Our Maui Trip Photos

On Friday, the 12th of December, we decided we were going to Maui. On 13th, we were on the 6.00am flight :-). We had been to Kauai (twice) and the Big Island (thrice), but never to Maui. Well, in a sense, we didn't like Maui as much. To us, there wasn't as much 'Squeal Appeal' (which means places that make you squeal) as the other two islands I have mentioned. In Kauai, there is the Kilauea Lighthouse Marine Sanctuary, the Waimea Canyon, the Wailua Falls, the Spouting Horn and of course, the Na Pali Coast! On Big Island, my favourites are the Volcanoes National Park, the Akaka Falls State Park (which has 3 waterfalls and a great great forest-y walk), the Waipio Valley, the Hamakua Coast Drive, the Lava Tree State Park, the natural pools heated by lava....... I can just go on and on and on.
Maui has the Road to Hana, but we came across lots of bad local drivers, who just wanted to overtake and on the narrow road (just one lane going each way), they still push you to a corner, went onto oncomi
ng traffic and overtake. (Yes, in the no-passing zones!) We had a few incidents like that. And the road has about 60 one-lane bridges :) and about 600 bends :). And there's hardly any place to park your car and go and take a closer look. That is what was most disappointing. We had so many beautiful waterfalls, but couldn't see them properly.
From Hana, we went to the Haleakala National Park. People go there to see the sunrise, but we wanted to be dif
ferent :). So, we went at noon. Now, that is one place that blew us away (literally too!). Its gorgeous! On the road up the Haleakala, you get to touch clouds :). And when you get to the summit, you are actually above clouds. It such a great feeling! And from the summit, you can take a peek into the crater and different cinder cones of the dormant volcano (I don't think its extinct yet). The summit is at 10,000+ feet, so be prepared to acclimatize before you move on. Its super cold too :). On Haleakala, we saw the Silversword plant, which grows ONLY on the Haleakala and nowhere else in the world. It's really a marvel in more than one way! It starts out silvery-green and goes totally silver!!! Metallic, gleaming silver! It's amazing. My pictures don't do them justice.
We stayed at the Old Lahaina House. The room was so CLEAN! Why do I stress on clean? Well, usually, in Hawaii, unless you cough up a fortune, its almost impossible to find a room that you want to stay in. And Maui is the most expensive. So we were happy to find a room for less than a hundred dollars. And even more excited to see how nice and bright and clean it was. The Old Lahaina House is a Bed and Brea
kfast place. We were very pleased with our experience. And we loved the old town feel of Lahaina. This is one place that makes Maui score some Brownie points over Kauai and the Big Island. We found that we had a choice of places to eat from and they were open beyond 8pm :).
The next morn
ing, we took a drive and simply stopped at places which interested/intrigued us. We also stopped at a place from where we could look at 4 islands (Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe and the tiny submerged volcano Molokini). Standing there, we also saw the HUMPBACK WHALES!!!! That was amazing. We then went to the Iao Valley State Park and finished our trip with a visit to the Maui Ocean Center, which is nice too.
Anyway, that's a lot of travel blabber from a person who didn't like Maui as much :). Imagine how much I'll have to say when I talk about Kauai or the Big Island :).

Moo - The cutest little cow


I haven't been around in my blog much of late. Been very busy with work (and a Maui vacation.... photos coming up in the next post, so stay tuned)! But its been great fun too - because my work is fun for me :). That's the best part, isn't it?
Anyway, I had been missing my DECO Clay Craft Academy a lot. I hadn't been there in a while to take classes and wanted to try out the great special projects they had for the holidays. One of them had this cute little cow that I totally fell in love with. I just HAD to make this lady. Why is it a lady and not a guy? Well, don't you see how well dressed up she is? Ribbons, a shawl and flowers too :). Only a lady can be so elegant. What say?
Doing this project with Yukiko (my lovely teacher) and Chen Li, I learnt not only this figurine but also how to make those cute flowers. Those are called Kimono flowers. They are originally made with kimono fabric. Only, we have made them with DECO clay here :).
I want to say a few words about Chen Li here. (In the picture, she's the one in a gre
y top and Yukiko's the one to her left) She is such a wonderful teacher! And a great person too. We have several wonderful and friendly people in our academy. And Chen Li is definitely one such person. She helps Yukiko teach us and even when Yukiko is away, Chen Li teaches at the academy. She is such a wonderful addition to the teaching stuff! And she is extremely talented as well. I totally flip for her plumerias :). Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of her plumerias, but here's a photo of another tropical arrangement that I bought as a present for my parents, who just loved her creations! Isn't it lovely?
What else is new at the academy? Well, there are two bits of wonderful news! Firstly, we will be having a new flower course in April - new flowers, that we haven't learnt before. How exciting! The only bad thing about the news is that, its in April :(. I don't know whether I'll still be in Hawaii to learn the new flowers. Secondly, Sensei Miyai.... the Great Kazuko Miyai.... is going to be here in January or February next year to teach us a special project. Yay! This year, we did a clay kimono :). So, I know next year too, there's something truly special in store for us.

Somdutta - Another Fab ETSY Artist and a dear friend

Somdutta is someone I know from my college days. This pretty girl was a year junior to me in college and we lived in the same hostel (dorm). We had lost touch for years, but one fine day she found me in ETSY, where she too has a store. No, actually, she has two stores. Two fab stores. She is a jewelry artist and her jewelry is so gorgeous that it has actually made even a person like me - I hardly wear jewelry - buy from her store. And not just once. I keep going back to her stores and when my father wanted a totally flawless gemstone - a London Blue Topaz, at least 8 carats - Somdutta was the one I trusted with my purchase. My father is very finicky and I was apprehensive whether he'd like the stone. He loved it! And he couldn't believe the price he got it for. And Somdutta personally handed it over to my family, when she travelled to India. I can't thank her enough! But I can recommend her - her quality of work, the quality of stones that she carries in her ETSY stores and her customer service. Truly, greatly, recommended.

SomsStudioSupplies has an awesome collection of precious and semi-precious stones, lab-created stones, crystals and pearls. In short, its a DREAM sourcing store for a jewelry artist. I stress on it, because I keep going back to her store, just to see what stones she has listed. The quality is so awesome! (She even gets appraisals done, if requested) And the price is extremely reasonable. Just as an example, take a look at this huge CITRINE in her shop. The appraiser puts the average retail value of the stone at over a 1000 Dollars, while her price is just 360 Dollars! This store of hers is doing really well. And its really no surprise :).
Her other store is SomsStudio where she sells jewelry designed by her. Somdutta's jewelry design is very unique. Her designs can be traditional, modern or even abstract. And sometimes, she can mix up all three effortlessly. This store of hers needs a little more buyer-attention, because its designs are very unique and the pieces very affordable.
So, if you are looking for a truly unique piece of quality artisan jewelry, you should be headed to SomsStudio. And if you are a jewelry artist and are looking for affordable and/or unique beads of excellent quality, SomsStudioSupplies sure is one place you MUST check out!

Christmas Wreath Custom Order

Sometime back I had written a post about the Amaryllis flowers that I had made as a custom order for a lady. She also wanted a Christmas Wreath with candle stands inside it. She sent me an advent ring and some pics depicting what she had in mind. And here's what I came up with.
The wreath has peonies, callas, and tulips. It also has a variety of foliage, pine cones and lovely red holly berries. This one is the most difficult arrangement I have done in a long time.
First of all, it is a pain to find the stuff you want, in Hawaii. We searched and searched for three full weekends for the right kind of berries and the right kind of foliage. And we just could not find a styrofoam ring! Not the kind I liked, at least. (Finicky, ain't I? LOL!) Once we started finding stuff, they turned out to be far more expensive than I had estimated :(! That is what happens when you move from Arizona to Hawaii! Your costing sense goes topsy turvy! And ultimately, it turns out, that I really didn't make any money on this project - given the cost of materials used! But I learnt something new and that is an achievement too. :) Please let me know how you think the wreath turned out and if you think its missing something.... I went all out to make this wreath happen and happen well and I really want to make this wreath very special, because its a Christmas wreath :).

Holiday Arrangements

I have been tremendously busy of late, but these are a few arrangements I have managed to finish. There are a couple more in my etsy shop.
Do take a look and let me know how you like them. I am not happy with the photos, but its been so cloudy here, that I couldn't get better pics. :(
The top picture is that of an amaryllis and rose arrangement for Jennie - my friend from ETSY. She wanted one of my creations for her family. One look at her shop will tell you how awesomely talented she is. Not just that, she's an amazing person too. I have been buying her creations for sometime now and recently she made something for my sister's baby, who's due in March 0f 2009. I just ADORE
what she's done for me. I will write more about it soon.... Keep checking this space.
The second picture is that of a red poinsettia arrangement. My school in Hyderabad, (St.Ann's High School) used to have Poinsettias blooming at Christmas time. I have always loved them, though I knew them as 'Christmas flowers' :) back home. I have put some glitter on them, and it really looks so much better than in the picture... I love it so much that I don't want it to sell. Ain't I crazy?