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!

#Kaua’i: Miss/Not Miss

We have just 40 days left on Kaua’i, and I think daily now about all the wonderful things I’m going to miss about living here. It’s honestly been an amazing four years, better than I ever dreamed, and I’ve been blessed to have experiences and memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I could only think of three things that I will not miss or look back on with any fondness, and I will get those out of the way first:

  1. Humidity. I don’t think I need to say any more about this. I’ve never adjusted or adapted to it.
  2. Traffic. I cannot get over the change in the amount of traffic during the past four years. What was mildly problematic when we arrived is now nearly a daily pain in the you-know-what. And, it will be several years, maybe decades, before the infrastructure can be put in place to deal with it.
  3. Dust. Who knew that there could be so much dust generated on a little island out in the middle of the ocean? It’s been a never-ending issue, and mixed with the damp from the humidity it’s also been a frustrating one at times.

Although I find the chickens and roosters annoying at times, and I’m still terrified of centipedes and toads, those three are pretty much it though for the negatives.

There is no way I can compile a list of everything I will miss about this beautiful island, and I’m sure there are things right now I don’t know I will miss. But, in no particular order, here are some the things I do know:

  1. The absolute darkness at night With no ambient light to speak of, the sky is darker than anything I’ve ever experienced before and packed with stars. Also, the full moons here shine almost as bright as the sun.
  2. The deep, abiding spirit of aloha. It’s woven through everything here and is what truly makes Kaua’i the special place it is.
  3. Beautiful sunrises and spectacular sunsets.
  4. The ocean. I honestly never dreamed I would get to live where I see the ocean every day. It feeds my soul.
  5. Walks along the east side beach path. The views have never gotten old.
  6. The year-round farmers’ markets, and the amazing farmers who bring a bounty of fresh produce to the markets each week, including the best cucumbers I’ve ever eaten.
  7. An abundance of tropical fruit. Dragonfruit,  papaya, lychee, longan, mountain apple, rambutan, egg fruit, guava, mango, soursop and so many delicious varieties of bananas too. I’m not sure I’l ever be able to eat a banana from the supermarket ever again.
  8. Fresh papaya for breakfast. I wasn’t sold on them when we arrived but now they’re one of my most favorite things about living here.
  9. Coconut palms against a blue sky.
  10. The infinite variety of hibiscus. They still can take my breath away. Also, the scent of plumeria on the evening breeze is pretty amazing too.
  11. Going to the beach in the winter. Going to the beach anytime, actually. I still can’t get over that we live just five minutes drive away from a beach this fabulous.
  12. The luscious green of the island, and it’s breathtaking natural beauty. After four years here the amount of plants, the lush green, and the mountains still never fail to fill me with awe, and make me happy from the inside out.
  13. Shave ice.
  14. The people. I’ll miss them most of all. They’re the main reason we’ll be back.

We’ll all be leaving a piece of our hearts on Kaua’i – how lucky we’ve been to live here!

Heading Into The Next Phase

In a recent post on his blog, A Satisfying Retirement, Bob Lowry wrote about his granddaughter comparing growing older to the most exciting part of a roller coaster ride, the ending with its big, exhilarating runs. It’s a great analogy: a roller coaster ride typically begins with a slow climb, and few tame dips and turns. As the ride continues things pick up, and twists and turns, climbs and drops begin coming at a faster pace, but the when and where are a mystery and add to the excitement and increase the thrill level. Finally, the car once more heads for the top to begin its big, exciting finale before finally slowing down and coasting to a stop.

Brett and my start together was like that initial slow climb. He was one of my first instructors in the navy, for a two-week course I was required to take for my rating following boot camp. It was pretty much love at first sight for both of us, and as soon as the two-weeks were over we began dating, and before long we were talking about our life together and how we saw that unfolding. There was never a distinct marriage proposal that either of us can remember, but somewhere along the way we both realized we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with the other. We’ll celebrate 42 years together next year while we’re in Tokyo.

Just like a ride on a roller coaster Brett and I have already passed through two distinct phases in our married life: our beginning years while he served in the navy followed by a second phase in civilian life and raising our daughters. Both time periods were very different from the other, full of twists, turns and surprises (not all of which were pleasant), but we had different goals and expectations during each one, and in hindsight both phases were positive for the most part. We were always looking to the future. The segue from the first into the second phase was fairly bumpy, but we somehow managed to get over and through those bumps and came out stronger than before. Our life choices, especially adopting three additional children in our mid- to late-forties were not the ones that most people would make, and we’ve paid or are still paying for some of the choices we’ve made, but as Brett and I have always said, we can’t imagine now having done things any other way. We chose the right coaster for us.

Brett and I have been raising children for most of our time together. Other than the short time we had before our son was born there was only a six month period with an empty nest after our son headed off to college and before we brought Meiling home. Before I met Brett I had no dreams or desires to have children, let alone four of them. Or, to have them in two separate groups with a nearly twenty-year gap between them. However, that’s how it happened, and of all my life’s accomplishments so far I am most proud of my children, of their efforts and accomplishments and the adults they’ve become. Our goal has always been to give our children roots, but wings as well so that when it’s been time for them to leave the nest they would be able to fly. It’s been exciting and rewarding to watch each of them take off and soar, with their wings spread wide.

We’re segueing now into a third phase, a time when Brett and I will also leave our nest and spread our wings. For the last 40 years our lives have been completely entwined with our children, with our schedules determined by their schedules, our plans and finances controlled by their needs. But, beginning in August it will just be the two of us, and we are ready to fly. I am so excited about being able to explore the world with my best friend, the person that knows me best, but I also realize it’s going to feel “different” for a while. It’s going to take time for me to adjust to not having children to accommodate in one way or another. Thankfully the segue into this third phase has been easier so far than it was between the first and the second because I think we’ve done a better job this time of preparing ourselves for the transition.

A roller coaster ride has been my metaphor for life for a while now. As my mom approached the end of her life a couple of years ago I kept thinking of roller coasters, and what a ride she had, and I’m beginning to see my life in the same way. Are Brett and I making that last big climb to the top? I don’t know right now, but we are preparing for an exciting finale that will hopefully go on for a good long while. Our ride up until now has been full of thrills, chills and surprises but it’s never been dull. And, like Bob’s granddaughter pointed out,  I believe the best and most exciting part is yet to come!

Sunday Afternoon 7/8/2018

The living room is now YaYu’s room until we move out. I like a clean and orderly house so this is keeping me on edge a bit, but we’ll be out of here before we know it.

We are “living rough” around here these days. We’ve still got the Aerobed and our queen-size bed until right before we move out which is helping us stay more comfortable than we imagined we would be at this point. Also, because the landlord bought our washer and dryer and they’re staying in the house we don’t have to deal with the using or paying for the laundromat. But otherwise things have gotten somewhat basic around here. We’re eating on paper plates with plastic utensils these day, and have few to no cooking tools. I will say that living this simply really helps to focus the mind on efforts to get stuff done and moving along.

The pantry these days (baking soda and vinegar are for cleaning)

As I wrote last week we ended up not having to hold our garage sale this weekend because everyone who came to pick up the items we had listed on the Buy & Sell “shopped” all the stuff we were going to put out at the sale and pretty much all of it got snapped up. We put the last few big items on Buy & Sell on Thursday and all sold in a day. Brett will take the few remaining items to the thrift store this week. Next up on our to-do list will be getting the car detailed and listed for sale.

I had a bit of a dental scare this past week when some of the glue on the bridge I have on my lower front teeth fell out. Our dentist was on vacation, and I had visions of needing to have the whole bridge replaced before we leave, costing us $$$, maybe $$$$. But I called the dentist the day he got back and he said it just needs re-gluing, everything else is fine. He said if it comes unglued while we’re traveling that I should see a local dentist about it. I guess that could end up being an interesting “cultural experience” if it happens. Our dental insurance covers us worldwide, and thankfully we’re visiting countries where good dental care is offered but fingers are crossed that after the re-glue this week I’ll be good to go for a while.

YaYu’s final scholarship check arrived in the mail yesterday . . . and was $500 more than she was expecting! The organization first emailed her last April that she was being awarded a $1000 scholarship. A couple of days later though she received a second email from them with an apology and note that she would only be getting $500. Oh well. But, when she opened the envelope today the check was for $1000 after all, bringing her total scholarship amount from local Kaua’i organizations to $5500. She continues to earn lots from her job, and will be leaving the island with a very healthy bank account.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished both the Donna Leon and Elizabeth George mysteries, and have started Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. It’s a fun read – perfect for now when everything around us is craziness. I am also #1 on the waitlist for another book at the library, and hoping it becomes available this week.
  • Listening to: We’ve had a cool morning, with heavy rain at times. But now the neighborhood roosters are screaming, and dogs are barking, so maybe all we’re going to be stuck with for the rest of the day is overcast. We’ve got the laundry going right now but otherwise it’s quiet inside – I’m writing and Brett and YaYu are reading.
  • Watching: Without a TV, Brett and I haven’t been really watching much of anything. I did catch another episode of The Great British Baking Show online, and we’re going to watch Endeavour tonight on my computer.
  • Cooking/baking: Alan & Cheryl bought our grill, and another person who came to pick up something asked about and ended up buying our slow cooker (!) so all we have now is a rice cooker, microwave oven and the stovetop for cooking – the oven still isn’t fixed and no word when that’s happening. So, it’s been interesting, to put it mildly, trying to come up with things to fix for meals. Stouffer’s entrees have helped us fill in some gaps. but tonight for dinner I’m making Chinese stir-fried tomatoes with eggs. The pantry is empty except for some rice, a jar of peanut butter and some Diet Snapples.

    When teenagers move out of their room . . . sigh. We eventually got everything out and are ready to begin deep cleaning the room beginning tomorrow.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I am thrilled with how much we sold this past week, and that it has gone to people who were so happy to get it. YaYu got her stuff packed and we cleaned everything out of her room so the deep clean in there can begin next week. We didn’t get to walk much last week because of the humidity, rain, and because we were sometimes busy with customers. Somehow though we still managed to get in our steps and miles most days. I’ve been keeping up with my liquid intake – the humidity earlier in the week was brutal and staying hydrated has been a necessity.

    Friday afternoon was cooler and quite breezy for a change so we finally got out for a walk. Lots of heavy wave action was going on.

  • Looking forward to next week:  I’m not exactly looking forward to it but we’ll get YaYu’s room AND bathroom deep cleaned next week, and then move into the kitchen and get started in there as the cabinets are all empty now. Getting these two areas done will take us that much closer to getting out of here and moving over to the condo.

    Costco’s haupia cake . . . so good it should be illegal.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Both Brett and I are so, so happy that  friends Alan and Cheryl are finally here on Kaua’i (but sad too that we’ll only be able to see them for a couple of months before we take off). Costco had haupia (Hawaiian coconut custard) cakes again so we are enjoying one of those – they’re big so they last for a little over a week between the three of us. For the past couple of years I have had a terrible time getting anyone to cut my hair as short as I want it (like super short), but yesterday I finally got a great cut and I love it! Along with the humidity there has been rain every day, a good thing because it means we don’t have to water the lawn and run up our final water bill. And of course, the amount of YaYu’s scholarship check was a very good thing!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We “stocked up” on frozen meals (as much as our little freezer would hold), fruit, and produce from the farmers’ market, but otherwise we didn’t spend anything else this week. We made a nice bit of money from selling our stuff, half again what we thought we’d make! Most of it went into the bank but we’re holding on to some to cover the car being detailed.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling very grateful the fix on my bridge will be an easy and inexpensive one versus having to spend a big amount right now on having a new bridge made. I’m also thankful and blessed that I was able to meet and talk with so many wonderful people this week when they came to buy stuff from us. The aloha is so strong here.
  • Bonus question: What’s the best thing you’ve ever found at a garage sale? What’s the best free thing you’ve ever found? Brett and I talked about this and agreed that our best garage sale find was the Cassette Feu butane cookstove that we found at Portland yard sale a few years ago. We already had one that we bought in Japan when we lived there (with all the instructions, labels, etc. in Japanese), and had been wanting to buy a second one so we were beyond thrilled to find a brand new, never-opened one at the sale for just $10. The price was amazing considering that retail price for the cooker model we got is anywhere from $70 to $90. These cookstoves are great for camping, for tabletop cooking, or to use if power is lost and the stove and appliances won’t work. The best free thing we ever found was a white KitchenAid stand mixer, complete with all the attachments. We were walking home from Trader Joe’s in Portland one day, and spotted the mixer in a free pile in front of a house. We took it home, cleaned it up, and sold it on Craigslist – the money we made went toward our move over here to Kaua’i!

That’s it for this week – I hope you had a great week too. What good things happened for you? What are you cooking or baking? What are you looking forward to next week?

Garage Sale Kaua’i Style

Happy sellers, happy customers – every piece of Japanese tableware we had for sell was purchased

Having a garage sale in Kaua’i is not the same as having one back on the mainland.

Having held too many sales back on the mainland to count, the basic steps for holding a successful garage/yard sale there are:

  1. Assemble the items you want to sell
  2. Price the items
  3. Advertise the sale on Craigslist, etc.
  4. Set out your items the morning of the sale
  5. Sell your items – be prepared to haggle with some customers
  6. Take what’s left over to the thrift store

We found out this past week though that it’s done a bit differently over here on Kaua’i:

  1. Assemble the items you’re selling, preferably in your garage or on the lanai. There’s no need to organize everything.
  2. Post larger or higher-priced items on the Kaua’i Buy & Sell Facebook page a week or so ahead of when you plan to hold your sale. People will message you about items they want to buy and arrange to pick them up the same or next day.
  3. When people come by, let them look around at the other stuff you’re selling. It doesn’t need to be priced. They will probably buy some more stuff.
  4. Talk story for at least 20-30 minutes with everyone that comes. You’ll make new friends, get hugs, and they’re thrilled to pick up stuff ahead of time
  5. In fact, these early customers may buy so much of your stuff ahead of time that you don’t need to bother holding an actual sale.
  6. Take anything that’s left over to the thrift store.

Our Kaua’i garage sale was the easiest and most fun I’ve ever had selling our stuff. Everyone who contacted us through the Buy & Sell page showed up when they said they would. One woman came to pick up the item she reserved and left with an additional $100 worth of items. She messaged me a couple of days later to ask if a couple of other items were still available. Another woman came back twice! Not one person quibbled about the prices, or tried to haggle – hopefully that’s because we asked right amount the first time. A few times we just gave people things because they bought so much from us. The best part of all was getting to talk with everyone while they “shopped” and have a real conversation with them. It was win-win for everyone.

We had planned to hold a three-day sale beginning tomorrow, but by the end of yesterday we had sold just about everything to customers stopping by to pick up their pre-arranged items. I have one more round of things to go up on Buy & Sell later today, but whatever doesn’t get sold will go to the thrift store. We also made half again what we thought we might make from the sale, so besides the whole experience being easy and fun, our Kaua’i garage sale was a big success!

Goodbye June, Hello July

July is going to be busy but pivotal month for us – we’re scheduled to move out of the house on the 28th and over to the condo we rented. We’re greatly looking forward to our stay there because Brett and I will have no obligations other than to relax and enjoy our remaining time on the island – we’ll finally get to take a Kaua’i “vacation” (YaYu will continue to work right up until we leave though). The condo is the same one our son and family stayed in earlier this year, with that fabulous pool, which is where I intend to be spending most of my time while we’re there, either swimming in it or sitting by the side under an umbrella.

The “lazy river’ feature at the condo pool

Here’s how we did with last month’s goals:

  1. Pay at least $900 on our credit card. We paid $3210 toward our remaining balance (we sold an additional $435 worth of things this past weekend). Just a little more to go!
  2. Purchase travel insurance. It turned out we didn’t need to buy this because our credit card already provides insurance for things like lost luggage, cancelled flights, etc. and our health and dental insurance are valid all over the world. In fact, we discovered that – surprise! – because we have military health insurance we were ineligible for regular travel health insurance.
  3. Clean, oil and buff all the tansu. Done! Cheryl and Alan arrive this week and we’ll get them all moved over to their house.
  4. Take down and package TV; disassemble and clean girls’ bunkbed. Done! Both of these items are also going over to Cheryl and Alan.
  5. Take down all art work from the walls; fill and repair nail holes. Done! This pictures went in our shipment, and I defy the landlord to find even one of the nail holes I repaired.
  6. Empty pantry, clean shelves (repaint if necessary). Done!

    The finished pantry closet – it almost looks better now than it did when we moved in! (I wish I had ‘before’ pictures – it was a mess)

  7. Take all items to be shipped for storage into the garage for the movers. Done – the movers came and picked up everything last Friday.
  8. Start pricing items for moving sale. We’re off to a slow start with this, but will finish it off this week, once we’ve gotten everything else out of the house and over to Cheryl and Alan’s.
  9. We also took four big bags of stuff to the thrift store and are working at filling another one.

Here are our goals for July:

  1. Hold garage sale on July 6 through July 8; take all items that don’t sell to the thrift store.
  2. Deep clean the house like we’re preparing for a navy-style white glove inspection.
  3. Detail car and list for sale on July 20. The rental car for our last month on Kaua’i is already arranged.
  4. Pack suitcases and move to the condo on the 28th.

Just four goals this month, but they will keep us busy!

 

Sunday Afternoon 7/01/2018

Everything ready to be loaded into the small container – all of this didn’t even cover one side of it though.

July is here! This is going to be a busy month for us, although after this coming week things should calm down and it will be all about the cleaning. But, we’ll be out of the house on the 28th and into our condo at the beautiful Waipouli Beach Resort for a final “Kaua’i vacation” before we go. Right now though it feels like Crazyland around here. The house has been something of a mess as we had things organized and staged for the movers last Friday and now we’re now getting things ready to go to Alan and Cheryl this week and for our garage sale on Friday. We were able to sell a few more pieces of furniture through our local Buy & Sell group this past week – those things thankfully went very quickly. The only furniture that’s left to sell now are our sofa and living room chair, and the two wicker chair that were out on the lanai, but we’ll put them out at the garage sale and hopefully they will go. Whatever is left over from the garage sale though will go to the thrift store.

I scored an amazing deal this past week for the car rental for our last 24 days on the island. We are going to have our car detailed and listed for sale on the 20th of this month, and want to have a rental we can use on the chance the car sells quickly. I started checking the deals Costco had (we have always found the lowest price through their site) and the best I found there was $57/day through Budget. Brett had also checked with two local car rental businesses, where you can get a “less than new” car for supposedly less than regular car rentals, but their prices, once we added in fees and taxes, weren’t any better. When I showed Brett the Costco price he thought it was OK, but suggested I call the local Budget office and see if they would give us a kamaaina discount. However, the price I was quoted was more than the Costco price (!) so I said “thanks but no thanks, I’ll go ahead and rent from Costco.” I was asked to wait for a moment and then the agent I was speaking came back and offered me the same car for $38/day, all taxes and fees included! So, one more thing taken care of – I just hope though we can fit all of our luggage in the car when it’s time to head to the airport.

Brett level (on the right) is keeping the oven light off for now. So classy.

The repairman came as scheduled this past week to replace the oven door glass, but he could not finish the repair because the landlord had failed to order an additional part needed. Sigh. So, the repair guy ordered the part but no one has any idea how long it will take for it to show up or when the repair guy can come back. It also turns out that the landlord would have been better off ordering a whole new door versus just the glass – the door costs $146 and Brett could have put it on. By ordering just the glass but paying the repairman’s service fees for installing it the landlord is paying twice that. In the meantime, without a door the oven light was staying on all the time which was super annoying, but Brett jury-rigged the light switch with his level. I also figured the lack of a door on the oven, and the fact we probably won’t be using it again before we go (and can’t anyway until the door is repaired), made it a good time to clean it for our move out, so I got that job done.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m almost done with the Donna Leon mystery and have been enjoying it, but the new Inspector Lynley mystery, The Punishment She Deserves, also came off of hold this week so I’m reading that too (Inspector Lynley during the day, Donna Leon at night). Elizabeth George’s Lynley mysteries are always great to read, but always require just a bit more concentration to catch everything (which has sort of been hard to do this week).
  • Listening to: It’s overcast and cool-ish today (but still a bit humid) so everybody and their brother is out working on their lawn – lots and lots of weed trimmers and lawnmowers are in operation outside and it’s noisy. Inside it’s quiet though – YaYu is at work (double shift today), and Brett is reading. I’m getting ready to start the laundry though so the inner quiet will stop for a while. With YaYu wearing a uniform to work the amount of laundry we have to do has been cut in half versus what we washed while she was in school (three changes a day: school, sports, and evening).
  • Watching: Brett and I have watched a few more episodes of Bailey & Scott, another episode of The Great British Baking Show, and we’re going to watch another episode of Endeavour tonight. We’re taking a break from Parts Unknown – it’s just too much to try to binge watch. The TV will come down off the wall tomorrow to be boxed up for its move. Anything we’re watching from here on out, until we get to the condo, will be done on our computers or tablets.

    We didn’t move very much this time, but it still seemed like we had So. Much. Stuff.  (there were also a few things in the kitchen besides what’s in this picture)

  • Cooking/baking: The cookware went into our shipment on Friday so all we have to cook with now is our wok and a frying pan. Add this to YaYu’s crazy schedule and her decision to give up meat and it’s difficult to know what to have. Brett and I are going to have Stouffer’s stuffed peppers for dinner tonight, and all I know that we’ll be having next week are Italian sausages and marina fixed in the slow cooker, and kalua pork in the slow cooker. I’m putting the slow cooker out at the garage sale though so this may be the last week we’ll have it. If it doesn’t sell though we’ll take it along to the condo and use it there before taking it to the thrift store. Brett is going to clean up the grill this week and we’ll see if we can get someone to take it off our hands.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Getting everything organized for the movers was a chore – we kept going through the house and finding things we’d missed before on each round (and still found a couple of things we missed after they left). To us it still looks like we have way too much stuff, but it’s less than a quarter of what we shipped over here. I finished painting the pantry closet, and have started on the other closets. It was difficult to find time to walk this week – it rained quite a bit, and was very humid in between – but we managed to get four walks in. It was cool and windy enough on a couple of days that we were able to walk out to the Pineapple Dump.

    Fierce seas out at the Pineapple Dump

  • Looking forward to next week: We’ll be getting everything staged to go over to Alan and Cheryl’s house this week, and then setting up for the garage sale. It’s going to take some work, but it means we will be that much closer to getting ready to go. I’m not sure though what we’ll be displaying things on – we have one 6-foot table (that will be for sale) but that’s it. I’m looking forward though to getting rid of more stuff – that’s the important thing. 
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu took Brett and I out on Thursday to see Incredibles 2 – very fun! It was especially nice to get out of the house for a while – we didn’t realize how much we needed a break until we had one.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We’re still pinching ourselves over huge savings on the car rental because the best we thought we might save with the kamaaina discount was around $150, tops. We also took the last of our change/$1 bill savings to the bank this past week. It was an easy way to put away a little extra every month, and it added up more quickly than we imagined. Brett and I plan to set up a new jar once the Big Adventure is over, to save for our next adventure.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling thankful right now for the time we’ve had and will have to pull all the parts of our move together. Although this coming week is going to be hectic and busy, after this we’ll have lots of time to wrap up things up here and get ourselves relaxed and ready to travel.
  • Bonus question: Do you like any weird or strange food combinations? This question came from YaYu, who puts sriracha, other hot sauces, red chili flakes or chili powder on everything. She also likes marinara sauce on salad instead of salad dressing. No thanks! I don’t think I eat any weird combinations now, but when I was young I liked sour cream with ketchup sandwiches because they were so tangy. I can’t imagine eating that now – ugh! Also, I went through a thankfully short phase where I liked peanut butter and mustard sandwiches. I have no idea where that combination came from but I’m sure glad it didn’t last long. I never had any weird cravings when I was pregnant either – just tasty Memphis barbecue.

I had to boil eggs in the wok yesterday because all the saucepans went with our shipment. I’m going to try to boil spaghetti in it this week – wish me luck!

That’s all for this week from the shrinking Casa Aloha – I hope you all had a good and productive week as well. What good things happened for you? Did you or do you eat any “strange” food combinations? Do you have special plans for the Fourth of July?

Family, Money, Travel: Part II

My own frugal ways were self-taught. Because of the mixed messages I had received about money growing up, I went through many trials and plenty of errors before I figured out how to manage money, and more importantly, how to budget and live within or under my/our means. Brett’s income while he was in the navy forced me to quickly learn how to live on a (very) small income. When our son was born, after our bills were paid (rent, utilities, a washer & dryer payment, and payment towards the debt Brett’s previous wife had accumulated in his name), we had just $18 a week for groceries, including baby formula and baby food. I’m still not quite sure how we did it, but we never went hungry. I made bread from scratch and we ate lots of beans and pancake suppers, and little to no meat, but our bills were always paid on time. Although it took real effort we were able to get out of debt in less than two years, before heading off to our first tour in Japan.

I don’t know how it is now, but back then the military did not pay for everything when you moved to a new duty station – that turned out to be a myth. Although Brett received a per diem allowance, it was very small and we still always had to come up with a majority of our moving expenses, things like first and last months rent for an apartment while we waited for government housing and all those other hidden costs of moving. Buying a house and settling in anywhere was also out of the question because Brett was transferred to a new duty station (rotating between sea and shore duty) every 2 1/2 to 3 years, and mortgage interest rates were hovering for a while at around 15%-18% back then. Thankfully the navy moved our household goods for us and bought the plane tickets for our flights to Japan and back. Brett always had to take two months advance pay every time we moved to cover all the extra out-of-pocket expenses (almost all of our moves were across country or overseas), causing us to spend the first 24 months at our new duty station paying that back rather than being able to save much of anything for the next move. It was hard to catch up and get ahead but we left the navy with no debt and a good amount of savings. I worked when I could, but with Brett deployed most of the time, we both felt it was more important for me to be home for our son rather than at a full-time job.

During our navy years I learned how to make do with less, how to budget, and the beginnings of how to evaluate the difference between a need and a want. We were always able to pay our bills on time. We ate well, and traveled when we could. However, I still frivolously spent on things – those old feelings that owning the “right” things would make life better continued. We accumulated debt from time to time, and then had to work and scrimp to pay it off, a pattern that continued even after Brett retired to civilian life. When we adopted the girls our financial situation changed dramatically and I finally began to understand some of what it must have been like for my parents. Eight years ago the change in Brett’s employment situation took us to a point where debt threatened to ruin us, and we got serious about paying it off for good and changing how we lived. All those frugal habits I had taught myself and practiced over the years came fully into play, and not only did we pay off our debt, but we were able retire and move to Hawai’i. We happily live a much simpler life now, we’re comfortable and confident about our finances, what we have, and where we’re heading next. The most surprising thing of all has been the realization that some of the frugal choices I make these days mirror some of my parents’ – I apparently did learn a few things from them.

Shasta trailers were famous for the fins on the back. Our family of six camped in one this size one summer for a fun and memorable vacation.

I mentioned in Part I of this post that my family almost always took a vacation every summer. As a teacher, Mom always had the whole summer off from work, and she LOVED to travel so she made it a big part of our lives too. Mom always planned interesting and fun trips for us: one year we went camping up and down the California and Oregon coasts for three weeks, living in a Shasta trailer that my parents rented. Another summer we took a surprise trip by train to the Grand Canyon for a week (still the best vacation ever for me), and one year we did a summer-long driving trip back east to New England and then down the Atlantic coast, visiting cities, historic sites and natural wonders. Twice we moved to our grandparents’ beach house for the summer, where we grew a garden, walked to the beach every day and went beachcombing every evening, checked out books and jigsaw puzzles from the local library. We didn’t have a TV there, just a small transistor radio so Mom could listen to Dodger baseball, and we played lots of croquet on the vacant lot next door which my grandparents also owned. We sometimes took trips over to Tucson, Arizona during the winter so Mom and Dad could visit old friends there and often visited other sites around the state as well. We visited San Francisco, Yosemite and many other southwest national parks. Mom had to take continuing education courses every few years while she was teaching, but she would register for those at out-of-state colleges so she could “get away,” and my siblings and I would stay with friends and family during those weeks. I always chose to stay in Indiana with cousins, and have fond memories of lazy summers filled with all the fresh picked sweet corn and tomatoes I could eat, my grandmother’s yeast biscuits, and my aunts’ delicious fried chicken and gravy (I still dream about that gravy!). On the drive back to California Mom always made sure we did plenty of sightseeing, and we stopped at every historic marker we came across. Our family never traveled overseas or to places like Hawai’i or Alaska though – too expensive – and the only foreign country we ever visited was Canada. I wonder now if those kinds of trips might have been possible if we had lived somewhere other than San Marino.

This motel would have checked all the boxes for us kids: a pool with a diving board AND a slide! The only thing that could have made it better would be beds with the “Magic Fingers” massage option.

Traveling was the only time my parents seemed relaxed about money. While we always stayed in cheap motels they made sure there was a pool for us to swim in each evening. There was often nothing but apple juice and pretzels for breakfast (the morning meal was never Mom’s strong suit) and we picnicked on cold cuts, cheese, crackers, and apples for our lunches. However, we stopped every afternoon for pie and coffee (or sundaes for us kids) and we always went to a restaurant for dinner each evening – no fast food. My parents paid for tours and for tickets to visit every historic or important site along the way with no grumbling about the cost. If we were going to go on a long trip, like our summer trip back east, they tried to come up with ways for us to earn a bit extra throughout the year so we had spending money for souvenirs and treats and wouldn’t be bothering them to buy stuff.

Of course, because there was no discussion or conversation about it, I always assumed our vacations and travel was something they just took out their checkbook and paid for. I was an adult before Mom told me that she had always kept a travel savings account and funneled every extra penny into it. She always kept a “penny jar” (sort of like our change/$1 bill jar) on her kitchen window sill and literally saved every penny to put toward those afternoon pie and coffee stops. Although I wasn’t initially aware of it, I was learning valuable lessons about the importance of saving for travel as well as how to travel well on a budget, and ultimately that experiences were more rewarding than things.

It seems to me now that I picked up lots of what I now know about financial matters and money management from the things my parents didn’t do versus what they did.  And while it took me a long while to figure things out, the best lesson I learned by omission was that while you don’t have to reveal everything about your personal finances to your children, it’s important to give them an idea of what’s going on, what your priorities are, and why you make the choices you do. Children should be part of the family “team” when it comes to finances, even at a young age. They deserve and can learn from even a simple explanation when you say “no” to one thing but “yes” to another, or why you choose to spend for one thing versus another. Children can also be taught, with encouragement and support, how to save and make frugal choices with their money – it shouldn’t be assumed that frugality is an innate skill or something that can be learned through observation.

In spite of all the mistakes and stumbles Brett and I have made along the way, we’ve always tried to be open with our kids about our finances while still retaining our privacy, and to help guide them when we can. We’ve tried to model generosity too and work to provide some of their wants as well as meet their needs. When we haven’t been able to afford something, we’ve been honest about why and explained that we would try to provide it later. I’m not sure of how well we did, but all four seem to be good money managers, all have a generous spirit, and they all love to travel as much as we do. It’s exciting and rewarding these days to watch them work toward their dreams, budget for the things they want as well as save for their futures.

I haven’t written about the influence Brett’s family had on him when it comes to finances and money. He grew up in circumstances about as different from mine as possible, yet had a happy childhood. His story is his own to tell, but in spite of the differences we’ve made a good team over the years.

Family, Money, Travel: Part I

Last week in The Frugal Girl, a question was posed: “How did your family of origin affect your financial habits?” As I read through Kristin’s response and the comments from other readers, most said they had been raised in frugal households, and learned their frugal ways there. I was also raised in a frugal home, but didn’t really figure out about living simply and frugally until somewhat later in life. I’ve been thinking about the question the past few days, and it’s brought many memories and deep feelings to the surface. I’ve thought carefully about how things were and how they’ve turned out. This post ended up as something rather long-ish, so I’ve broken it into two pieces – Part II will be up on Thursday.

My parents grew up during the Great Depression, and both came of age and served during WWII. Neither of their families were poor, but they weren’t well-to-do either, and both my mother and father were raised in homes that practiced frugality even before the Depression arrived. My mother’s father owned an independent insurance agency, and my dad’s father managed the Department of Motor Vehicles in Indiana, and both remained employed during the Depression. My mom grew up in an exclusive suburb of Los Angeles, San Marino, and my dad was raised on a farm in Westfield, Indiana, just north of Indianapolis, where they grew crops for sale as well as their own vegetables, and also raised chickens and cows. My parents met at a sorority-fraternity dance at the University of Arizona following World War II, got married a few months later, and eventually ended up back in San Marino where they raised four children. My mom taught biology and math in the San Marino school district, and my dad became the Los Angeles area credit manager for GMAC. Their two incomes put our family in the middle of the middle class.

When I think about the messages and lessons I received about money growing up, the best I can say now is that they were mixed. We always had enough to eat (although always the cheapest of everything – I didn’t know until I was in my teens that there was a cut of beef other than chuck), decent enough clothes to wear, and we took a vacation or traveled almost every summer. We had good health and dental care. We lived close enough to Disneyland that we visited somewhat often (usually depending on who came to visit), and my grandparents owned a beach house in San Clemente that our family used frequently because we were just a little over an hour and a half’s drive away.

However, money or finances was never a topic for conversation at our house unless it was to tell us we couldn’t have or do something. My siblings may have different memories, but I have no recollection of any positive financial discussions on any topic, ever. I’m not sure why that was – either my parents thought it unseemly or that family finances was one of those things children didn’t need to know. They never talked about why they chose to live so frugally or about the lessons they had learned growing up in the Depression (except about the hardships), or what they were saving for or why.  Neither my siblings nor I ever received an allowance or any instruction on money management. Although my parents provided for us, we were also expected to figure out how to earn our own money for the things that they considered “extras.” I began babysitting when I was 11 or 12 years old (for 25¢ an hour), and saved my money to buy many of my clothes, or at least the fabric and notions to make them – I bought or made most of my own clothes beginning in middle school and all through high school. Christmas was miserable for me, and I always dreaded going back to school to hear about all the wonderful times my friends had had and the gifts they received, or see the new clothes they were wearing. My mom set up a Christmas Club savings account every year but it always felt like my parents begrudged having to spend anything on Christmas, and the gifts my mom purchased for us were for the most part cheap, often with little to no thought put into them. My dad always gave us a little money before Christmas so we could shop, but it was usually barely enough to buy everyone a bar of soap.

I understand now that besides raising four kids my parents were also saving to be able to put each of us through college (no student loans or grants back then), and have funds for emergencies when they arose (and they did). They did not use credit cards or borrow beyond their mortgage, but that was more something I sensed then rather than heard from them. The result though was that their frugality came across as stingy, cheap, and uncaring – frugality was never a positive. One of my strongest memories of my parents was when I think I was 13 or 14, and they bought our family a color TV. It was meant to be a surprise, and the day it was delivered my sister and I were home from school, but we sent the delivery man away, not because it wasn’t safe to let him in the house but because we knew that even in our wildest imaginations there was no way our parents would ever spend their money on a new, let alone a color, TV and he must have gotten the name mixed up with someone else.

Of all the factors that affected my early views on money, probably the most influential was my parents’ choice to settle in San Marino. To this day I don’t understand why we lived there, and I didn’t understand it at the time either. I know my mom wanted to live in San Marino because her parents** did, because the neighborhoods were close-knit, and because it was a beautiful city with amazing schools, but the cost of living there was well out of my parents’ league in spite of their two incomes (the city was also lily white at the time, and I’m ashamed to admit that aspect must have appealed to my parents as well). San Marino was (and still is) a very expensive place to live and it was often difficult and discouraging for me to live in a place where everyone else seemed to have not just everything but so much of it, and where it felt like money never seemed to be an object except for our family. We certainly weren’t destitute, but I know now we could have lived just as close to our grandparents and had an easier time of things financially if my parents had chosen to live in South Pasadena, San Gabriel, Arcadia, Pasadena or any number of other neighboring cities. We would have gotten a good education too.

In hindsight though, things might not have been as different as I imagine. Later in life, when my mom had a solid amount in savings and a steady income, she was still always moaning about being “broke” and not having enough money, the same complaint I heard all the time growing up. I wonder if us living less expensive location would have or could have changed those perceptions. Both of my parents were good savers but they never seemed to have figured how to invest, or make their money work for them so that they could someday follow their dreams. For years my dad, who had been a navigation officer in the navy and loved being out on the ocean, talked about buying a “tuna boat” and taking us around the world, but he never did anything to make his dream or anything resembling it a reality. He slogged along in a 9-5 environment his whole career, never rising very high up the chain and becoming more bitter and resentful as he went along. His bitterness and failure to go after his dream deeply affected me and my later views about money and dreams.

Drill team girl (what surprises me in this picture is not that I was ever this young and thin, but that you can see the mountains in the background – usually they were completely obscured by smog)

It also always seemed in our family that boys were more valued than girls when it came to how our family’s money was allocated. The favoritism could be blatantly overt at times too. For example, my parents bought all of my older brother’s clothing from a top men’s shop in Pasadena, and his expensive shoes from a high-end local store. The clothes my parents bought for my sister and me, on the other hand, came from cheap discount stores (and we didn’t get any more clothes than my brother), and I sometimes had to use my babysitting earnings to buy shoes when I got to high school. Both my brothers also played hockey for years, and new skates and other equipment was purchased without complaint or question for them every year, sometimes more than once a year if they grew out of things. My parents also spent time and $$$$ driving them to games and practices around L.A. County or to send them to exclusive hockey camps. I had two years of private clarinet lessons, and got my teeth straightened, but my sister and I were often refused things we asked to do, told they were too expensive or my parents didn’t have the time. I earned a place on the high school’s school drill team in my sophomore year, but instead of receiving congratulations the first thing my dad did was yell at me about having to buy the uniform (which cost the same as a pair of hockey skates).

Anyway, at age 18 I headed off to college not knowing the first thing about money or how to manage it, or if as a female I was even worthy of managing it. I just dreamed of having it. I was not afraid to work, and knew how to save for things I wanted in the short term, but I was pretty much a confirmed spender at that point in my life, always desiring, and buying the things my friends or others had, believing that when I had those things life would be better. I was considered a goofy, immature, frivolous person by my family, and if I’m honest, when it came to my finances back then I lived up to that reputation.

My grandparents’ house (on the right) was a very special place for me. My grandmother planted the (now very big) ginko tree in front when I was a little girl.

**My grandparents were also solidly middle middle-class, but they were able to buy a beautiful Mediterranean-style house in San Marino in 1925 at a bargain basement price when the builder went broke and couldn’t pay my grandfather his insurance premiums. My grandparents were always very frugal, and they were careful, dedicated savers who invested in property throughout Southern California whenever possible (they even owned an orange grove at one time). They always took good care of their home and possessions. My mom once said her parents were actually quite stingy, but they were always very generous to me and my siblings. I think my grandmother (my grandfather died when I was seven) turned out to be a stronger positive role model, financial and otherwise, than my parents ever were.

Sunday Afternoon 6/24/2018

We spent some of Father’s Day at the beach – it was a beautiful day!

After a few weeks of feeling like nothing much was happening around here, things are about to get busy, at least for the next few weeks. This coming Friday morning Royal Hawaiian will arrive to pack up the items we are shipping back to the mainland, then the following week our friends Alan and Cheryl arrive on the island and we’ll be moving the furniture and items they purchased from us over to their house, and the week after that will be our big garage sale. I’m going to try to keep to my regular writing schedule, but will not make any guarantees. If nothing else, I want to at least do the Sunday Afternoon post to catch up. I hope readers will hang in there with me until all these things get taken care of and we can sort of stand down again..

The glassy water on Tuesday should have been a warning about how still the air was.

This past Tuesday evening I had a scary run-in with heat exhaustion while Brett and I were on our walk. We are walking later in the day now in order to give the sun time to go down a bit more and the breeze to pick up a bit, but that evening there was absolutely NO breeze when we got to the beach path – I’ve never felt the air so still. It didn’t seem all that humid though, or overly hot, so we started off at our usual brisk pace. We always carry water, and always stop to drink at our turn-around point before starting back, which we did. The return trip to the car is mostly downhill and there’s usually a breeze in our face to cool us off, but if anything the air was even more dead this time on the way back, and about halfway to the car I started to feel strange. I stopped and drank some more water but by the time we got down to the bottom of the hill I knew something was wrong – I was sweating profusely, my legs were cramping, I was starting to get a headache, and felt like if I went further I was going to pass out. I stopped and sat down at one of the shaded picnic tables and Brett went off to get the car. I must have looked awful because a woman who was walking her dogs stopped and stayed with me until he came back. I took a long, cold shower and drank a lot of water after we got home, but it took several hours before I felt normal and not overheated. Anyway, lesson learned – we can still walk if it’s hot, humid and there’s no breeze, but not at our usual pace, and we need to turn around sooner.

We’ve decided our landlord is just plain nuts. He brought some potential renters over this past week, a lovely retired couple, but after showing them around he made himself at home in our living room and proceeded to rant about his expectations, what someone could and couldn’t do in the house, how much he charges for minor things, etc. pretty much effectively talking them out of ever wanting to have to deal with him. Plus, he slipped in a few racist remarks and gossiped about other potential renters including making up stuff about them. It was appalling. We’ve pretty much decided he’s setting us up to give us back very little if any of our security deposit – he was looking over everything while he was showing the house, and told us while he’ll do a walk-through with us the “real” inspection happens after we move out and that’s when “finds” things (which is illegal under Hawaii landlord-tenant law). We will be glad though to be finished with this guy – but it’s sad because up until the last few months he has been very easy to work with.

Some of the “river of debris” that currently runs the entire length of Kealia Beach, made up of small pieces of driftwood left over from April storms and flooding. Clean-up crews will eventually get to it, but it’s not a priority for now.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Grant – such a good biography and for a couple of days after it was done I felt a bit lost not having it to read. I had two more books come off of hold at the same time though which worked out well. I read The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy In a Store by Cait Flanders in three days and am now reading The Temptation of Forgiveness: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon.
  • Listening to: Another quiet day at Casa Aloha. YaYu is working the breakfast and lunch shift today, and Brett is reading. It was raining earlier this morning, and there’s a nice, cool-ish breeze now. No one for now is working on their lawn or power-washing anything, and the chickens are quiet, so it’s all very peaceful and I love it!
  • Watching: We finished up the second season of Goliath – great acting all around – but didn’t enjoy it as much as the first season. We’re currently watching Scott & Bailey, a British series about two female police detectives in Manchester. So far it’s been good, and we’re glad there are a few seasons of it as well. We continue to watch an episode or two of Parts Unknown a few evenings a week. The new season of the Great British Baking Show is back on PBS too – I love that show!
  • Cooking/baking: Not sure what we’re having for dinner tonight but we have several choices. Quiche maybe? The oven door is supposed to be repaired on Tuesday, so it will be nice to have that option available for cooking again. On the dinner menu this week will be pork and eggplant stir fry, macaroni and cheese, pepperoni pizza, and noodles with pork sauce. My KA mixer is going into our shipment on Friday, so I’m going to try to bake one more cake before it goes.

    My favorite view on Kaua’i shows the power of the ocean, and how far away we are from every other place out here in the ocean.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got the last of the pictures down and nail holes filled, but the landlord not so subtly let us know the other day that in his opinion we were in violation of our lease by hanging any pictures at all (even though I dare him to find any of the holes), so I’m not sure at this point why I’m putting all this effort into it. I’m still working on the pantry shelves because the shelf liner we used stuck to the paint so I’m having to sand and then repaint the shelves. YaYu did a great job of cleaning out her room, closet and dressers the other day so things are moving along in there as well. We had hoped to walk five days this past week, but only got in four – we didn’t get to walk on Friday because it rained most of the day. On Saturday though it was cool and breezy enough for us to walk out to the Pineapple Dump to check out my favorite view on the island.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m greatly looking forward to getting the first round of our upcoming move out of the way on Friday. We’ve got lots of work to do this week to get ready for that, but it will mean things are starting to move along again. Hopefully Brett and I can also fit in another trip to the beach.

    Duke came a relaxed with us for a while – such a good little pug!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I went to the beach not once, but twice this week – so nice! Last Tuesday the sweet little pug in the picture above came and sat with us while his “mom” went swimming – he had come up to say hello and then made himself at home on my beach mat, and the young woman asked if we would keep an eye on him while she went out in the water. No problem – he must have known we were “pug people!” YaYu worked lots of hours (and got overtime) and made lots of tips this past week. She is getting ready to pay her first bill at Bryn Mawr in the next couple of weeks so this helped calm her down a bit. We found haupia (Hawaiian coconut custard) cakes at Costco and  bought one – Brett is in heaven as he hasn’t had any for over two years and it’s one of his favorites.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: It was just a so-so frugal week for – we skipped the farmers’ market again but stopped at Safeway for a few things so it evened out, and we bought peaches and another watermelon (and a cake) at Costco when we went to get gas for the car. I also ordered a replacement screen from Amazon to hang in the doorway between the house and the garage – the one that was here when we moved in is on its last legs. We put $3.46 into the change/$1 bill jar, the change we got back at Safeway.
  • Reporting gains and losses: I didn’t gain or lose any weight this month, and we put $2775 toward the Big Adventure.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling sort of thankful right now for all those times we had to clean our navy housing for white-glove inspections – we know how to deep clean and we’re going to hold the landlord’s feet to the fire to get as much of our deposit back as possible!
  • Bonus question: How did you learn to cook? I am for the most part a self-taught cook. My grandmother on my mom’s side was not a good cook – the only thing she made that was memorable were her stewed apples. They were divine, but she never passed on how to make them so they’re only a memory now. My dad’s mom was a wonderful cook, but she lived far away so I only got to observe her and eat her cooking during the times I visited Indiana (same for my dad’s sister and his sister-in-law – they were both amazing cooks). My dad didn’t cook, and mom was frankly mediocre. Cooking was more of a chore for her because she had never really learned from her mom, plus she worked full time and was heavily into convenience foods which were very salty and not very healthy. Growing up I paid attention when my friends’ moms cooked and picked up some of their techniques, ideas and flavors, and I also noticed things that tasted good whenever I went out and often tried to replicate them. I consider myself a “journeyman” cook though – I have solid basic skills, know how to follow a recipe and when and how to adapt or change it, and the things I make turn out well and taste good, but cooking is not a passion for me. I’m also at a stage in my life right now where I’m ready for a break from regular cooking and meal planning.

The grands – this cracks me up!

That’s all for this week! I’m not sure when or if I’ll get to post this week – we have a lot going on. How did your week go? What are you reading? What frugal things did you do? What good things happened for you?