Saturday, October 27, 2007

Halloween is coming soon! Halloween is always fun in Waikiki or Hawaii in general. This Mr. Potatohead pumpkin accessory kit is a promotional item that Macy's Department Store is selling for $6.95 with any purchase of $35 or more. Kelli bought some shoes and qualified to purchase this kit so we did. We haven't accessorized our pumpkin with the Mr. Potato Head fashion accessories yet. What does the corporate I.T. department that you know of look like during Halloween? This is what my friend, Glenn, did to his department!! I think he's insane for spending so much time and money on it, but he really enjoys it and everyone that sees it also enjoys it! He should charge admission. Watch the video clip of this I.T. department's Halloween decorations. Here's our full moon just a few days early for Halloween. I took this on Friday night on the way out to Kapiolani Community College to listen to 100 Ghost Stories by Candlelight. We got there a few stories into the free event (about 730p) and left about 11p. There were still about 20-30 candles lit. They started with 100 candles and blew 1 out after each story. The stories were interesting and they were being told by Jeff Gere and Lopaka Kapanui. Some audience members also contributed with some interesting stories. This event was heald in memory of Glen Grant.
The picture above to the left is Lopaka on the stage telling a story. The picture above to the right is the rear of the cafeteria where the vending machines were. Lopaka told everyone with a camera to point it back there. He said a few words to summon the ghosts that were listening to the stories and then told us to snap a photo. Then he told us now all of us that took the photo will be taking home the ghosts. Hahaha! That was a good one. Anyway, do you see anything in the photo besides the lights from the vending machine and everyone else's digital camera screens??

Genko-ya or Kenko-ya Restaurant?? kenko-ya genko-yaThis was interesting. On Wednesdays, Kelli has dinner with her grandma in Kaneohe. I went with her last Wednesday. We were eating at a new Japanese style restaurant across Windward Mall. The sign says, "Kenko-ya" as you can see in this picture. Now when we get seated and they bring the menu, it reads, "Genko-ya" in English or romaji and "けんこう屋" (kenko-ya in Japanese writing). This is common in the Japanese Language where they will pronounce the "k" sound as a "g", but I don't know how well their name recognition will be amongst English consumers. I searched for both names and it's not found. When I Googled them, I found a Midweek story<-click. Interesting that when I read this article, the writer also didn't make a decision on what to call the restaurant. It's called Genko-ya in the write-up, but on the photo it's called Kenko-ya. Oh well, enough of that... oh no, we also asked the waitress what the restaurant should be called and she replied, "I don't know, I don't want to ask (the owner?)". Hahaha. She must get asked a lot. Anyway, I think it would really help their customers find their phone number if they quickly make a decision. kenko-ya genko-yaI chose the 2 choice teishoku meal. I had tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet) and chicken teriyaki (soy sauce marinade). It was above average quality for a fast food type of Japanese restaurant. The chicken teriyaki and the tonkatsu tasted good. The cost was about $13. As always, I forgot to take the picture before I started to eat! The tsukemono (pickled vegetables) and the miso soup were not very good. It was ok, but the miso soup was a little too salty. kenko-ya genko-yaThe restaurant seemed very popular as lines of people were coming in to order take-out. The tables were also filled. Genko-ya or Kenko-ya is located at the Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center. There are lots of parking spaces and some other stores and restaurants next door.

Genko-Ya a.k.a. Kenko-Ya
46-047 Kamehameha Highway
Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744

"Art of Bonsai" with Master Walter Liew (Sessions 4 & 5) bonsai classArt of Bonsai
- Wiring and Form...

This is a summary of the last 2 classes. In these last 2 classes we observed the mistakes that we all made when wiring our trees. Then we observed the techniques Master Liew used to decide what style of bonsai is best suited for the tree and finally how to style them. I started the night with a practice shot of the building at twilight. Something that Realtors always try to capture. Anyway... bonsai classI think this Windward Community College Campus is really nice. Look at the design of the buildings and the Ko'olau Mountain Range in the back.

The wire used for bonsai is a special wire sold in nursery or garden stores that specialize in bonsai equipment and tools. It's an aluminum wire that is available in several different gauges, but usually there are only 2 main sizes that you need for working on these types and sizes of bonsai. The picture of the 2 wires below has a nickel (5 cents) profile in it so you can relate to the thickness of the wire. The wire is soft enough to bend and form around the tree trunk and branches. It's best to have it wrapping at a 45 degree angle. The thicker wire is for the trunk and larger branches and the thin wire is for your smaller limbs. bonsai bonsai bonsai class
After securing, with wire, each branch that you will be using in your style, you then cut off the branches that are not used. Sometimes you may reserve an extra branch at a spot that you think one branch may turn out more artistic than the other. Later on, you will pick the nicer branch. Every inch of the tree trunk and its branches must have a curve. If there is any part of the tree that is more than 1 inch of straight branch, it's not done according to bonsai style. bonsai classI think this tree has style. It's one of Master Liew's show pieces. It is an art so really, he says, "as long as it is beautiful, it can be art". I'm sure some "straight" trees might look beautiful, but I think when it's in contrast with a styled tree most artisans will choose the styled tree. bonsai bonsai class
Above are our Hackberry Trees before styling...

Below are our Hackberrry Trees after styling... bonsai bonsai class
I took those just outside of the classroom. I forgot to take the picture in the lighted classroom, but we needed to make sure that if any branches bend in transport, we know how it's supposed to look. Our trees both had twin trunks. He decided that both our trees were best suited for the style he called "Lovers" or "Father & Son" or "Husband & Wife" etc. This style is actually 2 "Literati" style trunks with "Model" tops. As you can see, although they are the same style, they are different. Kelli's one has that infinity looking 8 in it. Master Liew says it's supposed to represent me doing everything I can to make her happy!!! That might be good for her, but is that good for ME?? =P He always has a story or theme to go with the tree style and that is part of the reason why his bonsai are so popular amongst the art and culture enthusiasts. He is afterall a Ph.D. The story of Kelli's tree style also has some traits known as the Phoenix and the Dragon style. Of course, he's quite a salesman...

Below are the trees in daylight after about 5 days from the night of becoming styled. No new leaves or branches yet, but it's surviving the manipulation. bonsai bonsai class bonsai classHere's a close up of the wiring and the bends in the "Model" styled section of the bonsai. Now we have to go practice buying our own trees. Part of the lesson is being able to choose the right tree to create the style of bonsai that you want. I want to try and find a tree to make a nice "Full Cascade". We're loving this class and recommend anyone who has the slightest interest to take it!
Related Links: Master Walter Liew Googled, Google Maps of Dragon Garden, Yellowpages Dragon Garden Listing, Full Size Photo Album, My Bonsai Posts.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Honolulu's Blogging Statistics Rank High!

Honolulu ranks high for blogging
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 11:26 AM HAST

"Honolulu is one of the top cities in the nation for reading and contributing to blogs on the Internet..." <-Read full story.

My work requires me to be keeping up with business news and other economic news in general. I came across this report in Pacific Business News and it's not quite a story for my business side news blog, but I found it appropriate to post here! My entire side is Blogger based. I specifically asked my web developer create my business website to frame my blogs. I have several blogs that are linked as sections to my website and this allows me to update information to my website frequently and quickly. I am contributing to Honolulu ranking 5th in the nation...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hale Vietnam Restaurant & Louis Vuitton International Film Festival of Hawaii "Memories of Tomorrow". Hale Vietnam...

It's been a long time since I've had dinner at Hale Vietnam. I used to eat here quite frequently, but in the past decade or so many Vietnamese and other restaurants have come into the scene fighting for a piece of your appetite. When this happens some of the well established and great places get overlooked.

I had the Lemon Grass Chicken with rice. It was about $9 as a meal. It can also be ordered as ala carte if you want to eat family style and it was about $13. The meal came with a bowl of soup. It seemed to be a similar broth to the one used in the pho. Everything was very delicious. Kelli had the Summer Rolls with Rice Noodles. This was also ordered like a meal and was about $10. The summer rolls were deep fried and contained vegetables, pork and a little crab meat in them. They also had it in a vegetarian preparation. The summer rolls were chopped into bite sized pieces which made it easy to dip into the sauce and enjoy. It was warm and crisp when served. Kelli really liked it, but there the portion of rice noodles was a bit too much. It was very filling.

After dinner at Hale Vietnam, we went to the Kahala Theatre to watch Memories of Tomorrow / Ashita no Kiyouku (明日の記憶)<-click. It is a Japanese movie that is part of the Louis Vuitton International Film Festival of Hawaii. It's about a man who ends up with Alzheimer's Disease. The movie is in Japanese with English sub-titles. If you understand Japanese, it's a very interesting movie. If you don't, you need to read the subtitles and I don't know how you will enjoy it. I personally thought the movie was good, but I could understand most of it without having to pay attention to the sub-titles so I was watching the movie. If you have a chance to see it, I think you will like it. Some parts are very sad... but overall it's a very dramatic story.
Related Links: Hale Vietnam Googled, Memories of Tomorrow / Ashita no Kiyouku (明日の記憶, Louis Vuitton International Film Festival of Hawaii.

Kwaidan Kalabash- Hawaiian Ghost Storytelling... kwaidan kalabash ghost stories of hawaiiSunday Night's FREE Ghost Stories...

Last Sunday night, a group of storytellers got together and held an event they called Kwaidan Kalabash and it was at the Japanese Cultural Center. We went to their similar event last year that was held at the Ala Moana Beach Park auditorium. That venue was overfilled and a bit uncomfortable. This time it was still overfilled, but a little more comfortable.

The event was free and advertised as 6pm-9pm. We arrived at about 545pm to find that sign up there posted everywhere... elevators, lobbies and many near the door of the banquet room. Why am I highlighting this sign?!? Because if you were there early at 5p or 530p or even 545p and read this sign, what would you do? Probably go down to the 1st floor and visit the display. We did, but we did it in pairs. Kelli's mom and sister went down first while we waited up stairs. Then the returned and we went to look. While we were looking, those Trick or Treat buggers open the doors at about 615pm!! Luckily we had the other half of our team up there to get us the seats! We had decent seats in the 5th row and the whole place was packed with standing room even filled up. So now, just imagine if you were one of those people or families that went down to view the exhibit to kill time until 7pm. Well, it was free so nobody could complain.

The stories and storytellers were interesting. Some are obviously better than others. We especially enjoy Lopaka Kapanui and his stories. He also conducts the walking and bus ghost tours <-click. Kelli's been on his tour, but I've only been on Glen Grant's walking tour. Glen is the ghost story historian that mentored Lopaka.

They mentioned that this Friday (10/26) at 7pm they will be paying tribute to the memory of Glen Grant by having a candlelight ghost storytelling session at Kapiolani Community College. Jeff Gere and Lopaka Kapanui will be doing the storytelling. We might try and catch this. They said 100 candles and 100 stories while blowing out 1 candle after each story. 100 stories seems really long! I'm sure there will be some really abbreviated versions.

Did anyone else get tricked by their sign?? I hope not. Here's some pictures from their exhibition. The exhibit will be on display 10am-4pm Tuesday through Saturday until October 31st. kwaidan kalabash ghost stories of kwaidan kalabash ghost stories of kwaidan kalabash ghost stories of hawaii kwaidan kalabash ghost stories of kwaidan kalabash ghost stories of kwaidan kalabash ghost stories of hawaii

Foodie Blogroll!! Foodie Blogroll by left-over queenMy "anything" blog is now part of Foodie Blogroll!

I came across the Foodie Blogroll while reading through another foodie blog that I always read. It's Kat n Satoshi's blog located: here. Anyway, up at the top of my blog you will see a scrolling list of all the other Foodie Blogroll members' "foodie" blogs. There are some really delicious looking blogs in that list! Check it out! Kat n Satoshi's blog has been one of my favorites to read because of the Hawaii/Japan connections!

They also have a forum you could join. Here is my introduction to the forum of Foodie Bloggers.

"Hi! Thanks Jenn for this great Foodie Blogroll concept!

I'm Rick from Honolulu, Hawaii. Some facts about me:

-grew up in "local drive-in restaurant" family business... Megs Drive In.
-A.S. Degree in Automotive Mechanics Technology (nothing to do w/ food besides eating it).
-Food related work include "decades" of Megs and a while at Izakaya Nonbei, a Japanese tavern.
-I obviously think I am a "Foodie", I like to critique the places I eat and do a lot of cooking and coffee related things at home.
-Interests/Topics found on my blog: home cooking, home coffee roasting, espresso, Waikiki lifestyle (I live in a Waikiki Condo), entertainment & restaurant reviews, aquaponics, hyrdoponics, bonsai, my kitchen renovations (at the time of joining Foodie Blogroll, my kitchen is undergoing complete renovation), cooking w/out a kitchen & links to my separate blogs of my car stuff and work stuff.
-Career: Honolulu Real Estate (Rick Nakama REALTOR-ASSOCIATE GRI, EAST OAHU REALTY, INC.<-Required disclosure) and on-call position at Outrigger Reef Hotel Guest Services (restaurant/entertainment recommendations, etc.).

My blog is Most of the posts are about restaurants or cooking of some sort, but it is a blog that I post about almost "anything" except my car racing stuff and my work stuff (I keep those separate because they are just entire categories of their own). I also refuse to buy or carry an independent digital camera so I try to take the best photos possible with my mobile camera phone. The mobile phone photos is what got me started with this blog so I've decided to keep it as much as possible related to photos taken with my phone. I try to post at least 3 times a week. I'm hoping to pick up more readers and your comments...

Thanks for letting my blog be a part of Foodie Blogroll! I'm enjoying reading everyone's foodie blogs... "

You can find food information on the forum:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Strawberry-Honey Glazed SPAM Green Tea Musubi... musubiPicnic Potluck

Over the weekend, we had a picnic potluck to go to at Ala Moana Beach Park. Kelli wanted to make musubi (japanese "rice ball" <-click for Google) for us to bring. I thought it was simple enough, but a bit too simple so I tried to think of a way to make it a little more than just a musubi. This was not easy to do because I don't have a kitchen right now since it's still being renovated. That's why I just thought I'd make the musubi a little more fancy. I had a can of SPAM, Hawaii's favorite meat product, and not much else. I had honey and strawberry jam in the refrigerator. Put it all together and got something a little more fancy than just a plain musubi.

I washed 3 cups of white calrose rice. I wanted the rice to have more flavor so I thought of getting an ochazuke <--click flavor into the musubi. Ochazuke is ocha or green tea poured onto steamed rice with some other toppings of your choice. Japanese sometimes have it for breakfast or in the evening... actually anytime. Anyway, having ochazuke at a picnic is not convenient because you don't have boiling water and bowls etc. so I thought I can get some green tea flavor into the musubi by steaming the rice with the ocha (green tea). I steeped 1 pot of ocha and added it to the washed rice in place of water then started the rice cooker.

For the SPAM, I made a mixture of honey, strawberry jam and apple cider vinegar. It was about 1 part honey, 1 part jam and 1/2 part vinegar. I stuck it in the mircowave to fuse them together (since I have no stove) and mixed it up. I sliced the SPAM into small slices resembling the slice of sashimi that may be seen on sushi. Then I used the panini grill thing I have to grill the SPAM while basting it in the sauce.

After the rice steamed, it was formed into the musubi shapes. I chose to just make them in rounded rectangles like some sushi. Use some salted water to keep your hands moist and rice from sticking to your hands. These are hand shaped. You could also use a plastic form that they sell to make musubi or sushi if you prefer. The salted water also adds flavor to the musubi.

Then place 1 SPAM on top of the formed rice ball and cover over the top with a piece of nori, Japanese dried seaweed. Use a dab of water on the ends of the nori to get it moist so it sticks to the rice. Try not to make the whole piece of nori wet and soggy. It tastes and looks best when the nori is crisp. musubi musubi
These came out tasting good. If I were to do it again, I would make the ocha flavor a lot stronger. Probably at least double or triple strength of the normal that I made. Of course, if I had more ingredients available or actually went shopping for this, I would have added some other flavors that I love like shiso or ume to it. I'm sure I'm not the first to steam rice using green tea. I am sure there are several Chinese dishes that use tea in their rice. Does anyone have the ratio or method of getting the good ocha flavor into the rice?

Briax soaps from New Zealand... Briax soaps from New Zealand Briax Soaps...

I met a nice and interesting couple from New Zealand at the Outrigger Reef Hotel the other night. They gave me a couple of bars of this Briax soap. 1 bar is labeled with the green sticker as a "work soap" and the 2nd is wrapped in the black labeled "bath soap". They both smell very good and contain special natural items that condition your skin as well as help cleanse it.

The Work Soap is pumice based and also has honey, goat's milk and sunflower. It worked really well when I used it to clean up the thin-set from my hands after I worked on my kitchen floor tiles.

The Seaweed Bathsoap is a "secret recipe" of seaweed and other natural ingredients. You can see and feel the small particles of seaweed in the bar. Of course, it smells great and it says it also promotes blood circulation and improves skin texture.

Briax Industries can be found on the web here <-click. He also races classic cars which is why we got even more involved in conversation. His car racing website is here <-click.

Neiman Marcus Mermaid Bar... Lunch at the Mermaid Bar...

I had a few appointments in the morning through about just after noon. I was hungry for lunch! I called Kelli and we met at the Mermaid Bar, in Neiman Marcus 2nd floor, for a casual lunch. We like going there for their Neiman Marcus Sampler Platter which is a half chicken salad or tuna salad sandwich and the soup of the day for about $10. Occasionally, they have a soup that I don't like (clam chowder or something like that). When that happens I order another menu item. They have a nice selection of salads and sandwiches. The picture is of half the order because I frequently forget to take the picture before we start eating when I am so hungry!

My favorite choice is usually the Spa Wrap. It's a turkey, avocado and vinegarette greens wrapped in a tortilla type wrap and it comes with potato chips and sweet corn salsa. I really like this, but I wish I could have it with chicken instead of turkey. The turkey is usually a bit dry, but still tastes good.
Kelli had the chicken on focaccia bread. It is good, but the bread can be very filling. That's why I choose the wrap. Usually she doesn't finish her sandwich.

I don't order iced coffee here any more because it just doesn't taste good. It's kind of watery and doesn't have a good taste in general. I usually just have water or sometimes I will get an iced tea.

The average cost is about $10 per dish and the atmosphere is nice. Neiman Marcus also has a valet parking area and the nicest, cleanest and most comfortable restrooms in the Ala Moana Shopping Center!! =) I wonder what the new Nordstrom's restrooms will be like...?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Home Coffee Roast - Guatemala Fraijanes- Finca Aqua Tibia to Vienna or Light French Roast... Sweet Maria's Sweet Maria's Guatemala Fraijanes- Finca Aqua Tibia described as: At Full City: Tangy, bittersweet chocolate notes with spicy accents of clove, cardomom, apple cider finishHome Coffee Roast - Guatemala Fraijanes- Finca Aqua Tibia roasted to a Vienna or Light French Roast.

My Guatemala Fraijanes- Finca Aqua Tibia roasted to a Vienna or Light French Roast has GREAT flavor! Sweet Maria's desription is, "At Full City: Tangy, bittersweet chocolate notes with spicy accents of clove, cardomom, apple cider finish." I took this roast a bit further to a Vienna roast, just as the 2nd crack began. The darker roast is supposed to increase the the "origin character" of the bean. In this case it's the Guatemala bean. Read more on the levels of roast at Sweet Maria's Roasting Guide.

My 1st post about roasting this bean was done to a full city roast and I have a short post about it here: Guatemala Fraijanes at Full City. At that time, I noted that it tasted good and not much more to comment. It's difficult for me to say which coffee I like better than another. For now, I've decided that I just have to say if it's a flavor I like or if it's just one that I don't enjoy as much.

This Guatemala Fraijanes bean roasted to a Vienna roast is great! The darker roast really brings out the "spicy accents". I think the "apple cider finish" was noticeable in the 1st few sips then a bold flavor was apparent. I prefer the bold bodied coffees and I think it's the "chocolate notes" the bring this boldness out at the darker roast.

This makes an excellent cup of coffee for my tastes at the Vienna roast! Mmmmm :P

Related Links: Guatemala Fraijanes- Finca Aqua Tibia to Vienna, Sulawesi Grade One Toraja & Rwanda Butare Bourbon, Mexico FTO Oaxaca Pluma - "At City+" & Sumatra Classic Mandheling - "Full City+", Guatemala Fraijanes, Brasil FTO Poco Fundo, 1st Home Roasting Post, Zimbabwe AA -Dandoni Estate Full City + Roast,, Sweet Maria's Coffee, Sweet Maria's Roasting Guide.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Senor Frogs in Waikiki... senor frogs waikikiSaturday night, after the Blue Angels Air Show, we walked to Senor Frogs. It's on the 3rd floor of the newly renovated area of Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. We arrived there about 8pm and received a pager that would call us when our table became available. We were seated in about 15 minutes and the hostess' estimation was 20 minutes. senor frogs waikikiWe had a seat out on the veranda over looking Kalakaua Avenue. It was a nice area to be seated. The interior seating is probably where most of the excitement is. It was still very dark so my pictures aren't that great. The atomosphere is very fun and exciting. People were singing on stage (karaoke) and there was professional entertainment as well. senor frogs senor frogs senor frogs waikiki
The food is a Mexican style food. It's not the greatest Mexican food, but it's ok. Again, I think it's mostly for the party atmosphere here. On the left is our souvenir "palm tree" 20 ounce margarita cup. We had a strawberry and mango margarita that tasted pretty good. Also in that picture is a free nachos that we found a coupon for in one of the books out in the mall area. The center is my "Mexican Fiesta" plate that had a flank steak and some chicken taquitos and to the right is Kelli's steak tacos.

It's all about the drinks and the party atmosphere! This is not a place to go for a nice, quiet dinner. We thought the food was OK at best and the drink was good. If we do go to Senor Frogs again, it would probably be for someone's party or to entertain some visitors. The cost was about $40 for the 2 of us.

If you want good Mexican food, I would suggest some other places like Jose's, Los Chapporos or that place we went to in Kaneohe. I will eventually get to posting on those places.
Related Links: Google Maps of Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, Senor Frogs in

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blue Angels Air Show in Hawaii Blue Angels Hawaii explosion Blue Angels HawaiiThe Blue Angels Kaneohe Air Show

Saturday was the 1st day for the Blue Angels Air Show. We started the morning off really early with a breakfast at Boots & Kimo in Kailua. We got to Kaneohe Marine Base about 945am. There were lots of other cars driving in at that time. It took about 30 minutes to get to the area where we were to park.

That photo up top is probably the most dramatic photo I was able to capture, considering all I use is my cell phone. They simulated an air extraction followed by a bombing of the area. That was quite a blast!! As you can see, the explosion was huge and the heat wave was felt about 5 seconds after the blast. Amazing! Blue Angels Hawaii Blue Angels Hawaii Blue Angels Hawaii Blue Angels Hawaii Blue Angels Hawaii Blue Angels Hawaii
I took many photos and video clips. I thought I would have had some good video clips, but I failed to check my settings!! My phone was set to video without sound!! Those videos look ok, but without sound they are not very exciting! Anyway, since they don't have sound, I didn't bother rushing to host them up on the web. Blue Angels Hawaii Blue Angels Hawaii Blue Angels Hawaii
Click here to see all my pictures.
I'll post a video up shortly... Oh by the way, it took us 2 hours to get out of the parking lot from the area we parked!! That was crazy!

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