Our Hawai’i Ranch Wedding | One Year Later

    The best moment of my entire wedding day had to be when Nate — my partner of 11 years turned husband for all of 4 hours — leaned over to wrap me up in a bear hug on the dance floor and whispered, “This is the best night of my life.” 

    Now, on our one year anniversary, I thought I’d share a bit more about our Big Day, and some of the ways we tried to make it as special as possible.

    Prior to our wedding, a lot of people told me that the day would pass by in a sort of blur, and that I’d have to be really intentional about taking in each moment, making time for each guest, eating. And I’m sure there are weddings where that’s all very true — where everything feels like it’s going by so fast and that there aren’t enough hours to savor it all, to make everyone feel as special as they’ve made you feel, and to sort of bask in the glow of all the amazingness going on around you.

    But that wasn’t really my experience.

    basked, people. I had an absolute blast celebrating this huge milestone with so many of our family and friends. While we may have run over time here or forgotten to do something there, it never felt that way, and I think that’s the important part — when it came down to it, I loved every inch of our wedding day (give or take a freak wind/rainstorm that we won’t ever mention) from start to finish because it was so genuinely us.

    I think what helped was that, as we began planning our wedding, Nate and I knew right off the bat where some of our Big List Priorities were, and those few but important things helped guide everything that came after that.

    We wanted a venue that ticked off all of our boxes | And thank God we found it! Now, if I’m perfectly honest, I did originally harbor dreams of a super intimate Yosemite elopement, but because I married a man who loves nothing more than a big party, we had to compromise somewhere. So I played my “must get married in the country” card, and Nate was pretty solid on wanting to get married on my home island. We also knew that we didn’t want it to be the typical Hawai’i beach wedding because that never really felt like who we are. And we definitely wanted our family and close friends around not just for the ceremony and reception, but for the days surrounding the wedding too. So, 1) a country venue, 2) that wasn’t the beach, and 3) could house 20-ish people for a few days as well as host the wedding and reception.

    Oh hey, Puakea Ranch.

    This place had it all: a beautiful reception pavilion overlooking a pool, pastures and the ocean in the distance, 5 different accommodations for our family and friends, farm fresh eggs and a garden you could gather veggies and herbs from, and there was even a horse! He came to our wedding too, and looked beautiful in his lei.

    The venue was one of the big factors that made the wedding what it was. It didn’t only offer an incredibly laid back and picturesque backdrop for the ceremony and reception, but so many of the people who loved got to spend the days surrounding the wedding hanging out at one of the 3 pools, BBQing, and motoring around the ranch of a golf cart.

    I’m not sure I could have imagined getting married anywhere else. Not even Yosemite (maybe).

    Our ceremony needed to reflect us rather than tradition-for-traditions-sake | The first thing we did when planning our ceremony was ask one of our closest friends to officiate. He was Nate’s roommate when Nate and I began dating back in college, and remains one of our best friends today despite the fact that we have to travel to see one another (which we have been doing at least twice a year for almost a decade). He’s always one of the first to know any of our big news, and even helped Nate to coordinate our surprise engagement! We just knew from the second we started talking Wedding that we wanted someone that really knew us, someone we know will always be in our lives, and someone that will always support our marriage, to be the one helping us to take this next step.

    The second thing we did was make sure that the language of the ceremony was inclusive of our different faiths, our history and humor, and our families. We did this by incorporating special moments into the ceremony, like honoring the memory of my late grandfather (a rockbed in my life) and our families by gifting them with lei. We also offered each other our own, personal promises, and worked together to create common vows that we recited as well.

    I think any and all wedding ceremonies are beautiful, no matter what you add to them or decide to set aside. As long as you both feel truly represented, and that what’s said and done are honest reflections of what’s in your heart, then it’s all exactly how it should be.

    We wanted our family and friends to be involved | Nate and I wouldn’t be who we are without our community. So when we were planning our wedding, it was no surprise to us that everyone we loved chipped in. It’s not easy planning a “destination wedding”, so we couldn’t have been more grateful for my family who took it upon themselves to do so much research and so much scouting. My older sister — a wedding coordinator and my matron of honor — also helped me to plan the entire wedding week down to a minute-by-minute schedule. And my mother spent months testing recipes until she came up with 9 different desserts and made enough for the dessert bar to feed all 100 wedding guests!

    And these amazingly thoughtful and generous acts of love just barely scrape the surface of all the ways people helped Nate and I to have the most special day. There are so many to name that it’ll take up a blog post all on its own, so stay tuned for a post specifically sharing all our Wedding DIYs and Details coming soon!


    Venue: Puakea Ranch, Kohala, Hawai’i // Bride’s dress: Elizabeth Dye’s Dunaway Gown // Bridal boutique: Alt.Brides, San Francisco, CA // Bride’s shoes: Bryr Clogs (ceremony), Minnetonka moccasins (reception) // Hair + Makeup: Mara McMichael // Planning: Sister of the Bride // Officiant: Close Friend of the Bride + Groom // Florals: Grace Flowers (loose stems, hanging garlands, bouquets, flower crowns, boutonnieres and petal scatter) and Absolutely Protea (loose protea stems) // Yard games: Bride’s Stepdad, Mother, Niece and Nephews // Rentals: Hawaii Island Events // Set-up and Breakdown: Family of the Bride, Friends // Pupu’s (Appetizers): Bride’s Brother-in-Law, and Color Catering // Dinner: Color Catering // Dessert bar: Mother and Friend of the Bride // Favors: Sister of the Bride (muslin bags of Big Island coffee + Chinese tea) // Decor: Bride’s Stepdad (centerpiece risers), Friends (flower arrangements and centerpieces), Groom (signage) // Bar: Friends (signature drinks and decor), Father of the Bride (supplies) // Music: Hawaii Sound + Vision // Photography: Whitney S. Boykin (gifted)


    Lifestyle Wellness

    Hawaiian Products I’m loving | Go Native! May Box

    When I was back home in April, my sisters and I ventured out to the Merrie Monarch Arts + Craft Fairs — multi-day fairs of local Hawaiian vendors from across the state that accompany the annual hula festival. There are hundreds of incredible artists at the various fair locations throughout Hilo, and it seems like the entire population of the island turns out to see if their favorite Hawaiian brands have booths, or if the newest upcoming Hawaiian designer has a pop-up where you can get their new designs.

    It can be crowded and intimidating, which definitely usually isn’t my scene. But because I’m so rarely home during the festival, I couldn’t resist and I’m so glad I went — it’s totally worth it to brave the traffic, crush and the Hilo rain to get your hands on some of the best of the best Hawaiian-made arts, crafts, fashions and products.

    My favorite part of the craft fair this year was the fact that I bumped into one amazing vendor in particular that — because I’d gone to high school with her! — I’d been following on Instagram for a while.

    Mamalani | Handmade by Hawaiians

    One of the reasons I’d been dying to try some Mamalani products — which range from deodorants and body powders to oil blends, sunburn sprays, wellness tinctures and more — is because they’re handmade, all natural, and organic. In the past few months (and obviously ever since I found out we’re expecting), I’ve been making a concerted effort to clear out the environmentally harmful, often unhealthy if not downright dangerous, products in my medicine cabinet and self-care regimen, especially those that aren’t cruelty-free. Plus, I love that when I use these products in particular it feels like I’m incorporating a little bit of home into my everyday life here in California.

    So I was beyond excited when Mamalani owner, maker (and fellow Kamehameha Schools alumni) Mele Kalama-Kingma told me that she was offering a monthly health and beauty subscription box she curates not only with her own products, but with amazing products from other Hawaiian makers. Each month’s box features a new theme that highlights a native practice or plant that is essential to overall health, along with a recipe.

    It’s called Go Native! and it’s my new favorite thing.

    Here’s the most recent Go Native! box for May, centering all around ‘olena (tumeric)…

    This months box featured:

    • Hemo, an oil that’s great for congestion, sinus and earache relief, and is infused over 6 weeks with Hawaii grown ʻolena and hydroponic basil. By Mamalani + The Lotus Blossom in You.
    • Anti-inflammatory Hawaii ‘Olena Hydrosol Facial Mist, made using organically distilled ‘olena for hydration and healthy skin.
    • A custom sachet to tuck away in your drawer, hang in your car or just to place in spaces in need of some extra love. The bags are made by local favorite brand, Kealopiko Three Piko, and are filled with Moloka’i pōhinahina and ʻuhaloa (both plants found locally), and are scented with ‘olena, black pepper and ʻiliahi (sandalwood).
    • Hawaii Island Powdered ‘Olena Cooking Spice
    • Honua Skincare ‘Olena Oil Sampler, to counter inflammation for a healthy, ageless and glowing face.
    • Waiahole Farm Raw ‘Olena Root to use for tea.

    These three products above are probably what I’ve been looking forward to trying most. One of the [weird?] side effects of pregnancy for me has been nasal congestion, particularly in the mornings. I haven’t wanted to take anything over the counter for it, both because that can be tricky and because it usually clears up by the early afternoon. But it’s no party while I’m all stuffed up. So the Hemo oil will definitely be something that I keep on hand.

    I’m also always looking for ways to improve the health of my typically problematic skin. In April’s Go Native! box, I had a chance to try out Honua Skincare’s Pa’akai Cleansing Cream and it has made an incredible difference in my overall complexion — haven’t really had any breakouts recently, and a lot of the blemishes I thought were just permanent fixtures in my skin have cleared up. So I’m game for trying both the Hydrosol Facial Mist for an extra boost of hydration, and Honua’s ‘Olena Oil Sampler if and when problem areas crop up.

    I’ve already incorporated all the rest of the amazing products that came in April’s Go Native! box — as well as a little extra oil I picked up from Mamalani to help ease the pregnancy headaches I’ve been getting lately too — into my everyday routine, and can’t wait to do the same with these ‘olena products!

    What are some of your favorite natural, handmade and cruelty-free products? I’d love to check them out!



    Big Things on the Horizon

    My guy and I have been keeping a little secret. But I’m a horrible secret keeper…really can’t keep a surprise under wraps to save my life. So I’m so excited (and relieved) to share our news…

    We’re welcoming a baby boy to our family in October 2017!

    Nate and I are the typical mix of thrilled/terrified beyond belief that I think many first time expectant parents feel. It’s been just us now for so long, but this has always been such a huge dream of ours, and we’ve been getting tons of love and support from our family and friends — they’ve been so amazing and excited right along with us.

    Over the next few months, I thought I’d do a few “bumpdates” to share a little bit about how the remainder of my 2nd trimester, and my whole 3rd trimester goes. So here goes our first bumpdate!

    Bumpdate | 22 weeks

    How has the pregnancy gone so far? It’s been an interesting ride. I didn’t experience “morning sickness” during my first trimester so much as “random bouts of sickness through the day” or “evening sickness.” And then, right around the time I started my second trimester (13 weeks), the food aversion hit. The thought of eating anything made me sick, though mostly left overs. I could not handle looking at the kitchen garbage, dealing with the compost, or putting the extra dinner food away in the fridge. Almost everything triggered my gag reflex. A lot of times it felt like the only things that didn’t make me nauseous were watermelon (ate those by the ton) and pure mango juice. The exhaustion was also something that hit me hard. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t being tired at nearly all moments of the day and literally being unable to keep my eyes open past 9pm. It really drove home that my body was building a human inside me.

    Weight gain? Finally! After worrying for a few months about the fact that I was losing weight instead of gaining it (because of the whole food aversion thing), I’m finally putting on a few pounds — less than five at this point, but it’s setting my mind at ease.

    Sleep? I’m finally back to my normal sleeping hours, so no more falling asleep at 9pm! If I get between 6-8 hours on a regular night (usually 6-10 on weekends) then I’m set. Of course, this changes if it’s a night where one of my fav authors releases a book — on those nights, I tend to fall asleep after reading until 2am. Probably not the best sleeping habit, but I like to think that my late nights are getting me ready for when Baby Boy arrives and keeps us up at all hours!

    Maternity clothes? Yes and no. My typical style consists of mostly loose fitting tops, and I’m still fitting into those easily enough. But there has been a noticeable increase in maxi dresses (Target has the BEST maxi dresses, including this one that I used for these maternity photos) and leggings in my closet. Leggings are critical since I’ve altogether abandoned wearing my normal jeans. I tried to rubber band thing for a while (where you loop the rubber band around your button and through the button hole to create make-shift maternity pants), but it’s just so much more comfortable to wear leggings. I’m really lucky my job is super on board with that — in fact, my boss recently told me, “What you need to do is find a good pair of yoga maternity pants and just wear those all the time.” I also have a few comfortable maternity tops that one of my best friends sent me, and other than the leggings, a pair of denim shorts, and a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans, those are all the actual “maternity” clothes I currently own.

    Food cravings? Lots of fruits and veggies, actually. Once in a while I’ll get a random craving for ice cream (specifically, the sundae cups I used to eat as a kid) or donuts, but for the most part I’m craving lots and lots of fruit (peaches to be exact) and fresh summer salads (give me all the caprese!). But speaking of donuts…this past weekend I had this crazy craving for a custard filled donut. I never crave donuts and can’t actually remember the last time I even had one. But that day? Donuts, man. Now. So at 9pm, Nate and I set out for the local late-night donut spot and for some crazy reason, it’s like everyone in the entire city is there and they’re practically sold out of everything! So we go to 2 more spots across town, and same thing. At the fourth spot (a grocery store), we were finally able to find a custard-filled donut but it wasn’t that great — you know the kind where the custard is only inserted about an inch into the donut bar? Yeah, big disappointment. So my pregnancy donut craving went somewhat unsatisfied. Then, the next morning, Nate is online and all of us sudden starts laughing. It turns out, the reason all the donuts were gone? It was National Donut Day! What the heck is National Donut Day?! And what are the odds that the one time I want a donut is the one day where it’s the most popular thing to eat in the country?

    Strangest thing you’ve learned about pregnancy? It’s a toss up right now between the fact that, not only does your eyesight change, but the actual shape of your eye changes (making it difficult to wear contact lenses), OR that you have so much extra blood running through your body that you can get random nosebleeds. Let me just say, not the best pregnancy surprises I’ve had.

    Is baby moving? So much! A lot of people told me that the first time I feel him move, it’ll feel like butterflies in your stomach. It may not be as romantic sounding, but to me it actually feels more like gas! Like little bubbles under your skin.

    What I’m looking forward to? Getting a tiny bit more of a belly. Currently, I feel a little like I’m in the in-between stage — I could either be pregnant, or just a curvy girl, neither of which I mind. But I’m looking forward to there being no question — this girl’s having a baby!



    Take Her to the Islands

    If you were to ask me where my favorite place on earth was, I’d give you tons of different answers. County Clare in Ireland. Vancouver, British Columbia. Seattle, Washington. A little house at the mouth of a valley in Abel Tasman National Park, Aotearoa (New Zealand).

    But if you were to ask me which of these places touches me most deeply, which is the one place I could never do without, it would and will always be the Big Island.

    I know I’m home from the second I step off the plane. The air smells different there. The trade winds feel different from all the other winds in the world. My skin has this sense of knowing. I’m home. I’m here. I’m connected again to everything.

    I grew up in a little plantation village about 20 minutes north of Hilo on the wet side of the island. There are less than 600 people in my town, but there’s a beautiful waterfall just a little ways up the mountain. This town isn’t where my Native Hawaiian ancestors are from — our family is traditionally from the Ka’u district farther south — but it’s the place I always return to. Old buildings still standing from the days when the sugar mill was running, now with paint peeling from their sides. The same people sitting on the benches outside of the general store drinking coffee and reading the paper, keeping track of the goings on and sharing the news with familiar faces. My grandmother, who can still recall the names and locations of the plantation camps from when she was young, some of which have been swallowed now by pasture lands and untended cane fields.

    Nate and I went back for a quick visit a few weeks ago to see my family, to see the islands, and to see one of my oldest friends get married.

    The first day we arrived was my grandmother’s birthday, and it meant so much to be able to spend most of the day with her, and then celebrate her at a dinner out with my entire family. It’s always fun when the 15-17 of us get together because, as Nate always says, we’re kind of a crazy bunch. We’re definitely always the loudest in a restaurant, there are usually kids going in between our tables to talk to an aunty, Nana or Tutu Pa, and I can always count on at least three instances when someone in my family will know either a member of the restaurant staff, or other customers. So I was completely unsurprised when we heard “Uncle!” shouted out as we’re walking in to be seated and my dad turns around to see his niece standing there, or when my grandmother started chatting with a woman in the buffet line who turns out to be someone she’s known for three decades, or when my older sister leans over and points out a guy who’s on her husband’s soccer team and who also sold her their current car. This is something I’m proud of, really, since at heart I am nothing if not a small town girl.

    The rest of our week was spent intentionally slowing down and hanging out with family, something I’d been missing for months. We made it to the beach on a particularly sunny day to clumsily (but hilariously) try some paddle boarding, Nate went throw net fishing with my brother-in-law, I couldn’t miss going to the Merrie Monarch Craft Fairs with my sisters — so many amazing Hawaiian makers and products, and I’ll be sharing my favorite purchase a little later this month! — and watching the Merrie Monarch Festival itself of course. And then we made our way to Maui for an amazing wedding.

    Being home is always a reminder to me that, though I seem to forget this often enough, life doesn’t need to run at a breakneck speed. I don’t have to be on all the time, producing, producing, producing and never stopping to rest until I have no choice. In fact, turning off and tuning in turned out to be exactly what I needed after weeks of feeling a bit run ragged back in the mainland.

    I know that my version of Hawai’i — a good amount of rain, a few great beach days, a sleepy rural town, lots of naps, hanging out with my mom’s cats — isn’t necessarily what we tend to think of when we think vacation, but I think it might be pretty similar to what lots of people think of when they think home. I always come home in search of something, and always leave feeling filled up again (and, yeah, pretty homesick). It might be being around family. It might be physically reconnecting with this particular island after so many months away.

    But it’s probably a bit of both. Family and connection — always what I need to re-center. It’s just one of the many reasons I’m so grateful to call the Big Island home.


    Lifestyle Travel Wellness

    Hello! I’m so Glad You’re Here

    It finally feels like spring has officially arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and with everything so warm and new, let me just say: welcome to my new online home! I’ve written several other blogs over the years past, like many things do, have outgrown those spaces and eventually moved on from them. I’ve been throwing around the idea for this new site for more than a year now (I know, it takes me such a long time to commit to something!), and with the complete 180° that 2017 has shaped up to be from 2016, it just felt that this was the perfect time. So this is where you’ll find me from here on out — sharing the often beautiful, but always real, experiences that keep me chasing dreams, simplicity, and a well-lived life.

    Here’s a taste of what you can count on finding here:

    So much change is coming this year, and it’s only May! And I’m not going to lie, some of these upcoming changes aren’t going to be easy, because that’s life, you know? But that’s what the whole point of this space is — to share everything honestly, even the hard stuff, because we’re all going through things and the best way to connect with someone else and make us all feel not so alone is to share. I will promise to always try to find the beauty in things, even in the breakdown (kuddos if you know the song that’s from!), because that’s life too. Each moment is important — not perfect, but important.

    There would be no telling my story without talking about travel. Ever since I could remember, I’ve been a travel bug, inspired by a deep wanderlust to see the world outside of my own backyard. Some of the most untethering and soul-enriching experiences I’ve had have been finding myself lost in a night market in Hong Kong, or falling in love on a beach in New Zealand, or learning how to drink a proper Guinness in Ireland, or being awestruck by a fjord in Norway. Travel, for me, has always answered questions I didn’t even know I had, and it is one of the great loves of my life.

    We’re all trying to live a well-lived life, amiright? I am obsessed with this idea. As someone who has struggled over the years — and still struggles, to be honest — with caring for my body, mind and spirit as well as I’d like, wellness is something I am deeply committed to immersing myself in, and sharing all the tools I learn along the way. Whether that’s self-care practices, goal setting and meeting, natural products I’m loving, finding that hard-to-strike work/life balance, or simply making time to relax and enjoy being alone or with my loved ones. It’s all fair game, and you’ll hear all about it.

    There’s a part of me my husband says is like a bottomless pit: my lust for the new. I’m always seeking chances to get out and do or see something BIG: bungee jump, sky dive, off-road in the mountains, road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. But adventures come in all sizes — from the everyday backyard adventure of trying a new food truck…to big, adrenaline-fueled adventures like hiking, Wild-style. This site will be a celebration of them all.

    If any of this resonates or sounds at all interesting to you, I hope you pull up a chair and stay for a while! Storytelling — even when it’s of your own life — is never as enriching and empowering as it can be unless it’s in relationship with others. I created this space as a way to share, to build community, and to keep myself moving forward as I build the life I’ve always dreamed of (while remembering to celebrate all the special moments along the way). My hope is that it inspires you to do the same.

    Thanks for coming along with me, and I can’t wait to get to know you!