Sunday, August 9, 2015

Aunty Liliko'i and Marionette Join Forces on a Special Project

 Joe, Marionette, Lori, and Tony in front of Marionette's watercolor painting, Na Pua Liliko'i

Back when I first opened my business, Painting Paradise, over ten years ago, I joined the Kauai Made program especially to meet and network with the local business people of Kauai.  While attending one of their trade shows, I met Lori Cardenas, also known as Aunty Liliko'i, and have looked up to her as one of the most successful business women in Kauai and especially in the town of Waimea where we are both located.  Over the years I have seen her business grow and have been in awe as her products continue to win local, national, and worldwide awards.

At one of our events, I went over to Lori's booth and gave her a gift of one of my matted prints of a liliko'i (passion fruit) flower I did years ago.  It was later on I discovered that she framed it and proudly hung it in her store right up front by the register.  Thus, I found out she was also a fan of my work as well.

Earlier this year, I received an interesting phone call from Lori.  She wanted to collaborate on a project involving a t-shirt design of a liliko'i flower to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Aunty Liliko'i brand.  She wanted me to create a custom watercolor painting for the design based on photographs taken by her husband and business partner, Tony Cardenas.

 Na Pua Liliko'i Original Watercolor by Marionette

We had several meetings to discuss the design and it's progress, and this is when I really got to know Lori and Tony on a more personal level.  We talked story about business, personal interests, computers, and food, which is a very important topic here on the island of Kauai.  We shared recipe ideas, and I even brought them some of Joe's pasteles to try, which they loved.  After discussing Aunty Lilikoi's Passion Fruit Wasabi Mustard, I went home and made deviled eggs using Lori's recipe and they turned out so ono (a Hawaiian word for delicious).  If you haven't tried her passion fruit wasabi mustard, you should!  It's one of her most popular products.

So, after a few weeks, I finished their watercolor and they loved it so much they had it framed in a special koa frame and now have it proudly displayed at their shop.  We are currently collaborating on another passion flower design of the wild liliko'i also known as the banana poka flower found up in Kokee and Waimea Canyon.  After that, there may be a few more designs as Lori and Tony want to feature the different varieties of liliko'i.

Production units of Aunty Liliko'i Passion Fruit Dressing

Even though they will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of their brand, Lori and Tony actually took over the business in 2001 when it was just a trade name and five recipes.  The first building they had was a little bit more west in Waimea, the space where Kauai Granola now occupies.  In 2006 they moved to their current location across from Hofgaard Park at 9875 Waimea Road.  They have grown their brand to 19 products that they make at their production facility plus 26 products made by other manufacturers for a total of 45 passion fruit products.  They run production two times a week for a total of 1600-2500 units.  On top of that they also make liliko'i chiffon pies and liliko'i macadamia nut fudge. YUM!  With about 100,000 units they produce each year, they use the equivalent of about 300,000 passion fruits.

 Lori and Tony Cardenas with their multiple awards

In 2004 they won their first award for their Passion Fruit Wasabi Mustard at the Worldwide Mustard Competition, and in 2005 they won Grand Champion.  Since then they have continued to receive numerous awards for their BBQ sauce, mustard, and hot sauce.

If you are looking for unique, Kauai made products made by a small business owner on Kauai, be sure to check out Aunty Liliko'i while visiting Waimea and online at  She also offers personal care products featuring the unique passion fruit scent.  Her products also make great gifts!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wild Flowers of Kokee and Waimea Canyon State Park

In an attempt to escape from the heat and humidity of mid-July summer, we headed up to the mountains of Kauai also known as Kokee or Waimea Canyon State Park.  At about 4,000 feet above sea level we certainly found a cool breeze along with a light, misty rain.

Waimea Canyon State Park

The thing I love most about going up to Kokee is the peace and quiet and solitude, and that is exactly what you will find especially on a day during the work week.  Weekends are usually much busier.  We always take a ride up to the park right in front of the Kokee Lodge and the Kokee Museum.  It's our favorite spot and is just right for a picnic.  Coming up from Waimea, we stopped at Ishihara Market and picked up some bentos, poke, potato salad, and fruit for lunch.

chicken rooster Kauai Kokee Waimea Canyon
 One of the clucking chickens who decided to make herself at home near our table

I packed hot tea in Joe's old thermos from the old days when he used to work at the sugar plantation as a haul cane truck driver.  He used to bring his hot coffee in the thermos and store it behind the seat of the old haul cane truck.  The truck would bounce around on the rocky roads, and that's where the thermos got a nice little "smash" on it's side.  It's still good, though, and holds plenty heat.  Joe also made sure to pack his MP3 player so we could sit back, relax, and enjoy some nice Hawaiian music, especially IZ.

Waimea Canyon State Park Wild flowers orange

We just pulled into the park and there is hardly anyone here except for a few campers who are already packing up their two small tents to go home.  There is a chicken clucking around our table looking for food, and there are some myna birds off in the distance with a red-crested cardinal.  Right now the only things I hear are Joe's music playing softly, the sound of a few roosters crowing, and some doves and other birds making cheerful chirping noises.  Ah bliss!!!

Waimea Canyon State Park flower red hanging

It's pretty cool up here even though it was forecast to be 90 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level.  I am actually wearing a sweater.  It's a bit cloudy as I look up in the sky surrounded by pine trees and ohia lehua trees.  I love the fresh smell up here, especially the smell of the eucalyptus trees.

wild lilikoi flower waimea canyon passion fruit

As I go for a walk around the park, I spot some of my favorite wild flowers.  Most of these flowers are actually non-native, invasive species that have taken over.  However, most of them have been here in the twenty some years since I first discovered Kokee.  They have become familiar to me.  First I spot the bright and colorful wild Kahili Ginger which is named after a feather standard that the Hawaiian royalty used in ancient days.  It's scientific name is Hedychium gardnerianum.  Another invasive species is the wild liliko'i vine that has a pretty pink flower and a football shaped fruit.  It is called the banana poka flower, and it's scientific name is Passiflora tarminiana.  I also spot some red fuchsia bolivia and some orange crocosmia, also invasive species.  About the only flower I see that is native to Kokee is the lovely, red ohi'a lehua flower, a flowering evergreen tree from the myrtle family.  This tree is a very important tree in Hawaiian culture as it grows in volcanic areas and it is a sacred flower of Pele, the Volcano Goddess.  In fact it is usually the first plant that grows after a fresh lava flow.

Waimea Canyon State Park flower ohia lehua goddess pele lava

I head back to our picnic table for lunch, and as soon as we get the food out, it starts to rain lightly.  Thank goodness we had the beach umbrella in the trunk.  We use it  to cover us and the food while we ate.  Next, we experience a slight case of "Hawaiian paralysis" which is basically nap time after lunch.  Time to visit the Kokee Museum and then head down the mountain to finish off another perfect day on Kauai.

Waimea Canyon State Park Hydrangea Kokee museum
Hydrangea Flower in front of the Kokee Museum

Wild Flower Bouquet in front of the Kokee Museum

I hope you have enjoyed this little, relaxing adventure to one of the most interesting places on Kauai!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Kauai Soto Zen Bon Festival 2015

With the smell of incense intertwined with freshly grilled yakitori wafting through the air, I know it is that time of year again...time for Kauai's Bon Dance events.  I'm not a dancer myself, but I thoroughly enjoy this fun, family event as I sample the local foods, marvel at the brightly colored lanterns strung around the temple, listen to the beat of the Taiko drums, and eye the beautiful Japanese-American ladies dressed up in their kimonos, happi coats, and yukatas.

Kauai Soto Zen Temple Bon Dance
Kauai Soto Zen Temple Japanese Buddhist

 Bon is a time to honor the spirits of the deceased family members.  It originates with the Buddha who helped one of his disciples with his deceased mother's spirit by offering her food so that she wouldn't be hungry and would be released from the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.  He was so happy that he danced with joy and that is where we get the Bon odori or Bon Dance.  During Bon, offerings of food are also placed on altars and graves of loved ones, and the lanterns are strung in memory of family members who have passed.

Hanapepe Buddha Statue

Kauai Soto Zen Temple Hanapepe

Bon odori also differs from region to region in the style of dance, music and food.  On Kauai you will find unique dishes from this region as well as traditional Japanese food.  My favorites are the flying saucers, saimin, yakitori, pastele plates, smoked meat, and manju to name a few.  You will also be treated to the sounds of Kauai's own Taiko Kauai, a very energetic and fun precision drumming group.

Taiko Kauai at Bon Festival Dance Hanapepe

Bon odori dance Kauai Hanapepe kimono kimonos Japanese

As if this wasn't enough, there are game booths for the keiki, cultural displays, shave ice, and special performances.  But, of course, the main attraction is always the dancing of the local people in a circle around a raised platform.  They invite everyone who wants to dance (even visitors) to join the circle.  And then at the end of the event, they have a fire burning ceremony called Taklage where the spirits are sent back home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Books, Authors, Art, and Kauai

After just finishing and mailing in her fifth book in the Tiki Goddess Mystery series, best selling Kauai author, Jill Marie Landis, decided to treat herself to a relaxing acrylic painting class at my art studio.  I was thrilled to finally meet her in person, and she is just as warm and bubbly as I had imagined.

I recently read the first book in her series, Mai Tai One On, and just loved it.  If you know Kauai's north shore, you will recognize the tiki bar in the story as Kauai's own Tahiti Nui of Hanalei, an actual restaurant and bar and luau party place.  If you love murder mysteries and Kauai, then you will enjoy her book as the tale takes you to many familiar places around Kauai with an exotic, hula dancing, tropical beat to the story.

Kauai author Jill Marie Landis The Tiki Goddess series books
 Marionette Taboniar and Jill Marie Landis

As two creative people and business women, we naturally hit it off and spent the afternoon "talking story" about books, art, Kauai, and our lives.  We also had a fun time painting these tropical cottage paintings.

Jill has written thirty books now and they include romance novels, historical romances, inspirational romances, and her new Kauai based fun mysteries.  She has appeared on several best seller lists and has won many awards.  She resides on the island of Kauai, and I am glad to be able to call her my friend and neighbor.

Here is the first book in her Tiki Goddess Mystery Series:
For more info about Jill and to see a list of her books for sale on Amazon, please visit  


In other news about books and authors, I recently had one of my paintings published as the cover of Gregg Edward Townsley's newest mystery, Kauai Getaway: Tommy Valentine, PI

I can't wait to read this one!  The story is supposed to take place mainly on Kauai's east side of the island, also known as the Coconut Coast.


Some new artwork recently added to my Etsy Shop:
9"x12" Original Watercolor   $119
5"x7" Giclee Print  $12
8"x10" Giclee Print   $25
8"x10" Giclee Print   $25
5"x7" Giclee Print   $12
8"x10" Giclee Print   $25

Friday, July 3, 2015

Kauai Art Parties

Pupus and Picasso Art Party

It's all the rage on the mainland and now it's coming to Kauai!  Join me as I guide the whole group in a step-by-step original acrylic painting on canvas.  Any skill level is welcome!  I will also be serving some local style pupus, fruit, and cheese and will have water, juice and soda available to drink.  Feel free to BYOB or BYOW (bring your own wine).  

Class fee is $65 per person.  If you would like to book a private painting party, please contact me at 808-631-9173.  There is a minimum of three people per private painting party and you can choose from one of these subjects: Palm trees, Polihale Beach, Rooster,  Crazy Bamboo, or I can come up with a special design for your group.  Finished painting size is 11"x14".  If you prefer to bring your own food or not have any at all, then the price would be $50 per person.

kauai art class parties acrylic painting

kauai art class parties acrylic painting

kauai art class parties acrylic painting

For a complete schedule of my art classes, please visit:

Aloha and Mahalo for stopping by!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Happy Aloha Friday

Happy Aloha Friday everyone! Here are some more of my photographs from around Kauai for you to enjoy:

Poipu Beach Kauai Brennecke's wave ocean Hawaii
 A wave crashing near Brennecke's Beach

Mahaulepu Beach Kauai Hawaii ocean sand waves
 Maha'ulepu Beach

Night Blooming Cereus cactus tropical flower plant Kauai Hawaii
 Night Blooming Cereus (a cool looking flower from a cactus)

Pink Hibiscus tropical flower jungle garden botanical Kauai Hawaii
 Pink Hibiscus Pair (from Wendy's yard)

tropical heliconia flower garden jungle botanical Kauai Hawaii
Tropical Heliconia (also from Wendy's amazing yard...or should I say botanical garden???)

Turtle at Poipu Beach 2
And here is my newest painting, Turtle at Poipu Beach 2, an original watercolor measuring 9"x12".

Aloha and Mahalo for stopping by!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kauai Silk Painting Class with Marionette

Silk Painting is one of the most fun mediums I have ever tried.  It is similar to watercolors, but the paint flows even more freely on the suspended silk. Here is one of my hibiscus silk paintings still suspended on the stretcher bars:
In this photo, one of my students has outlined her design with an acrylic fabric paint.  We outline the main design so that when we paint it, the paint stays within the wall of the outlining paint.  Otherwise, it would just run free all over the place.
Kauai Hawaii silk painting 
This photo shows how one of my students painted the inside of the outlined area to make a beautiful Kauai sunrise shell.
Next, we paint in the background, being sure to keep the entire background wet.  Then we sprinkle on a little Hawaiian sea salt to make some spontaneous designs in the background.
silk painting class Kauai Hawaii
Here is one of my students with her beautiful creation.  See how the salt does it's thing in the background?
silk painting class Kauai Hawaii

Silk painting class Kauai Hawaii

silk painting class Kauai Hawaii

silk painting class Kauai Hawaii

I hope you have enjoyed this fun silk painting demo!  Below are some of the scarves that I've painted and they are for sale:
Croton Leaves Hand Painted Silk Scarf by Marionette
30"x30" $50
Sea Turtle Hand Painted Silk Scarf by Marionette
30"x30" $50