GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

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New Butterfly!

The Gulf Fritillary Butterfly has found us. Passion vine, or Lilikoi, is the host plant, and we don’t have one in our yard, but perhaps we are being told to get one. 🙂

The first time this species appeared was in our dining room at dinner time. She hung out on the light while we ate.

gulf fritillary butterfly


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Little People that Care


There’s a whole lot of internet chatter on parenting. Most of it I don’t read. Sometimes an article will pop up in my inbox or newsfeed that has added some more fuel to so-called mommy wars. I don’t participate. I do like to take part in writing and activities that encourage, support, spread love and generally help humanity. Because my husband and I want to raise kids that care. And kids are watching how we grown ups are interacting with each other. Beyond all other traits, this one matters most to me.

How do you raise kids that give a shit? (About the world, and not just themselves?)

I don’t know if I have the formula or not, but our little people care about stuff. They have interests beyond what can be found on a screen. When my little guy wanted to save all the little worms we found in our cucumbers last year, I knew we were doing something right. Now he is an experienced butterfly farmer! He participates in all aspects of our little hatchery.  He helps get the caterpillars and saves the butterflies with wet wings so the geckos won’t eat them. After he is finished examining the dried up chrysalis, he smashes them, because he is 5 after all.



He grows things. Six weeks ago we mixed a bunch of flower seeds together in a cup and he sprinkled them in a spot of his choice in the garden.


This is how it looks today!


Six weeks ago this was a bare patch. My son threw some old seeds from the fridge out here 😀


Today we spent more than 3 hours just piddling around outside with bugs. We discovered a praying mantis in one garden and a new species of butterfly that is now frequenting our yard (Chinese Swallowtail.) It was really fun.

IMG_1117Now we have a very mobile 1 year old that is crawling circles around her mama! I let go of the worry of injury and mud and let her go in the garden today. She crawled, scooped, touched and covered herself in mud. And was so content, so happy and after 2 hours was so TIRED that she actually napped! 🙂


So get outside, friends. Even if it’s cold, windy or rainy wherever in this beautiful world you happen to be. Spending time outside with the kiddos fosters a sense of love and wonder for them and a whole heap of love and appreciation for me. We all win this one. ❤



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Crazy Caterpillar Lady




That’s me. Out in the yard or the carport every morning talking to my little critters. 😀

There’s been so much caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly activity in the lately! We rescued 20+ caterpillars from the crown flower and they are now all either in chrysalis form or have already hatched. Many of them leave the little mesh hamper I put them, as the one below, braving the terrain across the yard to go hang by another one, who has already made a chrysalis on the aloe plant.






Happy Butterflies

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Two butterflies hatched this morning while I was drinking my coffee. It is always amazing to watch, no matter how many times we have seen this now. But my baby was equally as fascinated, so we took the jar outside and watched them dry their wings and then eventually fly away. But one sat on my hand for the longest time, flapping and gaining her strength before circling the yard and going off.

Just a few moments after these two had gone, I checked the crownflower plant for new caterpillars and found two good sized ones, which have now been placed in our new “Ritz for Caterpillars” IKEA hamper. 😀 This new way of rescuing them, rather than jars, lets us get more at a time and also to get them smaller.  In jars, you must keep putting fresh leaves in each day, which can get rather full and stinky. In the mesh hamper, I get a large branch, stuck it in a jar of water for freshness and this will probably last the entire time they are growing.

It’s such an odd hobby this has become for me, but it’s really amazing and reminds me of the miracles of our Universe. ❤

Little chubby baby hands and butterflies make awesome photos :-)

Little chubby baby hands and butterflies make awesome photos 🙂

this beautiful creature let me photograph it for several minutes while the wings dried before flying away....

this beautiful creature let me photograph it for several minutes while the wings dried before flying away….


I couldn’t believe how long it sat on my hand, just looking at me 😀


Hey, nice eyes…


Just having a chat 🙂



In the moments just before a butterfly breaks out of the chrysalis, it’s translucency allows us to see the orange and black pattern on the wings while still inside.



IKEA mesh pop up hamper gets a new life as The Ritz for Caterpillars 🙂



Two of the three chrysalis in this jar hatched this morning, while I was feeding the baby and drinking coffee at the table. 🙂


This gallery contains 6 photos

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An Epic Pot of Lemongrass Tea


We have nice neighbors. So when my lemongrass plantzilla started shading half their yard, it was time to cut it back. Lemongrass is a great permaculture plant- perennial, grows easily, lots of uses but it does get HUGE in Hawaii. There’s no real science to where to cut it on the stalk, I probably could have cut it closer to the ground but my scissors weren’t that sharp so I did the best I could.

It was about a 5 gallon bucket full, if I had a clean bucket. But they are all in use so had to use this basket. (Seriously, where do all the buckets go??)

I chopped it up, using a knife and sometimes scissors and filled my 40 cup stockpot. To keep the boy busy, I had him carry water in cups from inside to fill the pot. Busy hands keep him out of trouble. 😀



Plopped it up on the stove and let it come to a boil while dinner cooked and the scent of lemongrass took over our house. It’s such a lovely smell!


The straining part was a bit more complicated than the cute ladies on the YouTube videos I watched…maybe because in organic gardening you have bugs? Yeah. Lots of bugs that met their demise in the boiling water now needed to be strained out of my nice tea. I tried a regular tea strainer but some holes were still too big so I found a thin cloth that worked really well.


This made a LOT of tea. 😀 I also added some organic Hawaiian honey which really makes it delicious. I gave some to a neighbor and will share some with a friend tomorrow. The rest I full intend to drink because I’ve been battling a sore throat and mild head cold for about week and lemongrass tea has antibacterial properties among many other things.


Medicinal Properties 

Lemongrass has been reported to have innumerable therapeutic and other health benefits. Widely used to alleviate certain respiratory conditions including laryngitis and sore throats, lemongrass has earned a reputation for its anti-pyretic property which reduces high fevers. Called fevergrass in some cultures the vapor is inhaled, leading to increased perspiration and eventually the complete removal of fever.

Lemongrass has powerful pain relieving properties. It helps to alleviate muscle spasms by relaxing the muscles thereby leading to the reduction of pain-related symptoms. It is thus useful for all types of pain including abdominal pain, headaches, joint pains, muscle pains, digestive tract spasms, muscle cramps, stomachache and others. This remedy has also been linked to increasing the body’s ability to repair damaged connective tissue such as cartilage, ligaments and tendons and is thus recommended for these types of injuries. Another related benefit is for improvements in blood circulation.

As an antifungal and antibacterial, lemongrass inhibits bacteria and yeast growth. For this it is useful for gastrointestinal infections and may also be applied externally to wounds as it fights germs. As an antioxidant lemongrass, contributes to liver and pancreatic health by helping the body to more quickly remove toxins. It has also being linked to lowered or normalized cholesterol levels. It also treat digestive issues including gastro-enteritis and may be helpful in relieving constipation.

Some sources suggest that lemongrass has antidepressant properties and is thus beneficial for nervous and stress-related conditions. It is said to be helpful in alleviating anxiety and depressive symptoms. It helps to strengthen the nervous system and may thus be useful for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

The presence of Vitamin A in lemongrass makes it helpful for skin issues such as acne pimples. It helps to brighten the skin and eyes and clear up oily skin thus improving acne. Its antibacterial property is also valuable for skin infections. Lemongrass may improve poor body odor by controlling excessive sweating.

One research conducted at the Ben Gurion University in Israel has found possible benefits of the citral found in lemongrass on cancer. It reveals that this compound may contribute to the death of cancer cells with no noted negative effect on normal cells.



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In a search to honor her mother, a daughter finds meaning in grief

My writing was published on a local health blog today. ❤


Blogger Carmen Golay was a mess after losing her mother to lung cancer. In reflecting on her mourning, she asked: How can I turn this grief into something that will make me a better person?

Carmen Blogger Carmen Golay (right) poses with her mother and infant. Golay wanted to find a way to turn the grief over losing her mother into something positive. Photo courtesy: Karissa Holcombe

I was annoyed at myself. I felt like all I talked about all the time was grief, and answering peoples’ “how are you?” questions with their sad eyes. To my therapist: “I just don’t want to say any more about it, you know? It’s not like grief is an uplifting topic for dinner conversation.”

He responded, “Why can’t grief be uplifting?”

I sat silent. Because grief is grief, I thought to myself. It’s sad. It’s final. It’s miserable. Everyone hates it. People die and we cry and we miss…

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