Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 -- It Was A Very Good Year!

Happy (almost) NEW YEAR!!!
I have that classic Frank Sinatra song running through my head right now... "It Was A Very Good Year".

I just sat down and decided that since I do such a poor job of keeping my life journaled on a daily basis that I would at least attempt to write down the highlights of 2008. I surprised myself by compiling 12 pages of favorite memories from this year, month by month. Despite how bogged down I tend to get on a daily basis, after having looked back I have come to the conclusion that indeed it was a

So many of my favorite memories included what is shown in this photo: family and quilts!
(that is baby Bryson's new quilt called "Cute as a Bug!" made from the Creatures and Critters fabric line)

Instead of making lots of New Year's resolutions that tend to weigh me down and point out my shortcomings, I prefer to reminisce over what actually did get accomplished and what buoyed me up. It was so inspiring and gratifying to go over each month and see how many major events happened on a daily basis that are quickly overtaken by the next days and weeks of just normal life that really is special and important if I will just try to be more aware of them at the time.

Just to mention a few of my favorites: Trips: St. George, Cabo San Luca, Hawaii, Beijing CHINA!
Family: my dad's 90th birthday, birth of my 9th grandchild, lots and lots of Grandma times
Marriage: 38years of wedded bliss (only Eternity to go)
Professional: retirement!!!
Physical: hiked to new heights and saw stunning sights
Spiritual: new Prophet
Political: new President

I love turning new pages and looking forward to what lies ahead. I do try to plan and despite what I tell my kids, I do have a few goals but for the most part I just am excited to close the book on 2008 and open up the blank pages of 2009 and get ready for how this new year will begin to come together.

I hope all of you will be along with me for the adventure and embrace your own adventures!

Here's to 2009!

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmastime visit

Aspen and Grandma were able to squeeze in a "sweet" visit to CandyLand at Aunt Karol Jean's this Christmas season.
Once a year this adoreable Pink witch shows up on KJ's front porch and brings along her gingerbread creations and lots of giant gumdrops and m & m's for everyone to enjoy.

Aspen got to take a stroll though the candy-strewn and snow-adorned paths.

Thanks, Aunt KJ --- what a treat!
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Can't wait for Christmas!

Today was Christmas in our family... at least we received our most anticipated Christmas gift!
Here is baby Bryson!
His actual due date was not until December 23rd but as you can see, that was just too long to wait!

Katie did great! She actually had a scheduled c-section this morning. After going through 36 hours of intense labor only to end up with a c-section her first go around with Aspen, she opted to be more pro-active this time! I love having my grandchildren born in the city that I live in. It makes it so much easier to be there and get to have that "moments after" introduction.

Here is the happy family! Aspen just thinks that she got her Christmas doll, Katie looks so happy to have Bryson "here" instead of "there" and Clark has already pitched in by giving Bryson his first bath. This brings our grandkids count up to 6 boys and 3 girls!

Here is a quick glimpse into the "visit to Santa" (trama) that took place at Aspen's day care before we went to visit Bryson. Apparently, she thinks Santa is a scary, old soul! There was no way she was getting anywhere near that big red-suited guy with all that white hair. She didn't care how big the candy cane was or how many other kids were lining up to sit on his lap. Maybe next year!
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Friday, December 5, 2008

Big slacker!

I know, I know, I've been a big slacker in the blogging world! So here is a clue as to where I am this week.
Here are some hints:
1. our favorite short, weekend, getaway location (a quick 4 hour drive)
2. usually lots warmer and sunnier than it is at home (not this weekend, we're freezing!)
3. Pizza factory and outlet shopping
4. this is the view off our 3rd floor condo balcony of the beautiful red rocks and Snow Canyon state park

I know my kids and extended family members know exactly where Paul & I are --

Saint George, Utah!

Every year during the first weekend of December, Paul signs up for some CPE (continuing professional education) at a seminar held here in St. George. Usually by now Salt Lake is cold and officially in winter mode so we like to escape down south where it is still fall. The trees here are still full with bright yellow and orange leaves and except for yesterday, it is sunny and bright and a somewhat warmer 57 degrees compared to Salt Lake's 40 something degrees. Paul brought his bike along in hopes of a couple of rides. He got one in on Weds afternoon when we arrived and he's hoping for another long ride on Saturday. The other two days are spent listening to IRS tax regualtions (booooorrrrring!).

Now I, on the other hand, am having a delightful couple of do-what-ever-I-want days! So far it has been mostly visiting all my favorite quilt stores, books stores and the Red Cliffs mall. Oh yeah, don't forget the HUGE TJ Maxx they have here too! Mostly my shopping consists of just browsing but there are some really good sale items I have come across that I wasn't able to just ignore. I even got our Christmas package mailed off to China from here yesterday. I hope it gets there before everyone heads off to Austrailia!

Well, it's noon already; so I better get off the computer and get out and about. I only have 5 more hours before I have to pick up Paul. So hard to decide where to go first...Target? Pier One? Christensen's?..............
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey farming

Here are the turkeys that I have raised for Thanksgiving this year!

My clever, ambitious sister in law instigated a little pre-Thanksgiving get together with her, me and my other sister in law, Kalita, to create these cute cupcake turkeys. Seriously, what could be better than a chocolate turkey!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

I just keep on Quilting

I need to share my most recent birthday quilt project. I actually made this quilt back in October for Colton's birthday. Since he lives in China, I couldn't blog about it until after he had received it and by then I was in Hawaii so I'm just getting around to sharing it with you.

This was such a fun quilt to make!!! I don't know about you, but I always get my very best ideas at the last minute. So about a week before his birthday I came up with this idea. You may remember that I made a denim quilt for Cory for his birthday back in May so I knew I wanted to make some kind of denim quilt for Colton. I decided I wanted to make a tee shirt quilt. Only one teeny problem, I didn't have any of Colton's tee shirts. So I got creative and went to the DI, Deseret Industries, which is a local thrift store here that is a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is like a gold mine! Seriously, you can always find the best surprises there and it is very inexpensive. I was thrilled with the tee shirts that I found that were perfect to represent Colton and his interests. If you click on the photo you can see each block up close. Of course, I was able to dive into my stash of jeans in my sewing closet for the denim part of the quilt. I just loved the big polka dots. All those colors just seemed to tie all the random blocks together and the lime green flannel added a great "wow" factor. I tied the quilt but then I also did some machine quilting within the individual blocks to stablize the cotton
tee shirts. I used flannel on the back and as the inside batting so it would be warm and cuddly for him.

I got the best thank you emails from Colton and Heidi and I was so pleased that it was a hit when it arrived.

Here is my fun neighborhood quilt group and the quilt that we made last Weds. We have a woman in our neighborhood who has been battling cancer for 12 years! It just breaks our hearts. So we decided that we wanted to make her a little something to let her know we care and are still thinking about her. This is just one of those quick, rag-type quilts. We put this all together in about 2 hours. We hope she can feel our love and concern for her as she snuggles under these cheery squares this holiday season!
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Button, Button... the next generation

I have always needed to spend some time in my sewing room as often as possible and back when I had little kids I had to find clever ways to keep them occupied so that I could accommadate this indulgence. One of their favorite activities was to string buttons.

One by one as my grandkids have gotten old enough to be trusted with a needle in their precious little hands, I have introduced them to this new skill. Aspen just joined the ranks of the button stringers and she loved it! Now, before you start to panic and assume that I am a careless grandma, I do have a blunt needle that I give them. I have a huge jar of buttons that I have amassed over the years and it is a huge thrill for the kids to dump it over and see the buttons fly everywhere.

It was so fascinating to watch Aspen as she sorted through the buttons and carefully selected just the right ones she wanted to add to her collection. She was a quick learner on how to manipulate the needle through the hole and get the button to drop down the string. When she had filled up the string, we tied it off and she got to take it home. I saw her the next day and Katie had tied the ends together to make Aspen's string of buttons into a bracelet which she was still wearing (along with the blue hula skirt we brought her from Hawaii).

I remember stringing buttons when I would go and visit my grandma and now it is so fun to see this little tradition continue to the next generation.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Last week -- this week

Hawaii was wonderful... except for the price of gas and food! This was the price of gas just 10 days ago when we were on the island of Molokai. Ouch! It was quite as high on Maui. When we first arrived, we paid $3.88 a gallon and by the time we left 2 weeks later the price had dropped to $3.55. Still very pricey!

No, this isn't an old photo. I actually bought gas at Sam's Club yesterday and this is what I paid! Of course, I went for the unleaded gas! I can not remember the last time I paid less than $2 a gallon. It only cost me $42 to fill up my tank. Not too long ago it was costing me almost $100 when I would fill up. As much as we talked about how wonderful it would be to live in Hawaii with it's idealic climate, delightful sea breezes and laidback lifestyle, I think financially we're better off here.
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Saturday, November 8, 2008


So as the sun sets on our 2 weeks here in Hawaii, we have to abide by the fact that "all good things must come to an end".

Hopefully all our memories and photos will keep us warm for the next 5 cold, snowy months. I hope you got a little touch of the Aloha spirit via my posts and maybe you will decide to come over for your own escape to paradise!
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Quality reading

The nice thing about going on vacation is the chance to have some quality reading time. Since we have been relaxing on the beach, both Paul & I have cruised through a lot of pages. Paul has finished 4 books and I'm on my third.

I want to share this book with you, my dear blog-readers because it was an extremely enjoyable book. It is titled "The Seamstress" and it is by Frances de Pontes Peebles.

A month or so ago, I was browsing through Barnes and Noble and this book caught my eye. I'm sure it was the title and the picture on the jacket that peeked my curosity (you know, being the seamstress that I am). I did take it off the shelf and browse through it but I'm also a cautious book buyer and it cost $25.95 so I was reluctant to purchase it spur of the moment when I didn't really know anything about it. It is has a 2008 copyright. I really like brand new, hot of the press releases. I went home and read more about it on the author's website: and then I requested it from my local library.

I have blogged before that my favorite genre of books is memoirs. My second favorite genre is historical fiction. This story definately fits into that category. In fact, on the back cover it is called a "historical saga". Typically when I come on vacation I only like to bring paperback books because I don't like to have to hold up a heavy read and often I don't want to bring the book back home with me. I started reading this novel before we left on our trip and I knew there was no way I wasn't bringing it along. It is 641 pages but well worth it's weight and the fact that I do have to take it back home and return it to the library.

The story is about two sisters who live in the lawless backcountry of Brazil in the early 1930s. As young women they are separated, one sister being kidnapped by a group of the most notorious bandits that are terrorizing everyone from the landowners to the government officials. The other sister escapes her rural upbringing to become elevated in the high society of Recife but is always terrified that her connection to the much despised and feared bandits will be discovered and revealed. On the book jacket is this description: "An enthralling novel of love and courage, loyalty and adventure, that brings to life a faraway time and place,
The Seamstress is impeccably drawn, rich in depth and vision, and heralds the arrival of a supremely talented new writer."
(they describe it much better than I can)

The other two books I have been reading, though enjoyable, have been like a little snack or an appetizer compared to this book that I would describe as a 7- course meal. I couldn't put it down but at the same time I didn't want it to end. I highly recommend it.
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

All day tour

Sunday morning we woke up to another beautiful day here in paradise. We planned on going to Church and knew that it was Stake Conference this week. The Stake Center is in Kahului which is in the middle of the island about 22 miles away. Church started at 8 am so we had to get an early start. As we drove over to Kuhului we could see that there were no clouds hovering over the Haleakala volcano which is quite unusual. We decided that if it was still cloudless after Church we'd drive on up and check it out.

Two hours later, it was still cloudless! Yea!!! The last time we were here on Maui was back in 1997. We came with Katie and Cam and one of the really fun, exciting outings we did was to get driven up to the top of the volcano at 5 am and be there when the sun came up and then hop on bicycles and ride the 35 miles back down the volcano! I remember it being really fun but I don't remember anything else about the surroundings. I didn't realize that this road was a long, twisting, thankfully 2 lanes wide, perfectly paved highway but the speed limit was still mostly no higher than 20 mph. It is a really unique ride and it traverses all kinds of landscape from pastures to volcanic rock flows. This is what it looks like up at 10,032 feet above sea level! We really lucked out because the whole trip was cloudless until we started driving back down and by then it didn't matter to us any more.

Before we came on our trip, Paul had this crazy idea that he wanted to ride his bicycle UP the volcano so our car ride was a recon trip to see what the uphill climb looked like. NO WAY, JOSE is what we learned from the roadtrip. Seriously, that is not a very enticing bike ride. Paul typically likes to bike uphill but this was insane!

There was one more road that he wanted to check out as a possible biking route. There is a road that goes around the north side of the island from Kuhului back to Kahana, where we are staying. It is about 32 miles which is a very doable number.

I am here to give a very stern warning to anyone coming to Maui, ever... NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, DRIVE THIS ROAD! It was horrendous! It made the road to Hana seem like a freeway! I have never been so glad to get off a back road in my entire life! And I don't really get freaked out easily. For at least 15 miles, the road way only 1 lane, with NO shoulder and most of the way with NO guardrails either. It was full of sharp, blind turns. The speed limit was posted at 5 mph and at times I thought that was too fast! There were several times when we had to back up to let another car pass us. Going forward was frightening; you can imagine how we felt about backing up! We passed lots of ranches and homes -- people live out here and drive this road on a daily basis! They must be insane! I would buy a helicopter before I'd ever drive this road again. And then we saw the school bus for the kids! There is not way in creation I'd put a child on a school bus on this road. And we weren't even dealing with rain or wind or blinding clouds.

When we finally got past the worst part of the road, we had to pull over and take in the calming scenery for a while. Every time a car passed us heading towards the awful part of the road we had just come over, I wanted to stop them and tell them to TURN
AROUND while they still could. Paul is banned from considering a bike ride over there too! (by joint decision!)
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Our son, the IRONMAN!


Amazing! Unbelievable! This is what I kept thinking as I watched the live feed of the Panama City, Florida Ironman on Saturday from my condo here in Hawaii and got to see our tough son Cameron cross the finish line. This isn't really him in the picture because when I snapped the photo of him I forgot to turn off the flash and all you could see is a big bright spot on the screen. Besides, he and his friend Dustan were hauling across the finish line. They came up so fast that the announcer didn't even have time to find their names; he just announced that the "Utah boys" had just crossed the line.

This is actually Cameron's 2nd Ironman. If you are a longtime reader of my blog you will remember back in June of 2007 he did the Coeur de Lane (spelling?), Idaho ironman in 11 hours 6 minutes and 50 seconds. He surpassed that time by a ton. He finished this race in 10 hours, 32 minutes and 33 seconds! This is a significant improvement!

He did the swimming portion in 1 hour 18 minutes and 35 seconds. This is his least favorite portion. There were 2500 participants all out in the water at once. He said it felt like swimming upstream with salmon -- totally crazy and chaotic. He did the 112 miles biking portion in 5 hours 9 minutes and 59 seconds. This part is his favorite portion and he was very pleased with his performance. He didn't stop at all during the whole 5 hours on the bike and luckily he had no flat tires or other mechanical issues either. The final portion, which is the marathon of 26.2 miles, he completed in 3 hours 53 minues and 27 seconds. And he finished the whole thing by sprinting across the finish line with his buddy. Cam finished 338th and his buddy Dustan finished 339th. I think I saw that he was 62nd in his category out of 236!

(I might take this up as a weight loss program when I get home from my trip as Cam said that he lost 6 pounds during the course of the race! )

Way to go Cam, you are our hero!!!
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Sailing away

Last Friday we decided to take a hop on over to the island of Molokai. We can see the island from the balcony of our hotel. It doesn't look that far away. In fact, it is only 8 miles away (about 1 hour 45min. each way). So we found a day long tour that includes a ferry ride over and then an all day tour of the island along with lunch and shopping.

Molokai is very different from any of the other islands. The residents want to keep everything authentic Hawaiian culture so they are not the least interested in modernizing their island or attracting much tourism. Our van driver/tour guide was a really unique guy. He talked non stop. He shared history, culture, Hawaiian language, local political issues and lots of jokes. It was a very informative experience. The island is very dry and not at all how I picture Hawaii. It has a very small town vibe. Most people live here because they want to be isolated.

You may be aware that back in the 1800s there was an outbreak of leprosy and many people we banished to this island as a way to deal with this disease. They established a town, Kalaupapa, in a very remote location (even today it is accessible only by hiking down a 1700 foot sea cliff trail or taking a helicopter ride. We drove to an overlook location and this is a picture of the town. At one point there were about 700 infected residents plus lots of other non infected family members residing here. Back in about the 1960s a medication was developed that stopped the spread of the disease but because of the effects of the disease on the body and how people look that are affected, most people have chosen to remain here. Today there are only 31 people registered as leprosy afflicated. They are mostly in their 80s. After the last registered person dies then this town can be opened to the general public and maybe even a real road will be built to access the town. But most residents don't want that.

Another highlight of our tour was going to a Macademia nut farm. I love macademia nuts so I was very interested to see how they are grown. The farm we went to is a very small operation. This guy has 50 trees but he produces a lot of nuts. His trees are at least 90 years old. The macademia nut tree produces fruit 12 months a year -- non stop. Its' life cycle is taking place from blossoms to mature fruit all at the same time, on the same tree, non stop. They don't pick the nuts; they just wait for the ripe nuts to fall on the ground and then they know they are ripe. This green shell around the nut is called the husk. After it is peeled off, there is a hard shell underneath protecting the nut. That shell has to be cracked with a hammer - reminded me of cracking a pecan. The raw nut is tender and delicious and very healthy. At this farm they sell the nuts either raw or dry roasted. They will last about a month. When the big companies mass produce the nuts for general consumption, they have to add a lot of stuff to preserve them for a longer shelflife and that adds more calories and other less healthy ingredients. I wish I could grow one of these trees in my yard at home. We are consuming as many nuts while we are here as we can! You know, we try to be as healthy as possible!
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween 2008

Can you tell who this is? (no, it is not me and Paul)

It's Dora and Diego!

We decided to dress up for the grandkids this year and it totally worked. Aspen and Collin knew exactly who we were; most of the other adults didn't have a clue (except for the parents of Aspen & Collin).

Every year we get invited to this wonderful extended family Halloween party that is put on by Paul's sister, KJ (see the following post). She timed it just perfect so Paul and I could be there by holding it last Friday night -- the night before we left for Hawaii. She figures that this was the 25th year! She has always gone overboard (in a good way) with all the decorations and food and even games and favors but each year it just keeps on getting better. This year was no exception. Don't you love her front porch!

Here's our Star Wars relatives from a "a long time ago and a gallaxy far away". Yes, even Darth Vader (Cam), Princess Lea (LaRane), Anakan (Collin) and Yoda (Cache) stopped by to join in the fun and games. There was alot of light sabre dueling taking place during the course of the evening. That Anakan is really a tough guy!

Heidi's family wasn't able to make it from China but Katie, Clark and Aspen went to their Japanese connections (Clark's mission days) and came outfitted in authentic kimonos. They won the prize for the most comfortable costumes especially for the 8 month pregnant Mama.

Thanks for the fabulous evening KJ! It is a much anticipated, 3-generation event!
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The party host and hostess

Here is Paul's sister, KJ and her hubby, Scott. They get the credit for hosting this annual festivity for the past 25 years. She really puts on quite the celebration.

Here is Paul's other sister Kalita (my hiking buddy) and her family -- minus a couple of kids and grandkids who weren't able to make it to the party this year. You can tell from these pictures that everyone goes all out!
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Paul's adventure

Yesterday morning Paul decided he was ready to ride the road to Hana. For any of you that have actually driven this road, I don't need to tell you how crazy an idea this really is. For those of you that haven't driven this road, believe me, it is a crazy idea! But that never seems to deture him. We talked to a guy at a bike shop over here and he told Paul it would be a great day to ride because the winds had shifted to the other side of the island and it would likely not rain. This is the side of the island that it usually rains somewhat every day so a non-rain day would be a real bonus.

We drove over to Paia which is where Paul wanted to begin his ride. It would be 45 miles from there to Hana. He thought it would take him about 4 hours. I kissed him goodbye, told him to be careful and waved goodbye. Then I took off to find my quilt shop. After about 2 hours killing time on my own, I decided I better head out to Hana myself. Paul & I have driven this road once before but it was about 20 years ago and I knew it was narrow and twisty but I'd forgotten HOW narrow and twisty! The posted speed limit was 10 - 15 mph and a lot of the way that speed seemed almost too fast.

It is a really beautiful drive. It is like a rain forest with thick vegetation and tall trees and vines growing right up to the edge of the road. It concerned me a lot to think of Paul riding on a bike since there was a lot of
sightseeing traffic. I was afraid a distracted driver would come around a sharp corner and run him over. Wives tend to worry like that. I thought I'd probably catch up with him before I got to Hana so I kept expecting to see him when I came around every corner but I never did. We had decided on a location to meet up at when we got to Hana without really knowing where that location would actually be. But with a warm feeling of relief I found him sitting on the side of the road in the location we had chosen. He had been there all of about 3 minutes so our timing turned out perfect also. He had finished the ride in 4 hours. The ride had a lot more terrain than he expected. There was an uphill section that was about 3 miles long that was quite the workout but then on the downhill sections he was going faster than most of the cars. When I got out of the car and walked up to him I did notice a bloody, scraped up forearm and he admitted he had a "little crash landing" along the way.

He was riding along taking in the ups and downs and feeling quite confident when he went around an extremely sharp, uphill, hairpin turn that had a lot of ruts in the road and his bike chain slipped and he couldn't get his feet unclipped out of his peddles and he ended up tipping over. He landed on his elbow and forearm and shoulder and then bonked his shin pretty good as well. There was a guy in a convertible right behind him that saw the whole thing so he stopped and made sure Paul was OK. This guy was an athelete too. In fact he had just finished a triathalon a couple hours before down on the other side of the island. This wasn't a serious incident but Paul is kind of sore in those place today and he is having an off-bike day.

Ironically, as we were driving back down from Hana we came across 2 teenage girls who had been on mountain bikes and one girl was laying on the side of the road. We could tell as we got closer that she was hurt. So we pulled over and jumped out. This must have just happened because she was kind of out of it; she couldn't tell us what exactly had happened. Between them they only had one helmet and thankfully the girl that crashed was the one wearing the helmet. She had bonked her head pretty hard and she said her neck was hurting. She had scrapped up hands and knees. We gave her friend our cell phone and she called her mom. Luckily, they lived close by and the mom came within 5 minutes. The hurt girl was able to get up off the road and we had her sit in our car until the mom came. Paul could totally relate to her!

So all's well that ends well. He is still planning to ride up the volcano but not for a few more days! Stay tuned!
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My adventure

I found it... the only quilt shop on the island of Maui. It is located in a town called Kihei which is about 30 miles from where we are staying but only about 12 miles from Paia where I dropped Paul off for his bike ride. We had actually come over to this town the night before and gone to dinner close by but the shop was closed by the time we found it. So I was glad to have another chance to get inside.

It is quite a small store but it is very well stocked! I enjoyed checking out EVERYTHING! It was fun to see so many fabrics and patterns that I don't normally see at home since so much of what is offered is very authentic Hawaiian-style.

Here is my one big purchase from this shop. I really though this was adorable. It is a pineapple pin cushion! It is an original, handmade creation of a local woman. I'm excited to add it to my pin cushion collection.

Besides stopping at the quilt shop, I checked out the Sugar Cane museum which was very interesting and informative. There are lots of sugar cane fields all around here so I enjoyed learning about how it began as an industry and how they process sugar from these leafy, bamboo-looking stalks. I won't be taking sugar for granted so much any more.