Sunday Morning 8/28/2022: Everything In Place

The apartment complex is beautifully landscaped; there are colorful flowers and plants everywhere.

All the little stuff is done, there is no more cardboard waiting to be recycled, and my Amazon shopping cart is finally empty. The only thing we’re still waiting on is the second half of the credenza. We received word last Monday that a replacement box was on its way, but all the tracking number showed was that FedEx hasn’t picked it up from the factory, the same thing that happened the first time. I contacted the company, and suddenly the tracking changed to show it was going to be delivered yesterday. It never showed up so we have no idea what’s going on nor does the furniture company. FedEx has been nothing but a pain since we moved here, so I’m not entirely sure why I’m surprised but this time it’s especially disappointing, and once again we’ll be going back and forth with the furniture company to get things made right. Otherwise, we’re enjoying our apartment although it can be a bit gloomy at times, especially if the skies are overcast – the woods behind us are pretty to look at but block much of the light that would otherwise be streaming in. We’ll get more light in the winter when the leaves are off the trees. Also, vultures – vultures – seem to love the top of our building for some reason. They creep me out!

Vultures on the top of our building drying their wings after a storm. They’re HUGE (and ugly) and creepy.

What a week for Kaipo! It began with him having accidents all over the apartment, but occasionally he would hit one of the many training pads we had placed throughout the apartment. By mid-week he was using one of them consistently and on Thursday we were down to needing just one pad out and Kai was letting us know when he needed to go outside. He’s had a couple of accidents since then, but he’s almost there with his house training. He has been a delight overall though, affectionate and well behaved with everyone, although he gets almost over-excited whenever K comes over. He eats well on a schedule, and easily goes into his crate at the end of the day and sleeps through the night (but gets up super early, like a baby – thank goodness Brett is an early riser). All his toys get pulled out every morning (the long stuffed dog seems to be a particular favorite) and he seems mostly happy to chew on them versus anything else around the apartment. He’s honestly everything we hoped for and we’re enjoying him so much.

Teaching Blue Dog who’s the alpha.

We’re planning to take a two to three day trip to Western North Carolina in early September, when M has some comp days coming up. We’re going to visit Biltmore House in Asheville, drive some of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and also spend some time in Blowing Rock, the area Brett’s family comes from. We’ll visit the Shiloh National Military Park, located about two hours away to the southwest, later in the month. We’d also like to visit to Mammoth Caves National Park, but that will have to wait until early October. A visit to Carnton is on Brett’s and my list for September as well. We’re saving Nashville places for when the family is here in December.

Thank you to all who have been entering the giveaway for your lovely comments! All are appreciated and enjoyed. The coffee giveaway is open until this coming Friday at midnight, and you are welcome to enter every day until then to increase your chances of winning.

This morning I am thinking about:

The job of putting up these two Command rails in our bedroom to create this picture rail took a while. We’re so pleased with how it turned out though that we’re going to make another one for the rest of our pictures.
  • What we accomplished: 1) The apartment is finally set up, everything but the credenza. Most of our pictures/art have been hung although a few of the pictures we moved still need new mats. Once that’s done we plan to put up another Command picture rail – we love how the one Brett put up this past week turned out. He had to do a LOT of measuring to get it straight and centered but it looks great. 2) We finally got the items we bought for YaYu in Mexico sent off, and also (finally) sent a package of family documents to my brother in Australia (mail to Oz was blocked when we left Hawaii). 3) I located a physician (internist) and have my first appointment with her this coming week to get checked out and get my prescriptions renewed. Brett is still looking for his doctor. 4) We did our first bit of local discovery/tourism, visiting the nearby Carter House, and can’t wait to get out to see more of what’s in our area. 5) We reached some big puppy goals this past week.
  • What we’re looking forward to next week: Other than my doctor’s appointment we have nothing on our calendar this coming week. K’s riding the bus home from school was not working out, so we now drive over to the school in the afternoon to pick her up. It’s a easy, scenic trip, and the school has the actual pick-up incredibly well organized.
  • How we saved: 1) We’ve turned off the A/C for the most part and are using the ceiling fans instead; there’s only been a few times where we’ve had to turn the A/C back on, and then only for a short while. We’ve also been running the dishwasher every other night. Our utility bills for August came in and although they were only for a half month they were much lower than we expected and we’d like to keep things that way. 2) We have a full pantry, fridge, and freezer and still have half of our monthly grocery funds left. 3) We put $13.16 into the change/$1 bill jar. Our savings focus has segued to putting away as much as possible for what will happen after Nashville.
This is one of the Camille Izumi Page prints I bought. Her paintings always remind me of our girls, their swimming, and how much they ended up loving Hawaii.
  • Good things that happened: 1) This past week I discovered my favorite artist in Hawaii now offers affordable and signed 8″ x 10″ prints of some of her paintings so I splurged and bought two favorites to hang in the dining room (we otherwise have nothing from all our time in Hawaii other than a small piece of coral and a small piece of driftwood that we picked up on the beach). 2) The girls and Meiling’s and WenYu’s partners bought their tickets this past week to come for a week at Christmas. They also reserved an Airbnb rental nearby. We’re all so excited that the whole family will be together this year. 3) Meiling also set up our annual family Secret Santa exchange – this year the adults will be surprising each other by filling a Christmas stocking for a randomly chosen recipient. We’ve been doing a Secret Santa exchange for years, but with us all together this year we thought we should up our game. 4) The upcoming loan forgiveness and the extended payment freeze are both good things for me, and honestly a bit of relief. The forgiveness won’t erase my balance and I will continue to make payments for a few more years, but after 22 years of paying I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. 5) We have K with us for the weekend while M is working at a project in Knoxville. We’ve been having a grand time swimming, eating blueberry pancakes, reading together, and of course playing with the puppy! K forgot to pack her swimsuit so we took her to Target on Saturday morning and one of the two remaining girls’ swimsuits left in the store was her size and 50% off – we were lucky!
It doesn’t look like much, but these two dbags from ALDI cost us half of what I expected and are filled with LOTS of good things to eat.

I am absolutely blown away by how much lower food prices are here than they were in Hawaii – I come out of every store feeling like I’ve won a prize. Last Friday I went into Publix to pick up some cilantro and some of the Kashi cereal I enjoy. Along with those two things I also picked up a box of sugar cookies from the bakery along with two containers of Tillamook ice cream (they had Peaches & Cream!!!) and two Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cakes for for our desserts this month (I made ice cream sandwiches for K with the cookies and vanilla ice cream). As I walked up to the checkout, I looked into the cart and asked myself if I really wanted to spend a fortune on this stuff and almost put it back . . . but it rang up for way, way less than I had expected because I was still in Hawaii-price mode even though I knew prices were dollars less than what they would have been there. I had the same experience at ALDI and Trader Joe’s – the amount paid at each store ended up way, way less than what I was afraid it would be (and I bought a LOT of food as well as an orchid and and two bunches of flowers at TJ’s). We still have a few things to pick up at Costco later in the month but we still have over 50% of our monthly food budget left. I can’t remember the last time that happened, or if it ever even has. The selection and choices available to us here are also still somewhat unbelievable to me – I feel like the proverbial kid in the candy store whenever I walk into a grocery store (although I do miss being able to buy CookDo).

I almost can’t believe how quickly this last week passed by, but Kai and K have kept us busy. We so happy about how much developmental progress Kai’s made in just a few days and hoping for more this week. Here’s to all having another week filled with good food, good books, and lots of good things happening.

26 thoughts on “Sunday Morning 8/28/2022: Everything In Place

  1. So fun! I am Covid negative now but went back to work too soon and I am in bed. I know some folks it does not affect but it has been awful for me even though fully vaccinated with boosters. I am so glad you are able to visit with your grandchild daily, after such a long time of not being able to see her. Covid stinks!

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    1. Oh Cindy, I hope you feel better sooner rather than later. So far COVID hasn’t caught up with me or Brett but we know we’ve been lucky. We worry that K may bring it home from school, but so far she’s been OK. We are having the best time with her – she’s so lively and smart, but affectionate and seems thrilled to spend time with us. We couldn’t ask for more!

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  2. We love those Aldi brioche buns I see peeking out of your shopping bag. Not everything from Aldi’s is great, but we both agree the buns are a keeper!

    I am glad you may benefit from the modest loan forgiveness provision, but admit I’ve often wondered if you ever used your advanced degree? I don’t think I’ve ever read here what you did with it, but only if you feel comfortable sharing, of course.

    And I am impressed you two are keeping the A/C off. You know our area here in coastal OC, and admit I’m a wimp about heat, so we leave ours set at 75 in the summer. Currently we’re cool with windows open and ceiling fans running for much of the day, but the A/C does get utilized from about 11am to 5pm currently. I expect our electric bill to be about $150 as a result, $75 or so higher than normal, but still well within the $1,000 I allocate each year since moving here.

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    1. We’re in the “trying ALDI things out” phase. We bought the buns on our first visit and knew they were something we’d keep buying. Have a few new products to try this week and we’ll see if we like them. We tried some new products at Trader Joe’s that were just “meh” but so happy to be able to finally get other favorites again.

      My degree is M.A. TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). It was a requirement to teach ESL. I taught adult beginning ESL in Portland for many years in the community college system, and also taught academic ESL part time. I earned my degrees (B.A. & M.A.) at a public university, and graduated with $76K in loans. I have been paying for the past 22 years and still owe $40K. There were years when the amount going to principal each month was less than $40 (these days it’s closer to 50/50 interest and principal) so the forgiveness will make a difference.

      A/C is on today – it’s HOT outside and the fans just weren’t cutting it. We turn it off in the evening though no matter what. Our electric bill for the two and a half weeks we were billed was just $45. We’ve budgeted $2400 for the year for utilities (electric, water, and Internet), but will give it a few months and see if we need to or can adjust.

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      1. Having an education does not necessarily mean you have to “use” it to make money. It does enrich a person’s life. I always encouraged my students to go to college just to make life better. Once they realized they could, they usually went on to finish. To me it is like “well, what did you do with that hs degree?” Of course, most of us do plan to get a job that requires a degree when we get a degree.

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      2. I agree, Linda. I told all my children that while a college education would help them find employment, the purpose of college should be to learn how to live rather than how to earn a living. All four of my kids got a Liberal Arts education; all are employed, earn a good living, and love what they do and live enriching lives.

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  3. Ahh, that puppy is darling. So cute! I can understand how your granddaughter can get him riled up, though. We’ve had that same experience. 🙂

    Those brioche buns get great reviews…I’ll have to try them. I had a really delicious cinnamon bread at a workshop that came from Aldi, too. I need to go there and check it out. On the opposite side of the bell curve budget wise, we finally got a Whole Foods this week after at least a year of construction and hoop la. I walked through it slowly and loved every minute. I’m not going to do all our grocery shopping there ($$) but they have some things I can’t find anywhere else. And I just love their marketing and displays.

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    1. ALDI has been a very pleasant surprise so far. We have both a Whole Foods and Spouts markets nearby but so far we’re been to neither. Our DIL shopped at Whole Foods today and said that would be the first and last time because of the expense. She loved the store otherwise though. We’re trying to avoid it, but there are products that we’ve not been able to find elsewhere that we will hopefully be able to find at WF.

      Kai is going through developmental changes like water. He is a delight but we’re almost having trouble keeping up with him – he’s figured out he’s king of the hill here now. His fur is growing like crazy in this warm weather too – he already needs a trip to the groomer!

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    1. Hi Joy! We are settling in nicely here, but miss Hawaii terribly, especially seeing the ocean. I don’t miss the Hawaii prices though. I went to Costco today, bought products I regularly bought there, and the cost was almost 50% less. Saw many products too that we’d see or buy once at the Lihue Costco, and then they’d never appear again.

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  4. I love baked goods from Aldi. I love the bogo deals from Publix. I have to go there to get milk I can drink–a2milk. That is the brand. When I went to Mammoth Cave, I loved it. The cave jokes were a little creepy, just like those vultures!

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    1. The bakery section at Aldi is a wonder. I have to keep myself from buying too much there. Loved Publix too.

      We’re really looking forward to visiting Mammoth Caves. Someone else told us to be sure to bring jackets because it gets really cold down in the caves, like in the 50-60 degree range. This month though is all about the Great Smokies and North Carolina.

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  5. Read up on vultures. Learning about the good things they do might help you feel better about them. They’re nature’s refuse workers 😉 and they do look beautiful soaring through the sky.

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    1. I do appreciate the vulture’s place in the ecosystem, but it doesn’t make it any less creepy when they’re sitting on your roof! They’re much larger than I imagined too.

      This place is full of fascinating wildlife – yesterday there was a walking stick insect in our breezeway! I’d never seen one in the wild and could have watched it for a long time – it was also much bigger than expected.

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  6. Another store to try if you have it there is Lidl. They have a lot of European items and the prices are very reasonable. It’s great you’re getting out and doing so much exploring in your new area.

    Kai is so cute!

    I miss Hawaii too, and I’ve never even lived there! Before COVID, I would visit every year or so, but the last time I was there was Dec 2019. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful I was able to go as many times as I did, but I don’t envision myself going back anytime soon. The friend I used to travel there with is getting ready to retire and no longer wants to travel (to save monehy), so I’ll have to decide if I want to go alone. I follow a couple of pages on Facebook that post scenes from Hawaii every day, so that will have to do for now.

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    1. There are no Lidl in Nashville – the closest are in Georgia. We shopped at one in France – similar prices to ALDI but some different products as well. They are making inroads in the U.S. though so who knows if one will show up here – there seems to be every other store under the sun.

      I miss Hawaii terribly for many reasons, but continue to be shocked (and pleased) by how much less it costs to live here. I shopped at Costco the other day and spent 1/3 less than I would have in Hawaii. A two-pack of Dave’s Bread was $11.99 there (nearly $8/loaf out in town) but a 2-pack here is just $8.99. Things like that make me realize we were fighting a losing battle on Kauai. I follow a few Kauai Instagram sites, but Mazatlan will eventually give us our beach/ocean fix.

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      1. Oh, I know the prices are insane in Hawaii. I remember the last time I was on Kauai I stopped at a Safeway and a loaf of bread was $7, and it wasn’t fancy bread by any means. At the ACME here (as you probably know, ACME and Safeway are both part of Albertsons) the same bread is around $3. I have two Lidls in my general area and numerous ALDIs. I bet Lidl will make an appearance in Nashville soon because the one right near me only opened a year ago. I only have one item I buy at Whole Foods because that’s the only store around here that carries that item, but everything else there is too expensive.

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      2. I bought a twin pack of Dave’s 21-grain bread at Costco earlier this week. It was $8.99 here – the same package in the Kaua’i Costco was $12.99, a bargain compared to Safeway or Big Save or Times where it was over $7 for one loaf. The items I bought at Costco were approximately $150 less than we would have paid on Kaua’i. Kaua’i was affordable for five of us when we moved there in 2014, but it took intense effort and practically the same amount each month to feed the two of us before we left this year. Everyone I know there is suffering from the prices.

        Brett and I are heading down to an orchard tomorrow to check out the produce. It may be another way to save here.

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  7. Funny with the groceries, each time I go shopping lately, I’m surprised at how much prices have gone up! Sprouts is good for an occasional trip for the bulk bins. They have a big selection of items and you can get only as much as you need. They have nuts, dried beans, various types of rice, pasta, grains, different flours, protein powders, dried fruits, and of course candy. Look for the nuts to go on sale and stock up. That’s what I do.
    On the CookDo, look for an international market in your area. We have them here in Atlanta, so I’m guessing you do too.

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    1. When you have nothing but Hawaii prices to compare to, the prices here are low, low, low! Spent 1/3 less in Costco the other day over what we would have spent on the same items in Hawaii.

      Thanks for the information on Sprouts – we will be heading over there later this month to get some bulk items. We are currently sort of boycotting Whole Foods (and their prices) although I know we’ll eventually have to stop in for something.

      There is a Japanese market in Nashville – DIL and I are plotting a visit as she wants to find some stuff as well.

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