Sunday Morning 8/11/2019: Week 13 in Portland

The forest was the place to go at the beginning of the week as temperatures were 10-15 degrees cooler inside, and being surrounded by so much green was mentally cooling as well.

If we thought we felt restless and ready to move on before now, it is really beginning to gnaw at us now, although we’re still not quite ready to drag out our suitcases. Feeling restless though is very motivating to get everything done that needs to be done before we leave town. And, there is plenty to do, from taking care of the last of the re-provisioning to getting our recycling done to making sure all the food we have on hand is finished. Every day now we wake up and ask ourselves, “Is there something we can take care of or use up or get out of the way today?”

This past week was sort of crazy when it came to the weather, going from uncomfortable temperatures in the 90s at the beginning of the week to cool rainy weather and thunderstorms by the end of it. On Monday evening we wanted to fill the tub with ice water in an effort to cool down, but Thursday, Friday and yesterday evenings we were wearing our winter pajamas because we were so cold! We made plans each evening for the next day but then ended up putting them off because the weather wouldn’t cooperate (we did finally get downtown on Friday though). I have to say though I’d much rather deal with cool summer days in Portland than the hot ones they get here.

YaYu learned this past week she was accepted into an upper-level Mandarin class at UPenn, which is just about 40 minutes away from Bryn Mawr by train. However, the first class meeting will be on August 28, and she arrives back in Portland from Japan in the afternoon on the 27th! I was able to find an affordable red-eye flight that leaves Portland in the evening and gets her into Philadelphia early the following morning, in time for her to take her bags out to Bryn Mawr and then head over to UPenn. We will meet her when she arrives at the airport here, have dinner with her there and then help her get checked in and on her way. We were hoping we’d get a couple of days with her before she had to go back, but are also very proud that she was accepted into the UPenn class. She is going to be one very tired girl though.

The Tunnel View of Yosemite Valley.

If we end up only staying in Japan for three months next year we’ve decided we will fly back to California and spend a few days in San Francisco and then travel around the northern part of the state for a few weeks before heading to Massachusetts for WenYu’s graduation. We’d like to see Lake Tahoe and Lake Shasta, drive up the coast on Highway 1 and see the redwoods, and visit Yosemite National Park. We’ll work up plans (if we have to) once when we know more about what’s happening next year.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Path Between the Seas and am getting close to halfway through Truman, a good thing because a book I’ve been waiting for all summer, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe, finally came off of hold at the library and I want to get it read before my three weeks are up. Reviews have said it’s one of the best books about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and one of the best books released this year.
  • Listening to: We fell asleep last night to the sound of pouring rain, but this morning there are birds chirping outside and I can see bits of blue sky peeping through the mostly heavy cloud cover. It’s quiet inside and out too – Brett is reading in the kitchen and the noisy kids downstairs have departed. I’m not sure what it is about Sundays, but these kids always make a ton of noise in the early morning and then disappear for the day. During the week we never hear them!
  • Watching: We finished the last of the available episodes of Father Brown this past week, but are still watching The Good Place each evening (loved the surprise ending at the end of Season 1!) and are almost finished with Four Weddings and a Funeral. We’ve also just started watching Derry Girls on Netflix which is wonderful. We have been trying to wean ourselves off TV watching but are not doing a very good job of it. We’re curious about what we’ll find when we’re in England – we’ve loved so many of the shows that have been brought over here, and are sort of hoping we’ll get lucky and catch something great while we’re there.

    My Friday evenings extras of a Japanese cup of wine and some tasty parmesan cheese crisp (no carbs!) is followed by a slice of pizza. I envy Brett – he gets the leftovers!
  • Cooking: Almost nothing I had planned got made last week but I moved things around and we’re having stir-fried cauliflower rice with pork tonight. This week we’ll also be having lettuce wrap tacos, Cobb salads, meatloaf, and our Friday evening pizza (bacon cheeseburger this time to use up some ground beef, cheddar cheese, bacon, and dill pickles). Besides using up what we’ve got on hand, we’re also going to finish up our wine supply this week which will be sad because we love sitting down together on Friday evenings with our glasses of wine and a small snack before having our pizza. Maybe we’ll just have to buy another bottle.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: It doesn’t feel like I accomplished much of anything but we finally went downtown on Friday (after almost being scared off by lots of thunder in the morning) but decided to save our visit to the art museum for another week when we don’t have so many other errands to run. I got all of my goals card filled in for the week although we didn’t walk on Monday because it was so HOT or on Thursday because it was raining (we got our walk in yesterday before the rain started). Otherwise everything on the card got done. Brett dropped off my new shoes yesterday for waterproofing, and we’ll pick them up tomorrow on our way to the dentist. Along with purchasing YaYu’s ticket to Philadelphia, I also finally got around to reserving a rental car for our final two days here so we can do some last-minute things the afternoon of the 29th, check out of the apartment on the morning of the 30th, and get our bags over to the airport hotel for the night before our departure on the 31st.
  • Looking forward to next week: My new bridge will be put in place tomorrow and the ugly space in my lower front teeth will finally be gone! I also go back on Tuesday for a cleaning and then I am DONE with the dental visits. Brett has his last Japanese class on Wednesday evening, and will be making a trip over to Costco by bus to get batteries for his hearing aids, allergy medication and some vitamins, but otherwise we have nothing planned.

    This week’s swag from the farmers’ market included sweet yellow plums. I am so happy we’ve been able eat so much wonderful fruit this summer!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett had his annual eye exam done this past week and his vision has stayed the same – no new glasses required! The whitening regime I’ve been doing for the past two weeks has made my upper teeth lovely and white; but now that the dental work will be finished I’ve got to get started on the lower teeth. This week at the farmers’ market our favorite vendor had sweet, juicy, ripe yellow plums in addition to loads of lovely berries and peaches. I love plums!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had four no-spend days again this week. We put $4.42 into the change/$1 bill bag, and as always ate all our leftovers and didn’t throw away anything.
  • Grateful for: I am so thankful that it has been so easy for us this summer to run errands in downtown Portland, which is only a short bus ride away from our apartment. There’s a Target, a Safeway for groceries, and every other kind of store available, all within a short walking distance of each other. The Target store is a new-ish downtown addition – it didn’t exist back when we lived here. We had a great time being downtown once again on Friday, and got in some good exercise while taking care of everything within a couple of hours!

    I prefer quick and easy dishes these days, like this shrimp, pepper and onion stir-fry tossed with a CookDo sauce and served over cauliflower rice.
  • Bonus question: Do you like to cook? The honest answer is not very much these days. I consider myself a good journeyman cook, and used to enjoy it a lot more than I do now but think I would give it up completely these days if I could. However, we like to eat healthy, unprocessed, tasty food and we can’t afford (and don’t want) to eat out all the time or hire a private chef, so I still cook. It’s been a learning experience for me this past year though to cook for just Brett and myself rather than making enough for five like I did for so many years. I used to bake quite a bit too but don’t do that at all these days and frankly don’t miss it either, and Brett and I definitely don’t need things like cake, cookies, bread, etc. around the house. These days I usually keep things simple and I no longer am looking for or trying new recipes like I did in the past. I use a few more “convenience” foods than I did in the past, things like the CookDo sauces or pizza crusts from Trader Joe’s. I do make family favorites when the girls are home although that’s getting more complicated as both Meiling and YaYu are very lactose intolerant, and YaYu doesn’t eat beef or care much for chicken (thankfully WenYu will eat anything). We figure it out though.

I hope everyone is still awake after reading the above because our time here now seems awfully boring to me. This is the reason though we are not feeling ready to settle down just yet – we still like staying busy and there’s so much more of the world we want to see. Life and finances are going to get in the way though beginning next month because we are going to start putting away a good chunk of money each month to apply toward YaYu’s future college expenses, and that’s going to slow things down a bit. Although she receives significant financial aid from Bryn Mawr, it’s nowhere near enough to cover the cost of going there, especially when YaYu will be the only one attending college for two years. We’ll see how it goes, but her sisters will graduate/graduated with no debt and we would like the same or as close to the same for her.

Once again I hope everyone had a great week and had lots of good things happen for them!


20 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 8/11/2019: Week 13 in Portland

  1. That was an interesting post. I am allergic to all mammal products. But, I did not want to give up milk. So, I tried a2milk. It works. I am allergic to the a1 protein. Giving up meat from mammals is easier than giving up milk. Maybe this would work for your daughters.


    1. YaYu and Meiling cannot even tolerate lactose-free milk. YaYu will risk the occasional bite or two of ice cream because she loves it, but even that little will cause problems for Meiling. Lactaid and similar products don’t work – their intolerance is something they have had since they were toddlers (as far as we know). All three of the girls have said the only way they will stop eating meat is if I pry it from their cold, dead hands. They don’t eat a lot of it, but they like it (YaYu doesn’t eat beef for ecological reasons, and just doesn’t care for chicken but will eat it if it’s served).


  2. The forest looks pretty. I walked at the river today and enjoyed the Spanish Moss but it is terribly hit, with heat indexes approaching 108 with humidity so my walk was brief. I cook because there are zero restaurants where I live, although most gas stations serve hot food. I shop at Walmart, 20 miles away. Target and Aldi are over and hour and a half from where I live, and over 2 hours from where I work. There are a couple of local restaurants in the town I work in, but I always bring my food bc it is cheaper. My youngest is finishing up college, so money is tight. He is abtipatinc going to law school so money will stay tight….lol. I do not think your posts are boring, I find it fascinating all the places you travel to, and the food you eat is a but different than typical food down here, so I like to hear about it. I am getting in a planein a couple of weeks, to see daughter’s family 2000 miles away, and I had to do an awful amount of juggling my work to get time off from my job. I shipped my clothes because I didn’t want to deal with carry on…lol. I seldom fly, I usually go by train but I cannot take the time off at Christmas to do that this year. I admire folks like y’all, who can get around and not get stressed. I loathe flying. That is why I like your blog. I get to hear about neat places from real food list without actually having to get on a plane. I will only fly to see family. I hate flying that much, but like to visit…lol.


    1. The forest park nearby is lovely – I am envious of the people who get to live nearby. I am always taken aback by how beautiful it is when I enter, and we usually always have almost to ourselves but occasionally come across another hiker or a runner.

      Sometimes I think I would like living far away from everything, but I know that would only last for a while, and I also might probably spend more shopping from Amazon and other online stores than I would with regular shopping opportunities. But that’s just me, and I know my limitations. I always considered myself a “city girl” but our time on Kaua’i showed me that I could live in a small town and enjoy it too, so that’s opened our options.

      I don’t really enjoy flying, but it’s a necessary evil if we want to go places. Traveling with our big suitcases hasn’t been impossible, but not exactly easy or fun either.


  3. Not at all boring. 😉 Perhaps what seems boring to ourselves is always interesting to others?

    We’ve gone the opposite way cooking wise because I’ve had to cut out most of the sodium from our diet and unfortunately those preprepared sauces in Australia usually contain four times the dose of sodium The Other Half is allowed to eat in a day.

    I have to make my own sauces now and to be honest am not really a fan of it, but your parmesan crisps are similar to something I did last night – I just put a spice mix in with some parmesan and then sprinkled it over our chicken kievs which were baking in the oven, it was so delicious I am already thinking of other ways I can do this.

    I often do parmesan over slices of zucchini which I bake when I do our homemade chips for fish and chips, both potato and sweet potato join the zucchini. 🙂

    Very glad your dentistry is nearly done. 🙂


    1. There’s probably lots of sodium in the CookDo sauces, but we don’t use it all that frequently so hopefully we’re OK. I’m terrible about adding salt – I let Brett use what he wants, but I prefer not to add salt. I learned once that salt is a completely acquired taste, so I guess I’ve “unacquired” it. I do add salt when I make guacamole but that’s about it.

      I could make the parmesan crisps on my own if we had a silicone baking mat but we found these ones at Costco. Parmesan is a wonderful addition to lots of things. I’m loving being able to enjoy cheese again these days (in limited amounts) because it’s carb free!

      I am glad the dentistry is almost over too. I dread the cleaning more than anything – our dentist’s hygienist is a sadist. She used to honestly try and rip my old bridge out in the past (I complained about it and she stopped). I was so surprised by how gentle the hygienists were in Kaua’i, and my teeth got just as clean.


  4. And yes I too do not find your posts boring at all either! You both seem so kind and smart. I enjoy the joy and love that comes through when you speak of your children and grandchildren. And all of your travel stories are so interesting to view and read. I also think you give practical, realistic accounts of things.
    My anxiety and finances have limited my own ability to travel……I have thoroughly enjoyed what you two have shared here!
    Anon in mass


    1. First, thank you! I try to be kind (not sure how smart I am at times though). It’s lovely to know people enjoy my travel tales and hearing about the kids and grandkids.

      I am a little scared going forward because our budget is going to change so much when we start saving to help with YaYu’s college expenses. That’s what’s making me anxious these days!


  5. Would love to get together when you drive through California, if it works out. To your “do you like to cook” question. .. I find the endless drudge of keeping four people fed well & reasonably healthy on a reasonable budget to be… boring. I enjoy cooking when it’s for fun, when I have free time, when there is wine & music in the kitchen, & M & I laughing with no pressure. That’s not a typical week night at our house. 😉


    1. If we end up coming back to California I will definitely let you know because I would love to get together!

      I’m with you about cooking, although these days I have lots of free time and no pressure because I’m just cooking for the two of us and I still don’t enjoy it all that much, although I do like not having to worry about someone being unhappy with what I’m making, or working around dietary constraints. We’re still on a budget though, but it’s a bit easier with just two of us although leftovers can last for days! It’s taken me a while to learn to cut back on how much I make these days.


  6. Not boring at all and I have been reading your blog for years.
    I do not like to cook, mostly everything is microwaved. I do make chili frequently because it freezes well and I can make several single servings. It too hard to cook for a single adult, you wind up eating leftovers for several days.


    1. Back when Brett was in the navy and gone quite a bit I would cook for our son and then just eat the leftovers because otherwise there was too much leftover! He was a picky eater though and only liked around seven things (cheese pizza, spaghetti, chicken noodle soup, macaroni & cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, and tuna noodle casserole) so what I got to eat was quite limited, especially when he was a toddler and in elementary school (thankfully he did like vegetables though or I would have gone mad!). I was thin back then.


  7. I can’t imagine finding any of your posts boring. 🙂

    The picture of Yosemite pulled me in immediately. I LOVE Yosemite. When we lived in Cali, I went in every season I think. Even took my girls and stayed at the Awahnee once. It was crazy expensive, but I was making great money then. Not sure I’d do it again, but it was an experience for sure. We looked out at Half Dome and the amount of heat coming off of it in the late afternoon was formidable – but they had heavy black out curtains to help. And we were all struck by how quickly it went from day to night once the sun dropped behind the mountains. Gosh, I love that place.

    I like to cook but mostly in cooler seasons. When it’s hot, I find myself wanting rotisserie chickens, salads, burgers on the grill, and pretty much anything that doesn’t create kitchen heat. I’ve been making jam this week and it’s like standing in a sauna, although I’m sure I’ll be glad I did it come winter. OH, and I just discovered those Parmesan crisps. They’re a little salty for me, but I do love a few here and there. Yum.


    1. We visited Yosemite several times when I was growing up, usually during spring break when the rivers were full and the falls magnificent. We never could hike up to Nevada Falls in fact because the mist then was always so heavy and the trail so slippery and dangerous. I think we stayed at every type of lodging in the park, from Awahnee (can they still use the name or that did that get permanently changed?) to the tents at Camp Curry. And the view coming through the tunnel is fused into my brain – I would love to experience it again, and Brett’s never been. I was actually planning a vacation to California during YaYu’s senior year when we got the crazy idea to do the Big Adventure.

      Cold weather cooking is so much more pleasant than hot weather cooking. One of the reasons most of the menu got shelved last week was because it was too hot to cook (and we don’t have a grill here). Lots of chicken salad, tuna salad, and other salads!

      Brett is going to Costco this week to get more batteries for his hearing aids and I’ve asked him to pick up some more of the crisps to take along with us to England. They are salty, and just a few go a long way, but it’s nice to have something no-carb to go with a glass of wine!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I couldn’t believe it when I read about that company having the nerve to sue and claim ownership of all those historic names!! They even claimed they “owned” the rights to the name Yosemite!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ve been thinking about this, making our stays longer and cutting back on the amount of travel between locations (which is, as you say, the most expensive part). Three months almost seems to long at times though – we seem to start getting restless in the third month and ready to move on. We’ll see how it goes in England, but we are going to have to tighten our belts in the next couple of years.


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