Good morning on the first Sunday of the new year! Aloha kakahiaka! Hau’oli makahiki hou! And, in Japanese, 新年)あけましておめでとうございます(akemashite omedetou gozaimasu – “happiness to you at the dawn of the new year”).
January is always an expensive month for us, with two of the girls’ birthdays happening just a week apart in January (and not long after Christmas), and the third birthday falling in early February. We’ve ordered Meiling’s gift and it’s on it’s way to her – we almost can’t believe she turns 25 this year – but YaYu will be celebrating her 21st birthday here with us, and we’re already making plans to create a special day for her. WenYu has the February birthday, and her presents have been ordered and are on their way. They will be coming here and then we’ll mail them off to her toward the end of this month. We used to make a big hoopla over each of their birthdays, with parties, balloons, and fancy bakery cakes, but toned that all way down when we got serious about paying down our debt. After the last birthday is done in February though we’re pretty much done with gifts until Christmas. We send money to our grandchildren for their birthdays, but Brett and I don’t exchange gifts for our birthdays, Father’s or Mother’s Day, or for our anniversary. We might go out to eat for our anniversary this year (at the end of March), but we’ll decide about that later when we can assess whether or not that will be feasible.
Along with taking care of birthday gifts we’ve also been making sure we are well stocked with supplies for the year, things that can often be expensive and hard to find here. We have a Subscribe ‘n’ Save order with Amazon for toilet paper, but have purchased bulk orders of liquid hand soap and dish soap refills, razor blades, shaving cream (Brett), hair creme (me), and other things that will get us through the year, and beyond in some cases. All of this is a big expense now, but will help us save throughout the year.
We also purchased some more Monkeypod jam, sauces, and sauerkraut this past Monday – nice for us, but very sad overall. The store closed down for good on Tuesday, and Monday they sold off their remaining stock of jams, sauces, and pickled goods as well as store fixtures and other items. I chose two more jars of lilikoi curd, one orange-chocolate sauce, one cranberry-orange sauce, and a jar of sauerkraut made with locally grown cabbage. I also bought a glass pie plate (mine were in the lost moving box), two bamboo sushi rollers, and a sturdy cotton chef’s apron (another lost box item) out of their rummage items for just $4. Savings for us, but the experience was one we wished did not have to happen, not just for the loss of a great product, but because the owner had been such an integral part of the community. She won many awards, including several “best of,” and awards from several national organizations as well. With the economic downturn on the island though she just couldn’t keep the business going.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I am still reading The Woman in White, but have not made a lot of progress this week, and will go back this coming week (I will just check it out again though). I had difficulty finding time to read – there was so much going on around here, and finding a slice of quiet time for myself was nearly impossible. At night I was exhausted and fell right asleep. Hopefully I can better organize my time this week and make reading more of a priority, especially since Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line just came off of hold and I’ve got it started. It will be my “day book” and I will continue with The Woman in White at night.
- Listening to: A fairly strong breeze is blowing again this morning, and making lots of noise as it moves through the trees, but nothing like the winds we’ve had the past few days. Birds are signing and there’s a rooster out there making his presence known. It’s not as cool/cold as it’s been either, and the sky is blue so it should be a lovely day, and great for walking later in the afternoon. In other words, another perfect morning! Everyone is up here at Chez Aloha – Brett is puttering in the kitchen, putting away last night’s dishes and making coffee, and YaYu has headed out to the deck out back.
- Watching: Brett and I finished with Bridgerton (on Netflix) on New Year’s Eve – it was wonderful! Some of it was filmed in Bath when we visited in 2019 – we saw streets that were covered with dirt to look like they did in the Regency Era and a couple of other location setups around the town, but had no idea at the time what was being filmed because the name of the show was kept a secret. YaYu took one look at the show opening the other day and said, “Oh, a period piece” and left the room! Her loss, we tell her because we think she would have loved the story. We’ve started watching a creepy German show called Dark, and also Cobra Kai. I loved the original Karate Kid movies, so this one is fun – love all the links and nods to the original movies. We also watched the new Pixar movie, Soul, this past week and enjoyed that as well. The effects were amazing and it was a wonderful story as well. YaYu and I finished Britain’s Best Home Cooks and our favorite won, so that was satisfying. She and I are now watching Top Chef Louisville – she loves the cooking shows!
- Cooking: We are starting off this year with almost a week where rice will be included in the meal in some way. Tonight we’re having tomato paella along with grilled Italian sausages. Other dishes this week will be katsudon (a first-time attempt for me to make my favorite Japanese dish); dirty rice; carnitas & rice burritos; carnitas bowls; and California roll salad (if I can find good avocados at the farmers’ market; otherwise we’ll have mabo dofu). There will be only one evening without rice when we have pepperoni mini pizzas. I’m doing carnitas in the InstantPot this week because oranges, a key ingredient, are ripening now on the tree in our yard. We will be enjoying lemon cake with a lemon-coconut buttercream for our daily dessert this week – I finally got around to baking it on Saturday and it is yummy.
- Happy I accomplished this past week: This past week seemed busy, busy, busy every day, but we accomplished a lot. We put away all the Christmas stuff so we had a clean house to start the New Year, and got Meiling’s and WenYu’s boxes of Christmas ornaments sent off to them. I also belatedly got the giveaway winner’s prize sent off (sorry, M’Shell!). We took care of lots of recycling, made lists and submitted our final Amazon orders (I will close our Prime account as soon as all our orders arrive). We walked every day except for last Sunday when it unexpectedly rained the entire day and I instead did some Zumba with YaYu (which was completely exhausting – I was grateful to get back to walking). I got started on my strength training – also tiring. We did a Big Shop at Costco and Walmart on Wednesday and are well provisioned for the coming three weeks. And, I made my first set of activity cards for the new year’s – my days are full!
- Looking forward to next week: A more relaxing week, I hope! I’m getting my hair cut on Tuesday but other than that we have nothing on the calendar to demand our time this coming week. Maybe the weather will be nice enough that we can get to the beach – we had hoped to go on New Years Day, but it was too windy and cold.
- Thinking of good things that happened: We enjoyed much nicer weather, including a few days that were genuinely hot, although most of the week was breezy and cool (but no rain). New Year’s Day was especially windy but made for very nice walking weather. Our daily walks up at the park have been very pleasant – strong breezes makes the walking easier. I finally broke down and ordered a wedge pillow to see if that would help with my ongoing stomach issues; it arrived this past week and made a big difference right away, so that was money well spent. WenYu decided this past week that she wanted to learn how to crochet, and in a few days she figured it out well enough to make this cute sweater and a matching tank top to go under it! Just amazing. My mom was a master crocheter and I’d like to think she is smiling down on WenYu and her efforts. Our son and DIL bought a house! Being that it’s located in Tokyo I don’t even want to think what they paid for it, but they bought an older home and will be doing some remodeling and renovations before they move in later this spring. It’s located near to where they live now so they will still be able to take advantage of the park and all it offers.
- Thinking of frugal things we did: Once again, not a very frugal week because of all the stocking up we did. Our food shopping expenses were higher than usual as well, but we have three weeks to get through (because other than our weekly trip to the farmers’ market, we only shop on our “paydays,” three times a month – we’ve found if we stay out of stores in-between we spend less). Our food expenses are just higher right now as well with YaYu here. We put $11.45 into the change/$ bill jar this past week though. I’m going to track this little bit of savings all year to see how just how much we save. We received our stimulus payment on January 1, and it has been tucked away. I gave myself another slow week with Swagbucks (good thing because it was difficult to earn any this past week) and earned 963 SB, but I earned my bonus for December, and am starting off the year with a 2,000+ SB balance. I’ll crank my efforts back up next week as I have a big goal for the year (100,000 SB). Finally, we did a superb job of using up our Christmas leftovers this past week, with meals of avocado toast with smoked salmon and onions; steak & stuffing hash topped with a poached egg for breakfast; chicken, vegetable & rice soup (which cleaned out our vegetable drawer); “kitchen sink” pancakes that used up the last of some yogurt, the remaining fresh berries, and the POG; and tacos de las sobras, made from leftover steak, leftover sautéed Swiss chard, leftover shredded cheese, tomatoes, and salsa. Nothing was thrown out last week!
- Grateful for: Brett calculated our walking distance for the year (he tracks it every day) and we walked 1,030.5 miles in 2020! We’re so thankful that we now live where we can not only walk almost every day, but in such a beautiful location as well. Our walking this year has been truly life-changing for both us, for our health and weight, and we’re looking forward to doing more of it, and increasing our time and distance as this year progresses.
- Bonus question: What is your favorite New Year’s Eve memory? Brett and I are not party people, and tend to stay home and have a quiet evening on New Year’s Eve. We always stay up until midnight though to welcome in the new year, and have rung in the new year together 43 years now (would be 44 except that Brett was gone on January 1, 1991 for Operation Desert Storm). When our children were little we would all stay up and bang on pots and pans at midnight – lots of fun when you’re a kid! The best memories of New Year’s Eve were when we lived in Japan in the early 1980s, in Yokohama – at midnight on January 1 all the ships in the harbor would blow their whistles for an hour, and the sound would float up to where we lived. It was magical. Also, New Years is the biggest holiday in Japan, and the country pretty much shuts down for about five days. We loved being able to drive around with the usually crowded roads nearly empty, or have the few stores that were open (like Tokyo Hands) practically to ourselves. New Year’s Eve in Hawaii is a pretty big occasion, and there were LOTS of fireworks being bought at Costco and Walmart last week. Thursday night was a very noisy here but everything quieted down right after midnight.
Although the island economy is suffering, we continue to enjoy the lack of crowds on the island right now, and it seems that most residents we speak with are enjoying it as well. The holiday period, usually a crazy crush of people here, was very subdued and enjoyable this year. We especially like shopping at the farmers’ market these days – no long lines, impatient people, etc. Prices are still good as well, but we’re sure it’s hard on the farmers as they usually sell out before the end of the market (we go early so have no idea if that is still happening with just local shoppers). For now things will stay locked down (10-day quarantine for all residents and visitors) until at least the first of February, if not longer.
I forgot to post a picture of these poinsettias during the holiday season, but snapped one the other day as we were driving by. In my opinion, it is/was the best Christmas decoration on the island!
Here’s to the new year and new beginnings, with lots of good books, good food, good friends, and good things happening for all.
22 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 1/3/2021: A New Year Begins (finally)!”
Such an interesting read. All the best for 2021.
Thank you! Happy New Year to you and yours as well – may good things happen in 2021!
Laura, The Woman In White should be a free download as it is no longer copyrighted. My book club read it and we were all able to download it for free.
Also free, and terrific, are download ebooks by Edith Wharton. She writes about old New York society and her books are fantastic IMO.
I did get The Woman in White downloaded for free – thank you! Thanks for the tip about Edith Wharton as well – this year’s theme is mystery & detection, but historical fiction might make a good theme for next year.
Happy New year to you and Brett! When I was doing the Just Keep Walking Project for 5 years, we walked every day. There is a blogger in England that has a group for walkers to log 1,000 miles for each year. Most years, I was over but it’s nice to have it recorded. her blog is or used to be MeanQueen, I think she calls it something else now. You should check it out.
I know about the walking club on Life Without Money, and am still considering whether to join or not. I occasionally read her blog, but can’t comment because she uses the Blogger platform. I can use email though to join, but am going to think more about it this month before I decide one way or another.
Yikes – Christmas and three birthdays within about six weeks of each other is tres cher!
Congrats to your son and DIL for buying a house in Tokyo. That is a huge accomplishment. Another reason for you to look forward to your next trip to Japan.
All of the creative uses of leftovers look delicious. 100K in SB? Impressive goal.
Thank you for the beautiful photos and the calming, everyday sharing of your life. I’m finding it is so easy for me to move into heightened anxiety with the political machinations and the rapid spread of the virus so I truly appreciate the calmness and faithful routine of your blog.
I have always dreaded January because two birthdays come so close right after Christmas. Meiling’s birthday is the same date we received our referral for her, so it’s especially special for us.
We haven’t seen any pictures of the house yet. I knew they were looking, but was sort of surprised that they ended up with an older place, and smaller than the house where they currently live, although our son said they will all fit nicely, and they do have more yard space (they asked if they could buy their current house but the owner doesn’t want to sell). The new place will be lovely after the renovations and remodels – can’t wait to see pictures!
Writing the blog is usually relaxing for me, although with all I have going this year I’m not so sure. Something may have to give. I enjoy taking photos though, and writing about our week – it’s calming for me as well.
My stomach is in knots over the current political goings on. Scary times for our country.
Some time ago, possibly years ago, you went into how you accumulated your swagbucks. I’ve just started doing swagbucks. Anyway you could do a recap of your “tricks” of accumulating them?
I will have a post up tomorrow about how I earn SB. I was thinking about writing one, and your comment was just the push I needed.
That bank of poinsettias! I’ve never seen them “in the wild.” They’re so beautiful.
Happy New Year to you and yours! I love your goal setting and determination. The holidays have been distracting to me with tiny guests, lots of chaos (fun but noisy), and now helping my mom settle into single life again after her husband needed to go to a skilled nursing center. So I will have silence and set my own goals mid-week, good lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, as they say. 🙂 Meanwhile, my mom hasn’t seen The Crown, so I started it over with her. It’s always fun to pick up things I missed on first viewing of anything. I’m looking forward to Bridgerton when I get home. Everyone seems to love it.
Quick pickup on the crocheting by WenYu! Seeing how people are expanding their horizons and talents during Covid is one (maybe the only) upside. And how exciting that your family in Japan bought a home!
I had never seen poinsettias in the wild either, and in fact it took me several looks to figure out that they were indeed poinsettias. They are starting to fade now, but still pretty and now I know to watch out for them next year.
WenYu’s crocheting has amazed me – she picked it up so fast. She’s already on to the next project – can’t wait to see what she does next. She’s the only one of the girls that took up knitting, but she hasn’t done that in a while – she said she already prefers to crochet.
I would love to watch the whole Crown series again, but it’s not Brett’s favorite thing so who knows. You will love Bridgerton, I think – very romantic (and sexy).
Here’s to calmer days! I think if we make it through this week we’ll be OK.
Hey, I read a “day book” and a “night book” too! Link is making katsudon this week. Great job on the crochet! And I have never seen poinsettias outside a flower pot, either!
I usually try and stick to one book at a time, but when the library sends me two at the same time, there has to be one for the day and one for the night. It’s the only way I can get through both before they have to go back.
Can’t wait to see what WenYu creates next – she wouldn’t give me hint when I asked.
My grandmother grew poinsettias in her yard – she would plant the ones that came from pots and were almost dead after Christmas. They were pretty, but nothing as spectacular as the ones down the road.
That’s sad news about Monkeypod Jam. Maybe they’ll be able to reopen once COVID is over and tourists return.
I’ve been watching The Crown, but took a break from it to watch a series a friend told me about that is very good: The Queen’s Gambit. Who knew a show about chess could be interesting?? I need to get back to Cobra Kai also. I heard Bridgerton is good so I’ll have to fit that in somewhere. How cool that you saw it being filmed, but didn’t know it at the time!
WenYu’s crochet project looks like it was very difficult to make, especially for a beginner! Congrats to your son on his house purchase.
Time to get back to my Netflix shows!
I am so sad about Monkeypod Jam closing. They were selling off EVERYTHING last week though, including all their canning equipment, so it doesn’t look like the owner has any thought of reopening. They will be missed.
Loved, loved, loved The Queen’s Gambit – the whole show was perfection. Cobra Kai is surprisingly entertaining – wasn’t sure I was going to like it but I do. Bridgerton is fun, romantic, and sexy – we loved all of it.
The sweater WenYu made blew me away – she figured it out by watching YouTube videos! I can crochet, but that sweater is way past my abilities. She also crocheted a matching tank top to go under the sweater. Can’t wait to see her next project!
Oh, if they were selling everything off then it doesn’t seem like they’ll ever reopen. That’s very sad news.
The Queen’s Gambit is the best series I’ve seen on Netflix and possibly anywhere else. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t seem there will be a second season. It’s based on a book and the series ends where the book does, but even so, it was a good ending, although I would love to see another season to find out what Beth did next and what happened with Jolene’s plans. I’m on season 2 of Cobra Kai and that’s been a lot of fun. I didn’t like it at the beginning and almost didn’t stick with it, but I’m glad I have. Thank goodness we have all these viewing options these days to pass the time during the pandemic.
Yup – everything was being sold off last week. I am going to miss their products so much – everything was top quality and tasted so good. Althea’s jam creations were amazing.
I’m with you that The Queen’s Gambit was the best series I’ve ever seen – perfection from start to finish. She had her demons, but she never let them define her. We’re enjoying Cobra Kai – wasn’t sure what to expect but it’s great. I love that they brought back so many of the actors from the original movie, and show clips with Pat Morita.
Gorgeous sweater & gorgeous girl! Thanks for your faithfulness and keeping it simple in writing your blog.
That sweater is gorgeous, isn’t it. (The girl is pretty gorgeous as well, although we had nothing to do with that part of things).
Thank you for your kind words – the writing will continue! I’m trying to rope Brett into writing more this year to help me out.
I feel your struggle in finishing The Woman in White — it’s a surprisingly long book. Do you finish every book you start reading? I used to, but a few years ago I decided life was too short to keep plugging away on books that turn out to be disappointing.
Congrats to your son and his wife! Buying a house in Tokyo is a big accomplishment. I have a stereotype of Tokyo as a city of apartments, so I haven’t thought about what a house in Tokyo might be like.
I’m sad about Monkeypod. I almost want to hoard my last precious jar of their lilikoi curd, even though I know it should be enjoyed sooner rather than later.
I was very surprised (and a bit discouraged) when I opened The Woman in White and my Kindle said the average reading time was over 15 hours. Yikes! I soldier on though – it’s a good read, if rather wordy.
Houses in Tokyo are placed very close together – every inch of space is maximized. Their house only has a tiny bit of yard space surrounding it, and parking on the side for two cars. Apartments are more common in Tokyo but there are neighborhoods filled with single family homes. I have seen some amazing architecture in Tokyo, with lovely and innovative homes built on lots that are barely wide enough for a car.
So, so sad about Monkeypod – they will be missed and I’m grateful we have a few jars of their products to cover us over the next few months. BTW, lilikoi curd is available on Amazon: passionfruit curd from England! I was looking for lemon curd and saw it. We bought it when we were in there in 2019, but so happy to know there’s a way to get it now if my need for it becomes too great.
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