Sunday Morning 8/2/2020: Is It Summer Yet?

In spite of some not-so-good weather, we still got a few pretty sunsets this past week.

Good morning!

August has arrived, but we’re still wondering if summer will ever get here. Temperatures are still cooler than expected, it’s still plenty windy, humidity is low (yeah!), and on and on. We thought it might be warmer down here on the south side, but it’s actually been cooler and breezier than it ever was when we lived up in Kapaa. It’s to the point that visitors comment on how windy/breezy it is at our place – it’s that noticeable. To be honest though, I’m mostly enjoying the weather (so far) and know it could be a LOT worse. August, September, and October are typically the hottest and most humid months of year, especially as the trade winds die down or disappear, but I’m kind of hoping things will continue as they are (with a few beach days thrown in). It’s just been . . . different.

We woke up every morning this past week to cloudy skies, wind, and cool temperatures. Most afternoons and evening there was rain, sometimes lots and lots of rain. It seemed to thankfully always clear enough in the late afternoon that we could go for a walk.

Speaking of August, I realized this past week that we’ve passed the four month anniversary of our return to Hawaii. It sure has seemed like we’ve been here much longer, but I think that’s because of all that we’ve accomplished in the past few months, from finding a place to live, getting it furnished, and getting ourselves resettled. Things on the island have loosened up some since we arrived and are very slowly returning to some semblance of normal, but masks are still de rigeur everywhere, many businesses and restaurants remain closed or have gone out of business, and visitors are still few and far between due to the quarantine. Things are still on edge though as cases rise, especially on Oahu (Kaua’i currently has just two active cases). We read this past week that Japan may open back up to visitors from Hawaii only, and vice versa, but cases in Tokyo are rising again as well so probably not.

YaYu received her updated financial aid information this past week, and it turned out to be much better than all of us expected. All of her aid comes from the college this year – the only federal aid she was offered were loans, both subsidized and unsubsidized, but she turned them down. Her fall term has now been paid for, and a round-trip plane ticket to and from Philadelphia has been purchased. She will leave here and fly to Honolulu, then on to Seattle where she will meet her friend and roommate from last year to fly together on to Philadelphia. She’s nervous about the flight, but otherwise excited to be going back. Only a few seats have been sold on each of the flights though, and Alaska Airlines is keeping the middle row empty on all their flights, so maintaining a good distance from others should not be a problem. We picked up extra disinfecting wipes for her to take back, and she has masks as well so hopefully will be OK on her trip back and in her room at the college. We also got her extra hand sanitizer as well, but discovered it’s not allowed on planes because of the alcohol content (it’s very flammable), so that’s the one thing she’ll have to find back there and that they hopefully will offer on the planes. YaYu is excited and happy about going back to school, even with all the restrictions put in place. She and her friends got their room assignments this week, and they will all be in the same dorm on the same floor (in single rooms). She’s very happy about that, but we’re not sure that’s such a good thing. YaYu has also been hired for two on-campus jobs this year, but thinks one may be eliminated. Her other job will be at the campus library.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m back to reading two books, one during the day and one at night, because another book I’ve been waiting for just came off of hold (They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South, by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers). So, The Vapors is my evening book, and I just started Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix during the day. I didn’t think the first three books in the Harry Potter series were as good as remembered, but the Goblet of Fire was excellent and The Order of the Phoenix is as well so far.
  • Listening to: There’s some blue sky showing through the clouds this morning, but still a fairly stiff breeze can be heard blowing through the trees outside, and it’s comfortable cool. Brett’s rustling around in the kitchen making his breakfast, and YaYu is still trying to sleep out here in the living room. Otherwise it’s quiet, although that will change I a short while as our downstairs neighbors are holding a garage sale today, beginning in around an hour.
  • Watching: We finished watching Father Brown and Taste the Nation last Thursday, and are now watching A Confession (starring Martin Freeman) on Britbox. YaYu sadly does not share Brett’s and my love of British crime drama and/or mysteries.
    The carrot cake I made last week has been delicious but has way too many calories, 350 for a 2-inch square. I have had to be VERY disciplined to fit it into my daily calorie allotment. The cake I’m baking this week will have less than half the calories, and still provide a sweet treat every day.
  • Cooking/baking: We are beginning a two-and-a-half week break between food shopping trips which required me to make a list of all the dinners we could have based on what was already in the pantry and freezer and what we could pick up at the farmers’ market each week. It took some effort, but I think we now have everything needed to get through until the middle of the month. Tonight we’re having Chinese stir-fried tomatoes with eggs over rice, a long-time favorite. The rest of the week’s menus include subuta (Japanese-style sweet and sour pork); InstantPot carnitas for burritos and tacos; grilled fish tacos with fresh peach salsa; InstantPot chicken risotto; and hamburgers from the grill. I was planning to buy pre-made burgers patties at Costco last week until I saw both the price and the calories – yikes! – and ended up buying ground beef instead to make them myself. This week’s baking will be a fresh orange cake with orange buttercream frosting.
    Looking out from Hole 6 at Kukuiolono on a rare sunny afternoon.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We got in some good walks again this week once Douglas had passed, although each day we wondered if we would be able to go because the weather was that dicey. We’re getting ready to add a bit more to our walks this week. Finding flights to get YaYu back to Pennsylvania was not an easy task, but we were finally able to find a schedule that works for her and allows her to fly the Seattle to Philadelphia leg of the trip with her good friend.
  • Looking forward to next week: Better weather? Royal Hawaiian locating our missing box? I can dream.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Besides YaYu’s financial aid award arriving it’s been a rather low key week with not a lot happening, but almost everything was good. We were excited to discover a lilikoi (passionfruit) vine in our back yard, hidden among some other plants on the wall. One fruit has already set and other blossoms are starting to open, so hopefully we’ll be getting a few more. The guava tree on the side of the yard is loaded with fruit. Guava is not a favorite, but Brett and I do like guava jam so we’re already planning to make some of that once things start ripening. And, the orange tree is also already loaded with little green, golf ball-size fruits – there’ll be lots of sweet oranges probably around December and into early next year.
    The best granola in the world (IMO)!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The Living Foods Market in the Kukui’ula Marketplace sadly permanently closed this past week. We never really shopped there as their prices were always kind of outrageous – they seemed to primarily cater to rich tourists staying in Poipu – but on Wednesday, their last day, everything in the store was 50% off and we picked up three bags of our favorite Anahola Granola (best granola ever). It typically sells for $8-$9 for a 12-ounce bag, so at half off it was a steal at $4.68/bag (tax included), and will last us for over three months as we only have a tablespoon or two at a time. The Alaska Airlines credits we took back in March covered almost the entire cost of YaYu’s round-trip flight to school and back. We had a very frugal week at the farmers’ market, and spent only $17 for a lot of produce, and put $3 into the change/$1 bill jar (our budget every week is $20). We did a good job eating up the leftovers, but had to toss half of a head of cauliflower as it froze and turned to mush when it defrosted. Our travel savings is now up to $809.11, so we’re making good progress! I earned 543 Swagbucks last week.
    This week’s farmer’s market haul: two huge bunches of bananas, a papaya, two dragonfruit, six Meyer lemons, two limes, three cucumbers, a 1# bag of cherry tomatoes, and a bunch of green onions for only $17!
  • Grateful for: We’re all feeling very, very grateful this week for the generosity of YaYu’s college as we had been very worried about whether or not we had saved enough to help her get through another year. We’re already a bit worried about next year as our experience with senior year levels of aid is that they drop, as colleges know they have a “captive audience” and less is awarded. However, the amount she received this year will give all of us a breather and allow Brett and I to hopefully add enough to our savings to get YaYu through her final year.
  • Bonus question: Do you buy/eat mostly organic food? While we are not fanatics about it, we do try to buy organic as much as possible, but it’s probably only about a quarter or less of what we eat. Costco offers many organic options, and given the choice between organic and non-organic, we’ll always choose the former even if it does cost slightly more. I don’t think there’s any taste or nutritional difference between organic and non-organic, but believe that organic provides an extra layer of protection so to speak, even though organic farming does rely on chemicals and such (made from things like beetles and other natural sources however). Current organic items in our home are eggs, ground beef, milk, butter, peanut butter, pasta, summer squash, frozen strawberries and blueberries, oats, pizza crusts and sauce, spices, and olive oil. None of the farmers at the weekly market sell organic produce, but none of them spray their crops either. We only buy fresh, wild caught local fish and try to buy other locally-produced or raised food as much as possible if we can’t get organic.

I’m going to call Royal Hawaiian tomorrow morning for an update on our missing box. Every day it seems I recall or need something that was in that box: the cake stand the girls found at Goodwill and gave me for my birthday one year and the glass cover I found for it, my citrus juicer, the cake pans and pie plates, the salad spinner, the bathroom scale, and Brett’s blood pressure monitor all have been missed and mourned this past week. I thought I’d only feel badly about the wall hanging and cookbooks, but it turns out we both miss all that other stuff too – there was a reason it was kept. We know if the box went into someone else’s crate we’ll never see any of it again, but we continue to hope it was left somewhere in the storage facility and can be found. That hope diminishes day by day though. The only upside, if there is one to be found, is that right now we have no idea where we would put all that stuff as storage is already pretty full-up.

And that’s the week that was! It wasn’t the best week ever, but not the worst either by a long shot. Overall I’d say it was pretty good. I hope it was a good week for you all as well, and that you had lots of good things happen for you, good food to eat, good books to read, and that you’re staying healthy and busy during all the current madness. Here’s to the week coming up!


13 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 8/2/2020: Is It Summer Yet?

  1. Congrats on the financial aid! That is fantastic! It is in the 90’s here, very hot and muggy. Typical summer weather. I think the only organic foods I eat are mulberries, dandelion greens, pumpkin, and figs. They are all from my yard, or the yard of family members. I am not sure if the dried beans I eat every week are organic or not. I doubt it. I buy dried red beans in a 20 lb bag from Chef, at are delicious. I went to look at the bag, after you posted this, and it says nothing about being organic. I do not think the catfish, shrimp, crawfish, or chicken I eat is organic either, but I do not know. Maybe as far as the seafood?????. I do not eat a lot of pork or ground beef but I doubt the bacon I eat is organic. My neighbor gave me delicious tomatoes and cucumbers he grew, but I bet he fertilizes them. i have never had a guava, or passionfruit, or dragonfruit, so it all looks very good to me. The sunsets were beautiful.


  2. I’ve realized that I kind of live for your Sunday posts!

    Fingers crossed for YaYu all around, I am worried about colleges opening but maybe it will all be okay in the end.? I am in the 5 college area of Western Massachusetts and have been paying close attention.

    There is plenty of hand sanitizer around it just doesn’t Always look like what we are used to. Obviously everyone is noticing this. Some tho is that awful kind that can be seriously harmful. Not sure why i didn’t pick up two recently when I found a type I like!

    Tell YaYu to pay attention at the check out when she is at the grocery store, you can often find pocket sized lysol spray here in the northeast.

    Organic wise I tend to buy when affordable but Also generally will buy grapes, berries and coffee organic. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. And I do buy locally from some farms which aren’t certified organic but close to it. I also “buy” Eggs from some friends who have a ton of chickens.


    1. Thank you, K – you’ve made my day! I always enjoy writing the Sunday post, and thinking over my week and what’s to come, and it’s nice to hear others enjoy reading about our lives (which frankly aren’t very interesting these days).

      The hand sanitizers we got YaYu were both by the checkout at Safeway. We got her one bottle, and one set of wipes, as well as cannisters of wipes – we’ll pack some of those in a ziplock bag for her to use on the plane.

      Grapes are something we’ll only buy if we can find organic; same for apples. I read someone that those were the two fruits where you should always strive for organic, if possible. We just found a nearby meat market that we haven’t checked out yet; they also sell eggs but for not we can get 24-packs of organic eggs at Costco for around $7.50, so we’ll probably stick with that.


  3. Below is a link and the information from TSA for hand sanitizer in carry-on bags. We just got back from Mexico and took a 12 ounce container of hand sanitizer in our carry-on with no problems at all.

    Hand Sanitizers
    Carry On Bags: Yes (Special Instructions)
    Checked Bags: Yes

    TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice. Passengers can expect that these containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids permitted through a checkpoint will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint screening experience.

    Please keep in mind that all other liquids, gels and aerosols brought to a checkpoint continue to be allowed at the limit of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters carried in a one quart-size bag.


    1. Thank you for this information! We will send the bottle with YaYu as well as wipes, and hopefully that will keep her covered through her flights and in the airports and ride out to the college.


  4. I have read and enjoyed your blog for many years. Since before you moved to Hawaii the first time. I find your writing and observations very positive. You seem to see the beauty in most things-and take wonderful pictures showcasing that beauty. I have never commented before and probably won’t again. Just wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed your blog through the years. Michelle


    1. Oh Michelle, thank you so much for your lovely message. Although I’m not always such a positive nice person, I try. I find more and more that I’m channeling my grandmother who lived the saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” She could always find the positive in anything.

      I have fun taking pictures, but we’re not out that much these days like we were in the past, so it’s getting more and more difficult to take pictures. But I try!


  5. Great news for YaYu! I’m sure she is nervous, and I really hope she and her friends are able to have a good experience this year. It does sound like the school and all of you are doing all the right things.

    It’s blueberry season here, so I am hoping to make jam. DH loves blueberry jam in his morning yogurt and we go through a ton of it. We normally buy the wild blueberry jars and they’re pretty pricey, so it should save me a fair amount of money over the next few months anyway. I have the jars, the Sure Jell and the sugar, so I might as well use them.

    We buy some organics – milk because I think it tastes better and definitely lasts longer in the fridge. During the winter I buy organic fruit from Costco. And I buy organic oatmeal and sometimes chicken. It just depends on what I find and the prices. Some of it seems astronomical and I’m not sure it’s worth the upcharge. We live near farms and Amish chicken, etc., so those are my choice mostly. I have found that most chicken breasts have gotten really rubbery and not very flavorful except the Amish chicken.

    We just started watching Ozark. Yowzer…it’s dark. But pretty engrossing, which I need right now.


    1. I envy you your fresh blueberries. We can get them at Costco but the price is outrageous so we stick to the bags of frozen. We used to go berry picking every year when we lived in Oregon and made jam (freezer variety). I’m looking forward to trying guava jam here though. Fingers are crossed that we get to them before the birds do. Also envy you having good chicken nearby, but we’re lucky and can get locally raised beef here.

      I overheard YaYu telling her friend all about what the college is doing, especially initially. They get tested upon arrival and then are quarantined to their room until the test comes back! That was news to me as well. Masks must be worn at all times outside of dorm rooms, you dine in your room, etc. As I’ve said, it reminds me of a cloistered nunnery!

      I agree with you about organic milk lasting longer. We get a half-gallon at Safeway and it lasts longer than non-organic.

      Hang on to your hat with Ozark – it’s a wild ride!


  6. Good news for YaYu! Glad that is working out for her and hope she has a safe and productive year at college.

    We have been enjoying corn, melons, and peaches among other things from a local farm. They taste so much better than what we find in the stores! We do organic when possible and also buy local meat directly from the supplier, which is again, much better than what is in the stores.

    We have just started on getting a refund from an international trip we had scheduled for next month….. between Americans not being welcome in some places and some major changes to our tickets, we decided it was time to cancel. Hopefully we can reschedule when it is safe to do so.

    Hope you have a great week!


    1. We got asked the other day if we were scared of sending YaYu back to college and we said no: a) the college has a great plan in place; b) she is very responsive and absolutely terrified of catching the virus so know she will careful and take all precautions. The flights to college and back are what she’s especially nervous about, but there are so few people on those flights that we think she’ll be OK.

      I hope your refund experience goes better than ours with Aeromexico did. Delta was great as was Alaska though so good experiences happen. We still plan on traveling in the future but sometimes wonder if the U.S. will ever get a handle on it, or if so, how long it will take. We can still dream though as it’s still the same great price as before: free!


    1. The sunset views are our favorite thing about our apartment – we eagerly wait to see if we’ll get a “good one” or not.

      We are proud of YaYu! We’ve enjoyed having her here this summer, but she is ready to go back (and we can’t blame her).

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