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.
- 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.
- 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!