Underwater Mama

Underwater Mama

Black and white edits of some maternity pics that Ian shot of me at almost 32 weeks pregnant with Alava.

And some random color edits I liked as well of most of the same pics.

Amouli Beach Camping (and Journaling)

Amouli Beach Camping (and Journaling)

I haven’t gone camping on island since we came back earlier this year, so I was an immediate ‘yes’ when a friend asked if Ian and I wanted to join a small group of friends for camping at Amouli over the long weekend.

The Amouli Beach Fales is a small family-run business far out on the east side of the island, just before the Auasi Harbor, so you get a good view of Aunu’u Island. The accommodations are right by the main road, so that was actually appealing to me this time around — an easy camp site, and one I didn’t have to hike to and lug all our gear to get to. It was just what I was in the mood for… rest and relaxation.

It rained really hard for a few minutes, and once the squall had passed, we pitched our tents and hung out in the main fale, cracked coconuts, poured bevvies, and shared a modest umu spread of fai’ai pilikaki, fai’ai asiasi, ulu, and cooked marlin that was prepared for us. A couple of people brought extra food, and heated it up on the small camp stove. We moved to the beach and gathered by the bonfire, and attempted s’mores but it was short-lived as another squall rolled through. We played cards and after that I was thoroughly exhausted. I hit the sack and slept to the soothing sounds of the rolling waves, and the coconut fronds brushing against the roof of our tent.

The next morning, I woke up after the sun had already risen. Ian was fast asleep and I took advantage of the quiet time to bring out my journal and watercolors. Nothing elaborate, just the scene in front of me… tent screen, Ian’s snorkel and fins propped on the sand, and the empty beach. I played around with the scraps and stickers I brought and snapped an iPhone pic of my pared down travel journal kit.

Everyone was already awake by the time Ian and I finally emerged from our tent. For the rest of the morning, we all sipped on coffees, napped on the beach, went snorkeling… just hanging out until we got hungry again. We put an order in at Sadies by the Sea (thank you Tiara!!!) and drove back to Coconut Point where we tailgated and ate lunch together. It was high noon at this point, so it was extra warm out and our energies drained. Ian and I pulled ourselves away to begin the process of lugging all our stuff back home and unpacking for the week ahead, and then after a much needed shower, I proceeded to nap for the rest of the afternoon.

Snorkeling in Gataivai

Snorkeling in Gataivai

Living next to a beach is pretty freaking awesome. I can get in the water as often as I want, whenever I want… well, except on Sundays unfortunately, as is the current rule in my village peninsula. So on this particular Sunday, I needed some saltwater therapy after a long week and a longer week to come, and I ventured to Gataivai beach some 20 minutes away for an arvo snorkel with my Fish Man.

I love snorkeling at Gataivai. The beach is easy to access, right off the main road, it goes from shallow sand and reefs to deep vast nothingness in a matter of a few hundred yards, meaning it scares and excites me, and I just love that there’s a variety of fish and coral, and lots of it too! Only cons are really that it’s right by the Pago Harbor, where I’ve heard of and seen (photos of, only) bull sharks coming for a visit, which terrifies me out of my wits; also that there’s a sewage treatment plant literally across the road, and sometimes it’s stinky above water, and makes me feel icky sometimes when I’m in the water too, especially after a big rain.

This photo journal is neither here nor there though… this one is about the what we saw underwater. When we got in the water, we immediately came across a casual sea turtle. There were several others in the distance, but this one we came across was munching away at algae on the reef, ignoring us mostly, and showing off a little too. We hung out with this sea turtle for probably a good 20 minutes.

Just a mini highlight of some of what we saw… We saw several juvenile humphead wrasses, tons of butterflyfish, parrotfish (small), blue damselfish, pennant bannerfish, triggerfish, and even a scorpionfish! We initially thought it was a stonefish, but after a little checking, we now think it’s a scorpionfish. It was all around a lovely snorkel.

Reliving these seemingly insignificant vignettes from moments of my life at home through photos… I am reminded that there is beauty everywhere in everything… and that time spent on doing things that bring you joy is time well spent.

Sending warmth and love to wherever you are seeing this from!



Photos by Ian Moffitt and Nerelle Moffitt

Weekend Reel — Paddling in the Lagoon

Weekend Reel — Paddling in the Lagoon

It was a sunny day in mid-May. I had gotten up early and was feeling restless.

I cleared the drying rack, washed the dishes, and worked on repotting some plants and mixing soil for the balcony garden.

Ian and I chatted with his parents on FaceTime.

Then it was high tide, around 11ish in the morning.

Ian, sensing my restlessness, suggested we go for a paddle to the lagoon mangroves out back, and I immediately brightened up.

We would normally go to the beach in the front, but the trade winds were blowing extra strong which would make paddling with momentum nearly impossible. Besides, we hadn’t hung out in the mangroves in a long time.

I was getting hungry—we hadn’t eaten anything all morning—and started making an egg omelette (or a disheveled scramble, really) with onions, cheese, turkey sausage, and mushrooms. We packed the omelette in containers with a wooden spork, tobasco hot sauce, a bag of chips, a bowl of homemade hummus, a flask of juice and rum, and another flask with water. And we were ready to go.

Ian grabbed our stand up paddleboards from the rack behind the house while I lathered up in sunblock and changed into a bikini and lavalava and we got our boards in the water.

We saddled our boards next to each other to share our brunch picnic, then explored the maze-like mangroves, watching birds and laying on our backs to look up at the sky.

It felt good to get out of my routine and do something different.

When we paddled back home, I thought to myself: how lucky am I to live in such a beautiful place, have this sweet hunk of a man as my husband, and to be able to feel so free outside?! I truly am…

Here’s a reel I put together from that little morning adventure.

Photo journal compilation from off the camera roll…

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.


Rummaging through the archives

Rummaging through the archives

I’m searching through my archives this weekend for fine art photos that I can use to sell prints of in the near future (!!!). Attending an artists’ social mixer a couple of weeks ago has lit a spark for me to get back to the arts. I’m starting with photos, but I’d like to eventually get into hand crafts and graphic illustrations as well.

Anyhow, here are some photos I re-edited from my trip to Ofu early last year that I stumbled upon while rummaging through the archives.

Snaps: Aunu`u

Snaps: Aunu`u

Green and blue scenes around Aunu`u island. Snapped while on a work site visit in August 2019.

A visit to Jean P. Haydon Museum in American Samoa

A visit to Jean P. Haydon Museum in American Samoa

A little throwback photo journal from October 14, 2019, which was Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Ian and I both didn’t have work because thankfully, it’s still a federal holiday (I need all the holidays I can get!), and since there was a cruise ship in town, we decided to play tourist and finally visit our island’s only museum, the Jean P. Haydon Museum.

About the Jean P. Haydon Museum

Located in Fagatogo, across from the US Post Office, the museum was opened in 1971 and named after the wife of the governor at the time, John Morse Haydon. His wife’s name was Jean P. Haydon. It was dedicated by the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead, who had written the book “Coming of Age in Samoa” whilst living in Ta’u, Manu’a.

The building is recently renovated, which has some controversy behind it, because the old building (listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1972) was fully demolished last year for a whole new rebuild. And as a historic building, that didn’t play out too well with some people. Anyway… while the renovation has since been completed, the museum is still not officially opened to the public, according to a museum board member who we had talked to a few days later. At the time of writing, the museum is only open when there are visiting cruise ships in port, which is about once a month depending on the month. The museum has free entry, and accepts donations.  

Inside the museum, you’ll find old traditional artifacts on display that include va’a (canoes), tatau (tattoo), NASA mementos dating back to the Apollo missions, and natural resource items like coral and turtle shells. One of my favorite things to look at is a moon rock, which was gifted to the territory during the Apollo lunar missions, as well as the American Samoa flag that was taken to the moon by Apollo 11 in 1969, and gifted back to the territory by President Richard Nixon. I didn’t see either the moon rock or the moon flag when we went to visit the museum, but it makes sense that they don’t have it out just yet since it’s still a work in progress.


After the museum, Ian and I walked over to the cruise ship vendor stalls and I bought some handmade Christmas ornaments for my sister, then we went to the National Park office to finally get our NPS passport stamped after all these years, and sat at the park across the street to hang out for a bit. It was a full on tourist-y staycation day for us, but I loved every bit of it.

Palolo in American Samoa 2019

Palolo in American Samoa 2019

Palolo experience in American Samoa

Stayed up til 3am waiting for palolo at Fatumafuti over the weekend.

Everyone was camped out on the beach, or in their cars, and on the sea wall.

I couldn’t even count all the boats that were out. It was like a floating village!

Some people got lucky out on the boats but we left the shore with empty nets

still waiting for the big one…

here are some scenes from that night.


It’s interesting that there have been reports of big uprisings of palolo in Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, but we had a seemingly smaller season this month. I think Manu’a had better luck than here on Tutuila.

This is all third hand information since all I know is that where we were at Fatumafuti, and along the coast, we didn’t get any palolo.

I asked around and nobody seems to know for sure if they come from the reef flats or the reef slope in deeper areas. I’m wondering if the weather plays a role in it too. This year had the calmest weather for palolo season… usually it’s all windy and the swells are bigger. Maybe not having as much movement in the water keeps the palolo from coming to shore. Who knows, I’m just conjecturing over here 🙂

Summer’s coming

Summer’s coming

The tradewinds are calming down.

It’s bittersweet to know that summer is on its way.

I’ll miss the windy breeze blowing in from the beach to keep us cool at home. 

At the same time, I’m looking forward to flat seas and getting in the water more. 

We went out last week and the wind had just come down from 30 knots to a more manageable wind speed for swimming at the beach. Our friend’s daughter, Eve, was out playing with her friend when saw us heading out and asked to come snorkeling with us. She went without fins, and did surprisingly well swimming against the current. I’m so happy to get back in the water and see my fish friends again.

Dear summer, more days like these, please.

Weekends Living LifeProof

Weekends Living LifeProof

Next to dogs, smartphones are a modern man/woman’s best friend.

And more likely than not, you’re probably just a wee little bit addicted to your phone.

Am I right or am I right?

In my family, I’ve been known as the person who always breaks or loses their phone. Yeah, I’m that person in the group… my dad especially likes to make fun of me for losing phones (well, and a Canon DSLR camera… oh and a DJI Phantom drone) to ocean-related accidents… Okay, so maybe I deserve the banter.

I used to get the cheapy waterproof bags, or was too trusting of those “water resistant” phones, and I would still lose or break my phone because of water damage.

I can’t help it, I’m in and around the ocean a lot.

But, not anymore!

I mean, not that I won’t be in the water as often, but I mean, I won’t be known as the person who always breaks or loses their phone any longer! I got LifeProof’s waterproof case for my iPhone and it’s miraculously kept my phone safe from all elemental harm.

Here are some photos that my fiancé snapped of me and our pup Yodi in the Pala Lagoon a couple weekends ago.

Also, how sick is this backpack? Also from LifeProof. I stuck my tiny fins and snorkel gear in there, and of course tucked some agua in there to keep me hydrated.

If you’re in the market for a wateproof phone case, I highly recommend the LifeProof FRĒ case. It’s water proof, dirt proof, drop proof, and snow proof. Or their Squamish 20L day bag, great for adventures.


Just a disclaimer: All thoughts and words are my own. I’m a #LifeProofAmbassador, which means I was gifted with these items in exchange for photos, and I was not paid to write this (though that would’ve pretty cool lol).


Fun “Office” Day at Fagatele Bay

Fun “Office” Day at Fagatele Bay

A fun “office” day at Fagatele Bay with the NMSAS science team.

Together, the team collected water samples for ocean acidification monitoring, deployed an ecological acoustic recorder which will be able to listen to whale activity and ambient sounds of fish and invertebrates, and also conducted tow surveys to check on reef health…

I absoltely love when I’m able to get outside and experience my marine sanctuaries this way! It makes me even more stoked to communicate the beauty and conservation of our natural environment.