Sunday Morning 12/16/2018: Portland Edition

We checked out the wreaths at Trader Joe’s but they were too heavy to hang in the house so we got a fresh pine swag instead.

I haven’t done one of these posts for a long time, but it’s a good fit for now, for catching up and keeping track of what we’re doing and where we’re going.

Brett and I have settled in nicely here and are almost well – our colds are now hanging on to the ledge by their fingernails.. One thing I had forgotten about living in Portland was how often I used to get sinus headaches when we lived here, and have had to deal with them a few times since we arrived – not fun. The air here seems very dry to us too, but we’ve set bowls of water out on the heat registers around the house and that is helping somewhat. We are feeling well enough though to get together with friends again beginning this week – up until now we still just felt too awful to see anyone.

I love Trader Joe’s, but am staying away now until after Christmas!

Most of our errands have been taken care of, thank goodness because I am sick to death of spending and shopping! We will be going to Fubonn Asian Supermarket on Tuesday to get YaYu all her noodles, and to Safeway on Wednesday or Thursday for a few odds and ends that can’t be found elsewhere, but otherwise we are pretty much done and ready for our girls. We have everything we need for all meals during the rest of our stay here. No matter where we’ve stayed on our adventure, we’ve shopped for a while but then comes the point where we start working on making sure everything we’ve bought gets eaten or used up before we leave. We’ve done a pretty good job so far during our travels, so hoping it goes as well here. My goal is that we have to go out to eat our last night in Portland because the fridge and cupboards are empty.

The dining hall at Bryn Mawr was transformed into the one at Hogwarts, including the floating candles! Love the candelabras on the tables as well!

Bryn Mawr held their annual winter end-of-term dinner this past week, where they dress up their dining hall like Hogwarts, faculty and students come in costume, and students are assigned to different schools (I think YaYu is a Hufflepuff?). I’m so glad she and WenYu have settled in so well at their colleges, and are having such memorable experiences (and doing well in their courses). Meiling is currently in New York City with her boyfriend. He moved there earlier this year to work for a big tech company, and they seem to be doing a good job of managing their long-distance relationship. We’re going to meet him when he’s in Portland later this month, and he’s also going to come along with Meiling when she visits us in Japan next spring!

Our Bryn Mawr wizard!

Anyway, this morning I am:

  • Reading: Nothing! Or at least not a book right now. I have had a terrible time trying to read these past few months – nothing seems to hold my interest for very long, and I’ve also had problems staying awake.
  • Listening to: It’s a typical quiet morning for Brett and I. He’s reading and I’ve been working on this! We’re looking forward though to all the noise and hubbub that will come along with the girls this week.
  • Watching: Brett and I were all set to watch Season 4 of Better Call Saul, but that turned out to be a one-day binge opportunity so we missed out on it. There are things on Netflix and Amazon Prime (Man in the High Castle) we want to see, but those can wait until Meiling arrives with her stick and tech abilities next week. The other day Brett and I clicked through all the many, many cable channels we have here and could not find even one thing that interested us, a pretty good indication we will not be signing up for cable later.
  • Cooking/baking: Tonight we’re having leftover tacos, along with some refried beans. We had them night before last but there was lots left over so we’ll finish that off tonight. We picked up a frozen cherry pie this past week and I’m going to bake that later today – I have been craving pie.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I am glad we’ve gotten most of our shopping done, but it turned into a chore. We’re just not very enthusiastic spenders these days. Also, we’re so glad we got hair cuts – that was something that definitely needed doing. I ordered some gifts for our granddaughter from Amazon (after looking all over town and not finding what I wanted) that will tuck nicely into my suitcase, and weigh next to nothing. Not my accomplishment, but Brett took care of our visa applications for both India and Australia and we are set to enter those countries. Finally, I got all the Christmas presents wrapped and ready to put out on Christmas morning!
  • Looking forward to next week: Well, besides all the girls arriving in Portland and all of us being together again, I am looking forward to us having brunch at a good friend’s home next Sunday morning and I know that it will be delightful. Our sons were friends in high school, and Joan was a big help to us during Meiling’s and WenYu’s adoptions, and I can’t wait for her to see how beautifully the girls have grown up. I’m also looking forward to getting together with another good friend for coffee later this morning at one of our old haunts.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Being able to get a temporary crown on my broken tooth, and finding out that I won’t need multiple procedures to fix it was the best news this week.

    The pine swag smells wonderful!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I got a very good deal on a new phone from T-Mobile. The price was lower than I expected and with the trade-in of my old phone I ended up paying several hundreds of dollars less than I thought I would. 2) Although we’ve done a lot of shopping here in Portland we haven’t gone crazy, which is something I worried about before we arrived. We’ve stuck strictly to necessities for the most part or pre-planned purchases, like my phone. 3) We saw a little live tabletop Christmas tree the other day that smelled wonderful and would have been adorable on the coffee table, but it was $25 so we passed. The cheap ornaments we bought at Target along with a string of lights for around the door cost us just $5, the poinsettia was $6, and our pine swag was $8, so we saved $6 over the tree and the house looks (and smells) ready for Christmas! Meiling is going to take the lights and ornaments with her when we move on. 4) Brett and I have done a good job of eating leftovers so that no food has been wasted. 5) He and I also decided not to give each other any gifts this year because neither of us needs or wants anything right now. Instead, we’ll save our money and do something special and spontaneous together later when we’re back on the road again.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are exceedingly thankful that our dentist here was able to fit us in so quickly and repair our broken teeth. We are also very, very thankful for our good dental insurance – we will have a co-pay, but most of the cost will be picked up by our insurance. We are also thankful for the great haircuts we got from the stylist recommended by our friend. Finally, we’re feeling very grateful that we were able to find an affordable and nice Airbnb for our month in Portland. So many of the places in town were way, way over what we could afford.

    Requests from the girls that will be long gone before Christmas!
  • Bonus question: What Christmas traditions are you maintaining this year? On Christmas morning we will enjoy our traditional breakfast of toasted bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon, fresh fruit (berries?), and orange juice. The girls took their Christmas stockings and little sequined boxes with them to college this year and are bringing them along when they come “home.” They will be able to open the gifts in their stockings before breakfast, and we always tuck a little something into the little boxes (that I found for around $1 each, I think, at WinCo one year). After breakfast we’ll open our presents, one at a time from oldest to youngest. We’ll enjoy a relaxing day together, and I’m preparing a favorite meal of ham, macaroni and cheese, broccoli and cornbread, and we’ll have cheesecake for dessert.

That catches us up here at the Nomad’s Portland home for this week.Although we love the holiday season,  I know it’s not always a happy time for everyone, but I hope the days are going well for you nonetheless, and that you’re able to enjoy time with family and friends. Thank you for sticking with us Nomads as we travel around – there’ll be more coming up after the first of next year!


14 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 12/16/2018: Portland Edition

  1. Looking forward to Brunch with your family! Philip and Martina arrive the night before so they will join us!


  2. Sounds like things are doing well in Airbnb Brett and Laura! I love the idea of simple decorations. We aren’t, really, putting up much this year since we won’t have anyone here for Christmas (our choice). Instead we will be at our daughter’s house for Christmas Eve and FaceTime everyone on Christmas Day.
    I whizzed through Gregory’s Last Tudor last week. If you haven’t read it….I also read Forty Autumns.It was good, but the writing is a bit rough. Not sure where the editor was in that one. Otherwise I have a stack of travel books for our trip in March.
    We have been enjoying Travelers on Netflix. The tv? I was just questioning our crazy cable bill yesterday.
    Happy Family time to you. Hope it is all you hope for! Looking forward to your journey in January.


    1. I’m very happy with how the living room looks now – simple, but Christmas-sy. I do miss the tree and all our ornaments though. I kind of surprised myself by not buying an ornament everywhere we visited – we looked a couple of times but then said, “nah.” Just something else to haul around.

      I’m really looking forward to Meiling arriving and being able to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime. Everything I want to watch seems to be on those two channels. We have been enjoying being able to see PBS shows again, too.

      So excited that YaYu arrives tonight – just heard from her that she’s on the train and heading out the airport!


  3. Where did you find good dental insurance? What I’ve looked at here is Florida is not good. Expensive and very poor coverage.
    This year I am not doing Christmas except for my parents. I have hosted the family for years but only had 9 people show up last year so I have decided not to do it anymore.


    1. Our dental insurance is through the retired military system – it’s not free but it’s good. Up until the end of the year it’s been through Tricare (TRMP), but a new program was put in place and last October we had to wade through a whole bunch of different plans at different costs and pick one. The one we are going with will cost $10 per month than the current Tricare plan, but has better benefits.

      We used to do a LOT at Christmas – open houses, etc. but much prefer our simpler, family-oriented Christmases these days. It was sad to let the old ways go though – took us a while to get over things and wonder if we should pick them back up again.


  4. I am really looking forward to posts (and maybe a book) after all your travels are over and you have picked a new home. Just coming back to America was probably a shock from how you have been living the last few months. There will be lifelong lessons learned and maybe some permanent changes in your approach to daily living. It will be fascinating to read.

    In the meantime, you and Brett, and family enjoy each other and your time together over the holidays. The very best from us.


    1. I have been challenged to write a book but am not going to think about that now. I loved that you called it a “gap year” because that’s exactly what it is. We know it’s not possible for everyone, but the opportunity presented itself to us, we worked it out and we’re having a good time. We’re greatly looking forward to our upcoming destinations: India, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and three months in Japan (lots of grandkids time!).

      Because we’re staying in another Airbnb it still feels like we’re traveling. Our extended stay here in Portland back in the U.S. is a good thing – it’s nice being able to read everything, know what we’re buying, and being able to talk with people, with us understanding them and they understanding us.

      I’ve never called us minimalists, but we have learned that we can live with a whole lot less than even we imagined we could. We’ve always gotten along well too, but wondered if being together all the time would strain or strengthen the relationship. We’ve been happy to find out that it’s been strengthened. We’re a good team!

      Wishing you and Betty, and your family, a very Merry Christmas with best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year!


  5. We have a saying here, ‘ Friends don’t let friends go into Trader Joe’s alone at the holidays!’ So, so true! This year, however, I don’t think I’ve bought anything out of the ordinary there in that I’ve been working to limit processed sugar, which I’m only able to do by keeping it out of our home entirely. No willpower whatsoever here!

    I have actually been baking up a storm for a variety of holiday events we attend/host, but everything goes into the freezer the moment each gathering is over. I’m thinking I won’t need to buy any dessert items for my husband until sometime around summer of 2019!

    Enjoy the coming home of your girls. What a wonderful time of year for you all!


    1. Well, other than picking up a box of peppermint Joe-Joes for the girls, we were able to stay away from all the holiday stuff at TJs, thank goodness. Still, lots and lots of very tempting things were out – I only bought ordinary things and a couple of treats the girls asked for (the pecan pie and monkey bread).

      No baking here, although it’s certainly been cold enough for it. I got out of the habit in Hawai’i, where it was always too hot for the most part to bake or even feel like it.

      YaYu is currently winging her way to Portland, and the other two girls are packed and ready to go. Can’t wait until the band is back together again!


  6. Nice to see your Sunday morning post again! 🙂 We had a crazy weekend with kids and grands and we’re both recovering. It’s nice to sleep past 5:30 AM and not to hear “MOM!” from the baby when he wakes, although we both love seeing them. He’s a full on GO from waking to sleeping. And having the early Christmas gift opening was so much fun.

    Looks like you are ready and I hope you have a ball with your family.


    1. I love my grandkids to death and love spending time with them, but also love that at the end of the day, or week, I get to hand them back to their parents. I can’t wait though until we get to do Christmas with them again – so much fun! Probably will be happening in another couple of years.

      We’ve got two of them back now! Brett took WenYu and YaYu to the mall this afternoon (no thanks!) so they could do their Christmas shopping. Meiling arrives tomorrow afternoon!


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