Quarantine Diaries: Keep calm and stay 6 feet away

Quarantine Diaries: Keep calm and stay 6 feet away

How to keep calm and socially distant


Make food, and make it pretty. Wash hands.

Eat and enjoy it. Wash hands.

Spend time with fur babies. Wash hands.

Get fresh air. Wash hands.

Let the sun in. Wash hands.

Go for a drive. Wash hands.

Put on a face mask. Wash hands.

Buy materials for home projects. Wash hands.

Go home. Wash hands.

Make something. Wash hands.


Coming out of quarantine, social distancing still

Coming out of quarantine, social distancing still

We are officially done with our mandatory 14-day medical home quarantine! We can finally get in our car and drive around, still remaining socially distant and fairly isolated. Ian and I have taken this whole quarantine thing seriously, but it’s a bummer to hear that others haven’t.
There are still no confirmed cases in American Samoa, and last night they officially canceled flights to/from Hawaii, essentially closing the borders. I’m actually glad they did, so at least now we can focus on our people here, not clog up our medical system, and get people tested and treated.
Ian and I finally got to leave the house to get groceries. Now that there’s a curfew on stores to close at 6pm, it was interesting to see the signs that stores had up to address new hours.
We’ve had a food shortage the past couple of months because the container ships were delayed and some panic-buying after the cyclone and now COVID. Luckily for us, the shelves were well-stocked at the grocery stores because two ships came in. People were  still buying in bulk (like this guy with his cart full of Lysol) but we got everything we needed.
Our first socially distant dinner date with our brüs and neighbors, Mark and Alice. They were so sweet to make us a scrumptious chicken curry and rice dish in Sri Lankan clay pots called walang, over their homemade stone oven on the balcony. It was so lovely catching up, drinking wine, chit chatting about the journeys ahead and our seemingly long ago travels.

I feel like this photo is quite an apt photographic description of our quarantine experience. Snorkeling, cleaning our home, planting herbs, re-using ziploc bags, and playing with our pets… that’s kind of what quarantine life has been like for us. Not included in the picture: the cooking and teleworking. 

I’m still getting up most mornings and doing my usual routine of yoga, journaling, showering, and getting ready for the day. I pulled out this white cotton pajama set that I thrifted last year. I hadn’t worn it yet but it looked so formal for a pajama set so I wore it to ‘work’ on Friday haha.

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
Life Lately: My birthday, Ian’s home, Yodi’s heart worms, and Coronavirus

Life Lately: My birthday, Ian’s home, Yodi’s heart worms, and Coronavirus

It’s been a little while since my last life lately update. Everything has unfolded just so in the last few months since 2020 rolled around, and let me just say, what the heck 2020?! I was expecting 2020, the new decade, to bring something big, but what I didn’t expect was that 2020 would bring a big crazy global event.


For now, here’s just a few updates of life lately:


My birthday is coming up! For me, birthdays are always an excellent time to reflect upon personal progress. Making a list of things to move the needle farther. It’s also a great time to take stock in my feelings and pulse check that everything is going to be okay, because it really is going to be okay. Sometimes I just gotta reinforce that in my life. I’m not necessarily a worrier, but I do worry sometimes and there’s a lot happening in the world that does make me nervous. More on that later. I don’t have any specific birthday plans yet, but I’m just glad my fiancé is back on island to spend it with me.

Ian’s back home! When the coronavirus travel advisory came out for American Samoa, I was shattered to know Ian would have to do an additional two weeks in Hawai`i to quarantine. After the advisory came out though, and unfortunately for Hawai`i, there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 on Oahu. In a scramble to get AS residents back home safely, our government issued a new travel advisory which removed the 14 day mandatory quarantine in Hawai`i, and instead returning residents were subject to 14-day home quarantine. So he arrived back home just a couple of days ago, and I’m so happy he’s here! I missed him so much while he was gone. He keeps me calm and centered, and I feel more relaxed to have him home safely.

Yodi is almost done with her heart worm meds! In case you didn’t know, Yodi wasn’t always our pup. She was born here at Coconut Point to a family that lived next door. When the family moved away and left her here, she became kind of a community dog and we all collectively cared for her. But then puppy paw-litics played out and she started getting aggressive to maintain her turf, her territory. At one point, she almost bit a visitor and it was decided that she needed a home, and that’s when Ian and I adopted Yodi. She was about 3 years old at that point. She was healthy, but we knew she had heart worms because she would have random coughing bouts. We’d been wanting to get her treated earlier but it was scary to think that her quality of life would decline during the medication period, and she could still die from it. Plus, we didn’t have a qualified vet on island anymore, so we just made sure to give her the best life we could. Thankfully, one of my favorite nonprofit groups, Coconut Mutts, was able to sponsor our friend who is a vet to come down, and we were able to get her the proper shots and medication. During this time, we have to limit Yodi’s physical exertion as much as possible, and it’s been slow going but we’re almost there. Just a few more days actually before we can start reintroducing her to high activity, and she’ll be able to go swimming with us again soon.

Now about the Coronavirus… it is crazy and I feel like it’s changing the world in so many ways. People are more aware of their health. Economies and industries are toppling. People are dying. Travel is slowing. But also, the environment is working on healing. True colors are being shown. People are slowing down. I honestly don’t know how to articulate yet how I feel about this global pandemic. I am fortunate to feel safe from it all as of now.

There’s a really great post on instagram by @thegreylayers that got me in my feels. She wrote:

“I can’t help but think about all that’s going on in the world. Maybe the world is trying to tell us to go back inward. Maybe our earth isn’t trying to slap us in the face. Perhaps it’s an awakening shake to put us in order. A correction in our own values. maybe because we’ve forgotten and just lost our way too maybe times. Maybe mother is saying, “you’ve lost your way too far from home.” We are literally being forced to stop and slow down by the force greater than all of us. Reminding us we are nothing but human at the end of the day. Let’s take this leisurely stagnance as a time of reflection. To think about what kind of world we want to live in. What kind of person you want to be. All along, our earth has been quietly telling us to take these crises as signs of opportunity. For us to stop and be better. To actually think of what matters. For us to be good again. For us to come home. And remember, not everyone is built for isolation, call your friends, your parents. Check in.”
Jeanne Grey

Grey Layers

Coronavirus and travel to American Samoa (updated)

Coronavirus and travel to American Samoa (updated)

UPDATED March 9, 2020

YAY they updated the travel advisory yesterday!!! No more mandatory 14-day quarantine in Hawai`i from the mainland as long as you get a health clearance… which means Ian is coming home on Thursday!!! So excited! But also, really hope we don’t get COVID-19 on the island eeee.

Posted on March 6, 2020

Between the measles epidemic late last year in (western) Samoa and this Coronavirus (COVID-19), American Samoa is on high alert to keep these infectious viruses out of our little island home. Thankfully, I think most people still feel a bit removed from it all because of how remote we are, but hearing the news daily talking about the rapid spread of the virus is starting to heighten safety precautions.

The American Samoa Department of Health just posted this travel advisory intended for American Samoa residents to be aware of the new restrictions on travel outside of the island. Travelers will be required to show documentation of MMR vaccination, a health clearance granted 3 days before travel, and will need to be quarantined in the ports of entry for 14 days prior to arriving into American Samoa. And this advisory includes travel to and from (western) Samoa, all affected US states, and countries. The travel advisory takes effect on Monday, March 9, 2020.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the travel restrictions. I’m glad to know that we’re looking out for our people, and the safety of our island. On the other hand–and I’m biased–I want it to not take effect until just a week later because my fiance is off-island still and will have to be “quarantined” in Hawai`i for an additional 14 days… so he’s going to miss my birthday! ugly crying I’m so bummed. Plus, this might affect our wedding in Samoa in May… we’ve decided not to react just yet but it’s only a couple of months away now, and most of our family and friends have booked their flights and hotels, so it would absolutely suck super hard if we had to postpone or even cancel because of all the travel restrictions. Trying to keep cool, calm, and collected over here, but thought I would share this on here.

On another note, I was looking through my tumblr archives and found my Le Motu Niu’s Bites that I used to post weekly!

*Niu’s Bites are weekly tidbits of news and information in American Samoa that have been condensed for easy reading. Links to sources. Compiled by Nerelle.

I read through some of them, and was honestly impressed with myself for posting these news updates about the island so consistently even though my schedule at the time was crazy busy still, like who was this over-achieving girl from 5 years ago?! Can I be her?! I feel smashed with work and side projects all the time so… to be determined on whether I’ll attempt this again. But I would really love to!

Sessions: Meagan + Hideyo waterfall maternity shoot

Sessions: Meagan + Hideyo waterfall maternity shoot

This is one of my favorite maternity sessions thus far, with our friends Meagan and Hideyo.

If you know Meagan and Hideyo, you’ll know that they are easy-going, hilarious, and all around just lovely people. They wanted to do an off-the-beaten-path session so they took me and Ian to this beautiful hidden waterfall in their village. Meagan was about 7 months preggo during this shoot and was moving around with such grace and ease through the dense tropical rainforest, one might have confused her with a (pregnant) woodland fairy!

We managed 3 outfit changes within about an hour for this shoot, and that’s impressive not because of me (Ian helped a lot too, and made skirts fly hahah) but because of how easy and cooperative Meagan and Hideyo were to work with. They just ran with whatever I asked them to do, and had a lot of fun doing it. They mostly did their own thing too, hugging and talking and goofing around with each other, which was fun for me and made the session so much more genuine. I can’t help but think that maternity photos are just a tiny bit cheesy (but in the best way possible), and I’m pretty sure Meagan and Hideyo would agree… you can tell because of how much fun we had with this shoot!

They’re keeping the gender a secret, like they don’t even know what the gender is yet, so it’s going to be a great big surprise on bebe’s birthday! I can’t wait to meet their little one soon!

Papapapaitai waterfall – Samoa photo journal

Papapapaitai waterfall – Samoa photo journal

Driving up and over Cross Island Road in Upolu (Samoa), there’s a vista that turns off the main road, and you’ll stop dead in your tracks when you see this.


Try saying this 5x really fast…






It’s the Papapapaitai waterfall.

Ian flew the drone to get some closer shots of the cascading water. He’s still practicing, he says, but he’s wayyyy better than me at piloting the drone.

At ~100meters in height, Papapapaitai is one of the tallest waterfalls in Samoa.

Papapapaitai n black and white.

As it should be, it’s free to visit the vista and get an amazing view of the dramatic cascading falls.

Saw a bunch of butterflies.

Wish I had wings so I could fly.

Here’s me looking like a herb.

A new word I just learned from The Haters, a book that I was reading on this trip; and I also realized that this is what they said on the tv show Stranger Things.

There were a ton of mosquitoes, so I’m glad I had long pants on. I was trying to journal out here because it’s such an epic spot, but found myself trying to whack mozzies the entire time instead.

We hung out and enjoyed the view for probably 20-30 minutes. I’d surprisingly never been there before, because we usually drive through the coast to go south towards Lalomanu. This was a nice new ‘discovery’ on this trip.

Till the water falls,


[ Samoa photo journal:

01 September 2019 ]

Motu Mahaea (Taha’a): French Polynesia Photo Journals

Motu Mahaea (Taha’a): French Polynesia Photo Journals

Motu Mahaea

[ Photo Journal – 01 July 2019 ] 

This idyllic motu (island) just off Taha’a. We sailed there and anchored in the shallow sandbar for the night. We avoided having to pay the day fee by taking our dinghy out and anchoring it in the sand, then snorkeling and kayaking around. The mara’amu was blowing mighty strong and the current made staying in one place difficult so we drifted back to the lee of this tiny motu. Polly saw a stingray! And then we dinghied back while Rick kayaked back to our floating home. Everyone on the island paddled back to land before dark, and a local man wandered over and mumbled some stuff we didn’t understand. We asked him if we could anchor there, and he nodded his head, mumbled some more I think, and then paddled back to Taha’a too. I remember thinking that I wanted us to move anchorage, but Captain Rick made the executive decision to stay the night. I recall getting super seasick on this night, but I also recall the food we made for dinner being epic, and how it felt eerie and serene, not having anyone anchor there. 

Life Lately: Back from travels and trying to catch up

Life Lately: Back from travels and trying to catch up

Hello hello!

It hasn’t been too long since I last blogged, but a lot has happened, that’s for sure.

One of my recent life highlights is the 3-week travel around French Polynesia with Ian and his parents. I started blogging about it, but I have a bunch more to update on! We visited 4 islands in 3 weeks, and spent 5 days sailing around Raiatea and Taha’a. It was an epic vacation-slash-engagement-moon!

I got back from that trip in early July, and was home for just a week before embarking on a different kind of adventure, sailing on the research vessel E/V Nautilus! I also just returned from that trip earlier this week. It was actually a work trip that both Ian and I got to be a part of (me, from the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, and him, from the National Park Service in American Samoa). That was a super cool thing to be a part of, and I’m so excited to share some photos and takeaways from that experience soon.

Other life updates that I don’t remember mentioning yet:

I got a new camera! Well, I actually got it a few months ago right around my work trip in April but I don’t recall mentioning it yet. It’s a Sony A7III and it’s name is “Three” (don’t ask lol). I used to be a Canon shooter, and I hesitated a lot before finally deciding to switch to Sony’s mirrorless system. My thoughts on mirrorless? I’m a huge fan. It’s so much more compact which is great for traveling, the build-quality is great and feels sturdy, and the focus and clarity is impressive. I got a silicone rubber skin for Three and it makes it feel more rugged and weatherproof which I like.

We also got a drone – the DJI Mavic Air. It was a bit of an impulse purchase because I was preparing for our sailing trip in French Polynesia, and convinced Ian we needed to get one (because when else are we going to be sailing in French Polynesia, and don’t we want to get some cool aerial photos?!). Hahah, turns out we only used it a couple times while we were in French Polynesia because the tradewinds were extra strong and we didn’t want to risk losing the drone. I’m too much of a wuss to lose another drone, and now Ian’s really the only drone pilot.

And other than that, I’m still snapping away. I’ve done a few photo shoots in the last couple of month: a portrait session with Mareike, and some lifestyle-product shoots with Pacific Elegance. I’ll try to upload them soon. But for now, I’m binge-watching Versailles, reading Siddhartha, and trying to get my motivation back on track!