Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

 E Komo Mai! (Welcome)


Red and Yellow Spotted Flower~ Photo taken at Dole Plantation, Hawaii
Copyright Kelly Vial (2007)

So you have decided to take your yearly vacation and live it up in Hawaii! What a great choice you have made! There are so many things to do and a variety of places to see. Whether you are just wanting some beach time, want to have a destination wedding, want to learn how to surf, relax or just be by yourself, there are many different venues that may attract you. Maybe you are on a strict budget, like a lot of others. What will you be able to do in Hawaii that won’t cost you an arm and a leg?

Getting Married?

Your most frugal option if you are planning to get married here in Hawaii, is to get married on the beach. I was married here on the beautiful beaches of Oahu in 2007, and yes, I was on a strict budget myself! After paying the outrageous prices for airline tickets, I had to save money elsewhere. My husband’s family were born and raised here, so I had to purchase invitations, and really do some web searching for a reception hall that would hold several hundred people, find a good caterer, pick out a wedding cake, and purchase a wedding gown! Preparing for a destination wedding was not easy, and I won’t tell you that it is. You want the picture perfect wedding and Oahu has some of the most beautiful, picturesque beaches in the world to help you achieve this. I was married at 8 a.m. in the morning, and the photos came out beautifully. I wanted to find a somewhat private beach to get married at, so I chose one that was centrally located to family and friends, so they wouldn’t have to travel so far to get there. I researched photographers and found one that was also licensed to perform the ceremony! I was extremely lucky in that respect. But if you are looking for something very private, I would have to recommend “Captain Howie” as he is called. The web link is posted below if you are interested in his services. You can create an ala carte package of your own or choose the pre made packages that they have listed on the site. You can view some of the couple’s wedding photos here too. It really is a great value versus obtaining a professional studio to do what you need. Just an idea!

Budget Friendly Ideas for Fun in the Sun

First off, do your research on things to do in Hawaii that are both fun and something you couldn’t do anywhere else. For instance, if you like hiking like I do, try hiking Diamond Head on Oahu, but make sure you bring plenty of water to drink as there aren’t any places to stop by for a drink. Take your time hiking and don’t overdo it, as it can be very hot once you get going. I hope you are in shape for this, because before you reach the top, you have a series of steps to climb! The hike is only a little over 1 and a half miles round trip.The first set of steps, if I am remembering correctly, are 74 steps that lead you to a 3 story spiral staircase and then to reach the top, you have to climb another daunting stairway of 99 steps! Diamond Head is an extinct volcanic crater that provides you with great exercise and a 360 degree view of the islands. Allow yourself at least 2 hours for a leisurely hike. As always check with your doctor before doing anything strenuous; the air gets thinner when you are approaching the top, so it may feel like you can’t catch your breath. Hiking Diamond Head is very cheap, only $5 per carload, or $1 if you just walk in to the park itself, and once you reach the top, there is a man selling t-shirts that say, “I Hiked Diamond Head”. Great souvenir! Tip** Go early in the morning as it’s cooler and the park opens at 6:00 a.m. You will be glad you did, the view from the top is phenomenal! You’ll overlook all of Waikiki and can see as far as the Wainae Mountain range in the West. Happy Hiking!!

  • Check out the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe. It is a very beautiful replica Buddhist temple of the original one located in Japan. There is a little tourist shop there that has a few items that may interest you. Feed the ducks and the Koi fish, but watch out as there is some stiff competition with the other birds also wanting to eat, as you toss the pellets! The pellets can be purchased in the shop.
  • Aloha Tower Marketplace- plenty of shops to look around, places to eat such as Don Ho’s restaurant, but truthfully, you can get the same items at Aloha Stadium’s swap meet on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at a much cheaper price! But it is nice to relax and just listen to some of the entertainer’s and watch the ships pass by in the harbor.
  • Aloha Stadium Swap Meet- You really must visit here at least once! The deals are great and with some vendors, you may even be able to talk them down in price just a little! Drink coconut water out of a coconut, snack on some of the foods offered, but there is one place I just cannot pass by- the lady that sells Li Hing Mui sprinkled pineapple! It is a local favorite and personally, one of my own! This is the place to come if you want to send souvenir’s back home to family. Kukui nut leis, shell jewelry, Hawaiian jewelry- especially the Hawaiian bracelets are super expensive as the price for a 10 mm bangle type bracelet goes for almost $2000! But it’s an heirloom of sorts and all the locals wear them, or should I say MOST of them.
  • Take ukulele or hula lessons at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center- good fun!
  • Fly a kite or take a plate lunch to Kapiolani Park in Waikiki; the beach is right across the street! Beaches are my favorite place to be.
  • Watch a polo match at Waimanalo Polo Grounds, pick a team and have fun!
  • Enjoy the many different festivals and events throughout the year including AT&T’s Hawaii Dragon Boat Festival, celebrate the Chinese New Year and see the lion dances and over 100 other events
  • Learn about the history of Waikiki by taking the Waikiki Historic Trail walking tour.
  • Honolulu Zoo
  • Walk through Chinatown for a fascinating look at noodle factories, markets and gift shops
  • If you are visiting Waikiki, near the Duke Kahanamoku statue, at sunset, you can witness the culture of Hawaii by viewing the torch lighting and hula dancers, or just listen to the drums playing.
  • Take a scenic drive to Pali Highway and go to the Nuuanu Pali lookout for a beautiful view. Wear a light jacket as it gets really windy at the top- keep hold of your camera because the wind can blow it right out of your hands and keep an even closer eye on your children- granted there is railing, but people have been known to be blown off the side of the mountain. Be very cautious!
  • Visit Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona, I visited the USS Missouri and spent the entire day there, learning and taking pictures! A great educational experience.
  • Go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and check out the beautiful array of colorful fish.
  • Visit the beaches of Lanikai and Kailua for a more serene experience, plan a cookout at the beach and just enjoy the day with your children and family.

These are just some of the things you can do, there are plenty more things to see and explore!

English: Mother's Day card

English: Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to wish all the mothers out there a very special Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy your day~ you deserve it!

I am spending my Mother’s Day with my mom today and wanted to share some photos of our morning at the beach! Have a wonderful day!

Kalama Beach, Hawaii
Flowers seen on the walking trail to Kalama Beach

My Mother Enjoying the Ocean

What a Beautiful Morning It Is!
Footprints In The Sand

I have always wanted to visit Scotland but now that I’ve discovered that my ancestors lived there once upon a time, it makes me want to go even more. Just to be able to walk the land as they did hundreds of years ago, the culture that surrounded them, their lifestyles, and even the food they they may have eaten. I want to experience Scotland’s history and their culture, I want to stand on the picturesque landscapes where my ancestors may have stood, I also want to be a part of the events they may celebrate, eat the food and drink with the local people. But I must say, I don’t have much of a taste for whiskey! I want to experience this all first hand; and maybe one day I will. But in the mean time, my adventures will all have to be of the online variety.

Scotland’s Culture

Scotland has a myriad of different types of festivals ranging anywhere from the arts and comedy to the more traditional forms of entertainment. One of Scotland’s winter festivals is called Hogmanay, which is a fire festival of sorts, and a street party of live music and fireworks.

If you are like me and have yet to visit Scotland, have you ever wondered what some of Scotland’s food may taste like? How about trying out a recipe? Are you brave enough to try your cooking skills? If you are, then try this recipe and let me know how you liked this particular one and if you would like to share a photo of how it turned out, family responses to the meal and so on.

Cullen Skink Soup


(Serves 4)

1tbsp olive or vegetable oil 

1 leek, well- rinsed, chopped and cut into rough 2cm cubes
1 liter homemade fish stock or reduced-salt fish stock cube (or half standard stock cube) dissolved in 1 liter of water
200g of peeled waxy potatoes cut into roughly 2cm cubes
300g undyed smoked haddock fillet
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground pepper
2tbs whipping cream
Roughly chopped chives

Warm the oil in a pan, add the chopped leek, cover and gently cook for a few minutes until soft.

Add the stock, bay leaf, potato and haddock. Season lightly with black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the haddock from the pan with a slotted spoon. When the fish is cool enough to handle, remove any skin and bones, then flake the haddock back into the pan.
Blend a ladle full of the soup in a liquidizer and return to the pan.
Stir in the double cream and simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes.
Add more black pepper if necessary, then sprinkle with the chopped chives and serve.

***Serve with chunks of fresh wholemeal or grain bread.***

Recipes provided by Andrew Fairlie, chef at the world-famous Gleneagles Hotel.

Thousands of people around the globe are in search of their ancestors all the time. As for myself, it has become a daily routine. My blog is the first place I go, then I’ll look at my family tree and decide who I would like to research and how far back in history I may be interested enough to do research on. I like genealogy and history both, but by no means am I a professional researcher. I only research for myself. It’s a hobby of mine and the more I get myself involved, the more I want to learn. Genealogy is probably one of the most popular hobbies that people get into. That’s just my opinion though. Just think about it, who wouldn’t want to know where their family originally came from? Were they related to someone famous, from so long ago? For all I know, I could be related to some King or something! Hmmm..King Knut? Not too sure yet, but it’s always fun to investigate and dig deeper into the history. Don’t you think so? It’s almost like those C.S.I. guys and I’m the investigator with a new case profile to find data on! Just kidding. I was getting too excited about the topic of genealogy again wasn’t I?

USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently visited the U.S.S. Missouri in Pearl Harbor, on Memorial Day to be exact, and let me tell you, that ship had so much history behind it. It intrigued me so much that in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “Did one of my family members ever board this ship? Sleep in those bunks with the woolen blankets? Did they stand in the Truman line waiting for their meal?

What starts out as a curiosity can quickly lead to a new found obsession when it comes to genealogy research. You may just want to satisfy your own curiosity as to who you are and where you may have come from. But there are other good reasons for taking up this subject too. You may have children who will one day be just as inquisitive as you are now. What will you tell them? They need to be given a sense of who they are too, where they may have come from and how they lived their lives and what they went through during that time period. You may want to preserve cultural traditions and share them as a family. Another good reason would be medical history in your family. A family member may have had an inherited disease or disorder and you never would have known unless you researched it! Whatever reason you choose, it’s very interesting to find out just who you are. 

Genealogy is like a huge puzzle, just waiting for you to put the right pieces in place! Let the journey BEGIN!