Sunday Morning 12/29/2019: Week 5 in Portland

The whole gang – we have loved being together with them again.

Changes will begin this evening as Meiling and K return to New York – both have to be at work tomorrow (so all our fingers are crossed there are no problems with their flight arriving on time). We are going to miss Meiling so much (K too) – she’s been a delight to have here. WenYu and YaYu will be with us through the 10th of January, the day before we leave for Hawai’i. WenYu will head back then to Massachusetts to attend an alumni gathering that helps match seniors with employment opportunities following graduation and will begin her last term at Wellesley afterward. YaYu will go up to Seattle to spend a week with one of her roommates, and then they’ll fly back to Philadelphia together for the start of their spring term.

Here’s the main reason our suitcases were so heavy leaving England – the above is what each of the girls received in her “Brit Box” on Christmas morning (and we also brought back several additional jars of jams, curds, and chutneys for ourselves and for friends).

We had a wonderful Christmas Day. We all slept in, and then the girls started off the morning opening the “Brit Boxes” we put together for them in lieu of stockings this year, filled with all sorts of goodies we picked up while we were in England. As we ate our breakfast of bagels and berries, Meiling served as our elf and passed out gifts. The biggest surprise and highlight of the morning for Brett and me was receiving tickets from Meiling to see Hamilton on Broadway when we’re in New York City next May. I’m frankly still in a bit of shock, but also absolutely thrilled – I have been a Hamilton fan from the beginning but never thought I’d be seeing it any time soon! We brought cashmere scarves back from Edinburgh for each of the girls, and are so thankful they were happy with our choices – we had had a very difficult time picking colors and plaids out of the thousands of options available there. We also gave Meiling and WenYu gift cards and contributed to the cost of a much-needed new winter coat for YaYu instead of a gift card. Later in the morning, we all got a nice surprise when our Airbnb hosts appeared at our door with homemade cinnamon rolls, Christmas cookies, and coffee beans that they had roasted for us. The rest of the day was quiet and relaxed: we ate leftover pizza for lunch, watched a couple of Christmas movies, and enjoyed a delicious ham dinner in the evening. We all agreed it was one of the best Christmases we’ve celebrated together.

We were right back to “normal” (or whatever that is) on Thursday with dentist appointments and other errands, including picking up K – he’s spent the past three days with us. Less than two weeks to go and we’ll be back on Kaua’i with friends, and in three weeks we’ll be together with our son, DIL, and grandkids in Japan. They’re currently on a family vacation in Singapore – I can’t wait to hear all about that as it’s on our bucket list.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Way Through the Woods on Christmas, and am now reading The Dead of Jericho (book #5 in the Morse series). I found the last two books I can’t get online at Powell’s (used copies) and will pick those up this afternoon at a nearby Powell’s store. I’m almost ashamed to admit that occasionally when I’m reading an actual book these days I sometimes can’t figure out for a few moments why the pages of the book don’t light up at night or find myself tapping the bottom of the page to go to the next (#addictedtomyKindle).
  • Listening to: The girls are still asleep and Brett is rustling around in the kitchen, but otherwise, all is still and quiet, just the way I like it in the morning. 
  • Watching: The girls have the televisions monopolized most of the time, but Brett and I were able to squeeze in a viewing of Dolomite Is My Name, starring Eddie Murphy. It was raunchy and fun from start to finish – we loved it! We also watched The Two Popes, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, a completely different but also very good film (although probably not entirely historically accurate). Both films are available on Netflix. We’ve binge-watched all the series we wanted to see so we’re now feeling sort of lost as to what to watch next. Any suggestions?
  • Cooking: We will have two fewer (big) eaters going forward from today, but YaYu has decided to eat meat once again beginning January 1 so that will make menu planning a bit easier. Last night we finished off almost all of the leftovers, which were a) very good, and b) cleared up a lot of room in the refrigerator. Tonight we’re having pad thai, and tomorrow I’m fixing the ham and pasta dish that didn’t get made earlier as planned (YaYu will have hers without ham). We’ll finish off two jars of marinated artichoke hearts along with that. On New Year’s Day, I’m going to make one of YaYu’s favorite recipes, noodles with pork sauce, and other meals planned for this week are turkey rice soup; pasta with pesto and Italian sausages; and fried rice with ham. We will be beginning efforts this week to make sure all the food we bought gets finished before we depart on January 11. 
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Getting all the cooking done and meals on the table has been something of an effort, mainly because I’m out of practice preparing big meals for so many. Keeping the small kitchen clean as I went along was a chore as well, but everything got done and all the food was eaten and enjoyed. Both Brett and I got vacation supplies of our prescriptions ordered so we’ll be covered until we get back to the U.S. in May, and we ordered some other provisions we’ll need.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m really not looking forward to much more than another quiet, relaxing week with Brett, WenYu, and YaYu. Brett and I are going to the Apple Store later this afternoon to finally get a new battery installed in my laptop and get it all spiffed up as well. It’s in very good shape other than needing the battery – the Apple tech was surprised the original one was still operating considering how long I’ve had it (although it only holds a charge for around three hours now).
    Brett joined the Rolling Carry-On Club this past week.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Besides having a really great Christmas Day with the girls, I don’t think anything can top the thrill of receiving those tickets to “Hamilton.” What an amazing surprise! The treats our hosts brought us were another sweet surprise as well – they truly are the most delightful Airbnb hosts we have stayed with yet. Brett had decided to switch over from a backpack to a rolling carry-on and we found a very nice one (Samsonite) on sale yesterday. It will give us more room and be easier to maneuver than his bulging backpack. I will be responsible for the carry-ons while Brett will continue to wrangle the big bags. He’ll continue to use the backpack though as his personal carry-on item and to carry my laptop, etc. My stomach issues continue to slowly improve and I had a few days this past week with no problems whatsoever and slept well on those nights as well. I’m still figuring things out but those days give me hope that I can eventually get through this. Finally, I was having a good hair day yesterday so WenYu decided to give me a makeover last night and do my makeup. I enjoyed the experience but couldn’t see the results until I put on my glasses, which of course then covered it all up! So, the girls took pictures of me without my glasses so I could see how things turned out. I haven’t worn makeup for years, and have no plans to start using it again but last night’s session was fun. I especially enjoyed having eyebrows again (mine are naturally invisible).
    My glamour shot. Makeup sure hides a lot of flaws (so do glasses).
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We stayed out of stores this past week so other than my ordering the two books from Powell’s, getting Brett a new rolling carry-on bag (60% off), and making one stop for milk, cheese, produce, a bottle of wine, and toilet paper (and nothing more!) we had a zero-spend week! I chose in-store pick-up for the books from Powell’s and saved $3.99 in shipping fees instead of having them mailed to me. I combined gift card the girls gave me with an online sale at J. Jill and got a new top for nothing out of pocket (the order left 6¢ on the gift card). We were shocked to discover that Costco now charges nearly $50+ for a 10-pack of Oral-B replacement brushes but we found a 12-pack of generic brushes (with equally high reviews) on Amazon for just $8.99. I did some research and found another highly rated brand of curl cream – two containers cost $20 less than what I would have paid for two tubes of my current brand. We went downtown to the Apple Store yesterday to see if it was worth trading in my current laptop for a new one, but when it came down to $850 with trade-in for a new laptop versus having the battery replaced in my current one for less than $150 it was a no brainer. I have an appointment at the Genius Bar this afternoon to get that done.
    A gift certificate from the girls and a 40% off sale price made it possible for me to get this pretty velour tunic.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I continue to be thankful that our daughters get along so well with each other. They support each other, offer advice, tips, etc. and a shoulder to cry on if necessary. They’re very different from each other in their interests, styles, and personalities but they work well together and enjoy each other’s company.  
  • Bonus question: How do you plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Our celebrations are always quite boring, to be honest. We don’t like parties or crowds, but Brett and I always stay up with whoever is at home to welcome in the New Year, and sometimes we’ll have some sparkling wine to help the celebration (but not always). When the kids were little we would wake them if they had fallen asleep and take them outside to bang on pots and pans to make noise for a few minutes, and when we were in Hawaii we would all stay up for the fireworks (New Year’s is a BIG holiday there). As I said, our celebrations are very simple and unexciting, but Brett and I have been awake at midnight on January 1 every year for 43 years (we missed being together just once, in 1992, when he was deployed for Operation Desert Storm). So, in 2020 we’ll stay up and welcome in the new year, our 44th New Year’s Eve together.

This past week we’ve been thinking about words to guide us in the coming year and have come up with four:

  1. Experience. No matter where we are or what we do, appreciate the experiences for what they are, both good and bad. Stay adventurous!
  2. Learn. Keep an open mind and heart, accept what the world and others can teach us, and adapt as necessary.
  3. Wonder. Maintain a sense of wonder and amazement at what the world has to offer, even in the smallest things. Stay humble.
  4. Save. Become better stewards of our income in order to live our best lives and maintain choices going forward.

2019 has been a great year for us, and we’re looking forward to what the future holds!

That’s a wrap for Sunday Morning in 2019! I hope everyone had a great week, had a wish or two come true, and are looking forward to the possibilities of 2020. 

Note: My computer might still be in the shop this weekend so if there’s no Sunday post next weekend, that’s the reason why. Thanks for understanding.


34 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 12/29/2019: Week 5 in Portland

  1. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 of Outlander… sexy and great scenery/costumes/history plus decent acting! You look so glamorous but different without glasses. Surely a great hair day. What is the product for curly hair you found?The girls look wonderful.


    1. Thanks for the show suggestion. If we can squeeze in some TV time we’ll check it out.

      I bought some Devacurl creme this time. I liked the result at the salon when I got my hair cut, but didn’t like the price, so was happy when I found it for less on Amazon. I have been using Aveda’s Be Curly, but it’s very expensive. My curls like Portland – low humidity so no frizz.

      My glamour session was fun, but the glasses are a necessity these days. Everything is a complete blur without them.


    1. She really did make me glow – the session was fun too, although it took a long time (which is one of the main reasons I don’t wear makeup any more).

      We’ve had/are having a great time with the girls. Meiling left yesterday so we’re down one. She’s a big presence, so the place feels emptier with her not here.

      Happy New Year to you and your as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad the girls and all of y’all had a great Christmas! My three sons are currently under a tornado watch ( it was in the mid 70’s where I am today but I am several hours south of them) so my momma bear instincts are on high alert… lol


    1. Hopefully all went OK and the tornado never materialized. We had our fingers crossed for Meiling and K and there were strong weather alerts for back east, but they made it OK and are both already back at work (probably exhausted though).

      Our son flew back to college once when the area was experiencing a near blizzard – the plane got into the airport OK, but he then had an hour’s drive out to his college. My picture was in the dictionary for a while next to “momma bear instincts” until I knew he made it safely to campus. At one point I even called the state police to make sure he hadn’t been in an accident, it was that bad!


    1. Oh, so exciting! I’d love to hear if they do something special, or if there are lots of fireworks, etc. New Year’s celebrations in different countries are fascinating – some of our favorite memories come from celebrating the holiday in Japan (where New Year’s is the BIG holiday versus Christmas). When we lived near Yokohama we could hear the ships blow their whistles for an hour beginning at midnight – we were far enough away that the sound was magical.


    1. It was a fun evening with the girls, and WenYu loves doing makeup – she is quite the artist and very skilled (my wrinkles were a challenge). I’m glad they took pictures because I couldn’t see any of it otherwise with our without my glasses.

      To say I was/am excited about getting tickets to see Hamilton would be the understatement of the decade! And talk about a surprise!


  3. Wonderful glamour shot but I hardly recognized you without your glasses. Glad you had such a wonderful Christmas.
    I have been watching a British show called “Silent Witness” I am on season 17 so there are many years and various actors dealing with pathologists and cops and murder mysteries..


    1. I hardly recognize myself in the picture because I’m so used to seeing myself in glasses now. I’m going to try and make more of an effort to at least get my eyebrows done and put on some lipstick.

      Thanks for the suggestion for the show – Brett and I are going to check it out tonight. There’s one more movie we want to watch as well (“The Farewell”), and hope to fit that in this week.


      1. Our hospice group has an evening event for volunteers every year, and this year they treated all of us to a private showing of The Farewell. I will be interested in your opinion of it. (We also had a photo booth and movie treats, etc. It was a really lovely night.)


  4. WenYu did a fantastic job. You look glamorous.

    What a lovely time you’ve been having with your girls. And so nice of the Airbnb host.

    No suggestions for series. Except maybe Vera. Have you watched her?

    I’m off to see Hamilton next week in San Fran!


    1. First, how are you doing down there – the reports we are seeing here are horrific, and with no end in sight. And the temperatures – awful. I’m guessing you are happy to be getting out for a while.

      Thank you! WenYu did a great job – she is very skilled at doing makeup (she views it as art) and asked me a couple of months ago if she could do my makeup while she was here. The only issue we had was when she tried to apply mascara – I just cannot tolerate anything being done around my eyes (the primary reason I can’t wear contacts). I ended up putting in on myself because I was blinking so much I was going to ruin the work she had already done (and putting on mascara now was a chore for me because my vision is so blurry).

      We watched “Vera” in England and liked it. All that’s available here right now is unfortunately episodes we’ve already seen.

      I think it’s great you’re going to see “Hamilton” and that you know what it is. I asked my son something about it last year, and although he knows all about Alexander Hamilton, he had no idea there was an award-winning musical about him! Living in Japan will do that to you though.


      1. Sydney temperatures this past weekend were what we would consider high temps in the desert in the middle of summer. Add in the smoke and it had to be awful.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. [ I’m almost ashamed to admit that occasionally when I’m reading an actual book these days I sometimes can’t figure out for a few moments why the pages of the book don’t light up at night….]

    That hasn’t happened to me yet, but I imagine that it will at some point!

    Lovely Christmas and a very lovely family. How wonderful that you have girls that get along well with each other!


    1. I caught myself tapping the bottom of the page again last night . . . . Actually, I prefer the Kindle now because of the backlighting and print size. The print in the books is very small and difficult for me to read – even with glasses I can only go a few pages before my eyes get tired.

      I hope you’ve enjoyed a lovely holiday as well. We’re down one girl now and the house does feel emptier without her here. We feel very blessed they get along so well. They didn’t when they were younger, but have matured and worked out things that used to incite arguments, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love your glamour shot! I really enjoyed visiting Powell’s bookstore when we visited Portland. Nothing like that in Central Florida! hope you all have a great New Year! I really enjoy all of your posts especially the Sunday morning ones.


    1. Isn’t Powell’s great? I consider it one of Portland’s jewels. I went to one of the branch stores yesterday to pick up the books I had ordered and had a good time walking around looking at all the books and other goodies there – very tempting. I ended up ordering one of the books I saw for my Kindle (I need a short break from the Inspector Morse books and sadly don’t need/want the weight of a book as we travel – sorry Powell’s!).

      I enjoy writing the Sunday posts, so I greatly appreciate the positive feedback. I actually used to write the whole thing on Sunday morning, and was getting to a point where I didn’t enjoy it, but now I start setting them up mid-week, and add things as they come along and then finish them up on Sunday before posting. It’s definitely a less stressful experience these days!

      I think WenYu did a very good job of making me look good for my age (nearly 68 years old). I have very fair skin, and grew up in the near-constant Southern California sun (and had no idea of what a sunscreen was, let alone use one), and I know I could have it far worse when it comes to wrinkles and skin damage than I do, so I’m grateful.


  7. Great glamour shot! Like you, I am wearing my glasses virtually all the time now…really cuts down on the makeup. Ha! And I love the top you got from JJill. Sounds like a really lovely Christmas.

    I just finished The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. She is one of my favorite writers, although I am not sure she’ll ever write anything I love as much as Bel Canto. And I just started watching Mrs Maizel…saved it for the after Christmas lull. It was craaaazy here for the week of Christmas. The 6 and 3 yo are go, go, go and the day starts at 6AM. We’re pooped and enjoying the peace. 🙂

    Would so love to see Hamilton. What a great gift!


    1. It was actually pretty funny when WenYu held up the mirror for me when she finished and all I saw was a blur, so I put on my glasses and they hid everything! I can no longer wear mascara because my eyelashes rub up against the lenses and smear, so once I had to start wearing glasses all the time I gave up with the makeup. I think I will go back to darkening my white-blond eyebrows though, and applying lipstick again – I liked how those looked and they make a difference.

      We’re enjoying a quiet day today (Monday) but it’s been go-go-go here as well for the most part. I have a long list of things to take care of that sort of got pushed to the side while the girls were here. They like to have me take care of them when they’re here (cook, do laundry, etc.) which I get – it’s nice to have your mom and dad take care of you again. I don’t mind it for a while either, but am glad I’m not doing it full-time any more!

      “Hamilton” seems so far away, but our date for the show is actually less than six months away. She got us very good seats, too!

      I put The Dutch House on hold at the library – Bel Canto is in my top-ten list of favorite books ever. I didn’t enjoy the ending of the third season of Mrs. Maisel – it did not exactly make me want to watch more. A few hanging threads are OK, but everything seemed to be left hanging this time.


  8. What a great photo of the gang and a beautiful photo of you! Glad your stomach issues seem to be getting better. Is it the new medication or avoiding certain foods that’s helping? We were on a bus in England last year and watched a teenager practically inhale a package of Jaffa cakes. Did you try them? You celebrate New Year’s exactly the way we do except for a couple of times we attended a party. In our 39 years together, we’ve always stayed up until midnight, too.


    1. I think of all the things we put in the girls’ Brit Boxes, the Jaffa cakes have been the favorite so far – they all finished theirs in a couple of days (Brett and I loved them as well which is why we thought the girls would like them too). I was hoping they would open their Scottish shortbread and offer me one, but that hasn’t happened (yet).

      Brett and I bought a nice bottle of Chardonnay to enjoy this New Year’s Eve. We’ll probably watch a movie with the girls, and then listen to all the fireworks going off in Portland (it can get very noisy here).

      The stomach is getting better. The new medication helps, but I’m also learning which foods to avoid (spicy, greasy, and too sweet are the worst offenders). More than anything, I was so afraid that I was going to have to give up coffee, but so far it hasn’t bothered me at all. Chocolate sometimes bothers my stomach now, sometimes doesn’t, so I pretty much have given it up except in very tiny amounts. Anyway, I’m still waiting to hear back from the gastroenterologist, but every test so far has come back negative so still have no firm idea what the root cause of the problem is.


  9. Love the glamour shot! I had 20/10 vision when I was younger but now wear progressive lenses. Getting older is definitely not for the weak. I tried wearing contacts about 5 years ago but just couldn’t get used to them and I see better with glasses anyway.

    How nice that your Airbnb hosts brought you those goodies! Sounds like you had an amazing Christmas! The Brit Boxes were a really fun idea.

    I like your 4 words and I will keep those in mind in the new year. I can’t believe this year and decade are almost over!


    1. I had 20/20 eyesight up until I went to graduate school, which accelerated (or started?) the decline in my vision – all that reading, reading, and more reading. I am surprised how bad it is these days. These days I can’t even read in the shower whether I’m holding a bottle of shampoo or conditioner – everything is very, very blurry. No cataracts though so I’m OK for now.

      I also can’t believe this decade is over – the years are flying past. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that we were doing the college dance with the girls, and this next year two of the three will be done. Or, not that long ago that Brett retired and we moved to Hawaii. Hope this next decade sort of slows down a bit!

      Wishing you a very happy new year!


      1. My vision started to decline when I was in my mid-40s (I’m in my early 50s now). I thought it was from too much reading and being on the computer, but my optometrist said it’s just a natural part of aging, so who knows. Like you, I can’t read in the shower (or anywhere else) without glasses and I really wonder how bad my vision will be by the time I retire! I have friends who have had cataract surgery and they no longer need to wear glasses.

        I agree that this decade flew by. When I think about things that happened in the early part of the decade, it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. I also can’t believe my oldest nephew will be graduating from college next year and my second nephew will be starting college in the fall this year. Like you said, I hope the next decade goes a bit slower.

        Happy New Year to you and your family! I look forward to reading about your adventures in Kauai and Japan.


  10. The Brit Boxes were a great idea! I am curious which of your girls received the pink scarf 🙂 Local hand-roasted coffee, yum – I am glad you can drink it! Your Christmas season sounds ideal, especially since you have your next Japan trip booked, to see the rest of the family.


    1. We had a lot of fun thinking of what to include in the boxes, and picked things up throughout our stay. We had actually planned to include more but then realized there was no way we could get it all back to the U.S. without it costing more than the boxes were worth. The girls have been enjoying the contents, but are saving the scone mix, curds, hot cocoa and marshmallows for when they go back to their respective locations.

      The pink scarf was for our middle daughter – she likes to add a pop of color now and then
      (the other two tend to stick with neutrals). I got a colorful scarf as well to go with my plum-colored coat, Brett stuck with boring black & gray).


      1. WenYu has always loved color, while the other two girls have stuck with more subdued choices. WenYu has gotten into makeup and does some amazing things with color there as well.


    1. We have had a great time with our girls, and I almost can’t accept we’ll be saying goodbye in just a couple of days. Thankfully we won’t have to go a full year before seeing them again as we’ll gather for WenYu’s graduation in June.

      The top arrived yesterday and I LOVE it!! So soft and comfortable . . . and warm. I plan on wearing it on our flight over to Japan.

      Would love to be able to recreate WenYu’s makeup magic on my own, but have zero skills in that area. Plus, the minute I put on my glasses it’s all hidden anyway. It was fun though!


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