Good morning – it’s the last Sunday in 2020! Aloha kakahiaka!
The annus horribilis that has been 2020 will end this week. I don’t think I’ve ever been through a year that has been as miserable, and taken as long to get through as this one. Although it has contained 366 days like every other leap year, the days have seemingly dragged on, which is saying something as time usually seems to go by too quickly for me. The year has taken us on a wild ride, to say the least, full of ups and downs, twists and turns, but I’m feeling hopeful for better things happening next year, although I think it’s going to take a while for many of those to manifest themselves. Most of all I am hoping for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, or at least getting it under control where “normal” life can resume, and the endless deaths can end. I don’t believe we’re ever going to return to how things were in 2019 – that world is gone – but I’m feeling more positive about a new normal that will hopefully be the result of what we’ve been through.
We had a lovely, quiet Christmas celebration at Chez Aloha. The weather was stormy and cold outside, but we all slept in, enjoyed hot cocoa and coffee when we got up and watched YaYu open her “stocking” – actually a Foodland reusable shopping bag filled with treats from Hawaii that she can both enjoy here or take back to school with her. Then it was time for brunch: smoked salmon, fresh berries, and warm scones that YaYu made for us (half plain, half with chocolate chips) along with some Monkeypod lilikoi curd and orange-chocolate sauce. Brett made each of us a POG mimosa as well. Gift opening came next and was fun because everyone got things from their list this year. Brett got four much-needed t-shirts (he had been down to three), including a gorgeous one that WenYu designed and printed for him. I got items for our 2022 walk (water bottle, trekking poles, and merino wool socks) along with some custom handmade stickers from WenYu celebrating our Big Adventure. I think YaYu was the most surprised though – Meiling gave her a pair of Apple AirPods, her dream gift, something she had put them on her list as a joke. She also got cash and gift cards from the rest of us as she needs new clothes and shoes, but will shop for those when she gets back to school. After the gift opening we had a Zoom gathering of the clan that lasted for a couple of hours. Even though it was virtual, I absolutely loved having all my kids together for a little while.
YaYu learned this past week that Bryn Mawr now won’t be reopening until mid-February, which made me exceedingly glad I hadn’t bought her return ticket yet. No one is sure what that means for how the rest of the year there will go, but the school is determined to keep everyone safe. Brett will be traveling over to Oahu for a medical appointment next month (a day trip), and I’m hoping to be able to use the two flight credits I now have from Hawaiian and Southwest to get him there and back. I’m not sure right now if they have to be used for YaYu or whether I can use them on any ticket – that’s one of next week’s projects. We also have to figure out whether he’ll have to quarantine or not following that trip.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I’m a little over a quarter of the way through The Woman in White. It’s a dense, detailed book, and wading through the mid-19th century language takes a bit more work than usual. Still, the story moves along, and it continues to be interesting, both the story and the way the book is put together.
- Listening to: We’re enjoying a quiet morning here after two days of rain, wind, cold, etc. – yesterday was pretty wild, in fact. Today there’s thankfully a nice breeze outside blowing through the trees, and I can see big patches of blue sky. Brett is putting away last night’s dishes and fixing coffee in the kitchen, and YaYu is quietly doing something on her phone so it’s quiet inside as well – a very nice morning!
- Watching: We finished watching Schitt’s Creek last night and are already feeling sad that it’s over. I’m not sure there’s anything that can top it – we’ve loved every episode. Brett and I also finished the very weird and creepy Black Spot last night, and we plan to start watching Bridgerton tonight and probably a second show if we can make up our minds.
- Cooking/baking: There are currently no beans in the house, so tonight we’re having coconut chicken curry with mango over jasmine rice. We’ll be going food shopping on Thursday, but before that we’ll be cleaning out the freezer and pantry as much as possible and cooking with what we have on hand. Dinners this week will include homemade chicken soup with rice and vegetables; spaghetti carbonara (for New Year’s); farmers’ market pasta (we froze half of what I made earlier this month); hamburgers; Guadalajara quesadillas; mini pizzas; and probably breakfast for dinner one night. We will finish up the Bacardi rum cake on Tuesday (we had mango pie the past three days – it was amazing), and I plan to make a lemon cake next, but I got some Kauai Kookies as a gift (cornflake crunch, my favorite), so I want to purchase some Kozy Shack rice and tapioca puddings this week and have those along with a cookie for our dessert for a couple of days in between cakes. I like Kozy Shack’s products because they use real ingredients and no preservatives.
Our Christmas Eve walk was tiring but beautiful . . .
While Christmas Day and the day after were stormy and miserable.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I managed to walk every day this past week except for yesterday when it was stormy and wet all day. We got rained out on Christmas Day too after just one lap, although after our Christmas Eve walk one lap was almost fine with me. On the 24th, Brett suggested we walk the golf course route backwards, which sounded nice but turned out to be something we should have saved for later this year. The backwards route turned out to be uphill the entire way, and by the time we walked around to the club house, about 2/3 of the way through of our walk, we were both exhausted. It was only a very gradual climb, but after nearly 40 minutes it it was very tiring. To make up for the lack of walking on Christmas Day I did 25 minutes of Zumba dancing with YaYu, and again yesterday. Oh, to be 20 again! Thursday was rough but I got through the whole routine yesterday. At least I now know what I can do on the days we can’t get out and walk.
- Looking forward to next week: Next Friday we will finally be done with 2020 – YEAH! We’re going to celebrate quietly with a cocktail and a special dinner on New Year’s Eve (YaYu’s yummy spaghetti carbonara) and spend a quiet day on Friday. Brett and I have ambitious goals for the coming year though, and I am looking forward to getting started on them on Friday – I’m making up a new set of activity cards this week with everything I want/need to do each day. 2021 is not going to start of easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I honestly believe we (the U.S.) are finally going to turn a corner this coming year and start healing.
- Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Getting to talk with all our children on Christmas Day via Zoom was pretty wonderful for Brett and I, the next best thing to being together. 2) I had pretty much forgotten most of what I put on my Christmas list this year, so every gift was a delightful surprise in some way. 3) I loved seeing Brett’s and YaYu’s reactions as they opened their gifts – it was a lovely, thought-filled morning, and our other children were very happy with their gifts as well. 4) Thanks to the J. Jill gift card I received from Meiling, I ordered a pair of patterned performance leggings to put away for our walking trip in 2021 (they have pockets!). I almost didn’t get them as they were sold out the day after Christmas, but I had put a pair in my shopping cart on Christmas so had a pair reserved for me and they are coming! 5) I have lost enough weight and toned up enough this past year that I finally feel comfortable wearing patterned leggings, a big step for me.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We did not spend any money on wrapping paper this year, and instead got creative and used what we had on hand which didn’t diminish any of the joy we received from our gifts. 2) We put $3 into the change/$1 bill jar this past week, leftover from our trip to the farmers’ market. 3) Other than picking up a few things at the farmers’ market, it was otherwise a no-spend week for us. We’re going to try this year is to have at least one no-spend week per month (other than the farmers’ market), and we’re also hoping to put more into the change/$1 bill jar this year by spending a little bit less when we go shopping. 4) There were lots of leftovers generated this past week, but we have kept up with them and didn’t have to throw away anything. 5) I cut back my time on Swagbucks this past week, but still managed to make my daily goal and earned 1,201 to start off my earnings for 2021. 6) We cancelled two TV streaming subscriptions (Britbox and Showtime) – a savings of $18/month. It’s not a lot but it all adds up.
- Grateful for: As we end 2020 we’re feeling especially thankful for our simple life on Kaua’i. The island has been a safe haven for us this year, and in spite of all the expense of getting settled again, we know the ropes for living frugally here and are looking forward to a good year in 2021.
- Bonus question: What’s one good thing that happened for you in 2021? Even though 2020 has been horrible in so many ways, the year hasn’t been all bad, and the best thing that happened for us was coming back to Kaua’i and finding our apartment. Our short visit in January before heading over to Japan cemented that we did want to eventually return to the island, but we had no idea at the time that it would happen so soon! Our new location (south side versus east side) has been a major improvement for us, as is having a wonderful landlord and neighbors. If not for our three daughters requesting last year that we eventually return here, and our January visit, we honestly wonder where we might have ended up going last March, and if our life there would have gone as well as it has here or how we would be feeling about being there now.
Brett and I have designated 2021 a Year of Saving. This last year was a crazy one spending-wise as we set up housekeeping again, but we’re settled now and want to focus on putting our extra dollars to work for us for future dreams. We’ve upped the amount going to our travel savings account, and have taken time this past week to look for ways we can cut back and save even more. Food costs will remain high while YaYu is with us, but we should see those go down once she heads back to school (whenever that is). We have given ourselves a goal of saving $8000 for travel this year, and plan to give ourselves every edge we can so we can reach that goal. One of our first steps will be cancelling our Amazon Prime membership once again in January. Our membership more than covered all the shipping fees we would have incurred otherwise in 2020, but our goal now is to order nothing via Amazon this coming year (other than cases of toilet paper) and do without Prime Video. Not sure how that will go, but the few shipping fees we will incur will be far less than what we would pay for Prime each year. We’re still going through everything to determine other ways we can save this year.
It’s finally time to turn and look forward to 2021, and all the potential it may bring. I’m glad to have survived this past year, but it’s sobering when I think how many did not, and how many continue to suffer from the effects of the pandemic and the economic troubles it caused. Here’s to better days for all in the coming year!