you are!

xo, Nerelle



Hey girl, heyyy!

You look good… REAL good.

You are beautiful exactly as you are, and you will continue to grow in beautiful, miraculous ways.

Your body is a temple… Unique in shape, size, and features.

You are LIVING in this body. This body is LIVING for you.

Take a moment to appreciate your body, and what it does for you.

Your patterned brown skin lets you feel the warmth of the sun, the chill of the first dip in the ocean.

Your dark brown eyes let you see the vibrant colors of your world and the faces of the people you hold dear.

Your long dark hair adds flair and personality, growing and changing like you do.

Your cute lil button nose helps you recall the sweet memories associated with the fragrances of your past.

Your hands are special because they create and mold things into art.

Your beautiful body contains a big brain and a loving heart so you should know and love your body, and carry it with CONFIDENCE.

Baking is bananas

Baking is bananas

Banana coffee cake with streusel topping

I’ve been low-key craving banana coffee crumb cake after trying a slice of a keto version that my office manager baked some time ago. I would’ve loved to make a keto cake but couldn’t figure out good carb-free ingredient substitutes with all these stores running out of supplies. Not that we’re out of supplies or anything… In fact, we’ve been able to get all our necessary groceries consistently since starting quarantine. It’s just always a bit more difficult to find no/low-carb options. Thank goodness for the roadside makeki stands too, for having fresh niu and misiluki bananas for 2 bucks a bunch. 

Regardless of the fact that this is my first time baking (or one of the first times, I don’t recall a previous first time), I severely underestimated the time it would take to make this dang cake. I followed this recipe I found on Pinterest, and two hours later—I truly don’t understand why it took me so long when the recipe said it was only 10 mins prep—I popped it in the oven and waited for the magic to happen. Ian braved the uncertainty of my baking abilities with the first taste test… 

And the verdict is in…

It’s edible! Not just edible, it was also quite (dare I say) delicious! To prove Ian’s non-bias, I took half the loaf next door and had my best friend Jabs sample a slice… and she said it was equally moist, firm, walnutty, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and overall better than average! My favorite part is the streusel topping.

As you can see, I’m in no short supply of unbiased taste testers, hahaha.

I’m honestly very pleased with myself, and shooketh, because it makes me wonder, who the heck do I think I am!? Martha Stewart over here, sans the crochet jail poncho.

Made two batches—one last night, and one this morning—because I bought a small 6×6” baking pan, and the recipe called for a 9×6” pan. Both were equally yum, even though one was thinner than the other.

And there you have it folks, she (meaning me) can indeed bake!

Hope you’re all safe and well.


Quarantine Diaries: Golden hour reflections

Quarantine Diaries: Golden hour reflections

Today is the first time I’ve felt really just crappy since I started home quarantine. It’s also day 14, my last official day in isolation.

I’m not sure why I feel so ‘bleh’ so suddenly… I did yoga, ate a good breakfast, got productive with some work, and cleaned my room trying to snap myself out of this funk. As I reflect on my time in quarantine, I’ve been really happy about the time apart. Time to myself, and time spent with my fiancé since he just got back from a long trip. I’m staying hydrated, sticking to a routine, finished a book, watched a few shows, journaled, edited photos, deep cleaned the house, worked out, gone swimming and paddling, and posted on my blog a lot. These are all things I love and could spend hundreds of hours doing for the rest of this pandemic.

Still, maybe it’s because my mind has been busy about getting things done, and making the most of this extra time. I guess I just haven’t slowed down too much since starting quarantine two weeks ago. Plus, checking the news daily for updates about COVID and its impacts all around the world might be stressing me out.

I think I just need to clear my headspace. Do nothing, be still. Even just for a little bit. It’s going to be ok… just wash your hands and rest your mind Nerelle.

Hope you are all staying safe and healthy, and getting fresh air and sunshine when you can. xoxo

Self portraits at golden hour
Self portraits at golden hour

Celebrating my birthday in quarantine, social distancing outdoor movie night with friends

Celebrating my birthday in quarantine, social distancing outdoor movie night with friends

March 18, 2020

I just want to start by saying that every new day is worth the effort. Despite the craziness happening around the world, it has always been important to me to make every moment count, whether it’s in celebrating a milestone, resetting, or finding healing.

That being said… yesterday was my 28th birthday! …also my 6th day in quarantine… BUT we made the best of it!

Being in quarantine made celebrating my birthday a bit tricky because I hadn’t left my village in almost a week, and hadn’t even gotten in my car to get groceries or see friends/family. Luckily, I have a great community of neighbors and friends around me, and we got together for a pandemic-social-distancing-quarantine themed outdoor movie night. We watched Contagion, which was intentionally ironic because that is essentially real life events right now. We stomached it without too much cringe though.

Initially, I had zero plans for my birthday. I’d been spending most of my quarantine evenings either blogging (so much time to blog these days, I love it!) or watching movies on our rad new projector that Ian’s parents gifted us for Christmas. I thought it would suck to not do anything at all, and asked Ian if we could do an outdoor movie night. He discussed with our friend and neighbor Traci, and we were a go! Ian sent out a message to a few neighbors that we share our yard with so it would still be considered a “stay at home party”. Plus we all practiced social distancing and situated ourselves at least 6 feet apart.

The view, and our cute simple set up: white fabric and string lights taped to a shipping container

Traci and Ano’s cozy couch set up, with Officer up on top

Made some bomb fish lumpia, which Ian was mmMmm-ing so hard lol

Ian was even disinfecting the camp chairs with Lysol hahaha

Photos of me and Ian taken by Traci

Can we all have your immunity, Matt Damon?!

The friends/neighbors all keeping their distance from us hahah

Thank goodness WHO let the dogs out… Yodi snuggled so hard with us during the movie

From earlier that day

 I was in the middle of a conference call for my annual employee performance review–which I’m pretty sure I nailed–when Ian came in with this lovely brunch spread for me! I waved him away while I finished up my call, then Ian came back and snapped this cute flick and told me to open up my sweet gift… also pandemic themed, organic patchouli soap! I’m definitely the type of person that truly appreciates handmade natural bar soaps, so I love that Ian gets me.

Also during my conference call, my supervisor wished me happy birthday and asked for my favorite order from Ruby Red Cafe. Apparently my coworkers were planning to get food from there to deliver to me! I love that my team always celebrates birthdays, regardless of how busy we are,  or if we’re not at the office, or even  during a dang pandemic haha. That was so so so sweet. Sefa and Bel stopped by a little later, and Sefa cracked open his door covering his nose and mouth with his shirt all cautious, and I busted out laughing. We are in quarantine and so it was good that he did, but if you know Sefa, he’s simply hilarious. He put the food down (and brought my yoga mat from the office) and backed away slowly back to his truck. I thanked them, laughing and waving goodbye. They got food for both me and Ian, satisfying our power bowl craving from Ruby Red! ahhh
After clocking out from work, Ian and I head to the beach for a little fresh air. Ian went SUP surfing while I hung out in the hammocks under the pier with a bevvy for a bit. Then I swam around, and Ian was showing me his swimming techniques because I told him I wanted to get better at swimming. 


I’m truly so grateful for this man coming into my life, loving me the way he does, accepting me for who I am, and wanting to grow old with me too. 

Happy birthday to meeeee!


Backyard bonfire

Backyard bonfire

October 13, 2019.

Bonfire, ava, and food.

Hangin’ with our community of neighbors and our pups last Sunday in the backyard.

Good vibes all around.

We Painted the Fridge Blue

We Painted the Fridge Blue

The only upside to waking up at 5:30am for work on a Saturday is that I got to watch this sunrise.

American Samoa sunrise

Went to the golf course to set up branding for a couple of hours at the Hope House Golf Tournament. Hope House is the only full care hospice in American Samoa, and the event is huge amongst businesses who attend to support and fundraise for the nonprofit.

Ili'ili Golf Course

Didn’t make any plans in particular but after a quick stop at Ace Hardware to grab some supplies, my day turned into a home improvement type of day.

Ian put his woodworking skills to use and cut up some plywood shelves, and a couple of frames for a project I’ve been wanting to do since I was a kid – paper recycling. My mom and dad donated their old blender and I’m putting together some screens to try it out next weekend!

Officer Scruffles dozing off on the palm plant while we worked on our balcony garden.

Fingers crossed the tomato, basil and lettuce seeds actually sprout!

Alsoooooo we decided to paint our fridge!!! The rust stains on the fridge were already there from when we moved in, and it never really bothered us too much but we figured a fresh coat of paint would do it some good. It was a pretty involved process – Ian sanded all the rust spots and applied corrosion deterrent, and then we painted it over twice and waited for it to dry.

Painting a fridge is actually pretty tough!

Some of the paint also peeled off because we put the magnets back on too early – bummer.



All these unplanned home improvement projects took up the entire afternoon – and by the end of it, I was pooped. We had to avoid opening and closing the fridge to stare at our lack of food. So we went out for the evening to grab groceries and Chinese takeout (which I DEVOURED) then bunkered down for the night.

Meet Aidan King

Meet Aidan King

We all wonder and wander in our own little way. Everybody’s got a story to tell.

If you want to have a chat, I’d love to MEET you!

Meet Aidan King

UH Mānoa college student, intern, big brother, and football fanatic.

Aidan shares his some of his favorites here at home in American Samoa, his passions, his goals, and his definition of the word ‘stretch’.

Tell me about yourself – where you’re from, age, where you live, what you’re doing?

I’m Aidan King, and I’m from here, American Samoa. I just recently moved to the Mānoa Valley in Oahu and I go to school at the University of Hawai`i Mānoa, and I’m studying to be a Communications/ Mass Communications major with an emphasis in multimedia arts. I’m 20, about to turn 21 next month though! Really excited for that.

I came back home this summer to spend some time with my family, and take a break from the semester, and I’m currently finishing up my internship at Bluesky! I interned for the marketing department, and It was beyond a great experience for me, but other than being an intern, I’m a full time student.

Current hobbies? How do you like to fill your time?

Hmm hobbies? I guess it really depends on my mood, but for the most part, I paint and do art. I really like to paint and create things. I use a variety of mediums including acrylic paint, oil pastels, and I’m now getting into watercolor, which is really cool. It’s a bit tricky for me because I’m not good at details when it comes to painting faces or stuff like that, I kind of just throw a bunch of colors together to try to create a picture.

I also really enjoy spending time with my little brother. He’s really entertaining, and it’s never a dull moment with him. Whatever he is interested in, I try to relate to and it all turns into a really great time.

I also really like swimming. Haven’t had many chances to go swimming at the beach this summer, but in Hawai`i I’d go to the beach a lot.

Oh, I also like playing and listening to music. I don’t have a set genre of music I listen to, but I’m very open minded to music.

What inspires you?

When it comes to art, I get my inspiration from things that are off the wall. Things that aren’t mainstream. I like things that may seem odd to most eyes, but I try to look deeper into it, as I try to understand what the art is really about. I enjoy, and pull inspiration from street art, or unconventional art that you see on Instagram, or Pinterest. Even with music, I like to stray away from mainstream music, and I like to find my own. But when it all comes down to it, it really is just anything that I find interesting.

Inspiration pertaining to life, or anything else I get from my little brother, believe it or not! He is only 11, but I tell you, this kid puts life into a whole different perspective, and I use him as a way to look at life differently as well.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about a lot of things, actually. One of them (which is pretty cliché) is football. I really do know football; I can read and call plays before they happen, I know formations, and strengths and weaknesses of teams. Aside from football, I am passionate about creativity. I like being creative, even if I don’t put it down on paper or anything, I like seeing creativity in any form.

What’s on your bucket list?

Oh! I definitely know that going to Japan is at the top of my bucket list. And I don’t mean just Tokyo, I mean I want to experience all of Japan, like Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama, Nagasaki, etc. I’m part Japanese, and I would love to see that side, and experience the culture. I want to travel around the world, and try different foods from everywhere, even the weird types. I want to be out at sea, to be able to be on a boat, even if it is a cruise.

Describe yourself in 3 words

Hmmm… Adventurous, Hungry, and Lost.

Adventurous in a sense that I want to explore more; to get out of my comfort zone, and try new things. Hungry, not actually hungry hungry, like for food, but hungry for knowledge in every aspect.

Also actually hungry, I want to try new and different types of food from around the world. Last but not least, lost. I admit that I am lost, not physically, but lost in a way which I don’t know exactly where I am with my life, and don’t really know where I want to go, ultimately, but I totally accept that.

I’ve said it before in past interviews and conversations that it is okay to feel lost. It is the best way to find out where you are and where you are going.

Any personal projects you have planned for the rest of 2017?

Hmmm, not any exact, big project, more like smaller projects that I eventually want to piece together at the end of the year and say “This was my 2017”. Whether it be a collection of pictures that I’ve taken, a souvenir from a place I’ve been, artwork that I have done, etc.

Favorite spot to hang out in American Samoa?

Oh Canco Hill. My friends Mana, Nikki, and Tasi live up there, all the way at the top, and they have this killer view, and it doesn’t matter what time of the day, or what the weather is like, the view remains just as thrilling as it was the first time. I also love being near the water. I love hanging out in my cousins, Nick and Chris’ backyard in Vaitogi, which are the cliffs. Being able to see the edge of the island meet the vast ocean is something really special. Also I love hanging out at my family’s beach in Poloa, although I don’t go there as much as I’d like to, it’s still an amazing place.

Favorite place to eat in American Samoa?

I have to be biased on this one, I love eating at home! My dad’s cooking? Nothing beats it in my book. It doesn’t matter, he could be making ramen noodles, and I’ll think it is the absolute greatest out there. My grandpa is always trying new things with food, and can also stick to the basics, and still make it great. My grandma is Filipino, so you already know that her Filipino food is A1!

Goals for the next 5 years? Ten years?

Definitely graduate from UH with my bachelors degree in Communications, and I would like to work in Hawai`i for a bit, gain some off island work experience. Then I eventually would like to continue on to graduate school in the mainland. I would absolute love to go to graduate school at Stanford University, and live there for a while, but we’ll see where life takes me.

What advice would you give your 10 year old self?

There are a lot of things that I would tell my 10 year old self, but if there was one thing I would share it would be “Stretch”. Stretch before and after you practice/work out, when you wake up, before you go to bed – you’ll feel better. Stretch your hand out to those in need; it means a lot more than you think. Be the reason why someone’s day was made better. And stretch beyond said limits. You are greater than you hinder yourself to be. Stretch your mind to learn as much as you can, the mind is a beautiful thing. Use it to the fullest and then some. Stretch to be a better person than you were yesterday, today, and stretch to be a better tomorrow, than you were today.

“Stretch your mind to learn as much as you can, the mind is a beautiful thing. Use it to the fullest and then some. Stretch to be a better person than you were yesterday, today, and stretch to be a better tomorrow, than you were today.”

Follow Aidan King on Instagram and Twitter @AidanKing32

Photo Diary: Aunu’u Getaway

Photo Diary: Aunu’u Getaway

Aunu’u is a quiet little island just 15 minutes away by ‘alia (Samoan water taxi). I have visited many times before and for being barely 0.6 square miles, I thought I’d just about explored everything…
But this time is different, it is rediscovery with context.
It’s Saturday morning and I’m just going to bed at 6:00am after an all-nighter hanging out with Gabby. Probably a bad idea, but we had so much fun painting and watching videos that we didn’t even feel tired until we saw the sun rising outside. I fell asleep unsure if I would be able to wake up early enough for the day’s adventures. By 9:30AM, I’m wide awake, sipping coffee on my way to the car, and singing along unashamedly to the top 40’s on the radio to get my endorphins going.

Let’s go to Aunu’u

We had some visitors in town, Julia and Dana, so my good friend Mareike got in contact with Aunu’u resident Peter Taliva’a. He just started up a tour company called Sam’s Aunu’u Island Getaway, and we thought it would be a good way to show our friends some of the best parts of our home and culture.

Upon arrival into Aunu’u, we are immediately greeted by a dozen little kids swimming in the crystal clear waters of the harbor. We walk over to Peter’s light blue house and admire the amazing view of the ocean towards Tutuila. The sun has made its debut after a couple of weeks of rain, and we can clearly see Mt. Matafao, the tallest peak of Tutuila.

Peter welcomes us to his slice of paradise, and gives each of us sun hats–woven just minutes before we arrived–“from the coconut tree right here,” he points to a line of coconut trees on the property. And on cue, one of Peter’s guys climbs the lau niu faster than you can say lavalava five times. He uses a machete to cut clean a few fronds.

The taufusi demonstration begins and we all join in to prepare an umu (Samoan earth oven) with guidance from Peter and his cohort of tan boys–Daryl, Mike, Adam and Panapa. We take turns husking coconuts, scraping taro and breadfruit, and assembling leaves for palusami. We also learn how to weave our own sun hats from palm fronds, a skill I’ve always wanted to learn and am now so frond of… terrible joke.

After everything gets put on the fire, we take a short walk to see one of the 12 natural water wells. Along with rain catchments, these water wells are the only source of natural drinking water on the island.

Next, Peter leads the way through fields of taro plantations grown atop wetlands. This is taufusi, this is special Aunu’u taro; the best in all of American Samoa they say. Most taro plantations are surrounded by coral rocks but Peter’s taro plantation is a little different. It is surrounded by tall vetiver grass, strategically placed to prevent erosion. His trick to getting the rich and tasty taro flavor Aunu’u is known for: composting. He places dry coconut leaves and the shavings of the vetiver grass to keep the wetland soils rich.

From here, our friends start their hike to explore the tide pools, quick sands, and the birthplace of the fabled legend of Sina and Tinilau. I barely slept a wink the night before so instead opted to relax by the water and snorkel around the mouth of the wharf. The water is so calm, I feel I can swim back to Tutuila, but I get the shivers seeing the ocean floor drop off into the unknown somewhere far away. My mask is fogging up and Ian holds my hand and we swim back to the wharf.

We stroll back to Peter’s and munch on warm breadfruit while he regales us in stories of life in Aunu’u and having grown up in Leloaloa.

As soon as our friends return from their hike, we are ready to feast. Peter and his cohort have prepared woven plates and we get in line buffet style and drool over the basic umu spread of breadfruit, taufusi, palusami, faiai i’a cooked in coconut shell, roast chicken, and an extra large fresh ice cold niu. As is customary before we eat, we say prayer and exchange words of thanks to Peter and his team, then dig in ravenously, and quietly with mouths too stuffed with satisfaction to say much else.

Peter is a fellow environmentalist, and true to form, he ensures us that all our food waste will go to feed the stray dogs and our leaf plates will be used as compost for his taro plantation.

I eat until I’m full. I am welled up with gratitude to be here–under a tree on a tiny island looking at my own home island, and sharing a table with a great group of friends. This is my home, American Samoa made me who I am today and there’s nothing that I love more than to rediscover myself through these islands.

We thank our hosts profusely for spending the entire day with us, and jump on the Blue Angel `alia boat back home to Tutuila.

Got home and headed straight for the beach to hang out with more friends and watch the skies change colors.