Sunday Morning 7/19/2020: Chaos and Calm

Only a couple of mildly interesting sunsets this past week . . . until yesterday’s. That was a stunner.

Good morning!

The week started out poorly, weather-wise, but eventually turned nicer on Thursday. We enjoyed sunshine and blue skies again for a few days but this morning it’s back to strong winds and rain again. We woke up last Monday morning to absolutely pouring rain, with the same on Tuesday and again Wednesday morning, all accompanied by howling winds. By early afternoon each day the rain would stop and a tiny bit of blue sky would break out, and we would dash over to Kukuiolono and get our walk in. Then the clouds would eventually roll back in and by evening the rain would be back. One of our fellow walkers warned us though that when these storms stop that’s when the trade winds will stop as well and things will heat up, and we’re not looking forward to that again. Although there aren’t may visitors to the island these days, my thoughts when we have this kind of stormy weather are always that I’m glad we didn’t spend thousands to come vacation on Kaua’i. By the way, the quarantine in Hawaii has been extended until the first of September. Masks are still required on the island in all public locations except for when exercising outdoors or at the beach.

Morning weather at the beginning of the week and this morning.
When we saw the sun break through in the afternoon we headed out for our walks – hoping for the same today.
Some pretty weather on Wednesday afternoon unfortunately didn’t last very long but it returned the next day.

Friday was the first really hot and humid day we’ve had this summer. The movers arrived early in morning (like two hours earlier than expected – we were still in our pajamas when they called to say they were on their way!) and everything was off the truck was in our apartment in less than an hour. One box at first appeared to be missing but we eventually found it. We unpacked all day Friday, and surprisingly got almost everything put away. Saturday was spent finding places for the last few items, and getting all the boxes and paper out of the apartment so that the moving company can come pick them up for recycling. We didn’t think this move (including the pack-out from when we left in 2014) was as good as our earlier one with Royal Hawaiian – there were a few broken things this time (thankfully all repairable), including the pottery bowl made by my aunt and given to us as a wedding present, and the reproduction primitive clay horse I bought during our first tour in Japan. One of my jubako (porcelain stacking boxes) was also damaged, but again, all can be repaired.

YaYu has been rethinking her return to college this fall this past week. She got her bill last Thursday and NO financial aid had been applied, but the issue has been corrected and she should get an adjusted bill tomorrow. We about fainted though when we saw the amount without financial aid – yikes! YaYu’s main concern about going back is that she will catch the virus and bring it back with her when she comes home for Thanksgiving. Returning to school is still her first choice, but we have told her that she is welcome to stay here if she ultimately decides against going back – it’s her decision. We’ve told her that if she does stay we will have to reduce what we’re putting away for her as the cost of feeding her has been more than we expected (the girl can eat!), and we will also probably have to pay more rent for the time she’s with us. The landlord has been accommodating so far, but we don’t want to push our luck.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I am almost done with the fourth Harry Potter book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s still a very good read and I’m enjoying it. The Blossom and the Firefly, by Sherri L. Smith, just came off of hold from the library – I’ve been waiting a long time for it so am excited to get started. I ordered the new Kevin Kwan book from Amazon, Sex and Vanity, as it looks like it may be a while for other holds to be released. I’ve enjoyed all of his other books (Crazy Rich Asians, etc.), and supposedly this is his best one yet.
  • Listening to: The wind is howling again outside, and rain is coming down (sideways) at intervals. It’s very cool though, almost like we have air-conditioning – such strange weather for summer. Brett is reading and YaYu is still sleeping, so it’s very quiet inside.
  • Watching: We will finish up Ozark this week and haven’t come up with anything to watch next. Suggestions are welcome!
  • Cooking/baking: I am thrilled to have my full contingent of cookware once again! Since we’ve lived here all we had is one 3-quart saucepan, a 10-inch skillet, a sauté pan, and five cooking utensils – it’s been a challenge at times to figure out how to get everything made and on the table. Brett is especially happy to have a can opener once again – he’s been opening things all this time with the tool on his pocket knife. Tonight we’re going to have curried chickpeas over rice and some grilled chicken (if the weather improves). Other main courses this week will be chicken adobo with bok choy (it didn’t get made last week), Cuban bowls (black beans, roasted sweet potato, fried banana or plantain if I can find it, and pico de Gallo, all over rice); pork, bean, and rice burritos; grilled monchong, one of our favorite local fish; and roast chicken with mashed potatoes, a request from YaYu. We’ll do leftovers for one meal. I’m planning to bake a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting this week for our dessert cake.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: I am glad we were able to walk as much as we did this past week considering both the weather and getting all our stuff unpacked and put away. It was touch and go almost every day, quite hot on a couple of days, but there is thankfully always a breeze up at Kukuiolono and we were always able to get ahead of the late afternoon rain. We took Friday off from walking to unpack and still managed to get in as many steps right in our small apartment. YaYu and I finally finished Level 2 of our daily Japanese lesson on Memrise and have moved on to Level 3, which actually feels easier for some reason. Brett got his hair cut (and looks like he is back in the navy again).
  • Looking forward to next week: Our pictures are the last thing remaining to be unpacked, and that will be finished tomorrow and everything hung by the end of the week. We’re hoping for some beach weather this week so we can get out of the apartment for at least a couple of days. And, maybe this will be the week the chair pads finally arrive, although I’ve pretty much given up on expecting them – they’ll get here when they get here. I actually think they’re in Honolulu, where packages seem to have to hang out for a (possibly long) while before finally being shipped over to Kaua’i. I’m also looking forward to getting my hair trimmed again this coming Saturday.
    The new coffee table is a much better fit for the space.
  • Thinking of good things that happen: The arrival of our stored items was like Christmas in July, and I’ve been enjoying using our things again. We had a wonderful, long phone call with our grandkids on Friday evening – always a lot of fun, and balm for my soul. We liked the bench-style coffee table we had, but it was not a good fit with our sofa so we ordered a new table (same style as our sofa table) and it arrived early this past week. The new coffee table is big and fits much better in the space (as well as giving us more room on top), and the old table is now serving as a bench at the end of our bed. We didn’t have any place to set things, or sit down, other than the bed so that’s now taken care of. But, we really are done buying furniture now.
    I love having my coffee again in our favorite mugs.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We went over budget some on our food shopping last week, but other than that and our weekly trip to the farmers’ market and a haircut for Brett it was a no-spend week. The leftovers continue to get eaten up, but this past week I had to throw away a small piece of cabbage that had gotten mushy, some kale that had turned, a couple of onions that had gone moldy, and a small amount of green-is Parmesan cheese that had gotten hidden in the back. I hate throwing away food, so this was a wakeup to make more of an effort to keep track of things in our small fridge, and make sure they get used. We put $4 and some coins into the change/$1 bill jar, and I earned 524 Swagbucks.
    So thankful our hibachi table made it in one piece.
  • Grateful for: I felt like I could finally exhale when I saw that our big antique hibachi had arrived in one piece (the moving company had actually built a special wooden crate to ship it), as did its stand and the antique plate that sits in the middle. The plate had only been lightly packed inside the hibachi and we consider it something of a miracle that it made it in one piece. We bought the hibachi and plate during our first tour in Japan, in 1982, and they have now moved back and forth across the Pacific Ocean five times, and across the mainland a few times as well. Brett had the wooden stand custom made in the Philippines during our second tour in Japan, and we had the legs added not long before we left Portland in 2014, as well as having a new piece of glass cut for the top so the hibachi could function as a side table (it had served as our coffee table before that for many years). Both Brett and I are extremely grateful for its safe arrival one last time as it’s the piece of furniture that grounds us and lets us know we’re home.
    Noodles Romanoff
  • Bonus question: What was your favorite food when you were a child? Your least favorite? My mother was not an inspired cook – it was always a chore for her – but she did make a couple of dishes that I absolutely loved when I was a kid: baked macaroni and cheese, and Noodles Romanoff (this recipe is closest to Mom’s, although she didn’t add the cream cheese or heavy cream, but increased the amount of sour cream). Both had pasta, lots of cheese, and were rich and creamy. Mom always made big pans of them, so there were always leftovers that were for me just as good or better when eaten cold the next day. Her macaroni and cheese was the dish I always asked for whenever I came home from college. I also loved her tapioca pudding – it was very fluffy and creamy with a wonderful vanilla flavor. My maternal grandmother was not a good cook, but she occasionally made dates stuffed with walnuts and peanut butter that I absolutely loved, and also the most amazing stewed apples. The recipe for the apples died along with her though – no one has been able to duplicate them. My paternal grandmother was a very good cook, and her yeast biscuits were from heaven. I have her recipe for them (written in her own hand), but they’ve never turned out as light and fluffy as hers were. My least favorite food growing up was salad (and still is). I have a fairly serious intolerance to most forms of lettuce (especially romaine) – it makes me very sick – but my parents always served me salad (mostly made with romaine) and expected me to eat it even though I told them over and over how it made me feel. I became an expert at hiding salad under the table and getting rid of it after a meal was over. Several years ago my mom was visiting and said when I explained why I wasn’t having salad, “You know, you never really liked salad when you were young.” Thanks, Mom. One of the great injustices of my childhood (in my mind) was watching my brother not have to eat tomatoes or squash because “he doesn’t like them” while I was expected to eat the salad on my plate no matter what.
The pottery bowls and plates we bought in 2019 in Kappabashi. Brett’s happy to have his “coffee bar” set up once again, although with only one cup of coffee each per day, our Chemex is sort of too big now.

We have just a few more things to do to finish up here and finally feel settled. What’s been most surprising has been discovering the extent of what we let go before we left Kaua’i in 2018. For example, I was sure we had kept our bathroom scale, but no. I also apparently didn’t keep any baking supplies other than my stand mixer, not even a measuring cup! It was fun to finally see the dishes we bought at Kappabashi during our first stay in Japan, in 2019. They had been wrapped at the store when we bought them so until they were unwrapped on Friday we had no idea what we would find – we had completely forgotten what we had chosen. We were able to put quite a bit away for YaYu to have for whenever she sets up her own place someday, things we had too many of or realized we just don’t need any more. Anyway, it’s so good to have our things back with us again, and know that what’s missing or broken can be replaced or fixed. We have more than enough.

That’s all for this week! All in all it was another good one here, even with the crazy weather, and I hope it was good for you as well, with lots of good things happening. Here’s to another good week coming up!

29 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 7/19/2020: Chaos and Calm

  1. A viewing suggestion. The Twelve on Netflix. Kept us rivetted until the final episode. It is a Belgian show so need to have subtitles on.

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    1. Thanks, Vicky – we will check it out! YaYu and I also decided this morning that we’re going to start Padma Lakshmi’s show on Hulu, Taste the Nation. It’s gotten very good reviews, and who doesn’t love a show about food?

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  2. Beautiful coffee table and hibachi table! I am amazed it survived so many moves! I totally understand why your daughter is rethinking going away to school. Maybe it would just be less stress to do the long distance learning thing for the next year, and see if the virus calms down by next summer. The virus has been very ugly here, especially in college towns like Tuscaloosa and Auburn, and masks are finally required statewide. All the sunsets are gorgeous that you post.

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    1. We were surprised the hibachi table survived the move this time – we thought this would be the one where it got damaged, but thankfully it all arrived in good condition. We love the new coffee table too. It looks better in the space, and we like all the room on top.

      YaYu really wants to go back, and we are satisfied with all the college is putting into place to keep the students safe – it will frankly be more like living in a cloistered nunnery for them than attending college. The lack of leadership when it comes to the virus makes me so angry – we could have and should have had this under control by now but instead it’s just raging across the country, and so many are dying. I honestly think there’s a good chance the quarantine will still be in place when she comes home in November because I don’t think things will have gotten all that much better by then.

      Glad to here masks are now required in Alabama. I read the other day, from a pandemic expert, that if everyone wore a mask for six week – six weeks only! – we could drive this thing into the ground. But no, that would be tyranny.

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  3. Wow – that hibachi table is gorgeous! So glad it made it successfully & safely to you again.

    I can’t imagine not being able to eat salad. It’s not as though it’s my all time favorite food (hello, pizza, pasta, CHEESE, bread, all the yummy fattening things), but it’s the base of my healthy lunches every day & makes eating low(er) carb much easier for me.

    Glad to hear you’re well!

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    1. The hibachi is over 100 years old, and the shape is unusual. I’m so glad that it’s still with us after all these years as we have so little left from that first tour. I’m especially glad the center plate made it – Brett said it was a miracle it didn’t break the way it was wrapped and where they put it. (The plate sits on top of that gray planter in the first picture of our stuff – we’d never find another plate that fit as well).

      I have tried to eat salads over the years, but always with less than pleasant results. They have always looked so delicious to me, too. I can eat iceberg lettuce, fresh spinach, and cabbage without trouble, but that’s about it for salads for me. We eat a LOT of other vegetables though.

      And who doesn’t love pizza and cheese – my favorites. I’m not getting much of them these days though sadly.

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  4. Glad to see that your new logo reflects the stage you’re at, although I feel a little sadness thinking how this pandemic cut our wings and forced us, the occasional travelers, to stay put on the ground.
    YaYu faces a tough choice for next year and she must feel terrible. The good thing is that she still has the option for online classes. I would keep an open mind for now and not make a definitive decision until the deadline. She’s not the only one in this situation. My grandkids ( who are in high school ) must decide the same thing. Millions and millions of kids are facing the same dilemma. There is still another month for them to make a decision so I hope YaYu has still some time to think about it. There is give and take in any scenario.

    It is a miracle that the gorgeous hibachi table made it there unscathed. The things we cherish…small objects, good memories…It’s funny that I make that pasta dish quite often and I’ve never known it’s called Romanoff. What do I say? I learn something every day!!
    Stay safe and happy!

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    1. I still think about traveling all the time, but have accepted that it’s going to be a while. I do what I can in the meantime though – read about destinations, dream, etc.

      Financially, it will be much better for YaYu to go back because much of her aid will be cut if she decides to do online only from home. If all of her classes were going to be online, we’d encourage her not to go though. We have told her it’s her decision in the end, and that we will support whatever she chooses to do. I think it’s going to be very boring for her back there, but less boring than it is for her here right now.

      Besides the hibachi table, we also have an Oriental wool rug that has been with us for years and years. It’s another one of those items that grounds us and lets us know we’re home. We found the perfect place for it here, and it makes me happy every time I walk across it.

      Ever since I wrote about Noodles Romanoff I have been craving them again. I may make them after YaYu goes back to school (if she goes) as there’s too much milk in them for her. They are delicious. Do you add onions? That was one of the best things about my mom’s – the bits of onion throughout.

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    2. I do use either green or red onions, it makes the dish prettier. I sometimes add asparagus(steamed for 3-4 min and chopped) or broccoli(steamed 2-3 min) to improve texture, depending on my inspiration at the moment. I like it especially with lobster tails when Raley’s has lobster for $5/piece or tuna steaks. It seems like the perfect accompaniment for seafood. I hope I didn’t make you too hungry:))

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      1. Green onions seem like they would taste best, and would look good in the dish (but I also love the idea of red onions). I had never thought of adding meat to Noodles Romanoff – lobster sounds incredible.

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  5. I remember making my mother’s chocolate cake many years ago. She happened to be in the kitchen and told me I was doing it wrong. I handed her own recipe to her and told her I was following her directions. She just looked at it, said it was wrong and made some corrections. That may be what happened with your grandmothers recipe. It amazing how cooks change their recipes without ever rewriting them.
    Our governor still won’t require masks but more and more businesses are requiring them.

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    1. I am so glad to hear that more and more Florida businesses are requiring masks. I just weep for your state, and cannot understand for the life of me what is up with your governor when it comes to this pandemic.

      My grandmother always got such a good rise on her yeast biscuits and I’ve often wondered if that has been my problem. Also, I wonder if she actually rolled out her dough to cut the biscuits, or just patted the dough out before she cut them. Maybe it’s the flour I use? All these questions I have, and never got to ask her.

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  6. I don’t know about school. Most of the K-12 systems are on line until January. I fully expect the next wave to hit by then (when our houses are all shut in again). Except the beach, it is WAY shut down around here (and our numbers are still up).
    Germany called and canceled my hotel reservations. Boo Hoo. Delta was very nice and told me my refund would be here by….Christmas, maybe. Really 8-10 weeks.
    Netflix has a series that my daughter put me on—Down to Earth Zac Efron. Fun/educational/environmental . You should give it a whirl.
    My GreatAuntie used to say, “Kauai, the garden isle. It rains. All of the time.” She spent 60 years looking at China Hat.

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    1. I know YaYu’s college went to great lengths to figure out whether or not to open, and consulted with experts about what to do. They’re part of a four-school consortium, but are not working with two of the schools this year because they won’t work with all the precautions her school is taking. So, we will see. They have said they will still close the school if they have to too.

      I’m sorry your trip got cancelled, but at least you’ll be getting your money back (eventually) from Delta. They were very good to us.

      Kaua’i does get the most rain of all the islands, but it’s also the greenest. We’re schedule for more rain Tuesday through Saturday though – ugh. It rained today as well – totally unexpected (broke through the humidity though).

      I can think of worse views than China Hat.

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  7. My mother said i would not let meat pass through my lips when i was a baby and child. The first meat i ever ate was barbecued raccoon. My uncles and father grew up during the Depression and i suppose they learned to eat everything. Anyway, I hated beets and English peas as a child and was allowed to not eat either. As it turns out, I am allergic to mammal meat and English peas. Mama would be so sad she fussed at me. I also hated the pig brains Daddy put in our scrambled eggs. Favorite foods in my childhood were Mama’s spaghetti, her fried chicken, fudge, chicken and dumplings, and pumpkin pie.

    I love both the tables. I am surprised the one made it. i have been living without proper utensils in the kitchen and it is NO fun.

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    1. We were encouraged to clean our plates when we were children and to be grateful for the food we received. I don’t think it ever crossed my parents minds back then (and my mom’s later) that someone would not be able to eat certain foods, which is why I hated that my brother didn’t have to eat squash and tomatoes when he was young just because he didn’t like them.

      You certainly ate some interesting foods when you were young. We probably did too, although I can’t recall having to eat anything like pig brains!

      The tables were very affordable – we ordered them though Amazon. The quality is very good for the price.

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  8. Glad to hear your boxes finally arrived! Now you can get properly settled in.

    Are all of YaYu’s classes available online? If so, I’d say to stay on Kauai because who knows what will be happening with the virus by Thanksgiving. If things get bad again and we’re in a lockdown situation, it may be difficult (or impossible) for YaYu to get back to Kauai. Unless she could stay with her sisters if that happened? Plus, what YaYu said about possibly transmitting the virus to you is a very real concern.

    I don’t know if you watch Korean dramas, but I recently watched one called Crash Landing on You that was very well done and I highly recommend. It’s on Netflix.

    Thanks for posting photos of Kauai. I’ve been missing Kauai and had planned on returning later this year, but since that won’t be happening, the photos get me through until whenever things improve!

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    1. Well, it turns out we are missing one box! It has some important (and unreplaceable) items in it, so the moving company is now searching for it. We had this happen once before and the box was never located, so we’re not very confident they’re going to locate this one, let alone get it over here to Kaua’i.

      Two of YaYu’s classes are hybrids – she takes the class portion online, but physically goes to labs, where they can stagger the number of students to maintain social distancing. She would also lose a lot of financial aid if she doesn’t return, and possibly not be able to afford to pay the basic tuition.

      Thanks for the recommendation. It sounds interesting, and especially something YaYu would like.

      I haven’t taken many pictures lately, but we’re just not out that much these days, especially with the awful weather. I will try and step up my game.

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      1. My nephew has hybrid classes also and he will be going to campus for the lab portions, but he has an apartment near the campus that he had already paid for before all this happened. I see now where if YaYu did not go back, she’d be behind and may not be able to afford the tuition, so it’s a difficult decision. My nephew has some friends who have decided to take the year off because they don’t want to deal with the “weirdness” so not sure if that’s a good idea or not. My nephew will be a senior so he just wants to get the year finished and be done with it.

        I had never seen a Korean drama before, but a friend recommended it and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was the type of story that really draws you in and the acting was well done. I thought the premise was a bit far fetched at first, but I read that it’s based on an actual event! I don’t want to say any more than that in case you watch it, but you’ll see what I mean. 🙂 It also gives an interesting glimpse into Korean society (both north and south).

        I hope they find your box! I also hope the weather improves. It’s nasty here. Close to 100 degrees with horrible humidity.

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      2. Bryn Mawr is putting some very serious barriers into place. For example, students who live in the area will not be allowed to go home on weekends. No off campus trips. Students’ card keys will only allow them into their own dorm, not other ones as was previously possible. Limited dining options that are carried back to your room. And so forth. As I’ve said, practically a cloistered nunnery. I think if her school were in a large city, there is no way we’d allow her to go back, but because of BMC’s location and its rules, we think she will be OK.

        I contacted the moving company today and they are on it. The problem took place back on the mainland though, when our stuff was crated. Hopefully it didn’t get into someone else’s crate and then either kept or tossed. If they don’t locate it in a few weeks, we’ll file a claim.

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  9. I love reading about all of your happenings. You write such an organized blog post. I especially like the book suggestions. I often find them at my library and put them on hold. Our library is excellent, and I have never not found a title that I wanted–either they have it or they order it at my suggestion. Because of this, I haven’t bought any books in years except for the “Outlander” books by Diana Gabaldon. Have you read these–they are wonderfully written, and the plotting and characters are excellent? I read the first one back in the 90s, and she is still working on the 9th and says there might be another after that. They are quite lengthy but worth it.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! I have fun writing the Sunday posts, and having it organized makes it easy to write.

      I just had two books come off of hold at the same time! Not sure how that happened as I wasn’t at the top of the list for either, but now I’m glad they’re here. One is a quick read, but the second is going to take awhile.

      I have not read any of the Outlander books – will have to look into them. I have a L-O-N-G list of books to get to, but there’s always room for more.

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  10. As you know, I can really relate to your pics of packing boxes and STUFF. But it’s so nice to get your own things and get them into place. We were just discussing the fact that this doesn’t feel like home yet, but the more things we get put away and organized, the more it does. Love the coffee table…and that hibachi!

    I just finished all the available episodes of Schitt’s Creek and I loved it. I tried watching it a while back and it didn’t grab me. My DD recommended trying a few episodes and I ended up loving it. The characters are all just a hoot, and I’m sad it ended. I now await the release of the final season on Netflix…maybe this fall.

    My favorite food as a kid (which I still love) are Finnish pasties (meat and potato pies, kinda). My mom made a dozen at a time and that’s how we all end up cooking them, too. But they freeze well. I don’t make them often anymore, but I do love them. And when I am up north, I always have one…there are several shops that make a really good one. But of course, not as good as my mom’s. 😉

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    1. We’ve got all the boxes unpacked (and yes, one was missing!) and with the pictures going up this week it feels more and more like home. Picture hanging takes a while though – Brett is extremely precise about the whole thing. I am SO GLAD we got this coffee table – it’s perfect; the bench is nice but it was wrong for the living room. I love, love, love the hibachi too. I tired of using it as a coffee table and am so glad we were able to turn it into a side table . . . and that it fits in the living room. In our previous house it was Brett’s bedside table.

      Are Finnish pasties like Cornish pasties? Just thinking of those makes my mouth water.

      Schitt’s Creek is on our list. I’ve heard from others that it’s a show you need to stick with to fall in love, but you eventually will.

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      1. Yes…there was always an ongoing debate when I was growing up re: Cornish recipes vs Finnish. It involved which shortening to use, whether and which veggies to include, etc. People definitely have their preferences!

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    1. Well, you can cook over them. The ceramic ones were filled with sand (about 2/3 – 3/4 of the way full), and then hot coals would be placed on top. A kettle or dish could be heated over the coals. A hibachi was also placed under a kotatsu, a low table that was set over a small pit in the floor. The hibachi with hot coals would be placed in the pit, a cover placed over it, and then it would be covered with the kotatsu. The kotatsu would be covered with thick blankets so you could sit and put your feet down over hibachi to stay warm. Modern kotatsu now have a heat lamp under the table.

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