Sunday Afternoon 2/25/2018

Tuesday’s sunset view from the front of our house

Last Tuesday evening’s sunset was one for the books. Brett, YaYu and I were just sitting down to dinner and noticed there was an unusual orange-y glow outside, so we walked out front and what you see above is what greeted us. Amazing doesn’t begin to describe it, and yes, it was truly awe inspiring. We stood there with our mouths hanging open for a few seconds before we realized we needed to grab our cameras. Pictures taken by others around the island, especially the west and south sides, show equally amazing views of that evening’s sunset. Lucky we live Kaua’i!

As we move through our current “quiet period,” waiting to find out where YaYu will be going to college, Brett and I have been talking about where we might want to settle when the Big Adventure comes to a close. We have been thinking about what we want going forward, and then attaching those things to some places on a (sort-of) spreadsheet. It’s very basic now, but an outline for a post-adventure plan is starting to take shape. Obviously there’s not a thing we can do about it now, but it’s something we can think about more and tighten up as time goes on.

YaYu received a “possible” evaluation from Wellesley this past week, which means she is still in the running with them. According to what I could find out, about 20% of those receiving a possible evaluation are ultimately accepted and the rest are put on the waitlist, so fingers will remain crossed. She is feeling very impatient these days and wants to get a solid acceptance (beyond the University of Hawaii), but those notices won’t start arriving until the end of next month. This past week she heard from two schools that she was missing some of her financial aid paperwork, so she had to scramble to get that sent off (especially frustrating since it was all information they already had). We have no idea whether these schools asking for this information now should be taken as any sort of indication that they’ve made a decision about her or not, but I’m thinking not.

Anyway, this afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I had to order a copy of Hamilton for my Kindle as the library came and took their copy back this past week (for some reason that no one can figure out – my three weeks weren’t up). I’m enjoying the book immensely, but my heaven’s there a whole lot of (interesting) information packed in there – it’s taking me much longer to read than I imagined it would.
  • Listening to: We’ve been listening to rain, rain, rain this morning and into this afternoon. It’s stopped for now, but I can still hear it dripping off the roof and down the drains. The roosters are out in force right now though, as well as some other birds, so maybe they know it’s over. The laundry is going inside, but otherwise it’s quiet around here.
  • Watching: YaYu has gotten me hooked on Bunheads – what a fun show! The other day she also accidently discovered a Japanese ghost/horror series on Netflix that looks promising. Japanese ghost stories are quite scary (which I love) so I may look into it after we’re though with Bunheads.

    The top of the rum cake is filled with chopped pecans and raisins, and the whole cake is soaked in a rum & butter glaze. Can I just say YUM?

  • Cooking/baking: YaYu is making fried rice this evening for our dinner. It’s not really an egg-centric dish, although it does contain eggs, but we’ve got all the odds and ends to put it together, and she loves the leftovers in her lunches. Plus, I can fix my own low-carb serving with the rice cauliflower. Last week’s menu plan got blown up when YaYu started stadium practices for track, and I forgot about her swim banquet yesterday evening. This week won’t be much better because besides the stadium practice her first meet is coming up on Thursday and those don’t finish until after 9:00 p.m. Last week we ended up having yakisoba one night, and beef tacos on another evening instead of what was planned, so chicken and vegetable curry, mabo dofu, and grilled Italian sausage and sautéed pepper sandwiches were moved to this week. Besides those I’m putting chili pork sauce over rice (versus burritos) and maybe barbecued chicken on the menu and we’ll see how it goes. I baked a rum raisin bundt cake on Friday, so no baking for a while. Brett loves it, YaYu doesn’t, but has other things she can eat when she wants something sweet.

    We walked a new path this past week, up near the girls’ high school. I’ve never seen such red dirt anywhere else on this island – it positively glowed.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I had a mammogram and a bone density scan this past week, and got good reports from both. Brett and I made eight breakfast burritos for YaYu and froze them – they contain hash browns, scrambled eggs with chopped onion, breakfast sausage and a little pepper jack cheese. Brett got WenYu’s organic macadamia nuts so we finally got her box of stuff packed up and sent off. I cleaned out the media cabinet in the living room – we’re keeping the Cassette Feu butane cooker we had stored in there but everything else either went on the moving sale shelves or was thrown out. Brett and I walked every day except Wednesday (track practice), I drank lots and lots of water, and I studied French on four days. I’m back to working with Memrise, and am at Level 6 now. By the way, Brett and I measured one of our walks the other day: it was approximately 2.4 miles and I took somewhere around 7,000 steps for me (fewer steps for Brett, but his legs are  longer). We expect to be walking a lot on our trip, so this was good news.

    We almost didn’t walk last Thursday because of a big storm rolling in, but took our chances (and brought our umbrellas along) and we beat the rain! The wind was ferocious though.

    We weren’t so lucky yesterday and ended up getting soaked, but we were rewarded with the sight of this gorgeous full rainbow.

  • Looking forward to next week: Brett and I were going to hike the Stone Dam trail up in Kilauea this past week, but things just got away from us schedule-wise, so we’re planning to go this coming week. I am so excited about seeing this place because every picture I’ve seen so far makes it seem like you’ve entered Paradise. I’ve also been looking forward to stopping at Banana Joe’s for a frosty after we’re done, but Brett noticed the other day that the store is closed until the end of May! I guess we’ll have to stop at the Moloa Fruit Stand on the way home – they make frosties too, although I don’t think they’re as good as the ones from Banana Joe’s.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: For the most part we did our regular frugal activities around here, but there were no standout frugal wins. We did have one big frugal fail this past week though. After I was finished with my screenings at the hospital, Brett suggested we stop at the gift shop and treat ourselves to something from See’s Candy (the gift shop is the only place to buy it on the island). Their See’s supply was very low post-Valentine’s Day and I mentioned they were out of my favorite, Nuts & Chews. “Oh, we have those in the back,” the sweet little old lady running the cash register said. So, we said we’d take one box (to take home to share with YaYu). However, the sweet little old lady accidentally charged us for three boxes (!) and then couldn’t get the charge reversed off our debit card! That procedure apparently required a password that she didn’t have, and the people who did have it were not available. She kept getting more and more flustered trying to resolve things for us and after more than 20 minutes we finally agreed to take the three boxes of candy and call it done. See’s is not inexpensive, but WenYu and Meiling are now both getting a surprise box of Nuts & Chews. We also have $60 less in our checking account – sigh. We only put $2.10 into the change/$1 bill jar this week, $1 leftover from the farmers’ market, and $1.10 change back from the post office.
  • Reporting gains and losses: It’s the last Sunday of the month, so time to look at the bottom line again. I didn’t lose any weight again this month, but also didn’t gain, and that’s OK. I’m continuing to slim up though – I can tell by how my clothes fit. We put $1261.11 into our travel savings this month, for a total savings amount now of $16,579.07.

    See’s candy is simply the BEST.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: We’re all feeling very happy that YaYu received good news from Wellesley. It’s not her first choice school, but apparently they see her worthy of further consideration. Although we cancelled our cable, it’s stayed with us long enough to watch and enjoy the Olympics. Also, the See’s candy was a very special treat, and it was delicious (as it always is).
  • Grateful for: I am so thankful both WenYu and YaYu were able to go to high school here. No, their school hasn’t won any awards, nor is it what many would consider to be a “good” high school, but in the era of hyper-competitive college admissions, both girls have gotten a good, solid education, taken challenging courses and done well on the testing. Plus, they’ve enjoyed going to a school that’s far less competitive than the one they attended/would have attended in Portland. The kids here are less materialistic, and the girls have been able to participate in more sports at a higher level than they would have back on the mainland. Both of our girls have thrived at their school here, and been able to shine, and for that we are grateful.

    Besides, who wouldn’t want to go to a school that has this view?

  • Bonus question: What’s more difficult, getting rid of debt, downsizing, or losing weight? The short answer? All three. They’re all difficult to accomplish and require more dedication and fortitude than you think you have, especially if you’re older and/or have children. I’ve accomplished all three, and although the books or diet plans or whatever all made it seem like it would be a straight path from beginning to end, it was anything but a straight line, and instead the roads were chock full of dips, blocks, and setbacks. I had to get very familiar with the terms need, want, rationalizations and excuses. I’ve found it’s been somewhat easier staying out of debt and keeping all our stuff to a minimum than it ever has been maintaining a weight loss. I have no advice to give other than what worked for me was to visualize my goal at the end (and set a reasonable deadline, if possible), and give myself rewards along the way. If I strayed off the path one day, I got right back on it the next.

That’s a wrap for this week! It’s almost hard to believe we’ll be heading into March next week. How did your week go? What good things happened for you? Did you have some frugal wins? What have you been cooking?

And, if you’re interested,  this coming Wednesday our story of getting out of debt and the difference that’s made will be a post in Bob Lowry’s blog, A Satisfying Retirement. Today’s post features Barbara’s story (from Living Richly in Retirement). It’s an excellent and worthwhile read.

18 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon 2/25/2018

  1. Natalie says:

    I enjoyed reading your post, full of updates. nice photos, and that rum cake looks perfect. My week has been very good. I got my exercises in, kept practicing Spanish, viewed one art exhibit, attended an amazing piano and violin recital, watched the movie Wonder, and met a friend for coffee. I look forward to reading your post on Bob’s blog. Have a great week!


    • Laura says:

      You had a great week!

      The rum cake is very, very good. It was a new recipe, and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but it’s delicious – I would make it again.

      Barbara’s story was very interesting; I don’t think our story is as compelling. But getting out of debt has made a huge difference in our lives, and allows us to do many things we never thought possible.


  2. Debbie says:

    That header picture is so pretty – it’s like you live on a different planet 🙂
    I can smell that See’s through the laptop screen. We don’t have it here in Indiana except for one of the malls in Louisville has a pop-up shop during Christmas – but they only have limited items. There is nothing comparable in my book.


    • Laura says:

      That sunset was amazing on so many levels. The scene outside our home looked like it came from a firestorm, but pictures from the south and west sides were equally amazing. On the west side it looks like the sun is sinking into an ocean of liquid fire.

      I have tried many different chocolates and still think See’s is the BEST. I grew up with it in SoCal, so it’s always a treat to find it. I met Brett in Hong Kong once when he was returning home from a cruise, and we discovered a See’s candy store in the Ocean Terminal mall! We bought three or four boxes of candy and enjoyed it the rest of the time we were there. Besides Nuts & Chews I love their molasses chips.


  3. Vivian says:

    Wow! What a beautiful sunset.
    Thanks for the referral to “A Satisfying Retirement”. interesting post.

    Except for my mortgage, I have never been in debt (knock on wood) but losing weight and downsizing are extremely difficult.

    Finally making some progress cleaning out my mother’s house. She has finally given me permission to get rid of a bunch of stuff. I am working as fast as I can before she changes her mind.


    • Laura says:

      Barbara’s story was interesting – I was glad I got to read it. I don’t think our story is as compelling, but as I said above getting out of debt has allowed us to do many things we never thought possible. We always used to have debt, like a car payment but nothing that ate up our entire income, or kept us from saving. That changed with the girls’ adoptions and then Brett having his income cut at work during the recession. The only debt we carry now is my student loan from when I went to graduate school – I don’t regret it, but wish it were gone. The interest rate is very, very low though.


  4. Hawaii Planner says:

    Gorgeous photos! And, like you, I find maintaining my weight to be a significantly bigger challenge than any particular financial goals. Perhaps because most of our financial goals are automated (save X, with Y leftover for spending) & I’m good about prioritizing needs vs wants. With food, you just can’t do that. You have to eat 3x/day regardless & it would be like having to visit a store 3x/day & always make good choices on purchases. Doesn’t always work out that way.


    • Laura says:

      Yes! That’s the biggest issue and problem with weight maintenance: we have to eat! I read somewhere that many of us have to make hundreds of choices every day when it comes to eating (obviously if you’re starving, or have a limited income your food choices will be very limited or none at all), and not all of them are good ones. I’m much better about choosing between needs and wants when it comes to decluttering and spending.


  5. Bob Lowry/Satisfying Retirement says:

    I noticed your reference to using a spreadsheet to help you focus on what comes after the Big Adventure! That system worked so well for you in picking Kaua’i no wonder it makes another appearance.

    Yes, your debt story will go live on Wednesday of this week. Your story and Barbara’s are very different, but that is the point. We reach retirement on so many paths. It should be encouraging to people to know that the challenges we face to get there can be solved.


    • Laura says:

      The spreadsheets have greatly helped to put everything into focus. We start with what’s important to us, and then organizing everything in the spreadsheet helps us see what meets those items and which doesn’t. We try to create a hierarchy with the important items as well. No decisions yet as to what we’ll do after the Big Adventure, but we have some good choices.

      It was surprising and shocking how easy it was to accumulate debt. We had always had some debt (our income was never very large, even when we both worked), but it was managed well. We didn’t spend foolishly (no fancy cars, lots of computers or TV, big vacations, etc.) or rack up credit card debt. We had days when we wondered if we would ever get rid of it (and all of it’s not gone – I still am paying my graduate school loans), but we did. It wasn’t easy, but we saw that others had succeeded and felt we could too. Our daughters really got into becoming debt free as well and were our biggest support and cheerleaders along the way. All three of them intend to graduate from college debt free.


  6. Laurel says:

    Wow! That sunset is amazing. So beautiful there even on a “normal” day. And the cake looks yummy. I’ve been put on a diet with no chocolate for medical reasons right now, and I’m hoping against hope that it’s not permanent. See’s is one of the best, and we only get them in a holiday kiosk. I also love their little Lollipops.

    After my divorce, I had a credit card that carried me through life’s emergencies as a single mom. I used for things like replacing the garage door when my new driver drove through it trying to navigate a clutch, etc. When I got a great job and received my first bonus, I paid off my card completely and remember it like it was yesterday. It was like 50 lbs being lifted off my shoulders. It’s funny now, but I think the total was only about $4K. That was just astronomical to me at the time.

    I am a world class declutterer and love it, so downsizing is the easiest of the three for me. Losing weight is harder the older I get, although in the past I have lost weight with WW a couple of times and I’m not one to gain much before it starts to annoy me and I cut back. Winter is hard…I crave carbs like crazy. Not belng allowed chocolate should help. :-p


    • Laura says:

      No chocolate? I can’t imagine, even though I don’t eat very much of it these days. Hopefully the medical issue will resolve quickly so that you can enjoy an occasional piece some day.

      Weight Watchers was the only program that ever worked for me, although when I stopped following it the weight came back. For me the key is daily exercise, preferably walking. I walked all the time in Portland, but when we moved here the first place we lived was not exercise-friendly. It was at least a 10-minute drive through traffic to get anywhere that was safe to exercise. Plus, I had to deal with the horrid humidity. So, I became sedentary. We still have to drive to get to the beach path from our house now, but it’s like three minutes away so much, much easier. Anyway, if I don’t exercise, the pounds come back on. Also, I’ve cut my alcohol consumption to just one glass, twice a week. I’m not a big drinker, but a glass of wine a day really puts the pounds back on me. It will be interesting to see how it goes when we’re in France and Italy.

      I agree with you about getting rid of debt – it feels like a huge amount of weight has dropped off.


  7. Vicky says:

    Hi Laura

    Agree on the weight. It’s a constant struggle as one ages and it gets to be a tiring battle but not one we should give up on.

    I did want to make a couple of Netflix recommendations, not sure if I have seen these on your list but we seem to view many of the same programs. Babylon Berlin set in the late 20s, a fabulous mini series and gives some insight into what was going on in Germany at that time and helps understand why they were so ripe to Hitler’s persuasion. Other is Line of Duty. There are 4 series, it’s a BBC detective show and has won many awards. It had me rivetted from episode 1. I binge watched an entire series from SFO to London.

    On the reading side have you read Picture Bride Stories by Barbara Kawakami? It would feed your love of all things Hawaii and Japan. I find the stories to be absolutely fascinating.


    • Laura says:

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for the Netflix recommendations! Both sound like shows we’d enjoy.

      The book sounds great too, but it’s not available for Kindle and the library doesn’t have it at all! Amazon only has it in hardback, and it costs $39.95. Arrrrggghhhhh!! And I want to read it!!! (I have requested that the library put it into their collection).


    • Laura says:

      That sunset was beyond amazing. The colors really were as vibrant as they appear in the photo – everything outside had an orange tint. It looked like a firestorm. And the rainbow was a total surprise – we were walking, and Brett said, “look, there’s a piece of a rainbow!” We walked a few more steps and the next thing we knew it was complete, arching across the sky. It made getting wet worthwhile.

      The new walk wasn’t really a trail – we just walked the perimeter of the high school, the elementary school, and the Kamehameha School, which are grouped together. We saw lots of interesting things – it was a nice walk when we want something different.


  8. Kay says:

    Have you ever watched Fortitude on Amazon? Currently watching that and so far liking it. Also watching designated survivor on Hulu which really is kind of cheesy but still watchable on some level. Also watching The Path on Hulu.

    Ah, weight and debt, still battling both. Trying so hard lately to land a new job at higher pay and it is…..frustrating. And maddening and crushing.
    Anon in mass


    • Laura says:

      Have not heard of Fortitude – will put it on the list of shows to check out! Hulu has some really good movies right now – I’ve seen most of them but would like to see them again while they’re available.

      I feel like I will battle my weight until the day I die. I was not a “heavy” or “fat” kind growing up, but was made to feel like I was by my family, and am not sure I’m ever going to be able to ditch that self-image completely.

      Fingers crossed for you that a good, enjoyable job with higher pay presents itself sooner rather than later!


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