#Kauai: Bucket List Progress Report

 

The view of Kipu Kai beach, the last stop on the ATV tour, did not disappoint!

With just three months left to go before we set off on our Big Adventure, I figured this was a good time to check our Kaua’i bucket list and see how we’re doing.

Experiences:

  • Rent a beach cottage for a couple of nights at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, to enjoy the beach and experience the gorgeous sunsets. We have reservations for a two-night stay in early July. We have a two-bedroom cottage, so YaYu is going to bring a friend along.
  • Hike Waimea Canyon. Brett, YaYu and her friend will hike somewhere in the canyon while we’re staying at the PMRF cottages.

    Brett, YaYu and her friend will have several trails to choose from for a hike in Waimea Canyon.

  • Hike the Wai Koa Loop/Stone Dam trail. The trail and the dam were destroyed during the April flooding, and are currently still closed. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to do this or not, but I’ve heard rumors the trail may be open again later this summer, but I doubt it will be as beautiful as it once was. Even if I don’t get to go, I’m grateful that Brett and the girls had the opportunity.
  • Take an ATV tour out to Kipu Kai Ranch This was so much fun – Brett and I did it in April with our friend Denise, and it lived up to the hype.
  • Get up early and hike out to watch the sunrise from the Pineapple Dump. We’re going to do this after we move over to the condo in late July.
  • Take the tubing adventure tour. I did this with my grandson and daughter-in-law, and it was very fun and total worth going. I highly recommend!
  • Visit the Kaua’i Museum in Lihue. Another activity we plan to do after we’re staying at the condo.
  • Tour the Limahuli Gardens & Preserve. The garden, located on the north shore, was severely damaged during the April floods and remains closed. Actually, I don’t even think anyone can even get there any more because of damage to the roads.

    Flood damage at Limahuli Garden

Food:

  • Celebrate our anniversary this year at Duke’s Kaua’i. Brett and I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner here: great food, a terrific view and a HUGE complementary slice of their famous Hula Pie!

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    We were seated at the table on the left and enjoyed this same stunning view.

  • Have a lunch date at Brenneke’s Beach Broiler. Another nice outing earlier this spring, and we enjoyed our lunch.
  • Have dinner at The Eating House 1849. We are planning to take YaYu with us to eat here the night before we depart Kaua’i – we think it will be a great ending to our time on the island –  and at Bar Acuda in Hanalei. We’re currently undecided about this. Not that it isn’t good, but will we have the time and $$$?
  • Try breadfruit. Glad we got to do this with WenYu – she loved breadfruit! We all thought it was delicious. WenYu ate hers with butter and syrup.

Off-Island:

  • Make an overnight visit to the Big Island to visit Volcanoes National Park. We have flight reservations over to the Big Island for late June, and a reservation at the Kilauea Military Camp, but the camp is closed indefinitely due to volcanic eruptions, and the whole trip could end up being cancelled depending on what’s going on with the volcano at the time of our trip. If we go but can’t visit the park, we’ll drive from Hilo up the east side of the island and around the top and down to Kailua-Kona for the night, making stops along the way, and then go back the same way the next day.

This doesn’t make me eager to visit the Big Island.

Out of fourteen items on our list, we’ve accomplished five of them, have reservations and/or dates for six, one has had to be cancelled because of the floods, one is an unknown, and we’re undecided about one. Not bad!

Using It Up

Liquor and chocolate . . . but not at the same time.

We’ve got less than two months left to go in our house, and less than three on the island, so one of our major goals now, besides downsizing our possessions, is using up the food we have on hand, especially things in the pantry like sugar, flour, cereals, spices and such.

Back when the navy was moving us around, pantry items made the move with us as long as they were in Tupperware containers. I had an immense collection of those as I probably attended at least one Tupperware party a month (one month I went to five!) and was always adding to my storage collection. Those containers segued to European glass  jars once we settled in Portland, most of which I picked up at yard sales and thrift stores. We moved the glass jars over with us, many of them filled with pantry items, but almost all them have been emptied now and were all sold last week. The jars were a lifesaver here, keeping things dry and fresh in spite of the humidity.

The (expensive) bag of Valhrona dark cocoa power in the picture above is a good example though of some of what we’re up against now. I bought the chocolate around a year ago, and am now trying to use it up by putting a chocolate glaze on just about everything I bake. Brett has been enjoying it in his coffee now and again, but it’s not disappearing as quickly as we hoped. I’m determined though and plan to have it all gone by the time we move out of the house – it was too expensive a purchase to throw any of it away. Same for my matcha powder.

We are also a bit dismayed by the amount of alcohol we still have to use up before we go. Brett and I only drink on Friday and Saturday evenings, one drink each (either wine or a cocktail), so when we buy those big bottles from Costco they last for a long while. The bottles of gin and rum in the picture were purchased well over a year ago and were stored in the freezer. However, I think it was easier to get rid of the freezer than it will be the alcohol. We’ll be enjoying gin & tonics, mai tais, mojitos, and Cuba Libres every weekend from now until we leave – thank goodness limes are cheap and plentiful here on Kaua’i!

As things we’ve bought get used up we are not replacing them, especially not with the big packages from Costco, and are learning to go without some things. I’m downsizing the items we keep in the freezer, and using more prepared foods, things like pizzas and such from Costco, versus keeping the freezer full of meat and other ingredients. It’s not as frugal as preparing meals from scratch in the long run, but for now we are buying less and therefore spending less. With just the three of us a Costco prepared dish provides a meal and a couple days of leftovers, and keeps us from spending on restaurant meals. The farmers’ market will continue to provide us with our weekly allotment of fresh fruits and vegetables right up until we go.

Brett and I are determined to throw as little as possible away when we leave, and get the most out of what we have left. It’s going to be quite the challenge though, but through creativity and persistance, I think we’ll be successful in having very little food waste and be able to use almost everything.

Sunday Afternoon 05/13/2018

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! I hope you are enjoying your day and being spoiled by your loved ones. Today is my annual Day of Doing Nothing: Brett and YaYu are taking care of all the chores, cooking, etc. while I relax and read all day.

We didn’t want to lose our reservation at this beautiful resort, especially with the ocean view. The whole property is amazing – our son and family just stayed here.

We almost cancelled our condo reservation this past week, the one for our last three weeks on the island, but heard back from the owner yesterday and thankfully got everything straightened out. Earlier this month I could no longer find the listing online, so did a bit of sleuthing and discovered the unit is for sale! I wrote the owner and told her we did not want to have to deal with showings, etc. but she got back to me and reassured us that the condo was now professionally managed by an on-site company; is only shown between bookings; there have been no offers; and even if they got an offer next week escrow here takes so long that the sale wouldn’t be complete until after our reservation is over (this is true – escrow here takes several months).  I’m glad it’s been straightened out, but we spent a couple of very anxious days wondering if we were going to have to find someplace else, especially now when there is very little available for our dates.

This week a representative from Royal Hawaiian Movers will be coming over to see what we’re shipping/storing and to give an estimate. We moved 4,500 pounds over here, but are hopefully moving less than 1,000 back so fingers are crossed that the shipping fits our budget. Royal Hawaiian did a superb job with our move over here, and I don’t think I’d trust anyone else to handle our stuff at this point. A good friend in Portland has offered to store our things in her basement for while we’re on the road and until we’re ready to move to our new location, a huge savings for us. This past week I listed a bunch of stuff on our local Facebook group, and all but five items sold in less than an hour – it was crazy! I had to create waiting lists for a few items because I got so many requests. Most buyers came and picked up their stuff quickly (and sometimes bought other items we planned to sell later!), but as always happens some didn’t show up or kept changing when they would be coming. Sigh. More stuff will get listed in early July, after our shipment goes and before we hold our big moving sale.

I thought we might be able to leave Kaua’i without any centipede interactions, but Brett got bit on his heel on Friday. It was very, very, very painful, but the swelling isn’t too bad and the pain was gone in a day. Besides the toads here, nothing frightens me more than centipedes. They’re the reason I will put up with the chickens and roosters in the yard – centipedes are a favorite treat!

Also, the Blogger platform continues to eat almost all of my comments. I keep trying though – occasionally one sneaks through.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Little Fires Everywhere the middle of last week, and re-started I’ll Be Gone In the Dark again. I’m especially excited to read it now as the alleged Golden State Killer was captured between now and when the book was released. However, I may have to put it down again as it looks as if another book from the library may be coming off hold soon.
  • Listening to: I’ve enjoyed a nice, quiet morning and it’s very quiet outside except for the sound of the breeze moving through the trees. Brett and YaYu have the laundry sorted but thankfully haven’t started it yet – that’s going to change in a few minutes though and things will get noisy.
  • Watching: Brett and I have been watching the Footloose travelogue series on Amazon Prime and enjoying those. We’ve watched episodes on the Cotswalds, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, southern Italy and we’re getting ready to watch one about Tuscany and Rome – we’ll be paying close attention to that one! I find the host’s voice almost hypnotic, in a good way, but one evening it actually lulled me to sleep.
  • Cooking/baking: No cooking or baking for me today, and I have absolutely no idea what YaYu and Brett are fixing for dinner tonight. Brett and I will be doing our Big Shop this week although it’s actually not going to be very big this time. On the menu will be another CookDo pork dish with rice; pepperoni pizza; stuffed peppers; and hot turkey sandwiches with gravy and stuffing. YaYu has finally completed all of her evening events/meetings/celebrations and is home every evening for dinner.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got my travel notebook caught up to date, and so we’re clear on what’s done and what we still need to take care of. Getting pictures of everything we wanted to sell and getting it posted on Facebook took a bit of effort, but I was thrilled by how quickly most everything I posted sold. Brett and I walked every day last week except for Friday – it felt great even though we got caught in a downpour yesterday and got soaked. I went over or closely approached 10,000 steps on several days, and am generally walking 3/12 to 4 miles per day. I drank lots of water, but still haven’t gotten back into my French. I can read lots and understand some, but cannot speak it for the life of me and still have lots of trouble with pronunciation. Nothing is sinking in any more – I need to be in a classroom.
  • Looking forward to next week: I don’t know if I’m exactly looking forward to it, but my birthday is tomorrow. For my present this year (birthday and Mother’s Day) I ordered a pair of capri leggings from J. Jill. There’s nothing special planned for my birthday, which is fine by me. YaYu baked a chocolate-glazed matcha cake this morning, but mainly she and Brett will be eating it. I’m greatly looking forward to meeting ON reader Laura on Tuesday. She and her husband moved to Kaua’i a while ago, and live on the north side of the island. Everyone I’ve met so far through the blog has been delightful, and I treasure the friendships I’ve made. The other Laura, her husband, Brett and I will be meeting at Java Kai in Kapaa, my favorite coffee spot on the island. The weather has been improving and we are hoping for the chance to go to the beach this week.

    So proud of our girl!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I enjoyed attending YaYu’s Kiwanis award banquet last Tuesday, and were surprised to find she was the only senior to receive the scholarship award this year. Usually it’s divided between three or four students – we don’t know if she got it all because no one else applied this year or because they thought YaYu deserved all of it. YaYu was also awarded another $1000 scholarship from the Zonta Club of Hanalei – her scholarships now total $5000! On a different note, we got a lot of stuff out of the house last week because of the sale.

    The most popular item I listed was this blue & white garden stool from Thailand. SO MANY people asked to buy it.

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We raised $450 from our sale. Hopefully the last few things will sell in the next week or so. 2) Our landlord bought two more pieces of furniture from us and we will be able to take the amount of what he’s bought off our rent this and next month. 3) I cashed in the $495.89 we’ve earing in credit card rewards and had it applied toward the balance. 4) Other than buying produce at the farmers’ market and one stop at the store for eggs, we had a no-spend week. 5) We put $8.00 into the change/$1 bill jar this week.
  • Grateful for: I’m glad we’ve been able to get so many parts of the Big Adventure taken care of already. Things are starting to get a bit crazy now, and it sometimes feels like I’ve got too many balls up in the air. I know it will all come together though. The travel notebook has already proved to be an immense help. I’m also grateful for all the people who responded to our sale on Facebook, and were so pleasant to deal with, whether they bought something or interacted with me online. Brett and I got to “talk story” with some very interesting people from around the island when they came to pick up their stuff.
  • Bonus question: What’s your earliest birthday memory? It’s interesting what memories stand out as we get older. My family did not make a big deal over birthdays, so most of what I remember is that because my birthday always falls on or right after Mother’s Day, that occasion always got all the attention when I was young. My parents did throw me one big party on my sixth birthday which fell toward the end of my year in kindergarten, and invited all the girls from my class. I don’t remember what we all did at that party, but there is a photograph showing all of us standing around our backyard swings with the girls all wearing lovely white dresses (except for me – my dress was a pastel color). Mom served us tea sandwiches (with the crusts cut off) for lunch, but the most special thing that day were the individual little square packages of ice cream in assorted flavors that my parents served with cake following lunch – I remember all of us being very excited about the ice cream because we could choose the flavor we wanted (I remember the assortment included pistachio because my Dad was happy no one else wanted it). I also distinctly remember all the girls arriving to the party with presents, but don’t remember any of what I received other than a much-desired set of Colorforms. My siblings had their way with my gifts shortly after the party though and few if anything I received survived for very long. Also, in kindergarten we brought treats to school on our birthday to share with our classmates during snack time. I had the same birthday as another boy in the class so we were given two days to bring our treats. I got the first day, and my mom baked chocolate chip cookies for the class (cookies were the usual treat) but the next day the boy, whose family owned the LA Times newspaper, brought cake and ice cream and a clown to entertain everyone! Even at age six I felt glad I had gotten the first day and didn’t have to follow that fabulous experience with just cookies.

That’s all for this week from Casa Aloha! Again, happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who are checking in – wishing you all a wonderful day. How did your week go? What are you reading? What good things happened for you? What frugal things did you do this past week?

We Come Bearing Gifts

We’re bringing along Monkeypod Jam, Koloa Rum (and coasters), Kauai Kookies, and Anahola Granola as small thank you gifts for our Airbnb hosts on the first part of our trip.

Local businesses here on Kaua’i produce some very, very delicious edibles and beverages, some of them using only locally-sourced ingredients, and we’ve had the great privilege of enjoying most of them.

Among our favorite Kaua’i products are:

  • Monkeypod Jam: Produced in Lawai, on the south side of the island, owner Aletha Thomas uses locally grown fruits (and vegetables) to produce amazingly creative and delicious jams, curds, sauces and pickles.
  • Kauai Kookie: Baked in Hanapepe, Kauai Kookie offers a selection of different shortbreads and cookies, including Guava Shortbread, Macadamia Shortbread, and Cornflake Crunch.
  • Kauai Nut Roasters: This company offers several unique nut mixtures and flavors, including Hawaiian Snowballs, Monkey Nuts and Holy Cacao! (all their flavors and mixes are pretty amazing though).
  • Anahola Granola: Also produce in Hanapepe, Anahola Granola was started in 1986 by a single mom as a way to support her family. The company produces three types of granola as well as granola bars and trail mix.
  • Lappert’s Ice Cream: Yet another Hanapepe product, Lappert’s ice cream is famous for their local and Hawaiian flavors. They also sell their own (delicious) coffee.
  • Kauai Coffee: Grown on the south side of the island, they offer a variety of roasts and flavored coffees.
  • Koloa Rum Company: The award-winning rum (which comes in several flavors) is distilled on Kauai and made from locally grown sugar and other ingredients.
  • Ko Bakery: This bakery produces Hula Baby Biscotti, addictive little cookies featuring island flavors and containing mainly locally raised products. They also offer 19 decadent cake varieties and cheesecakes here on the island.

Each of our hosts on the first part of our journey will receive a small Hawaiian-themed gift bag containing a two-ounce jar of Monkeypod Jam (assorted flavors), a miniature bottle of Koloa Spiced Rum and two coasters (given to us by Koloa Rum), a box of Kauai Kookies (assorted flavors again), and a four-ounce bag of original Anahola Granola (the one in the picture is a 16-ounce bag – the small bags are only available online and we haven’t ordered them yet). The items were selected based on size, weight, and price. We would have liked to also give small bags of nuts from Kauai Nut Roasters, but at nearly $10 a bag now, and there was no way we could afford 10 of those. All the above items were affordably priced and we received kamaaina discounts, making them even more affordable. The other issue in choosing what to take was weight, but the total for all the above comes in at around seven and a half pounds, which will be divided between Brett’s and my suitcases, and dwindle as we pass the gifts along.

We’re going to pack a few jars of Monkeypod’s Lilikoi Curd (pure heaven in a jar in my opinion) into our storage shipment, and will probably take along a 16-ounce bag or two of Anahola Granola to eat as we travel. It’s the best granola I’ve ever eaten, and I love a little of it sprinkled over yogurt. YaYu will be taking a few boxes of Kauai Kookies along with her when she goes to Bryn Mawr to share with others in her dorm.

In the meantime we’re enjoying as many of the other local products as we can before we go as it may be a while before we get to have them again!

Forever Nomads (Well, Occasionally)

Illustration by Davide Bonazzi

The other day our son commented that while he thought we were crazy to come here four years ago he was happy things had turned out so well, especially for his sisters. He went on to let us know where he thought we should consider living once the Big Adventure ends, and why.

His comments and suggestions got us thinking about moving once again to a place we’ve never lived before and starting over. Brett and I have been asking ourselves for a while if we’re really willing to do that again, or would it just be safer/easier to come back to Kaua’i at the end of the Big Adventure. It’s been the hot topic of conversation between the two of us for several days now, and a more difficult question to answer than we imagined. But, we know our son has a unique perspective – he’s known us longer than anyone – and is watching us grow older in a different way than his sisters are, mainly because he’s older and at a different place in life than they are. We have been listening carefully to what he has to say this time and what he suggests and why.

Our experience on Kaua’i has been overwhelmingly positive, especially for our children. Both WenYu and YaYu blossomed here, and had many more opportunities to shine than they would have in their school back on the mainland. Their life back on the mainland would have also been far more competitive and materialistic than it’s been here, and life on Kaua’i has given each of them the opportunity to experience and absorb the concepts and ethics of aloha and ohana, which will stay with them always. Moving with the girls has made our experience here a better one for us.

Going forward though it’s pretty much just going to be Brett and me. Like everywhere else, Kaua’i is growing more expensive with the cost of living here climbing higher and higher. In the four years we’ve been here the changes are noticeable, and unfortunately more negative than not. We know the girls would visit us here over the holidays no matter what, but we realize those visits are going to be happening with less frequency as they each segue from college to working, marriage and perhaps children. Our son and family would also still visit, but those trips will be harder to make as their children grow older. We know that it will be easier for us to see the girls if we settle on the mainland, and it will be just as easy, and more likely, for our son and family to fly to the mainland as well.

After thinking about and discussing the points our son has made, and talking with each other about what we want going forward, Brett and I have decided we are willing to move somewhere new once again. We did it over and over when Brett was in the navy, we successfully made the move over here, and we feel we can do it once again. We’re still vagabonds at heart, and will forever be nomads of some sort, even if that’s only occasionally.

This past March I wrote about the things we would be looking for if we choose to settle in a new location including cost of living, taxes, walkability, culture, health care, travel & transportation, and weather. We’ve been looking at that list again this past week and have found that our priorities have changed a bit from when we first made the list. For example, walkability has moved up to the top of the list. We very much don’t want to own a car again if at all possible. In the four years we’ve lived here we’ve had to get in our car to go or do anything, and it’s gotten old. Although we love the slower lifestyle here on the island, we also frankly miss urban living. We ‘d like to be able to walk to buy groceries, visit parks, coffee shops or restaurants, and have access to more cultural events. Staying as mobile and active as possible is very important to both of us as we age further.

We have absolutely no regrets about coming to Kaua’i, and the past four years have been more wonderful than we dreamed. But, as much as we love our life here we realize it’s time again to try something different. We’ve sort of decided where we’ll go, and are at the beginning of planning for that. Travel will definitely remain part of the picture. Nothing is far enough along right now to announce anything, but you’ll all be some of the first to know when the time is right!

Sunday Afternoon 5/6/2018

It’s been a very busy but fun week (which is why I didn’t get a post up on Thursday). I’ve had the best time with my grandchildren, my son and daughter-in-law, but they are on their way back to Japan today. Normally I’d be feeling very down in the dumps over their leaving because I wouldn’t know when I’m going to see them again, but while I’m sad now and will miss them all, I know that this time next year we’ll be in Japan finishing up our three-month stay there. In fact, I booked our flight from Auckland to Tokyo this past week (found an amazing nonstop fare)!

Enjoying birthday ice cream at Lappert’s in Poipu. Our grandson’s cone was originally twice the size of what’s in the picture, dipped in chocolate and with sprinkles – impressive!

This past week I went on the tubing tour with my daughter-in-law and grandson and we had the best time! So. Much. Fun! It was also special for me because once again I got to see a place on the island that I never would have seen otherwise because of its location on private land. This past week we gathered for several meals, spent time swimming over at their resort, had our grandson over for a couple more sleepovers, had ice cream to celebrate his birthday and took him shopping for a new Lego set. Our granddaughter began letting me hold her, and I got to watch the two of them for an afternoon so M & M could go out on a lunch date and have some time together without the kids in tow. The sun finally came out yesterday and they finally made it to the beach, and last night we got together one last time for a Hawaiian-style dinner: kalua pork, chicken, macaroni salad, rice, and a delicious cucumber salad made by our D-I-L. We had a fabulous week – the only thing better would have been more sunshine and less overcast and rain (although that didn’t slow any of us down)!

She doesn’t want to forget “Hawai’i pono ‘i”

Brett and I also attended two events with YaYu this past Wednesday: a luncheon at Gaylord’s restaurant for the Shinseki Foundation scholarship winners, and her National Honor Society banquet that evening. In between the two events we got together with everyone at the Kukuiula Market for ice cream, and YaYu picked out a piece of “Hawai’i decor” for her dorm room from one of our favorite shops there. Two years ago WenYu chose a plaque that said “Stay Calm and Think Aloha,” but YaYu chose a pillow cover with the words of the Hawaiian state anthem. She said it had taken her nearly four years to learn it, and she doesn’t want to forget. The big surprise of the evening came when we got home that evening, opened the envelope from the Shinseki Foundation and discovered her scholarship was for $2000, not $1000!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading Little Fires Everywhere, but again didn’t get a lot of reading done this past week. Every night my head would hit the pillow and I was asleep in a couple of minutes.
  • Listening to: Brett’s cousin is visiting the island today – his cruise ship makes a stop in Kaua’i – so Brett is showing him and his wife around for a few hours. I stayed home because our grandson was here for one last sleepover last night, and I had to get him ready to go after Brett had gone. YaYu is studying (just one more week of academics left to go!), and the laundry is almost done. It’s quiet outside for a change – just a few birds but no roosters, no weed trimmers.
  • Watching: We didn’t watch anything this week. We’re going to watch another episode Unforgotten tonight on PBS. We’ve been calling the show “Soft Talkers” though because we have to turn the volume way up to understand what anyone is saying.

    Old favorites and new CookDo cooking sauces from Japan, to make Chinese-style dishes.

  • Cooking/baking: We’re having a simple “breakfast for dinner” tonight: scrambled eggs, grilled breakfast sausages, fruit, and toast for Brett and YaYu. A few things I intended to make last week didn’t happen, so this week we’ll be having grilled apple & chicken sausages (finally), grilled Korean chicken, and chicken & vegetable curry, plus I’m going to make a couple of pork dishes using the sauces my D-I-L brought from Japan.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: My daughter-in-law and I got all of YaYu’s graduation lei ordered – so happy that task is completed! I also finished booking our stays in Perth, Australia, and Rotorua, New Zealand, as well as our flight to Tokyo. All of our lodging for the Big Adventure is now reserved (and paid for) except for one night in Napier, New Zealand, but the B&B where we want to stay there isn’t open for booking yet. We have just five more flights left to book now (Bordeaux to Bologna, Rome to Lisbon, New Delhi to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Perth, and Tokyo to Portland). I drank lots of water this week, but didn’t study French even once. Brett and I were able to take three walks – we had really been missing them.
  • Looking forward to next week: We will be attending the Kiwanis awards banquet on Tuesday evening, where YaYu will receive her scholarship. I’m mainly looking forward though to returning to some semblence of normalcy so that Brett and I can get out and walk almost every afternoon, and I can get our eating and sleeping schedule back on track.

    Suited up for the tubing tour with helmets, gloves, and lights (I’m wearing a bathing suit under my clothes). I love my grandson’s “not another picture” expression.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Both my granddaughter letting me pick her up and the unexpected amount on YaYu’s scholarship check were the highlights of my week. The tubing tour was a lot of fun as well, and the view we were able to see of Mt. Wai’ale’ale and the Blue Hole were beyond stunning. We learned our landlord chose the single professional woman as the next renter, and she wrote to let us know she wants to buy our living room furniture (sofa, chair and coffee table) and will also buy the stainless worktable in the kitchen! Our moving sale keeps getting smaller and smaller, a good thing!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: This was not the most frugal of weeks for us – we were out and about a lot with family and spent some $$ on our grandson for his birthday. They did bring over all the travel-size toiletries that were provided in their condo, so we are set now for our travels. The nonstop fare I booked from Auckland to Tokyo saved us nearly $400 from what we thought we’d be paying for that flight.  We put $12.56 into the change/$1 bill jar this week, odds and ends from several places we spent money this week and $5.19 from recycling.
  • Grateful for: So, so very thankful for the past 11 days we got to spend with our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. Every day was wonderful, and I can’t wait to see them again next year!

    Our beautiful girls – adoption was a win-win for all of us.

  • Bonus Question: What’s a path you took in life that’s very different from what you imagined? The most surprising one for me is motherhood. Raising children was something I never saw myself doing or really wanted to do when I was young. However, when I met Brett I felt he would be a good dad (and he is) and that changed my mind. Who knew though that parenting would be the thing I’ve enjoyed doing most of all? After our son was born I learned I could not have more children, but he was an easy child to raise and we wanted to adopt. It seemed impossible for us because we moved so frequently with the navy, but in 1994 I learned about adopting from China from one of my college professors, and Brett and I decided to go for it even though our son was almost out of high school at that point. We intended to adopt just once, but life happens and we ended up with our three wonderful daughters. My children are my greatest joy, and the part of my life I am most proud of.

One more gratuitous photo of my adorable grandchildren enjoying a BIG shave ice together.

That’s all this week from Casa Aloha! How did your week go? What frugal things did you do? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

Goodbye April, Hello May

Here’s hoping we will be able to go to the beach in May!

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

  1. Put at least $900 into our travel savings account. We saved $1005 last month; it all went toward the balance on our credit card.
  2. Continue to look for and possibly book air travel down to Buenos Aires. I found a great non-stop fare from Miami, so these tickets are booked.
  3. Clean out and shut down the garage freezer. Done!
  4. Use up as many condiments as possible in the refrigerator. We made good progress with this; there are just a few more things to use up.
  5. Move my IRA from the local bank to our primary bank; help YaYu open an account at our primary bank. We decided to leave my IRA in the local bank for now to maintain Hawai’i as our state of domicile, but got YaYu’s new account opened.
  6. Order lei and a haku for YaYu’s graduation. We still have to do this, but my daughter-in-law wants to go with me to the flower shop. YaYu will be getting five different lei: one from her brother and each of her sisters, one from Brett’s sister and brother-in-law, and one in memory of her grandparents. Brett and I will give her a floral haku (head wreath).
  7. Take at least one bag of stuff to the thrift store. We could not find enough stuff to fill a bag this past month! We did take some other stuff though.

Here are our goals for May:

  1. Pay at least $900 on our credit card balance.
  2. Clean out paper files.
  3. Strip, sand and oil table top.
  4. Reserve window cleaners and house cleaners for move out in July (we’ll need help with the windows and floors).
  5. Clean out bookshelves in YaYu’s room and help YaYu fill at least one bag of stuff for the thrift store.

Once again, we’ll see how we do!

 

 

Sunday Afternoon 4/29/2018

I am having the BEST time with our son and family! We’ve already had our grandson over for a couple of sleepovers, and I spent all day last Thursday with him in the pool at their resort (I think I went down the slides around 20 times – fun!). Our granddaughter recognizes us now, and points us out to her mom and dad (at 18 months she’s still not quite ready yet to let us hold her though we’re getting close). I went down to Poipu for a day at the beach with them yesterday (the beaches here on the east side remain closed due to the lingering brown water advisory from the floods) and then they all came over for dinner last night, and were back for a big breakfast this morning. We’ve also all gone out to breakfast at the Kountry Kitchen, which is always fun. The pool at their resort is fabulous though – I knew they’d have trouble getting our grandson out once he got in, and our granddaughter loves the kiddie pool there too.

Living room of our summer 2019 rental in Portland

I’ve had no plans to book a place in Portland for next summer until after the first of the year, but this past week I was checking at what was available in our price range and discovered there wasn’t much – only five places! Portland is a very expensive city these days. I began to have visions of having to move from place to place all summer because all I would be able to find later were rentals for a week or so at a time. Or, we’d have to rent a car because the only place available would be in an un-walkable neighborhood or far away from public transportation, and our costs for the summer would skyrocket. So, I started down the list and wrote to each owner of the five possibilities, telling them about us, and asking when was the earliest they would accept a reservation. Our first choice turned out to no longer be a rental, and our second choice wasn’t available during the summers. But, the owner of  our third choice said he’d be willing to book us now if we wanted, so I went ahead and did that and we are now set for next summer! The house is a lovely two-bedroom condo that’s within our budget, and located in one of the prettiest areas in Portland, in a great neighborhood with convenient public transportation.

This past week our landlord here brought three potential renters through the house(on the same day, so not as disruptive as it could have been) – the first was the original Mr. Potential Renter, the one who wants central air; the second was a couple with one child; and the third was a single professional woman. All three loved the house and the second couple was willing to write a deposit check on the spot, but we learned from the third woman that he is asking for $500 – $500!!! – more a month than what we are currently paying! Unbelievable. That’s also $300 more per month that what was published in the ad, but he blamed that error on his wife. We’ve loved living in this house, and we’ve had a great relationship with the landlord, but yesterday made me glad that we’re moving on. Like a lot of landlords on the island he’s charging that much because that’s what the market will bear right now, but I also feel it’s a bit greedy.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading Little Fires Everywhere, and I love it, but didn’t make much progress this week as I usually fell asleep after the first few pages. My insomnia is over, but it’s like I’m now catching up on all the sleep I missed.
  • Listening to: It’s a bit overcast (again) this morning, but it’s not raining so lots of people are out working in their yards, and the roosters have been on a tear too. Everyone is over here now – M & M came for breakfast this morning – so there’s lots of chatter going on. Our grandson spent the night last night, but right now he and YaYu are playing a game on the Wii. We just got the laundry started too, so it’s a happy, busy, noisy morning here!
  • Watching: Brett and I really haven’t watched anything this week – we’ve been so busy and/or tired every evening. We did watch the movie Coco again with our grandson – it was just as enjoyable the second time as the first.

    Matcha treats for me: Cookies, KitKats, and even a yummy matcha baumkuchen!

  • Cooking/baking: We’re having fried rice with Chinese barbecue pork, eggs and vegetables for dinner tonight – I’ll do all the prep but YaYu will fry it up. No baking will necessary for a while  – our D-I-L brought us loads of treats from Japan, including several matcha-flavored ones for me, which I am slowly enjoying. I’ve put slow cooker kalua pork (we’re going to make a Hawaiian-style meal for our son and family); pulled pork tacos; grilled Korean-style chicken; and grilled chicken & apple sausages with rice on the menu this week, but we may go out to dinner with our son, or eat over at their place one evening, so nothing is set in stone. YaYu’s track season is finally over, so she and Brett will be home for dinner every night again – yeah!.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I didn’t really accomplished much of anything special this last week – I’ve just mostly been enjoying my time with the family. I have spent some time working on our travel budget, figuring out how much we’ll have each day to spend for meals and transportation, but there’s still work to do with that because every month is different with some having more travel than others, or one area being more expensive than others. I drank lots of water every day this past week, and studied French almost every day, but we didn’t even get to take one walk because of the weather, track meets, and family. Next week should be better though with track season over. I did get that whole day in the pool though (and slept like a log that night)!
  • Looking forward to next week: Just spending more time with my family! I’m going on a tubing tour with my son and grandson tomorrow, floating through the old sugar cane and pineapple plantation irrigation channels. It’s been on my bucket list so I’m looking forward to going.

    Daughter-in-law and granddaughter enjoying the beach.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: I spent a wonderful, sunny afternoon at the beach yesterday with my son and family, and got to swim in the ocean for the first time this year. We headed south to Poipu, where the water was clean and the clouds were few – it was glorious! Finding a great long-term rental in Portland for next summer and being able to book now was a very good thing, and a big relief. I loved being able to swim and play in the pool with our grandson the other day – he is a lot of fun (and a total bundle of energy), and I can’t wait to do it again this week. I also got our hotel room reserved for Hong Kong, and most of our New Zealand lodgings booked. The only lodgings left to set up now are in Perth, Australia, and Napier, New Zealand, but the place we want to stay there isn’t accepting bookings yet for our dates.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than paying our regular bills (water and gas), we had a no-spend week! We put $5.15 into the change/$1 bill jar, change back from paying our water and gas bills.
  • Reporting gains and losses: I didn’t lose any weight again this past month, remarkable since we got in so few walks, so my total weight loss since last year still stands at 32 pounds. Our son and D-I-L said they could see a difference in both Brett and my appearance, that we both look “slim and fit!” We paid $1570 on our credit card balance this month, but there’s still a bit more to go.
  • Grateful for: I take the Internet for granted most of the time. Sometimes when I need to look up something I’ll stop for a moment and wonder how we ever managed before it came along, but most of the time I never give it a thought unless we’re knocked offline for some reason and I start to panic a bit because I’m not connected. I have been extra thankful recently for the ability to look things up on the Internet, make reservations, compare locations and prices and so forth. It’s an amazing tool and is helping us not only save but also get the most for our money on our upcoming Big Adventure.

    The most dangerous savory snack of all for me is . . . Cheetos, the world’s most perfect junk food.

  • Bonus question: Do you eat junk food? I’ve thankfully never been all that into junk foods, except for Cheetos, which I adore. They’re one of those foods I can start eating and lose track of time and suddenly, the bag is empty and I’m still craving more. I’ll eat potato chips, popcorn, and some other savory snacks occasionally, but they don’t call to me. Cheetos (the fried ones) on the other hand are on a whole different level, but I know better and just don’t buy them even though I am often very tempted. I also really, really like caramel corn, and G. H. Cretor’s “Chicago Mix” of cheese and caramel popcorn is an especially dangerous snack for me. I guess Diet Coke counts as junk food too – I usually have one a day, but can stop with that, and I’ve gone long stretches without drinking it. But otherwise I have no problem avoiding junk food.

That’s a wrap for this week from Casa Aloha. This coming week is going to be a busy one for us, but I have a couple of posts ready to go, so things here should keep rolling along. How was your week? What are you reading? What good things happened for you?

#Kaua’i: Talk Story Bookstore

Located somewhere near the middle of historic Hanapepe town, coming from either direction, is the westernmost bookstore in the United States: Talk Story Bookstore. Any time we’re in Hanapepe, Talk Story is a must-stop location.

The bookstore opened in November 2004.

Now in business for 13 years, Talk Story Bookstore is a book-lovers dream, an old-fashioned store with something for everyone, including the latest bestsellers and beach reads, cookbooks, travel guides, books for kids, and Hawaiiana among other offerings. The store also stocks over 3,000 used, out-of-print or rare books, and also carry vintage and Hawaiian vinyl records, vintage comics, vintage sheet music and songbooks, and ukulele and Hawaiian slack-key guitar lesson courses.

The old Yoshiura food and clothing store in Hanapepe

The Talk Story Bookstore is owned by Ed and Cynthia Justus. They came to Kaua’i on their honeymoon in 2002 and never left the island. One day they were offered the space in Hanapepe, the Yoshiura building, which had previously held a long-time food and clothing store. The offer came with one month of rent free to test a new business so they agreed to the deal and opened with their eBay inventory, which just happened to contain used books.

Half of the store’s Hawaiiana offerings – both fiction and non-fiction

The Justuses had never intended to open a bookstore, but made enough during the free month to either pay next month’s rent on the store or the house where they lived. They chose the store, and moved into their van while they built up their business. Thirteen years later Talk Story Bookstore is a Kaua’i institution, and a destination for visitors from all over the world.

Visitors are encouraged to browse – the selection is pretty amazing for such a small space

Located on the west side of the island, historic Hanapepe town is a must-stop if you are visiting Kaua’i, and Talk Story Bookstore a must-visit while you’re there. The store welcomes visitors, and invites them to come in and browse for a while. The store also accept old books with store credit given in return, and they will also ship books back to the mainland if there’s no room in your suitcase!

Money Matters

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that we’ve been saving like crazy for over a year to pay upfront for most of our big travel adventure. We set up and have been feeding our dedicated savings account with a regular monthly allotment along with every extra spare penny we’ve gotten along the way.

We’re at a stage right now though where, for the first time in a long, long while, we are carrying a balance on our credit card; that is, we’ve overspent our savings in order to make upfront reservations for the trip. We knew this was going to be the situation for a few months, but it’s still a bit uncomfortable for us, to put it mildly. We could take funds out of our regular savings and pay it off, but the plan has always been to pay for our travels using only dedicated travel savings and proceeds from the sale of our household goods and car. We’ll chip away at the balance for the next couple of months and have it gone by the time we depart in August, if not before.

While we travel we’ll live on our regular monthly income, and plan to put the amount we’re currently paying for rent into a separate savings account to build a sort of secondary emergency fund, if you will. This savings should also give us a nice cushion to land on when our adventure ends. When we leave Kaua’i we’ll have just two monthly payments – my student loan and our phone bill – and they’re already set up on auto-pay. Otherwise we’ll have no other bills – no rent, no utilities, no gas, no cable, no car or rental insurance, etc. – our income after putting away savings should be more than enough to cover food, inter-country transportation, side trips and other daily expenses each month.

We plan to travel and live as frugally as possible along the way. The Senior Nomads recently said they shoot for two no-spend days each week and we think that’s a worthy goal for us too. Not only will this help us to stay within our budget, but also require us to get out more and explore our surroundings rather than depend on tours, tickets, etc. to entertain us. I’m not sure yet whether we’ll be able to go without gelato for two days when we’re in Italy, or avoid stopping into the patisseries or boulangeries for two days when we’re in France – we’ll have to see about that. We may need to set up a separate gelato or bakery fund that we can dip into.

I’ve always been a firm believer that by setting realistic goals, financial or otherwise, and supporting them with careful, well-thought out, long-term plans dreams really can come true and be sustainable. We’re about to once again test those beliefs in a big way!