Jabuticaba Jelly

We have a jabuticaba (aka the Brazilian Grape) tree tucked away in the back corner of our lot.  We knew it was there, with its weird bark that sprouts fruit.   We tried the berries once (after verifying they weren't poisonous), but never thought too much about it. 

Turns out the tree is extremely rare and we are extremely lucky that we happen to have one.  Right now our "jabu tree" is in full production.  Mr A made about a gallon of jabuticaba juice in our Jack Lalane juicer Monday night and last night I ventured to make some jelly.


4 cup whole jabuticaba fruit

put in a large sauce pot with just enough water to cover the bottom and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Mash cooked fruit very well with potato masher.

Strain out the chunks and seeds (I used a cheese cloth) and wring all the goodness from the cooled pulp. 

2 cups prepared jabuticaba juice
3 tsp lime juice (packaged, not fresh)
1/3 cup apple juice concentrate
(can add 1/3 cup of honey or sugar, but I didn't)
1 package low-sugar/sugar-free pectin

Boil first 3(4) ingredients on high, stirring constantly, for one minute.  Add pectin and boil one minute more.  Remove from heat.
Ladle into warm canning jars.  Either process or put in the fridge.

So how did it taste on toast this morning?  Well, the fruit is much like a grape - clear and sweet on the inside with a tough, slightly bitter skin (where all the nutrients are housed).  I thought it was kind of bitter/sour, but the kids liked it.  When I make this again, with the intention of giving it to others, I will make it the traditional jelly way - with normal pectin and tons of sugar.

The color is amazing.  Its so luxuriously dark.  I read that you can make wine from jabuticaba and, based on the similarities to grapes, I'm convinced that it would be worth trying. 


Being Creative

Yesterday I finished a super-warm crochet hat with brim for Mr A - just in time for perfect Hawaiian weather (thanks, Waimea, for always keeping me guessing) and I'm about half way through a Victorian Lace shrug for a little lady with an upcoming birthday.  I suppose you could say that I'm being creative.

Just a little sneak peak, Steph.  Nothing major ;)

In fact, when I first began knitting someone pointed out to me that there's not too much actual creativity involved in following a pattern.  Which, sadly, seems true.  Its more technical skill than anything else.  With knitting, cooking and sewing I have a very difficult time deviating from patterns or recipes.  Only recently have I felt comfortable throwing things in the crock pot or slapping a seam here-or-there.

Yesterday I was cleaning like a mad woman and thinking - again - about garbage.  Arrg.  It seems like no matter how much I donate to the thrift store or how much I talk myself out of this-or-that purchase, my house accumulates junk!  I am so sick of throwing crap away.  There needs to be a change in attitude when it comes to the things I bring into my house.  Too often I assume that the useful life of an object ends once it has fulfilled the purpose I bought it for.  The rest, hence, becomes garbage. 

But that isn't being very creative now, is it?!  I should be able to discover uses that go beyond its stated purpose.  I should be making things that are useful and beautiful out of, you know, whatever.  That would be very creative. 


The Game of Grocery Shopping

This month I came in 50 dollar under budget for groceries!

Maybe that doesn't sound like super savings, but for me it's a real accomplishment.  Not only am I under-budget, I also have a kitchen that is bursting at the seams with food.  Aside from a few small items (maple syrup, for example), we are totally stocked.  The only things I might need to replenish are fresh fruits and veggies. 

How did I get to this point?

Basically, I've adopted 3 new policies that have made the Grocery Game easier: planning, bulk, and waste reduction.  This probably doesn't sound like rocket science - but it sure took me a long time to figure out!

Planning involves couponing, scheduling meals and taking inventory of the cupboards on a regular basis.  Naysayer claim you can't save significantly with coupons in Hawaii.  This is partially true.  But, I've been using both Safeway and Target's online coupons through their websites and have reaped some serious savings.  One caveat, this requires being able to recognize a "good deal" and a "freaking rip-off despite a coupon and a sale". 
Scheduling meals means making a plan for the coming week and posting it where everyone can see.  This helps avoid running to the store at the last minute to buy ingredients for ...whatever.  Taking inventory of the cupboards allows me to plan meals around what we actually have in the house.  It's a good way to make sure I'm not letting perfectly edible food sit in there until it rots or expires.

  •  BULK
Even thought Costco might not always have the best price per unit, the prices are usually good.  And that's good enough for me.  We only buy things that we are sure we will be able to use up.  So when I hit Costco I buy things like frozen chicken, grains (rice, quinoa, oatmeal), canned tomatoes, eggs, raisins, bread, etc.  Unless I've seen a screaming deal or a coupon advertised in the paper - I stock up on what we eat most in bulk.
Conversely, I also try to buy things we don't eat very often in the bulk section (if possible) because I want to buy only what we actually use.  No need to have a jar of dill or a huge bag of beans sitting around my kitchen for the next decade.

Our family already ate leftovers (up to a certain point), so that wasn't a hard sell.  I've found that planning ahead and making things that can magically become something new (ex. pot roast turned tacos) has helped us to throw away less food.  As I type this, I am baking bars and cookies out of rejected cereal.  Hopefully, in this new form, it will be consumed.  Our tummies will be full and I can put off restocking the cupboards for yet another day.


Preschool: Aha Punanaleo o Waimea

Long before kids, I was browsing through an issue of Hawaii Magazine at Mr A's friend's house and came across an article about Aha Punanaleo, a Hawaiian language immersion school.  At first I casually scanned the article, then I read it word-for-word, then I looked at the school's website.  I dreamed about how great, albeit slightly unrealistic, it would be to send my kids to a school like that. 

Fast forward five years, now I have two kids and Punanaleo has a school 3 minutes from my house!  Fueled by other parents recommendations (ex "they create special people"), we went through the application process last year and were very impressed.  However, we realized it would be too much to take on considering our other commitments (esp. Mr A's graduate school aka Biggest Time Suck Ever) and decided to keep Ikaika at home.

This year, I am full-steam-ahead, super excited.  And I have more than one reason to get all jazzed because APL now has a K-2 and are planning on expanding an elementary grade level every year!  The school is a satellite of  Nawahiokalani in Keaau (near Hilo) and it's public (yay free education).

I believe in the benefits of bilingual education, so I was already sold on APL.  But, knowing that there wasn't a true immersion elementary school in town, I had to accept the fact that they would eventually lose most of what they had learned in preschool and any benefit would be strictly intrinsic (maybe they would have an easier time picking up a language once they were older since they had already been through the process).  Knowing that they can stay in that system, if thats what fits with our family, is just an added bonus.

Yes, between the weekly language classes and the mandatory volunteer hours, this is going to be a huge undertaking.  But having the chance to give my children a culturally relevant education, something more than just ABCs and 123s, is literally a dream come true.       


5 Things That Make Me Happy

  1. Reading Fear and Trembling, relishing in the fact that I am afforded the luxury of truly enjoying my job.
  2. Going to MOPS this morning and learning way too much about the prevalence of HPV.  It was enlightening...in a very disturbing/paranoia kind of way (Guardasil has been approved for teenage boys - so I guess my kids will be "one less")
  3. Making dinner in the crock pot - chop, chop, toss, toss, wait and done.
  4. Writing letters to relatives I miss very much but don't call nearly often enough.
  5. getting a bag of hand-me-downs from a friend and finding both pajamas (very much needed) and an uber-cute "Boys Day" t-shirt! 


Brambles Hat for Mo's B-day

In that last few weeks I've been teaching a co-worker to knit, which has revived my fiber art addiction.  Say it with me now: I NEED YARN THERAPY!

you can't see the hat and I have no make up on...why I am posting this?

I told my little sister that I would make this for her last spring (I've also got her Tshirt quilt sitting in pieces under my bed) - better late than never.  Love the results.

I used the Brambles pattern from Knitty.  The cables seem daunting (and half-way through, I was complaining about it) but it works up fast.  I found using stitch markers made the general pattern easier to memorize.  It's made in Lambs Pride worsted, a wool/mohair mix - warm enough to easily stand up to any winter weather the midwest has to offer.

I would have liked the ribbing to be more snug, but since my sister has uber-curly hair, I'm suspecting she will appreciate the looser tension.


Valentines Day Junk

Disclaimer: this post is going to make me sound bratty and ungrateful.

Since the very beginning of our relationship, my husband and I have clashed over Valentines Day.  Long story short, he thinks its fun (meaningful?) to celebrate, I don't.  I could go on and on about my problem with Vday, but I'm sure you've heard it all before.  I'll try to refrain from beating the dead horse senseless.

A few days ago we agreed to go out to dinner sometime during this week (whenever it worked out with the babysitter) and I admit that I bought a greeting card (on coupon) and composed a poem for the inside.  Mr A has always had a soft spot for writing about him - bonus points for any mention of "oneness". 

This past weekend he went to the store on errands and came back with a book of Valentines stickers for the boys and some strange hanging-heart-thing for me.  He had already written on the back in Sharpie so I couldn't exactly argue for its immediate return.  I assure you, the heart plaque won't be in our house very long unless I can figure out something else for it to become (ie. it's ugly).  But, Ikaika was so pumped up about the stickers, I didn't want to be a grump and spoil the good times.

Yesterday (legit Vday), as I was driving the boys home from preschool, I noticed someone selling Valentines junk on the side of the road.  "What idiot buys that crap?" I thought to myself. 

As it turns out, my husband does.  Mr A came home from work with a balloon and a rose - wrapped in plastic with a weird Styrofoam, glitter covered heart and baby's breath or whatever.  I reluctantly accepted it, but couldn't help feeling more than just a little annoyed.  Does this man know me at all?  Do I seem like the kind of woman who needs/wants this crap?  What am I going to do with this in 36 hours besides throw it away?  I hesitated thanking him because I didn't want to encourage him to ever do it again.

Later that night, as we sat at the kitchen table working on homework and taxes (how romantic), I gently explained that small gestures mean 1000 times more than any hyped up junk from the store.  And edibles are always preferred to disposables.  ;)

I appreciate that Mr A always remembers special days like Valentines Day, birthdays and our anniversary.  And I love that it's important to him to show how much he cares about me.  I guess I would take any display of devotion over nothing at all...
...what was I complaining about?


To-Do List #23: CHECK!

This morning I finished up the final chapters and crossed #23 off my To-Do List

It might come as no surprise that, although I swoon over Mr Darcy and his impeccable manners, I am attracted to people who are slightly more emotionally volatile.  This book was funny, romantic, and full of vocab words from the GRE (I knew the definition of 'alacrity', thanks ETS!). 

I can't wait to rent the movie so Mr A can be bored out of his mind (likewise, he probably won't be smitten by Elizabeth's self-control)

*Yes, that is my Kindle.  And, yes, I am deeply in love.


An EASY Way to Organize Kids Closets

...notice I didn't say a "beautiful" or "creative" way? 

I should probably explain that even though I, like most, dream of a perfectly styled home - I don't really give a flying fig what my kids closet looks like so long as I can find everything in it.  Someday I will take the time and resources to really trick it out (I'm thinking modular, reeking of The Container Store) - but for now, I just need it to function.

My big "secret": I use hanging sweater cubbies in the kids' closet.  Ikaika is on the right and Koa is on the left.  The compartments are sorted by:
  • short sleeve shirts
  • long sleeve shirts
  • pants
  • shorts
  • pajamas
  • misc (rash guards, underwear, socks, capes, etc)
The reason this system has been working for me since day one is...
  1. it requires minimal effort for folding/hanging.  On super lazy/busy days I just shove clothes into the appropriate cubby.
  2. it keeps the amount of clothes my kids have in check.  I've found that the number of clothes that fits is just the right amount to be functional without being excessive.***  When the cubbies start feeling cramped - I look to donate.  As a result, my children regularly wear 95% of the clothes they own.
  3. i can easily take inventory of what they have/need because it's all in one spot
  4. it doesnt take up a lot of space.
  5. it's portable.  When we moved, I took this down and loaded it in the car.  kids clothes, check!

***I should note that on the other side of the closet is this little mini-cubby that I got (totally on impulse) from the clearance rack at Lowes.  Because Koa tends to outgrow stuff suddenly, I began keeping the next size up in this one.  



Some of you may have noticed when trying to navigate to this page, but just in case you missed it:

I changed the URL of the blog to keikionboard.blogspot.com

As I was cleaning all the "baby" clothes out of Koa's closet the other day and replacing them with "toddler" garb, it occured to me that my babies are no longer babies.  Arrayanbaby no longer encompasses the vibe here. 
Please update your bookmarks accordingly :)


Nom Nom, Homemade Food

pictured here eating Lucky Charms

Lately, I've been feeding my kids all kinds of processed junk.  We've been going out to eat more often.  Frozen pizzas are way over par for the month.  I've literally been writing "bake muffins" on my to-do list for three weeks...and not a single muffin has emerged from my oven.  I probably bought 10 boxes of granola bars on our last shopping trip. 

The super homemade, everything fresh thing comes and goes in cycles around here.  I spent a few months making love to the Crock-pot, enjoying fresh yogurt, boiling eggs every Monday like a champ.  Then comes the famine.  A few months of moping over an entire fridge of "nothin' to eat" and shuffling around my kitchen like a zombie.

When I'm in the groove, meal planning, coupon clipping, and keeping an endless supply of snacks stocked in our pantry is a breeze.  It's automatic.  When I'm out of the groove (like right now), it feels so overwhelming that I can barely muster the energy to heat up frozen sweet potato fries.

Today is the day I turn it all around!  Today I am going to finally make those stupid muffins, I am going to know what we are eating for dinner by 2pm at the latest (and maybe even what we are eating tomorrow), then I am going to sit my kids down for a balanced lunch of real food!  Today I take back my kitchen!


25 Things you can do TODAY to be Energy Efficient

  1. Set fridge between 37 and 40 degrees and the freezer at 0
  2. check the rubber seal on the door
  3. clean the coils or filters of the fridge.
  4. set the water heater to 120 degrees
  5. set the water heater on a timer
  6. wrap the water heater in an insulation blanket
  7. wrap the water heater pipes
  8. fix burned out oven coils
  9. match pot size to burner size and keep the lid on it
  10. use the microwave, toaster oven or a crock pot
  11. do not preheat the oven unless baking
  12. turn the water off when brushing teeth
  13. check sinks and pipes for leaks
  14. take shorter showers
  15. install low flow shower heads
  16. use insulated curtains or dark colors
  17. use compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or LED bulbs
  18. use power strip to eliminate energy hogs
  19. wash full load of clothes in cold water
  20. set correct water level on washer
  21. hang clothes instead of using a dryer
  22. activate "sleep" features on printers and office equipment
  23. use motion detecting switches on outdoor lighting
  24. use ceiling fans instead of air conditioner
  25. water in the early morning or evening