This Week’s Menu: Thanksgiving!

In this charming but completely unrealistic picture, Priscilla Mullins offers turkey to Squanto at the first Thanksgiving. I am one of over probably a million Americans directly descended from Priscilla Mullins and her husband, John Alden, the handsome Pilgrim in black behind her.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I used to love preparing a big meal for the family, with all the trimmings. These days, not so much.

During our navy years, Brett was usually deployed on Thanksgiving, and when he was away our son and I would often join friends at the enlisted dining facility on base. For just $2.65 each we could enjoy an amazing turkey dinner with all the trimmings, as well as several types of desserts (navy cooks are incredible, BTW). The only downside was there were no leftovers. After Brett retired from the navy I fixed a big Thanksgiving meal every year, usually making three types of pie. Sometimes our celebration was just our family, but other years we gathered with and shared our meal with friends.

I haven’t made a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal since we arrived here in Hawai’i. For one thing, it’s been too warm here (for me) to roast a turkey, let along makes all the sides. And, these days since it’s just Brett, YaYu and me, a whole turkey seems just too much (especially since YaYu isn’t all that crazy about turkey).

The past couple of years we’ve gone out to a local restaurant for dinner, but Brett and I decided against it this year because we’re saving for the Big Adventure. Instead, I’m putting together a “cheater” dinner, courtesy of Costco. We bought a roasted turkey breast as well as mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, and cranberry-sausage stuffing from Costco’s deli section. We tried all of these items a few years ago when we spent Thanksgiving in a cottage down at the Oregon coast, and they were very good. All I will have to do this year is slice and heat the turkey, and heat the potatoes and stuffing in the microwave. The gravy will be warmed on top of the stove, and the only thing that will go into the oven will be asparagus for roasting. Our meal won’t exactly be “home cooked,” but it will be tasty, and provide us with leftovers for a few days.

YaYu doesn’t care for pumpkin pie, and Brett and I don’t need it, so we asked YaYu what she’d like for dessert this year and she chose cookies & cream ice cream. We found cookies & cream mochi ice cream balls at the store last week (!), so will surprise her with that – two of her favorite things in one.

We’ll fill out the holiday with a family hike/run to the Pineapple Dump before we eat and the traditional viewing of The Descendants in the evening. Both WenYu and Meiling will be having Thanksgiving dinner with their boyfriends’ families, but will call us in the afternoon.

Here’s what’s on the menu for the whole week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Grilled Polish sausages; roasted mixed vegetables
  • Wednesday: Grilled fish tacos with fresh mango salsa; yellow rice (no rice or tortillas for me)
  • Thursday: Roast turkey breast; mashed potatoes with turkey gravy; cornbread stuffing; roasted asparagus; cranberry-orange relish; country bread; cookies ‘n’ cream mochi ice cream (I’m having 1/4 cup each of the potatoes and stuffing, but skipping the bread and ice cream)
  • Friday: Hot turkey sandwiches with gravy and leftover stuffing and/or mashed potatoes; roasted zucchini (no bread for my sandwich, but I’ll have 1/4 cup each potatoes and stuffing again)
  • Saturday: Turkey Waldorf salad; country bread (I’ll skip the  bread)
  • Sunday: Omelets; breakfast sausage; toast; fruit (no toast for me)
  • Monday: Mabo dofu; steamed rice; cucumber salad

We’ll be buying cucumbers, tomatoes, ginger, bok choy, papayas and rambutan from the farmers’ market this week. Citrus fruit has been showing up – maybe we’ll find tangelos!

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A Trip To India, A Dream Come True

The Amber Fort & Palace in Jaipur

I have been fascinated by India for more years than I can remember. I’ve read loads of books about the country and culture, both fiction and non-fiction, watched movies and travelogues, and have dreamed of being able to visit one day.

My dream will be coming true in January of 2019 because last week Brett and I put a deposit on a seven-day tour of the “Golden Triangle” of northern India: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

Chandni Chowk, Delhi

Neither Brett nor I felt comfortable going into India on our own for a first visit. In spite of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel making it look somewhat easy, we knew that any introduction to India would be intense, and most likely overwhelming for us, so we decided to go with a guided tour, something we normally aren’t all that interested in doing.

Sunset at the Taj Mahal in Agra

The tour company we chose is Easy Tours of India. We did lots of research before picking who to book with, and Easy Tours kept coming up again and again as one of the best, five stars, etc. They offered a variety of different tour options, superior lodging, and tour groups limited to 12 persons. Also, the tour company is based in the U.S. and the guides and drivers in India get great reviews. Included in the tour price are daily breakfasts and lunches, all entrance fees, and in-country transportation.

Jaipur’s Gaitaji Temple

The tour we booked is advertised as eight days long, and we were initially concerned when we noticed ours was only seven days. However, after comparing itineraries we discovered the only difference is instead of staying in Jaipur on the last night and departing for Delhi the next day to fly home (or wherever), we will instead fly to Delhi on the last evening, and then on to Hong Kong that night for us, avoiding a l-o-n-g stay in the Delhi airport.

By reserving a spot for the tour early we saved $456 dollars off the regular cost, which will allow us to spend an extra night in Hong Kong (seven nights instead of six) or a full extra day in Perth, Australia, before boarding the train to Sydney. Currently the extra day in Perth is our preferred choice.

Rajasthani Thali

It will be cold in northern India when we go, and intense fog may be a problem. But, we decided we’d rather visit cold India than hot (and humid) India, and we’ll have the clothing necessary to stay comfortable.

It’s truly a dream come true, and hopefully the first of more visits.

Here are some of my favorite books about India and Indian culture and history. They’re just the tip of the iceberg, really:

  • A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth – a BIG novel covering a young woman’s search for love and identity in post-Independent India. This book is massive (over 1400 pages) – be prepared for a very long read. It’s still my favorite though.
  • The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott – there are four volumes in this telling of the end of British rule (the Raj) in India. The mini-series The Jewel in the Crown was based on the Raj Quartet.
  • Speaker of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – a collection of nine short stories about the Indian immigrant experience in America.
  • Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald – a look at different religious traditions in contemporary India
  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo – a moving examination of the poverty that exists in modern Indian. If you’ve ever wondered what real poverty looks like, this is it.
  • Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World by Louis Fischer – written by a long-time friend of the Mahatma, the book does not shy away from the facts or try to glorify him.
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – the story of fraternal twins in India whose lives are changed forever when a new law is put into place decreeing “who should be loved, and how. And how much.”
  • A Passage to India by E.M. Forster – a classic story about India during British rule, and the difference in how justice was meted out for Indians versus the British.
  • The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye – an epic novel about British-Indian history, and forbidden love.

Several of these books have been turned into movies or miniseries. If you can find it, The Story of India, a six-part series that aired on PBS, is excellent and The Jewel in the Crown is still a compelling series with some top-notch acting.

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Sunday Afternoon 11/19/2017

Between preparing for the holidays and getting ready for the girls to come home, this month’s Big Shop was BIG (and exhausting)!

The doctor released me from my splint on Friday, which means I can sort of type normally again. I say ‘sort of’ because my broken finger is buddy-taped to the fourth finger, and the two together get in the way of typing cleanly. I still have to wear the splint from time to time because of pain, and when I go out, more as a warning to others to be careful around my hand and not bump it. The bruised rib is (slowly) healing as well and although it still hurts it’s nothing like it was at the beginning of last week. So, huzzah for getting better! I am an impatient sick person, and having to slow down as much as I have has been difficult at times. Brett has been magnificent, as always, in picking up the slack. Also, a BIG thank you again to all who sent get well greetings.

With the confirmation of our India tour dates, and the booking of the cross-continent train trip in Australia, the rest of the 2019 part of our Big Adventure is firming up, and we now know for sure where we’ll be when and for how long. This past week I also came across lovely Airbnb rentals in Tokyo and Portland that are not only in great locations for us, but come in well under budget, something that we had pretty much given up on for both places. It’s too early to book the rentals now, but we’ve been in communication with the owners and they are tentatively holding the dates for us, so we’ve got our fingers crossed those work out in the end.

YaYu got her first college acceptance, from the University of Hawaii! It’s not her first choice of schools, but she says she will be happy to go there if she doesn’t get accepted at any of her other preferred colleges.

Finally, it’s normally a rare occurrence here to see a Hawaiian monk seal sleeping on the beach – their numbers are dwindling, and they’re on the endangered list – but over the past two weeks Brett and I have seen four of them when we’ve been out for our evening walk! Unbelievable! Apparently for the seals, Baby Beach is THE beach to head to right now when a rest is needed.  When a seal is spotted on the beach a volunteer is called, and he or she comes and sets up a perimeter around the sleeping seal with cones and such, and hangs signs letting people know not to bother the seal. The volunteer (or volunteers, depending on how long the seal is there) stands watch to make sure the seal is not disturbed. The seals are greatly loved here, and we feel incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to see four of them in such a short time frame. One of them was positively huge, and found his spot under one of the picnic tables that are along  the beach.

A Hawaiian monk seal pup naps on Baby Beach. If you look closely there are a couple of sticks in the background, stuck into the sand as part of a protective perimeter around the seal.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I have been dragging out finishing The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore because I am waiting for a couple of other books to come off of hold, but I’m going to have to pick it up because the download ends in three days. I have nothing else on deck so hopefully the other books will show up sooner rather than later.
  • Listening to: We enjoyed another cool (cold?), breezy morning here. Thankfully the sun is out today though because it poured rain all day yesterday. I’m listening to the washing machine and dryer inside on top of the sound of the winds through the trees outside. Otherwise it’s pretty quiet around here.
  • Watching: Brett and I re-watched Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts while I was on my healing break, but that finished and we’re all back to watching the Chinese soap opera with YaYu, Auntie Duohe. It’s so dramatic, with lots of crying (and lots of running too for some reason). I discovered the Big Family Cooking Showdown, sort of Great British Baking Show-like contest for Britain’s best home cooks, and watched that while I worked on Swagbucks at night. It was a fun show and I loved it (Nadiyah Hussein, who won the bake-off one season, is one of the hosts), and can’t wait for the next season.
  • Cooking/baking: I made more chocolate chip cookie dough last week (which was an interesting and somewhat challenging experience), so no baking going on right now. Dinner tonight is baked chili relleno casserole, cucumbers, and yellow rice for Brett and YaYu, .
  • Happy I accomplished: Brett and I did our Big Shop last week, and it was a particularly BIG one because of Thanksgiving and Meiling’s coming home before next month’s shop. We also finished up our Christmas shopping except for two gift cards, and got most of the wrapping done. It was not my accomplishment other than to be Reminder Mom, but YaYu sent her Early Decision application off this past week, so we’ve all got our fingers crossed once again. This college is a long shot, but it’s her #1 choice so she wanted to try for early decision and know one way or another whether it’s a yeah or nay. Brett and I walked every day down on the beach path except for Tuesday and yesterday because of rain. I moved up to Level 5 in French, et encore une fois, j’ai étudié le français pendent dix minutes et j’ai bu huit verres d’eau tous les jours.
  • Looking forward to: Thanksgiving! It’s my all-time favorite holiday because it’s all about family and food, with no pressure to decorate or find gifts. We’ve gone out to eat the past couple of years but will be staying at home this year, and I’ll be serving a traditional turkey dinner with help from Costco. We’ll watch The Descendants again, and take a family hike out to the Pineapple Dump to check out the view.

    Coffee for me, and a coconut brownie (and coffee) for Brett, and a jar of cranberry-orange relish at the Monkeypod Jam store.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: The discounts on the India tour, the Australian dollar price for train journey versus U.S. dollars, and finding affordable rentals in Tokyo and Portland were all absolutely the #1 good things to happen last week. If we get the rentals, the total for those four things will be a savings of over $3600 from what we had budgeted for that part of the trip. I had a clean skin check at the dermatologist’s – not one thing that looked troublesome or to watch out for. And, I was told I had beautiful skin for someone my age, especially for someone who experienced as much sun exposure as I did when I was young (I think I’m pretty wrinkled though). Our daughter-in-law sent lots of videos and photos of the grands over the last two weeks – we can’t get enough of those two! And, Brett and I had a lovely time down on the south side this past week, including coffee and a pastry at the Monkeypod Jam shop when we stopped in to pick up a jar of their scrumptious cranberry-orange relish for our Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling very, very thankful that I am continuing to heal, and for all the support I’ve gotten at home these past couple of weeks. YaYu and Brett really stepped up, especially when on top of everything else going on they had to listen to me moan constantly for several days from the pain caused by the bruised rib.
  • Bonus question: What are your best and worst Thanksgiving memories? The worst was getting food poisoning one year when I was around 10 years old – my mom had cooked a stuffed turkey and then let it sit too long and I got food poisoning (the only one in the family too). It was miserable, and it was several years before I would eat turkey and stuffing again (my Thanksgiving meal for years was just mashed potatoes, no gravy, and vegetables). I have happy Thanksgiving memories otherwise – no arguments, rude guests, etc. – just good times with family and friends. My funniest memory is the first time our daughter-in-law came for Thanksgiving. She had never seen a whole turkey before (and our turkey that year was a big one), and when she came in the kitchen I was in the process of cleaning out the cavity and had my hand shoved up the turkey’s rear. M screamed and was absolutely terrified by the turkey. Since then she’s learned to cook one, but that was a true clash of cultures at the time. Both of us can thankfully laugh about it now..

That’s it for this past week or so at Chez Aloha. How was your week? What good things happened for you? Are you looking forward to Thanksgiving?

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Six Frugal Things 11/17/2017

We’re going to India!

Two weeks of savings!

  1. We put a deposit on our India tour! We saved $456 off the regular tour price by reserving our spots now. We also booked our Perth-to-Sydney Australian train journey, taking advantage of an early booking discount. We didn’t realize at first that the prices were in Australian versus U.S. dollars, and the cost for our tickets ended up being $907.62 less than what we thought we would be paying!
  2. We did our monthly Big Shop this week, and stuck to our shopping list. Costco has several items  we normally buy for the holidays on sale this month which saved us $31.50.
  3. I cancelled a magazine subscription a couple of weeks ago, and last week received a $12.50 refund for the months that were remaining but that we wouldn’t be reading. This is the first time I’ve ever received a refund from a subscription cancellation, and it went right into the travel fund.
  4. I have a small amount set aside for “traveling clothes” for next year’s adventure, and used some of it last week to buy two knit tops from my favorite store, J. Jill, that I can wear fall through spring. One item was already on sale, but I received an additional 30% off the sale price. And, I found a coupon online for an additional 25% off the entire order. I love J. Jill’s clothing not only for their style, but because they’re well made and they last. I also bought one more pair of L.L. Bean’s Perfect Fit Pants and received a 25% discount, saving another $10.

    Our frugally wrapped Christmas presents look pretty nice! We bought some reusable ribbon the next year from a thrift store.

  5. Brett and I wrapped some of the girls’ Christmas gifts yesterday. We don’t buy Christmas paper any more, and use paper bags, newspaper, shopping bags and reusable gift boxes.
  6. We put $47.91 in to the change/$1 bill jar over the past two weeks: $1.10 change from the post office, $13.00 returned from YaYu (money she had borrowed from us), $9.54 back from the dentist’s bill, $11.85 from the farmers’ market, $9.76 change from our cable bill, and $2.66 from recycling.

What frugal wins did you have?

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A Fall Morning At Casa Aloha

The autumn view from our bedroom window

We’ve been enjoying some wonderful fall weather here at Casa Aloha lately, much appreciated after our hot, humid Kaua’i summer. We’ve had a few good soaking rains in the past few weeks which have washed the dust away, and our yard is thriving again. Rather than changing color to red or orange or yellow, the leaves on the plants have been changing back to their normal deeper shades of green, and the grass is thickening up. There are still a few bits of fall color to be found though . . . if you look for them.

The lanai is cool and inviting, the perfect place for a morning cup of coffee.

After a hot, dry summer the asparagus fern hanging on the lanai has perked up again, and is sporting a few (somewhat hidden) red berries for fall.

The side yard and hillside are cool and shady in the morning, and filled with lots of green. We thought we were going to lose the wedelia on the hillside from heat and thirst this past summer, but after the rains it’s come back richer and greener than ever, and it’s blooming like crazy.

The aloe vera that Brett planted right after we moved in was a washed-out yellowish-green for most of the summer but are now sporting their true green color again. One plant has even produced a lovely fall-colored blossom, which has been attracting little birds (Japanese White Eye) from time to time.

No changing leaves here, but the avocado and guava trees on the back hillside are completely leafed out, and have grown quite a bit. We did get to harvest some lemons from our tree.

This little fellow, looking ready for fall with his orange feet and tail, was waiting for us by the front door.The ti plants across from the lanai seemed listless by the end of the summer, like they’d had enough of the heat and humidity as well, but these days they’re standing tall again.

The change of seasons is hardly noticeable here in Hawai’i; they all seem about the same and one segues right into the next. But, after three years here now we can notice and sense the subtle changes when they arrive, and appreciate more what each season has to offer.

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I’ve Been Moved To the Injured Roster

My lovely multi-colored, swollen, and very sore left hand.

Last Sunday evening I took a bit of a tumble during Brett’s and my walk. I was looking over at the remnants of a fair/festival that had been going on in the park by the side of the beach path and not watching my feet, and my right foot caught the edge of the path and boom! Down I went. I fell pretty hard too, but thankfully my head hit the grass and not the concrete path. My hand and rib were not so lucky.

I felt OK enough after the fall to finish our walk, and felt kind of banged up in the evening. But when I woke up Monday morning . . . yowza! My hand was swollen, bruised and hurt something fierce, and my chest hurt like crazy too, including when I breathed. So, off to the ER we went.

The bad news was I have a hairline fracture on the side of my finger. It’s not a major injury, but I’m splinted up for the next couple of weeks while it heals. The good news (?) was that while I didn’t fracture a rib, I did bruise one pretty badly. The doctor said it will heal faster than a fracture, but be more painful at first.

I’m typing this with one hand (and making lots of mistakes), so other than a post I had already put together for tomorrow I’m going to take a blogging break for around a week or so, and then will reassess how I’m doing, Poor Brett – once again he will be taking on almost all of the household chores, plus helping me dress, etc. for a while.

Life can change in a moment, but I’m so grateful and fortunate the injuries weren’t worse. I’m also very thankful for our insurance – between Medicare and Tricare For Life everything is 100% covered.

While I won’t be actively blogging I’ll still answer comments, and hope you’ll give me some time to get to them (and not expect the answers to be too detailed).

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This Week’s Menu: Not Feelin’ It

I prep the ingredients, but YaYu always makes the fried rice for us these days

This is one of those weeks that when it comes to menu planning I just feel meh. We’re coming up on another Big Shop next week, which means supplies on hand are dwindling and it’s a bit more difficult to be inspired or creative.

Plus, YaYu’s sulking about several of last week’s dinners hasn’t helped my mood either. She now nearly refuses to eat chicken – this from a girl who adored chicken and could field strip a chicken bone like no one else when she arrived home 12 years ago. I told her that chicken would continue to show up on the menu because her dad and I both like it, and it’s an affordable protein. If she had her way these days though we’d be eating nothing but pork and noodles doused in a LOT of hot sauce, and maybe some seafood occasionally. I don’t know how she’s going to manage at college.

The new swim practice schedule is also going to take some getting used to when it comes to preparing dinner (thankfully though we don’t observe Daylight Savings here). We won’t be getting home until nearly six in the evening, which means I’ll need to start doing a lot of the prep work earlier in the day, and we’ll need to start the rice cooker before we leave for our walk and to pick up YaYu.

Here’s what we’re having for dinner this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Lumpia; steamed rice; Asian-y coleslaw (no rice for me)
  • Wednesday: Chicken tacos; yellow rice; cucumbers (I’ll have a “deconstructed” taco, i.e. no tortilla. No rice either for me).
  • Thursday: Grilled Polish sausages; grilled zucchini; pilaf (I’m skipping the pilaf)
  • Friday: Fried rice with vegetables & ham (not sure what I’ll be having)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs; bacon; toast; fruit (I’m skipping the toast)
  • Monday: Pork & pepper stir-fry; steamed rice (no rice for me)

We’ll need cucumbers, tomatoes; zucchini, and a papaya from the farmers’ market. I’m hoping to also get a green pepper or two (to supplement what we have on hand), but they’re not always available. Dragonfruit is still in season, and YaYu likes it in her lunch so we’ll probably pick up a couple of those as well.

P.S. Brett and YaYu will be taking over the cooking duties for a while – explanation coming tomorrow!

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Tell Us Your Secrets, Tell Us Your Tips!

Sunset view over Florence

Now that you know where we’re going on the Big Adventure, what should we see and do?

We will be delving into the guidebooks after the first of the year, and of course we’ll visit the famous sights, but what Brett and I are really interested in hearing about are the places, events, experiences, museums, restaurants, etc. that might not make the books but that you all think shouldn’t be missed.

We’ve already started a notebook that we’re filling with ideas as we come across them, but so many of you have visited the places we’re going and have seen and done things that we might enjoy too, so we’re hoping you’ll share some of those with us. We’re interested in things like a great place to catch the sunset, a shop you think sells amazing gelato, an out-of-the way restaurant where you had an incredible meal, or a small but interesting museum you visited, among other experiences. What foods should we not miss? We’re going to take advantage of the free walking tours offered in most cities, but would also love to hear about tours you’ve taken that you found worthwhile, whether that was a back street look at a city or a wine-tasting in France or Italy or a fun cooking class and so forth. About the only thing we’re not interested in is shopping advice, because that’s the one thing we won’t be doing on our journey – we have to watch our weight the whole way.

We’re planning to do a cheese tasting in Paris

We are greatly looking forward to your suggestions, and to hearing what you recommend. As a reminder, here are the places we’ll be visiting:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Montevideo, Uruguay
  • France: Paris, Normandy, Bordeaux, Strasbourg
  • Italy: Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Sydney, Australia
  • North Island (Auckland, Rotorua, Napier, Wellington), New Zealand

(I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to figure out what to see and do in Hong Kong and Japan).

Our notebook and pens are ready!

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Sunday Afternoon 11/5/2017

The Hanalei Bridge was closed for a while on Tuesday due to flooding. Shelters were opened for those trapped in Hanalei (Photo credit: The Garden Island)

We’ve had a very wacky, difficult week of weather here on Kaua’i but we’re slowly edging back to our regular fall loveliness. There were huge thunderstorms and heavy, heavy rains last Tuesday and Wednesday, with severe flooding up on the north side of the island. As the storms pulled away though on Thursday they dragged in vog (volcanic smog) from the Big Island to the southern half of our island, so we got to deal with that for a couple of days as well until it blew away. On the plus side, the massive amounts of rain produced multiple gorgeous waterfalls which could be seen cascading down the sides of the mountains all around the island. The sight of all those waterfalls is spectacular!

An overhead look at some of the flooding in the taro fields in Hanalei Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday. The road through the valley is completely unusable (photo credit: Joel Guy)

Hanalei Bay turned brown and muddy from runoff from the Hanalei River. The bay was temporarily closed on Friday due to a shark sighting (sharks like to swim in murky water). The Hanalei Pier can be seen on the right side of the bay. (Photo credit: Joel Guy)

Swim season kicks off this week for YaYu, with practices at the pool five afternoons a week. YaYu has a love/hate relationship with swimming – it’s an intense and exhausting sport, and yet she loves the exercise and how toned she is by the end of the season. Swimming has always been a bit of a challenge for her because of her hands, but her technique is beautiful and she is a joy to watch. She has become a much better and much speedier swimmer these past four years, and no one leaves the starting block faster than she does! Brett and I always park at the community pool anyway when we go for our walks, and her upcoming practice schedule will fit perfectly with ours.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I gave up on trying to finish Lilli deJong and the Rebus mystery before they had to go back, but just in time, Jared Yate Sexton’s The People Are Going To Rise Up Like Water: A Story of American Rage came off of hold. It’s very well written, and an interesting (and somewhat scary) read.
  • Listening to: We had a bit of a rainy (off and on) morning, and it’s still cool and breezy day here – I’m enjoying the sound of the wind through the palm trees across the street, and in the trees up on the hill behind me. But, the washing machine is also doing its thing, so there’s that noise as well. Without that it would be quiet inside – Brett has his earplugs in and is studying Italian, and YaYu is back in her room studying something (most likely calculus).
  • Watching: Brett and I finished Stranger Things (and thought the second season was better than the first), and then started watching Auntie Duohe, a Chinese soap opera that’s on Netflix. We are really enjoying it. Brett and I of course need subtitles to understand what’s going on, but YaYu’s been watching along with us and can understand everything they’re saying without them. However, beginning this evening, Brett and I are starting “Movie Week.” Amazon Prime has LOTS of favorite films that we can watch for free, ones that we haven’t seen for a while. We’re starting our little film festival tonight with The Big Chill. Legends of the Fall and A River Runs Through It are coming up next.
  • Cooking: I baked a pan of brownies this morning for YaYu and Brett to enjoy this week. Brett is making Scotch eggs for dinner tonight, which we’ll have along with fruit (and toast for Y & B).
  • Happy I accomplished this week: Brett and I didn’t get to walk either Tuesday or Wednesday because of all the rain, and missed last night too because YaYu had the car from dawn to dusk for multiple volunteer gigs, but we walked all the other days. I’m thinking that by the end of this month we’ll be ready to change directions on the beach path. The way we go now is flat, but the other way has several hills both coming and going, and I think I’ll be ready for them. J’ai étudié le français pendent dix minutes et j’ai bu huit verres d’eau tous les jours. I can read, write and understand (simple) sentences in French now, but still cannot speak it. It will come though.
  • Looking forward to next week: The weather and YaYu’s schedule never cooperated for us to get to the beach last week, so we’ll try again this week. I have my rescheduled appointment with the dermatologist on Wednesday morning, and Brett and I are also planning to go down to Poipu on Thursday to pick up something for the girls’ Christmas stockings. We’ll go out for coffee while we’re there.

    At the starting point for our evening walk on Friday – there are mountains off in the distance that could barely be seen because of the vog.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: In spite of the changing weather this week, cooler temperatures still prevailed and the humidity has been kept to a minimum. We often run into a couple walking their adorable French bulldog when we walk in the evenings, and on Friday we stopped to ask the dog’s name. It turned out the couple is retired, had moved to Kaua’i just a few months ago, and had bought a house right up the street from us (my favorite house on the street as it turned out)! We had a lovely chat, and Brett and I learned that the current housing market here is even crazier than we imagined. We’re looking forward to getting together soon.
  • Grateful for: I am so thankful this week for my many wonderful readers. I enjoy writing immensely, but never thought in a million years when I started blogging that anyone would actually enjoy reading what I have to say and stick around. I’ve made some wonderful online friendships, and have had the very good fortune to meet several readers here on Kaua’i. I can’t ask for more than that!

    There is NO freakin’ way you’d get me to eat, or even try, any of this . . .

  • Bonus Question: Do you consider yourself an adventurous eater? I think I was more willing in the past to try strange things, but these days . . . not so much. With the advent of so many travel shows, cooking shows, and shows about eating around the world, I’ve learned that there’s a whole lot of things out there I just won’t go near, let alone eat. Number one would be bugs or grubs, in any shape or form, or with any sauce or seasoning. It makes me queasy just to look at them, let alone watch other people eat them. Many claim though that they are tasty and very nutritious. Reptiles, especially snake or alligator, hold no appeal for me either, and I have to turn away or close my eyes when others eat or prepare them. I have eaten some things that others might consider strange: jellyfish, grilled baby birds, snails (escargot), almost all parts of a chicken (except the feet – can’t go there). Some I enjoyed and others I didn’t, but at least I tried them. On the whole though I would say no, I’m not very adventurous. I love lots of different flavors, different ways of preparation, and variety, but I guess there’s a place where I draw a line.

That’s all for this week from Casa Aloha. What good things happened for you this past week? What did you accomplish? Are you an adventurous eater?  I hope everyone enjoyed a great week and is looking forward to the one that’s coming up.

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