#Kaua’i: The Bucket List, Final Report

Here’s the final report on how we did with our bucket list:

Experiences:

  • Rent a beach cottage for a couple of nights at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, to enjoy the beach and experience the gorgeous sunsets. We spent two wonderful days here in early June and wished we could have stayed longer. It was peaceful and relaxing, and quiet. We’d go again in a heartbeat. The sunrises weren’t as gorgeous as this one, and while the sunsets weren’t spectacular they were still very beautiful.
  • Hike Waimea Canyon. Brett went hiking with two former work colleagues who happened to be visiting Kaua’i when we were staying out at PMRF – they had a grand time (while I spent the day on the beach).
  • Hike the Wai Koa Loop/Stone Dam trail. The trail and the dam apparently re-opened at the end of May but it had sort of fallen off of my radar so we never got up there. I guess we’re going to have to come back to Kaua’i some day so I can get this hike done! Note: Although I found a post on TripAdvisor with people saying they had walked the trail beginning in late may, Joe of Banana Joe’s fame commented below that the Wai Loa Loop trail and Stone Dam is still closed and will most likely remain closed until October/November of this year. I checked again and apparently the hikers only visited the mahogany forest Thanks for the update, Joe!
  • Take an ATV tour out to Kipu Kai Ranch This was so much fun – Brett and I did it in April with our friend Denise, and it lived up to the hype.
  • Get up early and hike out to watch the sunrise from the Pineapple Dump. We’ve been up early to catch some gorgeous sunrises here at the condo, so we decided to skip this.
  • Take the tubing adventure tour. I did this with my grandson and daughter-in-law, and I count it as a highlight of our time here on Kaua’i – it was so much fun! I highly recommend this tour to any visitor!
  • Visit the Kaua’i Museum in Lihue. Another activity that isn’t going to get done before we leave. We’re sort of discouraged by the high entrance fees, even for kamaaina.
  • Tour the Limahuli Gardens & Preserve. The garden, located on the north shore, was severely damaged during the April floods and is still closed now.

Food:

  • Celebrate our anniversary this year at Duke’s Kaua’i. Brett and I enjoyed our dinner here: great food, a terrific view and a HUGE complementary slice of their famous Hula Pie!
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  • Have a lunch date at Brenneke’s Beach Broiler. Another nice outing earlier this spring. We somehow got seated right up front with a fabulous view, and thoroughly enjoyed our lunch.
  • Have dinner at The Eating House 1849. We have reservations for dinner here on Saturday night! –  and at Bar Acuda in Hanalei. We’ve decided to skip eating here.
  • Try breadfruit. Glad we got to do this with WenYu – she sure loved breadfruit! We all thought it was delicious. WenYu ate hers with butter and syrup, but I liked it all on its own.

Off-Island:

  • Make an overnight visit to the Big Island to visit Volcanoes National Park. Because of all the volcanic activity that was going on at the time we decided to skip this trip, which would have ended up costing a whole lot more than the trip we had reserved. But, if and when things settle down again, we have a good reason for returning to Hawai’i in the future.

I think we did pretty good overall with our list, and neither of us is feeling bad about the things we didn’t get to do because we’ve experienced so many other wonderful things the island offers these past four years. We know we’re coming back some day to visit, and we can attempt the things we missed then.

Sunday Afternoon 8/12/2017

The calm before the storm yesterday morning. We had a steady stream of voters in all day, and Hawai’i had its highest voter turnout in recent years. The entire state of Hawaii is moving to mail-in ballots in 2020, and scenes like this will be relegated to history.

Brett and I spent a very L-O-N-G day yesterday serving as poll workers for the Hawai’i primary election. It wasn’t exactly a volunteer position – we’ll both get paid a small stipend – but it was exhausting nonetheless because we had to be up so early (at the site at 5:30 a.m. to set up) and couldn’t leave until all the voting was over at 6:00. It was an interesting experience though, and the people we interacted with were very nice. The voters represented a real slice of Kaua’i life and its diversity, all the way from some in bathing suits (it was a gorgeous day) to one guy who looked like as soon as he took care of voting he was taking his yacht out for a cruise! Brett and I have decided we’re going to use our stipends to go out for a fabulous meal on Election Day (November 6) while we’re in Florence.

The sun was just coming up when Brett and I arrived at our polling station. Yesterday’s weather, while we were stuck inside all day, was gorgeous, but it’s been raining off and on today.

All the sitting at middle school cafeteria benches took a big toll on my back though (no support), so I am once again dealing with pain that has got to be gone before we leave next week. I spent some time in the hot tub as soon as we got home last night which helped a lot, and will be there every day this week, and hopefully I can get this taken care of once and for all. Just to keep things even more interesting, YaYu has apparently developed a case of allergic pinkeye. Fingers are crossed we can get her in to see the doctor this week and get that taken care of. Brett is fine and looking out for us all.

Today’s post will be my last Sunday Afternoon post for a while – we’ll be packing all day next Sunday and getting ready to go, and I don’t think I’m going to have a whole lot going on this coming week to write about anyway. After we depart on the 20th I won’t be following a regular posting schedule, at least not for a while, because I don’t know how often I’ll have time to write. I am going to aim for posting once or twice a week while we’re on the road though. I will be pictures up more frequently on the Occasional Nomads Instagram site while we’re traveling, so I hope you’ll follow us or check in from time to time.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I still have two books going: I read Our Towns during the day (but it’s due back at the library tomorrow!), and The Great Influenza by John Berry at night. Sluggy over at Don’t Read This; It’s Boring recommended it, and I thought it sounded like something I’d like to read. My grandmother occasionally talked about the flu epidemic (she was born in 1890, so was 28/29 when it was going on) and how terrifying it was. I’ve also been reading our Buenos Aires travel guide to get ready for the first stop on our adventure.
  • Listening to: Another blissful day of peace and quiet. I’m listening to nothing right now but the sounds of my own thoughts (and they are happy ones for the most part).
  • Watching: I watched last week’s episode of The Great British Baking Show and a repeat episode from Season 4 of Sherlock on PBS, but also started a 10-episode series on Netflix, The Five (which I’m watching on my computer). It’s really good. Commercial/cable TV drives me nuts to the point that I can’t stand watching any of it.

    No cooking required – my favorite breakfast these days is nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh peach and a sprinkle of granola.

  • Cooking/baking: We’re eating lunch out a few time this week (Ono Char-Burger, Hamura’s, Kauai Pho); are going out to breakfast at the Tip Top on Friday morning; and having dinner at the 1849 Eating House next Saturday evening, but otherwise our task here will be to finish up as much as we can of the food we have in the condo, which isn’t a whole lot at this point. I have a two-pound pork tenderloin that I’m going to cut up – we’ll have grilled pork one evening, and use the rest to make pork yakisoba and pork curry on other evenings.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: We took care of a few more address changes that we had somehow missed, and we also got rid of a few more things that we brought over with us to the condo that we thought we might need but don’t. We also signed up for a free walking tour of Paris through Paris Greeters.
  • Looking forward to this week: Besides getting to eat at some of our favorite places on the island, I am also getting my hair trimmed up on Wednesday (Brett is getting a haircut too), and having a mani-pedi at the resort spa on Saturday morning so I’m ready to go! I’m also looking forward to getting all of our travel things packed, and as much time at the pool as possible. The weather was very gloomy last Thursday and Friday and more rain is predicted this week.

    YaYu’s right cheek was still a bit swollen two days after her wisdom teeth came out but everything else is going well (that’s her beloved kamaboko – Japanese steamed fish cake – that she’s getting ready to break into).

  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu’s oral surgery went well and she’s healed quickly, although she was quite swollen for a couple of day. She had her surgery on Monday and was back to eating regular food by Wednesday. Brett stopped at Costco for some fruit last week and discovered key lime pie. We lived in Key West for a while, so know good key lime pie when I taste it and this pie was good! 

    A BIG piece of key lime pie and coffee for dessert out on the lanai

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The condo provides the nicest 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, and I stopped by the office the other day to get another tube and they gave me three of them, so I now have everything I need for my carry-on toiletries. We were surprised to get refunds from both our water bill and our gas bill – we had thought we would owe on each of those, but had forgotten about the deposits we put down when we opened the accounts and those covered everything with money left over. The refunds will go into our first month’s travel budget. We have spent very little at the grocery store this week, just picking up things as we need them, like fruit or bread or yogurt. We have no plans to buy anything this week.

    My favorite Kaua’i-made product will forever be Monkeypod Jam’s lilikoi curd. It is a taste of the island right out of the jar.

  • Grateful for: I’m feeling very blessed and thankful for all the wonderful local foods we’ve gotten to eat over the past four years, from restaurant meals to fresh produce from the farmers’ markets to locally produced food products. This little island produces a lot! I am especially going to miss all the tropical fruit and the cucumbers – the ones grown here are the best I’ve ever tasted.

    I have fallen in love with this pool!

  • Bonus question: Which do you prefer, the beach or the pool? When we arrived here four years ago I couldn’t tell you how long it had been since I’d been to the beach, but I quickly fell in love with it all over again, sitting in my beach chair, swimming in the warm water and diving through the waves. If you’d asked me a few weeks ago which I preferred it would have been easy to answer. Going to the beach is the quintessential Kaua’i experience and a great way to spend anywhere from a couple of hours to the whole day.  But I have fallen completely in love with the pool here at the resort and now if asked to choose between heading down to the pool here or going to the beach I would choose the pool. There are plenty of chairs, chaises, and umbrellas to choose from, there’s a variety of things to do from hot tubs to slides to the lazy river, and it’s big enough that it never feels crowded. Towels are provided and the sandy bottom of the hot tubs is pure luxury. As one commenter on Instagram wrote the other day, the beach is for sitting and a pool is for swimming. I agree, but at this pool I can sit and look out at the ocean without having to deal with sand or carrying all our beach accoutrement to and from the car. So, for now I’m feeling somewhat torn – I will forever love the beach, but I’m also enjoying being spoiled rotten by the experience of this pool.

Less than 10 days to go, and just one more week to go from tomorrow until our departure!

I’ve always enjoyed writing the Sunday Afternoon posts these last few years – they’ve been fun to do – and hopefully I will be able to pick them up again in the future. Sunday Afternoons have been a great format for writing about our family and lives, and connecting with so many readers over the past few years. I hope you will continue to check in and comment while we’re traveling, and I promise to keep answering your comments. Thank you for being the best readers a blogger has ever had!

One More Time . . .

Duane’s Ono Char-Burger in Anahola

Last night at dinner Brett, YaYu and I came up with a list of local places we wanted to be sure to eat one more time before we left. We have enjoyed some wonderful food here on the island, but in the end we came up with just these three locations:

Brett’s favorite at the Char-Burger: the Old Fashioned

  • Duane’s Ono Char-Burger: Located in Anahola, the Ono Char-Burger was the first place we ate at on our first visit to Kaua’i back in 2012, and their burgers are still our favorite. YaYu isn’t eating beef these days but plans to order their fish and chips which are also very tasty. I’m going to have one last Local Boy burger (my favorite), and Brett will probably have his favorite, an Old Fashioned burger.

    Hamura’s famous saimin

  • Hamura’s: There’s no way we can leave Kaua’i without having one last bowl of Hamura’s famous saimin and one last piece of their lilikoi chiffon pie.

    Food of the gods: The lilikoi chiffon pie at Hamura’s

  • TipTop Cafe: We’re planning to go out for breakfast at the TipTop the morning before we leave. YaYu says she has to have one more big bowl of their ox-tail soup, and Brett and I want one more of their big, fluffy macadamia and banana pancakes and a couple of big cups of their delicious coffee.

    Tip Top’s ox-tail soup

    Plate-size banana-macadamia pancakes at the Tip Top.

I also want to enjoy one more TegeTege green tea shave ice, and we’re planning on going out for a special dinner down in Poipu, at Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1849, on our last weekend, but otherwise we’ll be finishing up as much as we can of we’ve got here in the condo before we hit the road.

Two Weeks Left

I’m torn between whether I want time to slow down or speed up right now!

Actually, less than two weeks now as our flights back to the mainland depart the morning of August 20th!

We’ve taken care of everything we need to do here on the island including selling our car, so only have/had three more things left to do:

  1. Close bank account: We plan to close our local checking/savings account on either August 16 or 17th. Everything outstanding should be cleared by then. I have a small IRA at the bank but I’m leaving it in place right now as we’re still Hawai’i residents and keeping an account here helps solidify that. Once we settle again someone I will move the account.
  2. Make final payments on all utilities. I thought this was going to get done later this week, but Brett went around to all of them yesterday morning while YaYu was with the oral surgeon. We only owed for our final electric bill, which wasn’t as much as we expected, and will be receiving refunds from our water and gas accounts!
  3. Pack: We’re going to do this the weekend of August 18 – 19, and I predict it will be a major event. Brett and I are going to lay out everything we’re taking onto our bed and then repack all of it into our two suitcases and backpacks. We both think it may take more than one try to get it right. Each of us will be carrying half of the other’s clothing so if one of our suitcases gets lost or damaged along the way we will still have clothes to wear. YaYu’s college-bound things all need to be repacked as well. I am hoping we can get this done in a day, but it could possibly take longer.

Otherwise, we are ready to go! We did a good job downsizing and getting things taken care of ahead of time so we could be at this point now, and other than the landlord drama everything has gone according to plan. Pretty much our only challenge here at the condo will be making sure we finish up the food we brought along and/or have bought since we arrived. YaYu has decided that instead of working right up until the end her last day will be August 9 so she has time to spend with friends, and can pick up her last paycheck/tips before we leave..

It looks like the next two weeks will mainly be spent reading, relaxing by the pool or at the beach, saying good-bye to friends, and otherwise savoring our final days on Kaua’i!

 

Sunday Afternoon 8/5/2018

Sixty-six years old and this is what my life has come to.

Most of our time these days is like the picture above, but the high drama continued with our former landlord who was in full loon mode on Friday. Brett messaged him on Friday to ask the status of our deposit. The landlord (LL) texted back that we had broken the freezer basket tracks and the freezer was “unusable” until it was fixed, and we would be charged for those repairs. The freezer basket worked fine when we left the house, the same way it worked the entire time we lived in the house – we told him we had a witness to its condition. Suddenly the refrigerator was still  under warranty and there would be no charges for repairs. I had told Brett ahead of this that I was sure LL was going to claim we broke the oven and damaged the floors, and sure enough he did not disappoint. When we mentioned that the oven had been “unusable” for nearly two months before we moved out and he had not seemed in any particular hurry to get that fixed he outright lied and said he had had three “licensed experts” look at the oven door, and they had concluded it was impact damage that we had caused. He could have stopped there, but no, he went on to say they had saved the shattered glass as proof. Uh no – Brett had helped the one repairman who ever showed up throw the piece of broken glass away! So LL backed down to two “experts,” but we said if they had ever come and looked at the glass they did so when we weren’t in the house, which was a major violation of our lease, so the whole oven argument was also quickly dropped. Then he started in on the floors, saying they were a mess and we hadn’t stripped or re-waxed them or gotten rid of the salt damage. We reminded him for about the fourth time that we had it in writing from him not to do the floors before we moved out! It took some back and forth, but he finally backed off that as well. The arguments and accusations went for on for a couple of hours, with almost every text from him containing a new (supposed) violation or some personal wrong we had done to him. He told Brett at one point that he was just a poor, sick old man, an honorable man and a former Marine, and we were disrespecting and dishonoring him (he’s only two years older than Brett, who spent 22 years in the navy versus getting kicked out after a couple of years so you can guess how that went over with us). He said we hadn’t cleaned the house while we lived there according to his directions or methods so therefore the house was not clean! Also, apropos of nothing, he told us he thought we were friends because we had discussed doing a house swap with him between Texas and Hawaii!  WHAT??? Anyway, at the end of all this he said we had been his best tenants ever and he had planned to give us back our whole deposit without even looking at the house (first time we heard this), but we screwed it up because we got angry when he stood us up last Sunday for the walk-through inspection. Everything, absolutely everything, according to him has been all our fault and we turned out to be nothing but a big disappointment. He said he is only going to mail a part of the deposit along with a list of all our transgressions, which we’ll believe if and when we ever see it. I have a strong feeling we’re going to be back on Kaua’i and in small claims court next year. The tax man will be coming for him in the interim though.

The landlord said he is going to have to charge us for the brown spot in the tub, but where is it??? I think he forgot we took LOTS of pictures, and had witnesses with us.

We continue to enjoy all that the resort and our condo have to offer. My favorite daily activity has been to soak in one of the hot tubs every morning for about 20 minutes, and then get some exercise in the pool. The hot tubs have a sandy bottom which feels great on my feet, and the temperature is wonderful – just at the point of being too hot when I get in but that I adjust to quickly. I love that I usually get the opportunity to chat with other visitors while I soak – I’ve met some very nice people this past week. And, I try to go down the pool slides every day. I keep telling myself I’m doing it for my grandson but the truth is I do it for myself because I LOVE pool slides and the ones here are awesome! The lazy river feature provides maybe too good of a workout – it feels like I’m carrying 50-pound weights on each leg as I walk back and forth.

YaYu will have her wisdom teeth removed early tomorrow morning. We know that everyone’s procedure goes differently – I was laid up for a couple of days eating nothing but applesauce, ice cream and mashed potatoes while Brett was eating pork chops for dinner the same evening he had his removed – so we’re just going to play it by ear afterwards. We can easily get over to Safeway for whatever she needs or wants to eat.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I am almost done with The Child Catchers. It’s been very thought-provoking, and at times has challenged some of my own thinking on adoption. I am still working my way through Our Towns. It’s very interesting, and my biggest take-away so far is that many people and places in the U.S. are not doing as badly as what gets reported. It’s reminded me of the old adage that a good story will only be repeated once while a bad one will be shared at least fifteen times.
  • Listening to: Again, I am loving the peace and quiet here.  I honestly had no idea how noisy our former neighborhoods were until we left: the chickens and roosters, loud cars, noisy neighbors, loud music, weed trimmers, saws and lawnmowers, and dogs barking were almost constantly making some kind of noise, even in the middle of the night. Yes, there were times when I could hear the breeze through the trees, and birds singing, and I sort of got used to the noise after a while, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate how much I enjoy true peace and quiet.
  • Watching: Although we have cable TV here, the only things I’ve been able to bring myself to occasionally watch are the Food Channel or HGTV, and only in very small doses. After only Netflix or Amazon or PBS for the past several years, the commercials drive me nuts now. I did enjoy watching Endeavour and the Great British Baking Show on a regular TV screen this past week versus my computer.
  • Cooking/baking: I baked a cake yesterday! The condo came equipped with a cake pan, mixing bowls, and measuring spoons and cups, so I made a butter cake with a chocolate glaze (which used up the last of our expensive chocolate powder and confectioners sugar). We’re having grilled steak for dinner tonight, and I plan to make chili-pork burritos and Chinese stir-fired tomatoes with eggs some time this week. Otherwise I’m not sure what else we’ll be having.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We took care of the last bit of banking we had to do here on the island, and will be ready to shut down our local account a few days before we go. We also got our VPN account set up – we needed one here at the condo and will need to have one as while we’re traveling. I otherwise accomplished nothing other than getting myself out to the pool every day because there was nothing else that needed to be accomplished! We officially transferred the Civic over to Alan and Cheryl this week, and are in the process of assembling a few things more to go to the thrift store but that’s the extent of our busy-ness these days.
  • Looking forward to: Brett and I are going to look at our travel calendars, pick dates and start making museum reservations for Paris, Florence and Rome. Otherwise, I’m not looking forward to anything more than spending time by the pool. The weather wasn’t ideal last week (warm, but always a bit overcast) so hopefully we’ll have some more sunny days this week. Hurricane Hector is currently passing by and has brought wind and some rain, off and on, but the past couple of days have been lovely most of the time.

    YaYu’s future dormitory at Bryn Mawr!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu got her dorm assignment this past week and will be sharing what appears to be a quite small room with a girl from the Los Angeles area. They’re already chatting and getting to know each other, and we’re all anxious to see what the room looks like inside. The dorm itself is in a great location on campus though and reputed to be one of the most desirable. Although dealing with our former landlord this past week was aggravating (which is putting it mildly), we did get all of his lying, bullying, inconsistencies, etc. on the record because his whole tirade was done through texts (Brett has messages from him going back to early May). Brett has taken screen shots of everything and stored them, making it much easier for us if we do have to go to court. Otherwise, just being here at the resort has been a very good thing!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than buying the few things we need from the grocery store we’ve been using up what we brought with us from the house, trying not to waste anything.

    In my happy place

  • Grateful for: I hurt my back the day before we moved out of the house doing who knows what, and am very thankful I can sit on the bench in one of the hot tubs, have the jets massage my back, and voilà! any residual morning pain is gone. I climb out of the hot tub feeling terrific and my back doesn’t bother me the rest of the day!
  • Bonus question: What’s your favorite type of chocolate: dark, milk or white? Although I like dark chocolate (in particular, dark chocolate with orange) and it’s pretty much all I eat now, my favorite type of chocolate will always be milk chocolate. I don’t eat much of any type of chocolate these days, and when I do it’s almost always dark chocolate now, but I still prefer milk chocolate. I’m pretty particular about it too – my favorite milk chocolate comes from See’s Candy, but I also like Lindt and authentic Cadbury chocolate from Great Britain (and I adore Cadbury Creme Eggs). Godiva is only so-so in my opinion. Hershey’s used to make a thick milk chocolate bar with almonds that was fabulous, but they discontinued it several years ago for some reason and I still miss it. I don’t care for white chocolate at all, or even consider it chocolate.

That’s a wrap for this week! How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you? And most important, what’s your favorite type of chocolate?

#Kaua’i: Eating Out in Kapaa

The view from our table at the Olympic Cafe

About a week and a half before we moved out of our house we found ourselves sick to death of microwave-heated processed food. The microwave needed to be sold anyway, it was obvious the oven door wasn’t going to be repaired before we moved out, and the stove top needed to be cleaned, so we decided the time had come to eat out until we got into the condo with its functional kitchen. It would also be a great time to try out a few new-to-us places and rate them for affordability and flavor (and/or see what we had or hadn’t been missing).

Paco’s Tacos make look unassuming, but they serve some tasty Mexican food. Al fresco dining is also available (tables are over on the right, out of the shot).

We started our dining adventures at Paco’s Tacos, a little restaurant located between the Bank of Hawaii and the Deja Vu surf shop in Old Town Kapaa. Paco’s Tacos has been one of YaYu’s favorite places for a long time, but Brett and I had never been before. Hawaii has a reputation for not having good Mexican restaurants, but Brett and I thought our dinners at Paco’s were very good and authentic. YaYu ordered a big carne asada quesadilla, Brett had an absolutely huge carnitas burrito, and I had the chili rellenos platter (chili rellenos are one of those things that if they’re on the menu, I have to order). Brett also ordered a Jarritos lime soda, and we got an order of churros to share for dessert. We were served a lot of food, spent less than we expected, and left happy and full. We all came home with leftovers too. We would go back, and give Paco’s Tacos four out of five stars for taste and affordability.

Sorry for a picture of half-eaten chili rellenos, but I didn’t wait to take a picture because I was overwhelmed by finally being able to eat something that had not been heated in the microwave.

The Olympic Cafe served us a great tuna melt (with sweet potato waffle fries) and some very tasty coconut shrimp.

For our second night out we headed over to the Olympic Cafe, where YaYu is working this summer. The Olympic is located upstairs in one of the original Old Town Kapaa buildings, and there are several tables at the front of the restaurant that overlook the highway and shops. YaYu was working that evening so Brett and I decided to keep dinner simple: we shared a plate of coconut shrimp (one of their happy hour specials) and split a tuna melt. We came prepared though to indulge in the Olympic’s signature dessert: a slice of Kauai Pie (chocolate ice cream surrounded by coffee-macadamia-toasted coconut ice cream which is then surrounded by more chocolate ice cream, with the whole slice topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream). The shrimp and sandwich were both great, but our eyeballs popped out of our heads when we saw the piece of Kauai Pie. It was MASSIVE, probably more than a quart of ice cream. The pie was absolutely delicious though, and I’m almost ashamed to admit that Brett and I managed to finish it (but continued to feel full for most of the next day). We left the Olympic Cafe full and happy so we gave it all five stars!

I still can’t believe we ate this whole thing!

The Scorpacciata trailer contains a stone pizza oven!

We’d been wanting to check out the pizzas at the Scorpacciata food truck for a while because the truck is owned and operated by the parent of one of the girls’ swim team members, and it has also gotten good reviews for its made-to-order pizzas. Scorpacciata is also located in Old Town Kapaa, in a small vacant lot right next to the Wailua Shave Ice trailer. YaYu was dining with us this time so we ordered two pizzas: sausage & pepper and margherita (typically my favorite pizza). We thought the sausage pizza was quite good, but all of us thought the margherita was just “meh.” Still, there were no leftovers. We finished our meal with shave ice from Wailua, a mango-pineapple one for YaYu, and Brett and I shared a “lava flow” (strawberry and pineapple with a haupia foam topping). It was another affordable, relaxed evening out, and another place we would return to if we had the time. While both YaYu and I gave Scorpacciata four stars for taste and affordability (we deducted a star for the weak margherita pizza), Brett gave them only three – he said he wasn’t bowled over by either pizza. Wailua Shave Ice gets a solid five stars from all of us though!

A margherita and a sausage and pepper pizza from Scorpacciata.

Shave ice from the Wailua Shave Ice trailer.

We also ate at a couple of restaurants we’d eaten at before and wanted to try again (Sam’s Ocean View and Bubba’s Burgers) and tried two new-to-us Italian restaurants: Kauai Pasta and Bobby V’s. They were very different from each other, but both had good food – we especially liked the cannoli at Bobby V’s! All the restaurants we ate at fell within the “affordable dining” range in our opinion. Although I’m glad to be able to cook again, it was sort of fun eating out every day, trying new places and going back to old favorites, almost like we were on vacation versus trying to escape what was going on back at the house. If you’re ever visiting Kaua’i, any one of these restaurants (or food truck) is worth a stop, in our opinion. We are leaving Kaua’i happy that we had the chance to them all.

I Could Get Used To This

Coffee on the lanai every morning . . .

Just two days in the condo and I never want to leave (well, almost).

. . . along with beautiful sunrises.

Whether w’re watching the sun rise and enjoying our morning coffee out on our lanai or sitting under an umbrella by the pool or just relaxing in our cool apartment, we feel like we’ve won the lottery. We enjoyed “living local” for the past four years, but I’ll be the first to admit that having air-conditioning is beyond fabulous. I had forgotten what it’s like to walk across a room or step out of the shower and not immediately break into a heavy sweat. Humidity has not been my friend here on Kaua’i so this is truly a special treat for me. I keep reminding myself though that going without A/C for the past four years is one of the reasons Brett and I were able to afford to stay here now and set off on our adventure next month.

The only time in my life I’m going to have a Sub-Zero fridge and Wolf range and oven. The dishwasher is so quiet we have to check to make sure it’s running!

The living room is very comfortable and inviting. All of the original art work in the house was painted by the condo’s owner.

The entire apartment is pure luxury and very comfortable, especially so in our case because of the last three miserable weeks we spent working on the house. The kitchen is equipped with very quiet appliances, and has more than adequate dishes, glassware, cookware and utensils. We have a full-size washer and dryer. All the rest of the fittings and furnishings are comfortable and top-of-the-line as well. It’s taken me a couple of nights to adjust to a different mattress, but the king-size bed is very comfortable now. I’m still marveling at how quiet everything is is overall – the apartment has been sound proofed so we don’t hear any noisy neighbors, roosters, traffic, pool noise, etc.

There’s a soaking tub for two in the bathroom and a separate shower in its own room around the corner to the right.

The view from our lanai includes a partial ocean view (we see more of the ocean from the living room). The building we look over is an air-conditioned fitness center.

After our last few weeks in our house and the disappointing end to that experience, I’m more grateful than ever that we chose to stay here for our last days on the island, and beyond thankful for the small inheritance from my mom that helped make it possible.

And of course there is the pool – even on an overcast day it’s fabulous.

I really could get used to all this. However, we have only three more weeks to enjoy it and I intend to make the most of it.

Sunday Afternoon 7/29/2018

Sunset was approaching when we finally finished cleaning and arrived at the condo.

We are out of the house!

The landlord was a no-show for the inspection this morning. We arrived at the house with Cheryl and Alan at 7:15, and waited around until 8:30. Brett texted the landlord at 7:45 and he started out with “I forgot.” Then he began listing all the other appointments he had set up and had to get to (????), that his workers were no-shows, etc. At 8:30 we messaged him that we were leaving the keys and garage door openers on the kitchen counter (we took pictures of all of us at the house, the keys on the counter, etc.) and that we would see him in small claims court. Then the excuses started, each one contradicting the one before – he kept trying out different reasons for not showing up, I guess trying to find one he thought we might accept. He said we were “panicking” and that he didn’t need us there to do the inspection (Hawai’i law would beg to differ on that), and that he would have our check tonight – he was the one panicking! We sent him our forwarding address and told him to mail our check because we were done with him and all his excuses at that point. Anyway, the house was SPOTLESS and we took TONS of photos. We’re pretty sure the landlord knows at this point that his goose is cooked, and we doubt we’ll ever see our deposit, but the Hawai’i tax department is definitely going to be getting a message from us before we leave the island. I’m normally not a vindictive person, but after all the work we put into cleaning the house, his no-show and subsequent messaging is going to end up costing him a whole lot more than our deposit.

Pound cake french toast with Nutella, fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

On a brighter note, we had a wonderful breakfast with Cheryl and Alan at the Kountry Kitchen. Alan and I had more traditional breakfasts, but because it is Cheryl’s birthday today she and Brett decided to have the completely decadent (and delicious) pound cake french toast. How they finished it I don’t know, but they both managed to clean their plates. After breakfast Brett and I did a little grocery shopping so we’re set for the next couple of weeks.

I can’t express enough how nice it is to finally be at the condo. It’s air-conditioned, and we slept like babies last night although the bed is a little soft for our liking. It’s very quiet here – we can sleep with the windows closed and not have to listen to loud neighbors, screaming roosters, fans, etc. In fact, last night was the first I’ve been able to sleep since we arrived in Kaua’i without having to wear earplugs. The condo has a garbage disposal and best of all a dishwasher, something we’ve done without for the past four years. And of course there’s the pool! Brett and I are heading down there in a short while to walk some laps in the lazy river and lay out in the sun and RELAX!

We found out this last week that YaYu has to have her wisdom teeth removed ASAP – one of had become infected. She saw the oral surgeon last Monday, but they didn’t have any open appointments until September. Then we got a call on Wednesday that there was a cancellation on August 6, so she will be going in that morning to have three wisdom teeth removed. Hopefully it will go easily and she’ll only miss one day of work. Both Meiling’s and WenYu’s wisdom teeth came in without any issues, but they of course had to endure years of braces which YaYu didn’t need, so I guess the universe decided that things needed to be evened out.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Standard Deviation (loved it!), am still reading The Child Catchers, and just downloaded a new book by James Fallows and his wife, Deborah: Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey Into the Heart of America. In 2012 they splurged and bought a small plane and then spent five years flying around the United States, visiting small(er) towns and cities all over to try to understand the country at a more local level.
  • Listening to: Nothing – it is blissfully quiet here. Even the appliances are super quiet.
  • Watching: No one has been watching much of anything this week, although I did catch a few episodes of the new Netflix show, Sugar Rush. I’ll just say the show has potential, and I also now want to stop by Adriano Zumbo’s patisserie when we’re in Sydney. I also watched the latest episode of The Great British Baking Show on Friday. Tonight we’re going to watch Endeavour on an actual TV!
  • Cooking/baking: Although it was fun eating out for a while we are all glad to be where we can cook our own food again. I’m especially looking forward to eating more healthy foods again – restaurant meals and processed food were not my friends, and I gave up trying to avoid carbs. We’re having mabo dofu tonight (I brought our wok from the house), but I’ve put yakisoba, spaghetti with marinara and grilled Italian sausages (the resort has several grills available for guests to use), a soba salad with chicken, and noodles with pork sauce on the menu for this week. Even if YaYu is not home for dinner she said she will enjoy the leftovers.

    Lots of places in the girls’ shower for mildew to hide and grow, especially under that bottom ledge. Definitely NOT the best shower surround design for a house with no A/C in a very humid climate. The white stuff coming down from the bottom is a bleach paste I used to get rid of the mildew.

  • Happy I accomplished last week: The house was spotless when we were supposed to meet the landlord for the inspection this morning, all except for the floor being stripped and waxed, but that’s because he had told us he wanted to do it (we did thoroughly mop the floors though). The cleaning took a LOT of work, especially at the end, but we kept at it and got it done. You might think the house was filthy because of all the work we put into it, but it really wasn’t – things just get dirty here very fast. For example, I deep cleaned the girls’ bathroom nearly two weeks ago, and got rid of all the mildew that grows underneath the edge of the shower wall and other nooks and crannies. From then to now, the shower has not been used, and the windows in the bathroom and bedroom have been closed. Still, the caulking ended up covered again in mildew because of the humidity we’ve been experiencing, so I had to go in with the bleach again and get it off – ugh! Brett washed the house and cleaned all the screens last Tuesday, but our next door neighbor mowed his lawn on Wednesday and our lawn care guy came on Thursday, both of which filled the screens again with dust and dirt so Brett had to stop and wash them again. That’s the kind of stuff we found ourselves up against again and again, and along with packing and sorting, trips to the thrift shop, and the heat and crazy humidity it caused the cleaning to take longer and be more difficult than we imagined. Anyway, we also sold the last few things that needed to go last week (microwave, fan, folding table) and took more stuff to the thrift store on Friday (but we still have a couple more bags of stuff to go).
  • Looking forward to next week: Both Brett and I are so looking forward to doing nothing but sleeping in (in air-conditioned luxury), and relaxing out by the pool or swimming every day. It’s been too hot and way too humid to walk (and we’ve been too busy), but I’m going to walk several laps in the pool’s lazy river a couple of times every day.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We sold the car! Alan and Cheryl decided it was a great island car for them at a great price and they are buying it from us! Neither Brett nor I are interested in owning a car again, but I have to admit I’m going to miss our little Civic. It it was also very convenient having two cars this weekend to get us moved over to the condo (our rental car is tiny!). I met some more wonderful Kaua’i people this past week and got to talk story with them for a while when they came to pick up the things they bought. These interactions will forever be one of my favorite Kaua’i memories. There are definitely some very strange/weird people here on Kaua’i but there are also the friendliest, warmest, and kindest people I have ever met or had the privilege to interact with and get to know.

    Smoked salmon board at Sam’s Ocean View – there was enough salmon left over for our bagels next morning! We also had a grilled cheese board (brie with fig jam), crispy cauliflower, and a small but yummy pizza.

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: I used my last Southwest gift card that I had earned through Swagbucks when I purchased WenYu’s ticket to come to Portland for Christmas and saved $50. We still have to get her return flight to Boston but she doesn’t have a date yet (she wants to spend time in Oregon with her best friend and with Meiling before she goes back). We also kept to our budget while eating out this week, and enjoyed some very tasty meals.
  • Reporting gains and losses for July: We no longer have a scale so I have no idea if I’ve lost or gained weight. I’ve probably gained a few pounds though because we’ve been eating out so much and we haven’t been walking. I’m not really tracking our travel savings for the time being as we’re currently using the savings!
  • Grateful for: We thought it would be amazing if YaYu could earn a couple of thousand dollars or so this summer, but she will put more than double that amount into her savings account by the time we leave Kaua’i. Restaurant work here can be very lucrative, but YaYu is also a hustler, and has been proactive about picking up extra shifts, always willing to substitute for others when they need time off. We’re all very thankful that the restaurant manager took a chance on her (she literally had no job experience before she started) and that she’s been able to work and save so much toward her college expenses. Her scholarships covered most of her out-of-pocket costs this year, but she should have enough saved by the end of summer here to cover next year’s costs as well.

    My brown linen pants after cleaning blinds – lovely, aren’t they? The blue pants I was going to take along with me on our travels were also ruined.

  • Bonus question: What was the most difficult thing to clean for the move-out? Poor Brett put in a LOT of work this last week cleaning off the tops of the kitchen cabinets. What should have been a couple hours’ work took nearly four days because our wonderful landlord had apparently sprayed the tops of the cabinets with a ton of Pledge or some other kind of wax, and even though we regularly vacuumed up there, the heat and humidity had turned whatever he used into a thick, black sludge that had to be scraped off by hand. There was less dirt/grease on the tops of the cabinets in our Portland kitchen where we lived and cooked daily for nine years than what was on top of these cabinets – it was nasty. The landlord had also insisted that the tops of the ceiling fan blades should be sprayed with Pledge because “then the dust just flies fight off.” Uh no – Brett had been scraping off Pledge sludge for over two years because of all the dust that had stuck to the melting Pledge on the fans (which of course all had a grooved design in the blades). He put a very light coat of Pledge on the tops of the fan blades for the inspection but did not put any on the top of the cabinets – he said he just could not do that to the next tenants. My toughest cleaning job was getting the fabric tapes on the blinds clean and white again. It took several days of work and I ruined two pair of pants because of bleach splatters and stains. The smell was awful too, but that’s gone now and the tapes were clean and white and ready for inspection.

That’s it for this week. I am still exhausted from the cleaning and inspection, but the worst of this move is over and we are moving forward again. How did your week go? What good things happened for you? What did you accomplish?

Sunday Afternoon 7/22/2018

After a long absence, Pensive Cat was back in the yard again this week.

Less than a week to go until we move to condo, and less than a month to go before we begin the Big Adventure! Time is really starting to fly now, almost too fast at times. We will be ready for both happenings, but we know we’ve got to stay focused so that everything that needs to be done gets done and we don’t forget anything.

One very clean stove

We’ve been steadily plugging along with the house cleaning and are closing in on finishing it up. The inspection with the landlord will be next Sunday morning between 7:00 & 7:30 a.m. He was upset with us the other day because in spite of what we’d told him, in his mind he had decided he was going to get the keys the morning of the 28th, that we were going to give him back four days! Nope – we don’t move over to the condo until the evening of the 28th and will be working that whole day to finish up.  For all the work we’ve already put into cleaning this place, I still have a bad feeling about the final meeting with him and am expecting him to be a total jerk, but once it’s done we can move on, no matter the outcome. To strengthen our hand we are going to have a friend with us during the inspection as a witness so the landlord cannot claim damages/dirt later. We finished cleaning the stove this past week, and I’m working on the refrigerator and freezer today. One of the biggest challenges this past week was cleaning the white fabric tapes on the blinds. Because half of each blind sits in front of an open window, and because of the amount of dust, dirt and moisture that comes through the windows, the tapes in those areas of the blinds developed stains that I wasn’t sure we could get out. I discovered though that some judiciously applied bleach and some time out in the sun got them looking like new. The beautiful, clean blinds are now lying across the floor in the girls’ former room and will be hung up again right before we leave the house on the 28th to go to the condo. Another thing Brett and I have both noticed this past week is that there are absolutely no smooth surfaces anywhere in this house (except maybe the mirrors in the bathrooms). From the baseboards to the doors to the window blinds to floors to the faucets, every piece of this house has grooves or ledges or borders or some design feature which invites dirt or mildew to accumulate. It’s a lovely house, but has required a lot of extra work to keep it clean these past 33 months and now we know why.

It’s been the perfect island car

The auto detailer came over to the house last Monday and did a superb job on getting out all of the red dirt stains we had accumulated in the past four years. The result was worth every penny we paid and the car looks fantastic. We began advertising it last Tuesday but have only had one person ask questions so far. The detailer told us Civics are a popular car here, and ours is in very good condition and is priced right so we’ll see. We pick up our rental car this coming Friday – I can’t believe that date is arriving so quickly. I also admit to being a bit hopeful the car doesn’t sell before Saturday so we have two cars to take our things over to the condo – otherwise it will mean at least two trips.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m almost done with Standard Deviation, and have also started The Child Catchers:  Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce. The book is about how international and domestic adoption by evangelical Christians has become “a new front” in the culture wars. I’m just getting started and it’s already a very interesting read.
  • Listening to: It’s been quiet here all morning – YaYu left for work early, and Brett has been quietly plugging away at cleaning the tops of the kitchen cabinets. The washing machine is doing its thing though, but this is the last Sunday we’ll do laundry here!
  • Watching: None of us is really watching much of anything now. I watched the latest episode of Great British Baking Show on Friday, will watch Endeavour tomorrow (I think the last episode for this season is tonight), but that’s all.

    Brett and I shared this deliciously monstrous slice of Kauai Pie for dessert when we ate at the Olympic Cafe in Kapaa. We were shocked at the size of this “dessert for two” but we somehow finished it (and then didn’t feel like eating for another 24 hours).

  • Cooking/baking: Once we got the stove cleaned we decided that we’d also had enough of processed microwave-heated meals and are now getting take-out or going out for meals. The refrigerator/freezer is currently turned off so I can clean it, but once that’s done we’ll turn it back on so we can keep cold drinks and YaYu’s hot sauces in there (but nothing more). We still have our toaster and are having bagels and fruit for breakfast now, but otherwise we’ve been trying out affordable eateries in Kapaa for lunch and dinner. Thankfully YaYu gets most of her meals at work, so we haven’t been spending a fortune on eating out. Once we’re in the condo I will start cooking again.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I reserved all of our train tickets for the France part of our journey (Paris to Caen; Caen to Strasbourg; and Strasbourg to Bordeaux) and reserved cars for our four days in Normandy and to drive down to Lucerne, Switzerland in October. Other than pre-booking some museum visits, everything we planned to get done ahead of time has now been taken care of. Brett and I are going to make the museum reservations after we’re at the condo and have time to sit and talk about what we definitely want to see. I got the rice cooker and a few goodies packed up and sent off to YaYu, and a box of odds and ends that didn’t get into our shipment sent off to our friend on the mainland to go in with our other stuff. It has been much too humid, and we’ve been too busy, to walk this past week, but we’ve been getting LOTS of exercise in the house and will go back to walking again next week.
  • Looking forward to next week: Finishing up this damn house and moving over to the condo!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Pensive Cat, so called because he comes to our yard to sit and think, was back this week after a somewhat long absence. He’s a stray, and has been visiting us ever since we moved to this house in 2015. The tip of his left ear has been snipped which indicates he was caught and spayed at one point. Brett ordered and received the leather chukka boots he’s been wanting (Red Wings) this week and has been wearing them around the house to break them in a bit. They look good, are comfortable, and will be great for hiking around on our travels. Otherwise, nothing else really stands out this week – we’ve gotten a lot done but it’s been nothing but work, work, work.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We got a rebate of $28 from the electric company which will be enough to cover a couple more lunches out this week. Other than our meals, the only things we bought were bagels, cream cheese and ice cream – Safeway has been running a BOGO sale on ice cream this month: 2 Safeway Select 1/2 gallons for $5.99, and 2 Breyer containers for $6.99. But with the freezer off that pleasure will disappear for a while.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are very thankful that our friend Alan has agreed be here during our inspection next Sunday. The landlord has been giving off vibes that he is going to try to use double talk, intimidation, or maybe even threats with us but we think he may be less likely to do so when he sees we have a witness with us. We don’t want him able to say one thing to us and then something else later if we have to take him to court, and it will be harder for him to complain that something is not clean when there’s another person who can see that it obviously is.

    My secret cleaning weapons!

  • Bonus question: Do you have any special tools that you’ve used for cleaning? I’m not sure if these are unusual or secret, but the Sharpie pen, some felt-tipped pens, a pedicure sponge and baby wipes have all been proving useful. For example, I was stumped about how to get the metal burner ports on the stove cleaned but discovered that a disposable pedicure sponge, along with a little elbow grease, made the ports look like they’re brand new! The abrasive side of the sponge is handy because it’s small and flexible enough to get into tight places, and with just enough abrasion to get things clean without scratching them. Unscented baby wipes have been another great cleaning tool. We are running out of rags, but the wipes don’t contain lotion and have made cleaning dirty window blinds and other surfaces easy. The black Sharpie pen and the colored felt-tipped pen have been useful for small touch-ups in the kitchen (small nicks on the cabinets, a scratch on the stove top).

That’s a wrap for this week! What good things happened for you? What did you accomplish? What are you reading these days? Do you use any unusual items for cleaning?

I’m thinking next Sunday’s post will probably be short, and really not more than a check-in, but I should be back to regular posting after that. Keep your fingers crossed for us that we get our deposit back and our car sells!

Sunday Afternoon 7/15/2018

This is pretty close to the view we’ll have from our condo – we’ll be a couple of floors down though, looking out over the roofs of the pavilions at the pool and the beach.

Less than two weeks to go before condo time! Sometimes the thought of being there in another couple of weeks seems like the only thing keeping me sane.

Yesterday when we were out on our walk we ran into a woman who we met back in April when the landlord first advertised the house. She was interested then, but he just contacted her this past Friday and told her she had been “chosen” (while at the same time renewing the ad on Craigslist). We have heard him say some very unkind and untrue things about her over the past few months, and while we were talking with her we also learned he has been sort of trash-talking us. He was also hinting to her that we won’t be getting our deposit back because of all the “damage” we’ve done to the house. The reality is the house will be as clean as (or cleaner than) it was when we moved in, and I think he’s going to be quite surprised when he discovers he’s dealing with me over the inspection and the security deposit. He’s going to find out pretty quickly that I know Hawai’i law and our rights as tenants, I’m not a pushover, and that he can either deal honestly with us or see us in small claims court – we have up to a year to file against him. No matter what happens though, we’ll still be out on the 28th, and I can’t wait.

The girls’ room is clean and ready for inspection (minus the last of our hanging clothes)

Things are moving along with the cleaning though. The girls’ room and bathroom have both been deep cleaned and except for cleaning the ceiling fan both are ready for inspection. Brett’s going to do all the fans in the house a couple of days before we leave so they are super clean for the walk-through inspection (dust accumulates quickly in this weather). I got our bedroom closet cleaned out and freshened up this past week, and we’ve started cleaning our bedroom and in the kitchen – all the cabinets have been emptied and the insides wiped down. The oven was supposed to be repaired this past week but that didn’t happen and it’s looking more and more like it won’t be done before we move out. I’m going to go ahead and finish cleaning the stove this week (we’re not really cooking on it any more) so it’s ready whether the oven is or not. We’ll be emptying out the refrigerator and freezer this week so that I can turn them off for a while next weekend to deep clean it as well. After it’s empty (or nearly empty) and clean we’ll be getting take-out for our meals.

On top of all this turmoil though we got a surprising piece of good fortune dropped into our laps this past week. On Wednesday evening I received an email from Airbnb suggesting that we cancel our 2019 Tokyo reservation because our host still had not obtained licensing for the rental. We communicated with the host, and will be working directly with her versus booking another Airbnb rental, staying in the same apartment at the same price. However,  Airbnb gave us a gift certificate for the entire amount of our three-month stay even though we had only paid for the first month (which was refunded in full). The certificate is worth several thousands of dollars, and can be used for any Airbnb rental anywhere in the world if we book before July of next year. They also gave us a gift certificate for $100 to use toward any Airbnb experience! We’ll have to think about that one, but right now it looks like we’ll be traveling again after we finish up next summer’s stay in Portland – stay tuned!

I won’t be posting this week until next Sunday – there is so much to do around here and I need to focus on that. It’s been busy enough that even if we don’t get out for a walk both Brett and I usually get all our steps/miles just from working in the house!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’ve tried to read more of Standard Deviation this week but haven’t gotten through much – a few pages and I’m ready to fall asleep.
  • Listening to: Apparently a whole lot of babies hatched at the same time this past week because the yard is filled with the sound of peeping baby chicks! They are making enough noise to drown out just about everything else. The washer and dryer are doing their thing too – we have to get YaYu’s uniforms ready before she goes to work this afternoon. So far the neighbors are quiet, but we’re expecting the neighbor above us to turn on his wood chipper or whatever other noisy piece of equipment he’s using any moment now.
  • Watching: I caught up with another episode of the Great British Baking Show, and we’ll watch another episode of Endeavour tomorrow after it posts online. Otherwise, I’ve been watching an episode or two at a time of Victory at Sea (Amazon Prime) and the Ken Burns’ documentary about World War II (The War, on Netflix) when I can find time to squeeze them in. I’ve watched both series before (a couple of times actually), but the second world war era is my favorite historical period to study (followed by the Civil War) and the film clips, photos and stories from then still fascinate me even though I’ve seen most of them before. The narration for Victory at Sea is a bit over the top now, to the point where it can make me laugh out loud at times, but I get that it was a different time when the series was made (1952), and the war and the Allied victory were still fresh in everyone’s minds.

    Nothing says fine dining like eating a microwaved chicken pot pie on a paper plate.

  • Cooking/baking: With the oven still not repaired, the party pan of Stouffer’s chicken enchiladas I had planned to fix tonight won’t be happening – it will instead be going over to the condo with us. Brett and I are having steak sandwiches tonight, and chicken pot pies, quiche, macaroni & cheese, and pork tacos this week in our effort to completely clean out the fridge and freezer. I’m actually looking forward to doing some cooking and eating “real” food – all this processed food is starting to wear me down.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I finally got all of the touch-up painting done. It was nothing that particularly needed to be done, but I’m not giving this landlord an inch (and he did leave paint for us if we ever needed it). Getting the girls’ room finished was a big accomplishment, especially getting the blinds cleaned, and the closet freshened up. The room was not really dirty, more like cluttered, but it looks really, really good now and is move-in ready. Brett took a full carload of items to the thrift store last week – we should only have a bag or two left to go, if that, when we leave the house. I finally remembered to order locks for our luggage and luggage tags from Amazon – they should arrive next week. Brett and I got in a few walks last week, but usually we were too busy in the house and/or the weather was awful (rain or oppressive humidity). I booked the last two flights inside Europe with RyanAir, and reserved our hotel stay in the Cinque Terre.
  • Looking forward to next week: The car detailer is coming to the house tomorrow to get that job done, and once the car is spiffed up we will get it listed for sale. Fingers are crossed that sale goes quickly. I am also going to begin researching and reserving our train travel in France, reserve our rental cars, and Brett and I are going to discuss what museums we want to visit and pre-book those.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Because of the humidity, mildew is a constant issue here. We had some in the showers that was very stubborn but I researched online and found two ways to treat it and both methods worked perfectly (although the whole house smelled strongly of bleach for a couple of days). YaYu paid for her first semester at Bryn Mawr – no loans! She has enough in the bank now to cover the rest of this year’s expenses and most of next year, and she’ll be working right up until we leave so she can fatten her bank account even more. The generous gifts from Airbnb were a complete surprise, and are a game changer as far as future plans are concerned.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We sold a few more small things and I’m setting all that money aside for now for our final week in the house when we’ll be going out or getting take-out for our meals most of the time. So far though our monthly food bill has been less than half of what we usually spend, even it if it mostly prepared foods. Including fees for our luggage, reserved seats, and carry-ons, the total for the two RyanAir flights for both of us were less than $300.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling more and more grateful each day for the time we have to clean and get ready to move out of our house, especially with the summer heat and humidity we’re having to deal with now. I cannot imagine only having a week or less to get this house ready for our crazy landlord. We may end up getting screwed over by him, but we know we will be leaving the house in superb condition.

    Clean and tidy has a different meaning now that we’re sharing our bathroom with YaYu.

  • Bonus question: Which would you rather clean, the kitchen or the bathroom? Neither really – sometimes I wish we could afford someone to come in and do it for us. But, since that’s not happening, the bathroom is actually the easier of the two in my opinion. Although it sometimes seems like it takes a bit more elbow grease (the tub and shower stalls), kitchens actually have a whole lot more places for dirt to hide and require near constant upkeep. We learned lots of cleaning tricks back in the day when we had to clean our navy housing for inspection, and learned quickly that keeping up with the cleaning in both the bathroom or kitchen and not let it slide (however, it turned out that every house we lived in had either the bathroom or kitchen remodeled when we moved out). Here’s one cleaning trick we learned: to clean oven racks or a cast iron grill, double-bag two large trash bags. Place the racks or grill in the bag, set outside (on a patio, or rocks – just not on grass or near plants) and add a generous amount of ammonia. Tie up the bags and let them sit overnight. You will see some ammonia leaking from the bottom of the bags, but it’s the fumes inside that are doing all the work. The next day wash racks or grill with steel wool, or even just a magic sponge. The grease and dirt will come right off with light to no scrubbing, and the racks will look good as new! If your oven is not too dirty, you can also set a glass measuring cup of ammonia inside the oven overnight with the door shut. Grease and dirt in the oven should easily wash out with little to no scrubbing. A magic sponge works great to clean and keep your oven glass door clean and grease free between oven cleanings.

That’s all for this week – hope you all had a good one. What did you accomplish this last week? What good things happened for you? What is your least favorite room to clean?

I’ll be back next Sunday!