Sunday Morning 5/17/2020: Opening Up

Sunsets were all over the place this week, from mild to spicy.

Ever since I set up those cards last week I haven’t had a moment to feel bored! So far things are going well and I’m getting everything checked off, but I’m seriously having trouble finding time to do things that aren’t on the cards! YaYu and I have had mixed feelings about the Japanese program but we are going to work with it for a while and see how it goes. Neither of us is exactly a beginner, but we’re not quite at an intermediate level either so we find some of their examples easy and other things very difficult. YaYu is also using the program to review Chinese every day (advanced) so that she stays up to speed for when classes open in the fall, whether that’s on-campus or remotely.

Kaua’i beaches opened up on Friday for island residents! The local government wants to see how it goes for a couple of weeks, so there are rules to be followed, but this coming week we will finally be able to pitch our umbrella and chairs, and sit outside, read, and enjoy the sunshine and views! The visitors’ quarantine is still in full effect (until the end of June. The quarantine is taken seriously here, and because of previous infractions things have really tightened up for visitors: some hotels are not giving visitors keys anymore; they are let into the room and then given the key after their 14 days are up. Visitors are also not allowed to rent cars and have to use Uber or a taxi to get to their lodging. In spite of all these restrictions and monitoring, some visitors are still being cited and fined, and some have even been required to leave the state. Figuring out how to get the tourism industry restarted and back on its feet is going to take a long while after restrictions are lifted, with visitors expected to be only 40% – 50% at what they were before the virus arrived. In spite of the financial hardships the quarantines and shutdowns have caused, it seems that most island residents are still fine with the visitor restrictions, at least for time being – no one want the virus to get a hold here.

We are still in the process of getting things set up and taken care of here. Brett has an appointment to get the car’s biannual inspection done next week, and YaYu and I were finally able to get an appointment with the eye doctor. After two years without an exam, my glasses are not strong enough anymore, and YaYu has just one more set of contacts left and needs a new prescription. Hopefully, the Costco optometry section will be open by then, but if not, I’ll order my glasses online (with help from YaYu). All three of us also still need to find a new physician down on the south side. We loved our former doctor but he’s up on the north shore, over an hour’s drive away (when there’s no traffic) so we think it’s best to find someone located a bit closer now.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Last Chinese Chef mid-week but am still reading The Yellow House. The Last Chinese Chef was a fairly quick read with a romantic storyline but contained a lot of fascinating information about Chinese cooking and the philosophy behind it. For example, food in China is all about people eating together, with dishes never plated individually but always served for the group. I have picked up The Dutch House again, starting from the beginning again as I couldn’t remember much of anything of what I’d read earlier.
  • Listening to: The wind is howling again outside. We had some calmer days last week but then yesterday it got crazy again. The temperature and humidity are increasing, although nothing too bad yet, but the continual breeze has kept things nice. Brett and YaYu are rustling around in the kitchen fixing their respective breakfasts, and there is a rooster going crazy off in the distance. 
  • Watching: YaYu and I are almost done with Top Chef Season 14, and are thinking about watching Tiger King next because Meiling and WenYu keep asking us to watch so we can all chat about it. We’ll see. Brett and I are finishing up Season 2 of Trapped – maybe he’ll watch Tiger King next too.
  • Cooking: We’re having grilled Polish sausages, macaroni and cheese, and coleslaw for dinner tonight. I’m hoping to pick up a chuck roast this week to do a Mississippi Pot Roast – we made it when we were in Japan and have been dreaming of having it again and then using the leftovers for French dip sandwiches. Other things I plan to fix this week will be grilled ahi and vegetable kabobs and California BLTs (avocado added) with chips. We’ll figure out the other nights’ dinners later.
  • Happy I accomplished this week: So far I have been able to finish all the tasks on my card every day, so I’m pretty happy with that. Sunday is a notoriously difficult day to earn Swagbucks, so probably won’t make my goal of 50 today, but I have already earned 279 “bucks” this week so I should make my weekly goal of 350 by Wednesday.
    We’re down to the bottom of the bowl. These were all that were left on Thursday evening.
  • Looking forward to next week: Going to the beach! We’re going to get a beach chair and an umbrella at Costco and a couple of straw mats at Walmart this week so we’re ready to hang out and relax. Something we are not looking forward to next week will be the end of all the KitKats we brought back with us from Japan. We’ve had a lot of fun trying all the different flavors, some of which I have to admit were a little strange this time. Rum raisin has been bumped from the top spot on my favorites list though and replaced by yuzu green tea. That flavor was amazing – so delicate.
    My yummy birthday cake – Yayu topped it with a perfect ganache!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: I had an absolutely lovely birthday this year. The last couple of years it has been a travel day so I have been too exhausted, jet-lagged, etc. to enjoy anything about it but this year I got to relax while Brett and YaYu spoiled me a bit. YaYu made me an amazing cake – a Boston Cream poke cake. So good! Our new felt coasters finally arrived this week and I am thrilled. They’re such a simple thing, but cold drinks always sweat here, usually heavily, and these coasters are nearly impervious to water – it neither pools up on the coaster nor soaks all the way through, big issues and problems with previous coasters. They felt ones are pretty too – I chose a set in “ocean colors.” Our Penzey’s spice order arrived as well – their quality is outstanding, and cost much less than we would pay here in any supermarket. Brett and I went to the Kukui’ula farmers’ market this past week and really enjoyed ourselves. There was lots of social distancing going on, and everyone was wearing a mask, but there was also lots of amazing produce available at great prices, and live music too. We only spent $15 but tried to spread that around to different farmers.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: I noticed last week that what we were being charged for the big laundry rack I had ordered seemed much higher than what I initially paid and discovered that Amazon or the vendor had dropped its Prime status and free delivery between when I ordered and when it was being sent and we were being charged (a lot) extra for delivery. I was able to successfully cancel the order and get a refund. We will manage for the time being with the smaller rack we already have. Our only spending this week was a stop for Mother’s Day ice cream last Sunday evening (my scoop was free!), the trip to the farmers’ market on Wednesday, and the Puka Dogs for my birthday dinner, coming to less than $55 total. We finished up all our leftovers, didn’t throw away any food, and put $4 into the change/$1 jar this week.
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I are so thankful for the Hawaiian spirit of aloha working its magic once again. This past week we went to check out some hibiscus at the luxurious Kukui’ula development (cottages start at $3.5 million!), located near to where we live – a parking lot near the country club had been recommended as a place where I could find some unusual and beautiful varieties. As we were walking back to our car, the security manager arrived to let us know we were in a private area. We explained why we had come and how we heard about it, and ended up having a lovely 20 or so minute chat with her about the area and more (all of us wearing masks). We learned some of the hibiscuses had been used at the big Merrie Monarch hula festival in the past, about her grandfather’s farm stand located just down the road from where we live, and she also recommended several other places in the area we should get to know. It ended up being a purely Hawaiian, purely Kaua’i experience, and we were invited to come back any time. Lucky (and thankful) to live Kaua’i!
  • Bonus question: What are your favorite tropical fruits? Of all the things I missed about Kaua’i after we left, the abundance of fresh, year-round tropical fruit was near the top of my list. I tried so many new and different things here, and while there are definitely some I don’t care for (egg fruit and sapodilla come to mind) the ones I do like make up for those. If I had to name a favorite it would be lilikoi (passionfruit) – it’s both sweet and tart, and while I enjoy lilikoi products, from pie to mustard, I especially love having it fresh, spooned over vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt. Right below lilikoi would be papaya, which I didn’t initially like but now love, especially for breakfast or in a smoothie. I have also come to love dragonfruit, breadfruit, litchi, and rambutan and am looking forward to their arrival this year! I will eat mango but am not a huge fan which sort of surprises me as I thought it would be something I love. Bananas are ubiquitous here but the varieties are so tasty that I can no longer eat “store-bought” bananas anymore. I miss peaches, plums, berries, and melons (we can get them at Costco but they’re expensive) but the tropical fruits we can get here are a wonderful substitute.

I am wearing my hair in a ponytail these days . . . yikes! I had forgotten how fast my hair grows here. I don’t think the ponytail is a good look for me, but I am very tired of my hair exploding into a giant puffball whenever we go out and then whipping around my face or getting in my eyes (and by the end of the evening, ponytail or not, it’s still a puffball). Hopefully, it won’t be too long before hair salons are able to open again and I can get rid of this mess.

Above are a few more new hibiscus I found this week. We discovered a lot of very beautiful ones at Kukui’ula – I’ll post more next week.

That’s it for now! I hope this past week was a good one for you too, that lots of good things happened and that you’re looking forward to the week coming up!

OK, maybe this is the reason why there seems to be a whole lot fewer chickens than there were before.

23 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 5/17/2020: Opening Up

  1. I’m so glad you got to see all the beautiful hibiscus in the employee parking lot. Maybe sometime I can take you up to the Kukui’ula farm. It’s amazing as well.
    Lilikoi happens to be my favorite fruit as well. There is a shop/factory in Waimea town where you can buy pure frozen lilikoi purée and scoop it out of the frozen container as needed. It’s very strong and concentrated and tart but can be used for so many recipes.
    We leave Shipwreck Bay Thursday morning for Auckland and our flight home. This place has been an amazing gift to be allowed to shelter in place here and we’re going to miss it and the friends we’ve made. I hope we get to return soon.
    Looking forward to meeting you all in person when I get out of quarantine! Aloha🌺


    1. I’m looking forward to getting together after you’re back and out of quarantine!

      Those hibiscus were amazing – thank you for letting me know. And so many of them! It was sort of funny when the security manager showed up – we obviously didn’t belong there, and it was a private area, but I told her how I knew about it to come and look. I couldn’t remember your names right then but then said you were in NZ, R was surfing, and suddenly we were good.

      Would love to see the farm one of these days!


  2. Ha ha, how funny the sign is! It seems like you, and many others I think, have regain some optimism. The reopening is going slow as it should. It’s just not a good time to allow tourists to flock to the islands. In our neck of the woods there has been some easing of restrictions but people are also very cautious about how they go back to stores and markets. The restaurants are still closed with a promise to open next week.

    I’m enjoying your pictures of flowers and sunsets and always fascinated by the beauty of our world. I am also an experimental gardener and this year I’m growing vegetables in pots for the first time.So far I am quite pleased with how everything is going, it fulfills my passion to grow things.Looking forward to your new post about hibiscus.


    1. It has been interesting to me how supportive people here have been of the shutdowns, social distancing, quarantines, etc. It has had a massive effect on the local economy but people seem to get that an out of control pandemic here would be far worse. So happy the beaches are opening for locals, but I know that means visitors are going to try and game the system somehow. I wonder who will be doing the checking? Lifeguards? Police?

      The more hibiscus I find, the more I fall in love. I just had no idea there were so many varieties. I am not a gardener, but I do love flowers and plants. I just didn’t get the “gardening” gene, and my dad killed what little interest I had at an early age (instead of having us do things that would spark enjoyment he always gave me and my siblings the worst tasks in the garden, pure drudgery, and that’s how I came to see gardening).


  3. I have never had most of the fruit you posted like passionfruit, breadfruit, etc. ….. so interesting! I do like mango flavor. Gorgeous sunsets! I am so happy you can go to the beach! It looks like such a lovely place to live!


    1. First – I’m sorry I didn’t answer your last comment. For some reason it went straight to my spam folder! I have no idea why, but it drives me nuts!

      I had no idea about most of these tropical fruits until after we got here. I had no idea there were so many types of bananas either. The ones we buy here are generally smaller, but full of flavor. Breadfruit was our middle daughter’s favorite. There are so many ways to fix it, and it’s VERY nutritious – almost a perfect food.

      The sunset view from our house has been a wonderful benefit. We look for them every day.

      Kaua’i is magical. Expensive, but magical. We live very differently here but it’s worth it.


  4. We visited our first farmer’s market since the pandemic this morning. It was the San Clemente market, and we were, unfortunately, shocked. You may have read about the recent San Clemente demonstrations against Shelter in Place restrictions? Well, they may be over for the moment, but the spirit apparently lives on. Hardly anyone wearing masks except the vendors. People were greeting and hugging, loudly mocking the shut downs, and sharing drinks. I was deeply, deeply distressed as we left.

    My nearby town is thankfully, very, very different.

    Congratulations on having access to enjoy the beach returned! You will much enjoy I have no doubt. Here, our parking lots are reopening at partial capacity, and beaches are beginning to fill. We tend to avoid them on the weekend as a result.

    Did you see the story about the Hawaiian tourist who posted photos of himself all over the place? He was arrested as a result, for violating quarantine. You can’t make this stuff up!


    1. San Clemente? That just seems so strange to me, but sort of makes me glad in a way we didn’t go there. Will you go back to the market or try and find another? The market here was very different from the way they used to be – very spread out and people giving each other space (everyone used to crowd the vendors – it was annoying). Some people had problems with jumping the lines, but most people just shrugged and let them go.

      Yes, the beaches are open but it’s of course now cool, windy, and rainy! Hopefully things will improve later this week. We’re picking up a beach umbrella and beach chair at Costco today so we’re ready to go!

      Oh, I am so not surprised by that tourist. It’s been similar stupidity that have helped the police catch others here (telling police you are going to X resort, and then leaving the airport and heading in the opposite direction). It’s because of stuff like this that the quarantine has been hardened.


      1. Every town around here has a farmers market, so there are plenty to choose from. The beach there is great for walking along at low tide, but we’ll likely avoid it now on weekends going forward, which is when it’s farmers market occurs.


  5. Love the hibiscus pictures. Pretty much everything has opened here, gyms open tomorrow. We have 45,588 cases of covid-19 and 1,973 deaths. Hardly anyone is wearing masks. I get strange looks because I continue to wear mine. Makes me wish I lived in Hawaii.


    1. Thanks, Vivian. I have enough hibiscus pictures to last for a few weeks! Just when I think I can’t find another different one, there they are. People must think I’m crazy taking pictures of them.

      I hope that when the virus numbers start climbing again people will take it seriously. I am appalled that 90,000 deaths in our country have so little meaning to so many.


  6. Lovely hibiscus varieties! It will be interesting to see how a slow and smart opening of beaches goes. The beaches near us in S. Cal have opened only for walking, running, surfing – no sitting or sunbathing. Still too many people on the popular ones I expect although my husband was able to go to a less accessible one to walk yesterday. He thinks there were probably 100 surfers in the water and as an former surfer was probably on target.


    1. We were blown away by the hibiscus we saw at Kukui’ula – absolutely stunning.

      There are loads of surfers always out in the water here too, due to there being no school, no work, etc. It’s what you do here! I am grateful the beaches have finally been opened for locals. We’re living in a new location on the island this time, so are going to have to find a new beach we like. The closest one to us is a tourist mecca (when there are tourists here), and we noticed the other day that the swimming area was very rocky due to this year’s storms (the rocks have typically been covered by sand in the past).


  7. So many beautiful varieties of hibiscus! I love them all! And I love the chicken/smoking sign. Clever. I will not discuss my hair, though. It’s a hot mess.

    I hope our Costco optical shop opens soon, too. My prescription sunglasses have been updated and adjusted so many times that they’re at the end of their rope and digging holes into the bridge of my nose. 🙁 Not the end of the world, but not pleasant, especially with spring/summer here.

    Well, we have a new granddaughter, and she is quite perfect. 😍 DD was in labor for a looong time (almost 40 hours), and I had a horrid night’s sleep, but she was finally born at 11:30PM UK time last night. She and mom are both doing well, so I slept really well last night after seeing pics. Tomorrow was my London flight, so I am cursing Covid-19 anew this morning, but overall just relieved and grateful that they are all doing well. FWIW, the NHS is doing a great job with new moms and babies. Testing for mom and dad upon entry to the women’s maternity hospital, then moving them to a birthing center for a couple days of support once all is well. And the young parents aren’t stressed over hospital bills afterward. I’m so happy they are in the UK right now.


    1. Oh, congratulations! So happy to hear that all are doing well, although 40 hours of labor is a l-o-n-g time (mine was 30 hours and that was bad). Hopefully things will be better sooner rather than later and you can get over there, but I know however long it takes it will be too long for you and your daughter.

      Being retired military, we have similar benefits to the NHS, and for the life of me I cannot understand why this country hasn’t gotten its act together and provided this level of insurance for everyone!

      Hot mess would be too kind of a way to describe my hair right now. Complete insanity would be more like it. I damaged my glasses when I fell in Florence back in 2018 – I had them fixed but they’ve never fit right again. Now they continually slip down my nose (on top of the prescription not being strong enough).

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      1. For what we pay for healthcare in this country, I can’t believe we couldn’t do better – carewise and dollarwise – by adopting something similar. It’s sad that we don’t have the political will to take care of all our citizens or the foresight to see that it could save money. Sigh.


  8. Things are starting to open up here (NJ) as well, including beaches. I’m continuing to stay home for the most part, but I do have to grocery shop tomorrow. I had been getting them delivered, but it’s very expensive so I’m going to try to go out. I’m glad people in Kauai are taking this seriously. I wish I could say the same here, but I still see far too many people without masks and violating social distancing.

    The hibiscus pictures are beautiful! I like the chicken sign! I noticed when I was there in December it seemed like there were fewer chickens around in general than there were when I was there in 2016.


  9. Same here for seeing how it goes for the next 2 weeks. The PM wasted no time announcing that if there’s a huge spike, lockdown life is back again. The waiting continues….


    1. Sorry for the late reply. Breadfruit can be cooked so many ways, and eaten from hard to very soft. Our favorite way to fix it was to cook it in the microwave until it was about to collapse, and then serve with melted butter and a little sugar and cinnamon. It was delicious. But, one now would be too much for just Brett and me. No starfruit yet out in the markets – all we see right now are papayas and bananas, and the occasional mango. The weather has been cold for this time of year – I wonder if that’s what’s holding up the other fruits we usually start seeing now?


  10. Happy late birthday. Looked like a delish cake!

    My hair is the same – pony tail and then messy. I can visit s hairdresser but am not going just yet. I mix with so many people at work, I’m trying to minimise my interactions on the weekends.

    Love the rich jewel colours of the hibiscuses. My fav fruit are passionfruit and mangoes. Not stuff flavoured with them but the real deal. Actually I do like mango or passionfruit flavoured stuff – ice cream especially. And passionfruit icing on cakes. It’s a favourite among Aussies. Passionfruit straight from the cut fruit, I LOVE the smell.


    1. The cake was awesome – she did a fabulous job. And, we made it last for over a week, each of having just a small piece every night after dinner. The same is happening with the banana bread I made this past week – a small piece seems to do the trick and the bread has lasted four days, a new record for us. We miss the KitKats though.

      I’m with you on having the real deal when it comes to fruit. I abhor anything cherry flavored, but could eat a bucketful of fresh cherries at a sitting. Passionfruit curd is amazing – we pay a fortune for it here, but found big jars of it in England for half the cost here. Fresh passionfruit on a pavlova is the way to go too, but it’s divine on top of good vanilla ice cream.

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