Sep 282013
 

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Yes, we actually made chocolate from tree to table! Once our cacao fruit was ripe, the process to turn it into chocolate involved a few steps. First, the easy part was cutting the fruit open to taste the pulp and separate the seeds. Next, fermenting a small batch was a little more tricky. We wrapped the cacao seeds in banana leaves and stuffed it into a small mason jar, stirring daily for about one week. According to our research, somehow banana leaves supposedly help fermentation.

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Although we were unsure if the fermentation actually worked, we moved on to the final stage of roasting anyway. One hour in the oven at 275 degrees did the trick. This was the exciting part because the house started smelling like nutty chocolate. Above are the first cacao fruits that we experimented with, and the three images below show the whole roasted cacao seed, the inedible outer shell that we removed and the finished cacao nibs. Can’t wait to perfect the process with our next batch!

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Mar 102013
 

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With spring just around the corner, we’ve been enjoying the colorful display of plants in our yard! It looks like many of our trees are happy and healthy and we can’t wait for all the summertime fruit!

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Jul 082011
 

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Weighing in just shy of 100 lbs, this is the first bunch of ripening bananas from our yard. Currently, we have six other banana trees that are also flowering. We’ll definitely have our hands full if they all become ripe at the same time, but luckily our friends in the neighborhood are happy to help us out. For us this is a whole new level of gardening with amazing results!

May 102011
 

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Kapaa’s Farmer’s Market has provided us with more than just our fresh produce. Our weekly fruit binge has resulted in thousands of papaya seeds blending into our compost bin and gradually spreading around the yard disguised as fertilizer. The little stalks sprout in grass-like clumps and nine months later a few superior papaya trees emerge loaded with fruit. This year’s late spring rain is keeping the grass green, the flowers fragrant and the papayas nicely plumped. Best of all, mango season is just around the corner!

Jul 292010
 

We managed to cram in one last project before the end of our summer break. Our garden path is now complete after about two weeks of labor and seven tons of gravel. Check out the video to see how it all started. Thanks to our friends Lauren and Frank for lending a helping hand and a handy truck bed, and of course to our trusty neighbor Rob for his constant advise, support and wheelbarrow loads. Below is a before and after shot of our front yard… If only I knew what we were getting ourselves into!

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Nov 202009
 

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It’s so nice having free time on the weekends to hang-out and enjoy the yard. Watching our plants grow is always rewarding, but somehow the weeds always seem to grow faster. Every couple weeks we get out the shovels and shears to continue our ongoing attack and at the end of the day our efforts are barely noticeable. Now that we’re getting more rain, everything is taking off and looking fuller and more colorful. Our laua’e ferns, aloe and other natives are especially happy.

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Jun 152009
 

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Yes, that is Julia swinging in our latest addition to the deck and yes, that is my new hot weather hairdo below. It’s getting increasingly more difficult to get any work done in the summer sun when it’s cool and breezy under our shady overhang. Today’s plan was to spend most of the day working on painting the rest of the house but instead we took a nap in the hammock. Fortunately, we woke up just in time to light up the BBQ. The perfect summer day always ends with a good marinade grilled to perfection.

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Jun 102009
 

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This bad boy comes with a 190cc motor and monster tires that will handle the thickest jungle brush. Mahalo nui loa to big Momma S for our half-birthday house warming present! It’s amazing how much better it works than weed whacking the entire lawn… turns a sweaty 4 hour job into a 30 minute walk in the park.

Apr 252009
 

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Today we both started out our day before dawn – Julia with her Praxis examinations for the HI teacher’s license, and me with an early morning photo shoot. I think I had the better deal by far. After a morning of hard work we kept up our momentum by working on more projects at home… yard work, deck sanding, screen door mounting, tree maintenance, and our newest addition to the “scrap furniture” collection. I worked out most of the kinks with the picnic bench so our new coffee table is even more bullet proof and made purely from the leftover railing pickets. It’s amazing what you can do with a nail gun and a little imagination.

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Apr 052009
 

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What a project this has been! Between all the saws, nail gun and glue gun, we’re lucky to still have our fingers and toes with nothing stuck together. Aside from the near-fatal roofing tar fiasco we had yesterday, we’re managing to get through all of the finishing touches. The last board was placed today so our next steps are sanding, priming and painting (it never ends). Now it’s time for a little Sunday fun-day before we have to go back to work on Monday. Until then, here’s the view from where we’ll probably be sitting all day long…

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Apr 012009
 

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My Dad is headed back home to Oxnard tonight and we’re definitely going to miss him! I don’t think any of us expected to work so hard the past two weeks. We still have a little “touch-up” work left (finish the pickets and build the stairs) but we got so much accomplished with Big Kimo’s help. We are so grateful for all of his guidance and support.

P.S. – The cats have also been productive during their spring break…

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Mar 272009
 

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We’ve been going non-stop since our spring break started and the light at the end of the tunnel is barely visible. Not only is this deck going to be even and level, but it’s hurricane proof! Dad’s been to all the hardware stores about five times each and he’s planning for another trip first thing in the morning. Between lumber deliveries, deck work and lunch breaks we’ve managed to clean out some trees and weed whack the heck out of yard. We still have a big old roof to put up and it’ll definitely be interesting to see how it comes together. Who knew that we should have been architects?

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Mar 252009
 

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12 big ol’ holes in about 30 minutes. This is our first one and we’re lucky Julia got a picture of it because our sturdy looking two-man crew definitely went down hill around hole number three. The 1st and 2nd one look great though. We might have to clean up the other 10 by hand tomorrow. Between the engine trouble, ramming tree roots, busting more pipe and all the father-son hollering to go along with it, we’re lucky to still have our toes. Look out cement… here we come!