#Kaua’i: Street Burger

The Napa Burger: Point Reyes blue cheese, cabernet onions, port reduction and spinach, served on a freshly baked roll along with hand-cut sea salt fries and homemade ketchup.

The idea of a gourmet burger has always sort of struck me as an oxymoron. By nature, a hamburger is a humble sandwich, just a ground beef patty set inside a soft roll, often served with a few condiments or maybe a slice of cheese. It doesn’t exactly fit with the idea of “gourmet.”

Street Burger however, located in Wailua on the east side of Kaua’i, takes the humble hamburger to a level that is definitely gourmet. The restaurant has become one of our favorite places to eat on the island, and our go-to restaurant when we want to enjoy a meal with friends.

Brett’s half of the bacon-barbecue burger we shared (plus all the fries).

The burgers at Street Burger are HUGE. Half of one is plenty for me these days, and Brett and I usually share (although he gets all the fries). Each burger is a virtual tower of hamburger goodness. There are 17 different burger versions to choose from, from a classic hamburger, cheeseburger or bacon-barbecue burger (my favorite!) to a Greek burger with olive tapenade, feta cheese, tzatziki, cucumber and spinach. Other creative burger examples include the Wailua, (crispy spam, jalapeño-pineapple marmelade, kabayaki glaze and spinach) or the Southern burger (fried green tomato, pimento cheese, greens and buttermilk-chive dressing) or the Italian (prosciutto, bufala mozzarella, arugula pesto, marinara and spinach). A vegan burger is available for those who don’t eat meat, and is just as glorious as their other offerings. Each burger is cooked to order on a big wood-fired grill, served with hand-cut sea salt fries and house-made ketchup, and is a masterpiece from start to finish. Street Burger also offers exciting and interesting salads and sides, including to-die-for onion rings, or one of Brett’s favorites, Texas Poutine: Texas-style chili over fries, with sharp cheddar cheese, a fried egg and fizzled onions.

Beginning with the burger, everything is as local as can be achieved here. The hamburger patties are made from Kauai-raised grass-fed beef, and the produce comes from local farmers. The rolls are made on site. The ice cream is made on Kaua’i (Lapperts) and the coffee served at the restaurant comes from Java Kai in Kapaa. Even the ketchup is made from scratch.

Sitting at the counter and watching these guys work the grill is a great place to enjoy your meal at Street Burger.

For all the amazing deliciousness of their creations, Street Burger is an affordable dining choice. The burgers range in price from $10 to $17, and for that you get a LOT of food. Even when Brett and I share an order, there are still usually leftovers to bring home.

The restaurant also offers a large selection of craft-brewed beers, and has an interesting wine list. Dining is available inside the restaurant or out on the patio, where guests can enjoy a stunning view of the Sleeping Giant. Another fun seating option is at the counter that surrounds the grill. We did that on one trip and had a fun time throughout our meal watching the burgers being made and chatting with the cooks. It’s also worth it to save some room (if you can) for one of Street Burger’s desserts. They are divine, and well worth the extra calories!

One of the most popular desserts is the Street Burger S’more: Chocolate mousse, peanut butter crunch, and toasted Swiss meringue

Street Burger is located at 4-369 Kuhio Hwy, in Wailua, just north of the old Coco Palms hotel on the mauka (mountain) side of the highway. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

 

This Week’s Menu: Let the Favorites Begin!

Turkey divan casserole is Meiling’s favorite recipe, or at least in the top three. I add noodles to the casserole when I make it.

Beginning this week, and for the next month or so the menu will revolve around the girls’ favorite meals. There will be no new recipes, no experimenting, etc. – just dishes that they enjoy and either can’t make or can’t get wherever they are.

Coming up with a menu of favorites though was more difficult than I thought it would be. The biggest problem is that I don’t want to fix certain things upfront for Meiling when WenYu will be arriving home the week after and have to repeat them. It was a bit of a juggling act trying to think of what to make early and what to save for later.

We’re picking up a pizza at Costco on Wednesday – that’s the day of the Big Shop and along with the farmers’ market trip I know it’s going to be an exhausting day and I’m not going to feel much like cooking that evening. We’ll let Meiling choose which kind of pizza she wants, and then Brett will fix it out on the grill. Brett is going to make Scotch Eggs on Sunday – Meiling hasn’t had them yet, but we’re pretty sure she’s going to love them.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Oyakodon; cucumber salad (I’m skipping the rice)
  • Wednesday: Pizza; sliced apples
  • Thursday: Turkey divan casserole; roasted mixed vegetables; French bread (I’m having sliced turkey and steamed broccoli instead of casserole)
  • Friday: Meatloaf; mashed potatoes and gravy; steamed green beans (no mashed potatoes for me)
  • Saturday: Mabo nasu; steamed rice (no rice for me)
  • Sunday: Scotch eggs; onion rings; fruit (I’m not having onion rings)
  • Monday: Spaghetti with marinara and meatballs; grilled zucchini; garlic bread (no bread for me, and I’ll have my marinara and meatballs over the zucchini instead of pasta)

Cucumbers, bok choy and green beans are the only “must buys” at the farmers’ market, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to find broccoli (if not, we’ll have to make a run to the store). I also want to get a papaya, some limes and we’ll let Meiling pick out some fruit she wants (like starfruit).

Will It Stay or Will It Go?

The jubako will be stored; the chest they sit on will be sold

A big topic of current conversation between Brett and I these days is over which of our things we are going to store while we travel next year, and which ones we will sell or otherwise get rid of. We mostly agree, but there are few items we’re still haggling over (with Brett usually saying “let it go”). We plan to start the downsizing process fairly soon after Christmas, with our tree the first thing we’ll put up for sale. We’ll start gradually, but end with a big moving sale right before we leave.

Will it go? is the easy part because the answer is: almost everything. We have to no plans to store any furniture other than our big hibachi table, so our dining table and chairs, all bedroom furniture, our remaining antique Japanese tansu, living room furniture, etc. will all go up for sale. Everything except the tansu is replaceable, but after some discussion we decided to let them go as well – they will fetch a good price, and our goal is to eventually live even more streamlined than we do now.

We’ll be storing the KitchenAid mixer, the slow cooker, our set of All-Clad pots and pans, most of the pottery collection, one cake stand (a gift from the girls), less than five Japanese cooking utensils, and a few of our coffee cups; otherwise, everything in the kitchen will be sold as well. We’re going to let Meiling go through the things we’re not keeping (i.e. bakeware) while she’s home and will send what she wants back with her.

We’re keeping all or most of our blue and white Japanese porcelain although there are a couple of pieces I don’t have any strong feelings about and can let go. All of our artwork will be stored as well. Our collection was curated before we moved over here and we don’t want to part with the pieces we kept. A couple of the pictures will go back with the girls this year, but that’s all. We’re keeping both of our wool rugs.

Things like our collection of Christmas ornaments, lovingly collected over the past 40 years, and the few other sentimental items we brought with us will also go into storage. We debated dividing up the Christmas ornaments among the kids this year, but then realized the girls don’t want to have to worry about storing Christmas ornaments while they’re in school, and the cost of shipping our son’s bunch over to Japan would be prohibitive. We still plan to get together for Christmas every year no matter where we are, so Brett and I will remain the ornament keepers for the time being.

We’ll also store our new TV, mainly because it will be less than a year old, and we see no sense in replacing it so soon. However, our washer and dryer set and our freezer will be sold.

The car will be sold too, hopefully around a month before we depart on our Big Adventure. I’m amazed at what people get for used cars here on the island, even ones with high mileage, so we’re hoping our little Honda Civic will bring a decent price with its fairly low mileage. It’s a terrific island car, in pretty good shape, and gets good mileage (34-36 MPG) so we’ve got our fingers crossed that it sells quickly. Both Brett and I are looking forward to not owning a car for a while.

The items we are keeping will be stored here on the island – whether we’ll do that independently or work with a local moving company is something we’re still investigating. Doing it independently will most likely cost less, but the moving company would offer packaging and protection for the items being stored (especially the art work).

Can I admit to being a little bit excited again about downsizing even more? Brett and I grow less and less  sentimental over our things as more time goes on, and feel like we have a lot of stuff we just don’t need anymore, especially because of our upcoming travels and because we won’t have any children living with us full time. But, we also recognize we’re not ready to part with everything just yet. I’ll think we’ll be keeping enough to make wherever we eventually settle, whether that’s back here on Kaua’i or somewhere else, feel familiar and like home, but not enough to tie us down. That’s just where we want to end up.

 

Sunday Afternoon 12/10/2017

Clouds, cold and drizzle showed up 45 minutes after we arrived on Friday afternoon. Oh well – it was nice while it lasted.

The first of our little birds is coming home for the holiday – Meiling arrives tomorrow! Although we talk almost daily via video messaging, it’s been a full year since we’ve seen her because she has been working three jobs back in Oregon to help pay her college expenses and she stayed and worked through last summer. We’re eager to have her here and give her a chance to relax and recharge her batteries. Our first order of business will be to get her to Duane’s Ono CharBurger for lunch on Tuesday – she says she dreams about their burgers all year while she’s away.

Brett and I had planned to go down to the south shore for lunch this past Thursday, but our social calendar suddenly filled up so we decided to skip that outing. Friends from Seattle, Alan and Cheryl, are visiting and we had lunch with them on Saturday at Street Burger, in Wailua. Alan and Cheryl own a house here, just up the road from us, and one of these days plan to move over here. And, this coming week friends from Portland will be on the island for a three-day visit, and we’re planning to get together and go out for breakfast at the Kountry Kitchen on Thursday.

Amazon Prime has been a lifeline for us here since we arrived, and has provided superb service, but in the past few weeks things seems to have gone wrong with them. An order that was shipped and supposed to have arrived last Monday never showed up, and when I checked with them they had no idea where it was, and the shipping service didn’t either. I was asked to wait until this past Friday to see if it arrived, but it didn’t, and no one knows what happened to the order (Amazon used some third-rate delivery service I’d never heard of before that is apparently rife with problems). On top of that, three other orders that were made toward the end of November didn’t ship until last Friday (December 8) and are scheduled to somehow arrive tomorrow. I’m not really sure how that’s going to happen. Amazon has no answer other than to say “sorry” but they did re-ship the lost item and sent it via USPS instead of the sketchy shipper.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Leavers on Friday (a very moving book which deals with the issues of abandonment and transracial adoption, among other things), and I’m now reading Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee. It’s one of this year’s National Book Award Finalists, and I’m enjoying it so far. I still have one library book to finish after this, so I’ve put myself on a reading schedule – I have to read at least 17% of the book each day. So far though I’ve been able to do better than that because I don’t want to put the book down.
  • Listening to: The washer and dryer have been going since I got up this morning – I sorted all the laundry before I went to bed last night and we got an early start on that. Otherwise it’s very quiet. Brett has been reading, YaYu still isn’t awake yet and there isn’t a whole lot of noise outside either.
  • Watching: Brett has been watching Peaky Blinders every evening, but I just sort of been checking in once in a while – it hasn’t really grabbed me. I’ve been watching old or preciously seen movies at night for the past few days while I work on Swagbucks – Moonrise Kingdom, Forrest Gump, and Inglorious Basterds are some of the ones I’ve seen. On Friday evening I began (binge) watching the second season of The Crown. I’m loving it of course.

    Pecan pie bars, one of the most dangerous foods around (for me anyway).

  • Cooking/baking: I’m making pecan pie bars this afternoon for Meiling – they’re her favorite cookie. It’s going to take a superhuman effort on my part to stay out of them because I love them too, and if I take one bite I don’t think I can stop myself from eating more. We’re having breakfast for dinner tonight: scrambled eggs, sausage, toast for Brett and YaYu, and fruit.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got Meiling’s and WenYu’s round-trip tickets from Honolulu over to Kaua’i booked this week, and can’t believe I almost forgot to take care of this! I bought the last two Christmas gifts on my list, so I’m all finished now. Brett and I searched and searched and finally booked a vacation rental for our last month here before we begin the Big Adventure. It seems early to do it now, but we were very surprised (and often disappointed) by how many places were already booked for the dates we want. Brett and I walked three miles on the beach path every day except yesterday, I drank at least eight glasses of water a day and studied French for at least 10 minutes every evening. One of the things I’m waiting on from Amazon is a French textbook, but have no idea when that will arrive or even if it will arrive now, but I’m to a point where I need something beyond what I’m getting online.
  • Looking forward to next week: Besides Meiling coming home? What can top that? I’m looking forward to going to the CharBurger with her, cooking for her, and just being able to sit and chat with her in person. We’re doing our Big Shop this week, and she’s going to help with that, and says she wants to help/watch me in the kitchen. She’s also going to help me get the ornaments on the tree.  I’m also excited about meeting up with our Portland friends for breakfast this week – besides catching up, they were in Portugal a couple of months ago and we’re eager to hear about their experiences there since it’s one of the places we’re visiting on the Big Adventure.

    Freshly picked cauliflower at the farmers’ market.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Even though we didn’t get very much time there, getting down to the beach for even a little while on Friday was wonderful. We had a great catch-up with friends Alan and Cheryl (and a delicious lunch) on Saturday – I love getting together with them and wish they were able to get over here more often (or were living in their house here). One of our favorite farmers had big, crispy heads of cauliflower for sale this past week. It’s a difficult crop to grow here, but she’s been taking advantage of the cooler weather and her cauliflower was beautiful (and affordable). Finally, I received word that my mom’s estate will finally be settled week after next.
  • Grateful for: I got a huge surprise when I received notice for the upcoming settlement of my Mom’s estate which will be finalized next week. Mom was frugal (sometimes uncomfortably frugal – see below) and saved her whole life. She was able to travel all over the world, and pay for her own care for nearly 14 years, from independent living through assisted living and finally memory care. I was expecting to receive very little, if anything, from her estate because I knew most of her savings had been used up, but Mom surprised us – an unknown life insurance policy surfaced that Mom had paid for in full years ago and that had been sitting around accruing interest. The bequest is not a huge amount, but we’re putting some of what I will receive away for YaYu’s college expenses; each girl will get a small amount (our son doesn’t want anything – he said his grandmother was already very generous to him earlier, which we didn’t know about); and some will go to our niece as a thank you for managing Mom’s financial affairs the last few years of her life. The rest will go into our travel savings. Mom loved to travel, and I think it would make her happy that some of her bequest will be going toward our upcoming Big Adventure. Thank you, Mom!
  • Bonus question: What was the worst Christmas or holiday gift you ever received? My parents did not like Christmas. Both of them were very frugal, and Christmas for them meant having to spend money they could have otherwise saved. We always had a small, sad tree (almost, but not quite Charlie Brown Christmas-sad), and presents were typically minimal and always “useful” things. How my siblings and I kept up hope all those years I’ll never know, but we did and kept wondering if each year was the one where all our Christmas dreams would come true. Anyway, when I was eight years old, my Christmas present was two books from the Time-Life series my parents subscribed to. My mom had put the October and November issues aside when they arrived and then wrapped and put them under the tree for me for my presents that year. I normally loved reading the books but was crushed because I knew they were actually meant for the whole family to use versus just for me, and that afternoon they went on the family bookshelf. It was the most miserable Christmas I can remember, but it has made me be more careful and thoughtful about my own gift choices for others, even when being frugal, so I guess some good came from it after all.

That’s a wrap for this week! How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

Five Frugal Things 12/8/2017

  1. I had a very lucrative month with Swagbucks in November, and earned 1,094 bonus SBs! I also purchased a $25 Zappos gift card this week for 2200 SB versus the regular price of 2,500 (the offer is available just once a month). The Zappos card will go toward another pair of travel shoes for Brett.
  2. I didn’t really think about it earlier, but other than our trips to the farmers’ market, the two weeks before this last one were no-spend. I did buy a couple of things from Amazon, but used some of my Swagbucks-earned gift card balance to pay for those, so there was nothing out-of-pocket.
  3. I purchased round trip tickets from Honolulu to Kaua’i for both Meiling’s and WenYu’s upcoming trips home. I found a lower-than-usual price for Meiling’s tickets, so paid cash for them, but because WenYu is coming home closer to Christmas prices were higher, so I used Hawaiian miles from my stash for her tickets. Both girls are flying Hawaiian over from the mainland this year, and the mileage they earn will replenish most of the miles I used.
  4. I am almost done putting together my travel wardrobe for next year, and have been looking for a long-ish skirt to take along, to wear when visiting cathedrals or participating in other activities where I might need to dress up a bit. This past week I found the three-season knit skirt pictured above on the J. Jill sale page: The regular price was $89, but it was on sale for $34.99 with an additional 30% off. The final price, including shipping, was $30.45.
  5. We put $9.32 into the change/$1 bill jar: $8.32 left over from the gas bill, and $1 left from the farmers’ market.

What frugal wins did you have this week?

#Kaua’i: Getting Local With Costco

One of the things we love, love, love about Costco shopping here, on top of their prices, is the abundance of local products available. We have visited and shopped at Costco in many different places on the mainland but I don’t remember ever seeing so many things specifically geared to a certain location like they are here. Below are just a few of the many local products available year-round at our Costco:

(Warning: Lots of photos coming up!)

This is just one of many, many locally produced (Honolulu) baked goods and snacks. Brett loves Oahu-made pumpkin graham crackers, and you can also get lots of other kinds of cookies, and things like Kona coffee-macadamia brittle and other macadamia nut treats, wonton chips and much more, all made right here in Hawaii.

There are several Japanese and other Asian products that you would only find in an Asian market back on the mainland (and not in such big packages). Furikake is a seaweed based condiment that is eaten with rice.

Large utility-sized boxes of Asian sweets are also available. WenYu and Meiling LOVE Choco Pie (they’re sort of like a small Moon Pie) – they’ll both be taking boxes back to school with them. We enjoy being able to buy big boxes of traditional Japanese sweets like imagawayaki and dorayaki at Christmastime.

Good, good stuff!

Hawaiian “Winners” – the red color scares me, but these hot dogs are very popular here. Same for Portuguese sausages – you can buy large packages of those at Costco as well.

We like laulau (pork and butterfish steamed in ti leaves), but thought this brand was awful. It’s a very popular item though at Costco.

These barbecue pork buns are huge (and soft and fluffy when steamed). WenYu adores these.

Giant bags of dried skipjack tuna – a local favorite and very tasty. It’s often eaten with poi.

Big boxes of fresh poke, Hawaiian-style ahi sashimi (raw fish), come in several flavors. They sell out very quickly. YUM again!

The BEST granola I’ve ever eaten, made right here on Kaua’i. Our Costco also carries large bags of Kauai Coffee (grown and roasted on the island) and variety packs of Kauai Kookies, from Hanapepe on the west side.

POG – Passionfruit, Orange, and Guava juice – is a true local favorite. Mixed with champagne or prosecco it makes a tasty mimosa.

The following items may or may not have been made in Hawai’i, but they’re most definitely local, and maybe not something you’ll find at Costco in other locations, at least not in the amounts available here or not year-round:

You know there’s always going to be enough Spam available to feed an army.

Aloha shirts at Costco are just $19.99 for a very nice quality piece of clothing. Brett added two to his collection when we came over in 2012 to check things out.

Tommy Bahama chairs are THE beach chairs to have here – our Costco has them as well as beach towels, umbrellas and sun screen in stock all year.

Yes, you can even get your surfboard at Costco, all year long (this nice guy was buying this one for a friend).

 

This Week’s Menu: The Calm Before the (Cooking) Storm

Italian sausage, pepper and onion sandwich – YUM!

This is the last week for a while of just Brett, YaYu and me at the dinner table. Meiling arrives home next Monday, and WenYu will be here a week or so after that. Both girls have made lists of the dishes they want me to prepare while they’re home, favorites that they miss while away at school. Both are hearty eaters too, so we are not likely to have many leftovers in the coming days for YaYu’s lunches. And of course, holiday meals will be coming up as well. I will be busy in the kitchen, but on the plus side am likely to get a lot of help from the girls, especially Meiling, who has finally taken up learning to cook.

I can’t wait! I am greatly looking forward to having both our college girls back home for a while, and to cook for them again. But in the meantime, I am going to enjoy the calm of this week and cooking for just the three of us.

The cilantro and lime chicken things we were going to have last week got bumped to this week – YaYu had an evening event last Friday so Brett and I ate leftovers, and I pushed everything back a day on the menu to cover for that.

Here’s what we’re having this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Cilantro and lime chicken thighs; grilled asparagus; cilantro rice (no rice for me)
  • Wednesday: Chicken curry with vegetables; steamed basmati rice (just curry for me)
  • Thursday: Potstickers; steamed rice; coleslaw (not sure what I’m having)
  • Friday: Grilled pork chops; roasted mixed vegetables; couscous (I’m skipping the couscous)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Scrambled eggs; grilled breakfast sausage; fruit; toast (I’m skipping the toast)
  • Monday: Grilled Italian sausage sandwiches with sautéed peppers and onions (no bread for me)

All we really need this week from the farmers’ market are cucumbers and papayas. If the farmers have broccoli we’ll get some of that too, and maybe some cauliflower.

A Glass Half Full Kind of Girl

We’re living in scary and discouraging times. Last Friday Hawai’i began monthly tests of a nuclear warning siren, designed to let residents know of an impending nuclear attack, apparently to give us time to say good-bye to our loved ones. Other things, like ending net neutrality or the tax bill to name a couple, are things that could have profound effects on all Americans (well, unless you’re included in the 1%) in the very near and not-so-distant future. Arguments are actually being made for why it’s OK to support a child molester for elected office. Truth and facts have been turned on their heads.

I’ve had my share of hurt, heartbreak, illness, misery, loss, betrayal and violence during my life, and have several times wanted to crawl in a hole and feel sorry for myself for a good long time. I’ve felt really, really, really angry. I’ve gone through a spell where I wanted to leave this world. But deep down I’m an optimist, and overall I’ve always focused on the positive, on looking forward, accepting that the past is past and that thinking “woe is me” never really gets anything accomplished in the end.

One of my strongest role models growing up was my grandmother. She lived in the same town we did, and I often spent weekends with her at her house, reading with her, watching TV, and asking her to tell me stories about her early life. She had had a tough childhood, but although she’d tell me about things she did, she didn’t dwell on her past, and always stressed the power of positive thought. She was someone who lived the saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything.” She always could find something positive to say about any situation, and her kindness, optimism and positive nature stayed with me. To her, I was a “diamond in the rough,” destined for great things. She taught me to think that even if life seemed unbearable, or a situation impossible, it didn’t have to stay that way, that everything changes eventually, and we all have the ability to adjust, adapt, learn and grow.

For the most part I’ve found it just isn’t worth the effort it takes to be negative, or at least not for long. I’m not a Pollyanna though. I still feel frustrated or scared at times, and I still get (very) angry about things. As tough as I think I am, I can still be easily hurt, and it can take me a long time to get over those hurts. But, I stick up for myself, my family and what I believe, and I’m assertive when I need to be. I’ve found I get a whole lot more done and the world turns more smoothly when I see my glass in life as half full instead of half empty. I honestly believe the main reason Brett and I have made it as far as we have is that we’ve both stayed positive and continued to look forward, hard as that’s been at times.

Written on a 4″ x 6″ card that now sits in the drawer of my nightstand is a set of thoughts I’ve collected over the years, ones that, whether I knew it or not, channeled my grandmother, and guided me through both good and bad times. They’ve help me re-focus when I’m feeling out-of-sorts. I think they’re worth sharing:

  1. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. How I face those changes and what I make of them is up to me.
  2. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful. Including relationships, sad to say, or ways of thinking that aren’t productive.
  3. Frame every disaster with these words: “In five years will this matter?” Or one year? Or a month? Or a week?
  4. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need. In my case, I’ve probably always had more than I needed but didn’t want to accept it. I have been incredibly blessed.
  5. Your children only get one childhood. My job is to love them. All the time and unconditionally. And for all of my life.
  6. Not “Why me?” but “Why not me?” Why am I so special that bad things should only happen to someone else?
  7. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift. I am grateful for every day of the life I’ve had.
  8. Growing old beats the alternative.
  9. The most important thing is that you loved. Yes, yes and yes again.
  10. The best is yet to come. This is why I continue to hope.

Sunday Afternoon 12/3/2017

Our Christmas mugs were out for use on December 1 – we’ve had them for 25 years.

I am finally out of my splint and don’t have to buddy tape my fingers any more – yeah! It’s taken a few days to adjust, my hand is still a bit sore, and I still have some problem typing with my left hand, but overall it’s feeling pretty good. I very carefully watch where my feet are going these days – I do not want a repeat!

We’ve made it through another cool, windy and sometimes rainy week here on the Garden Island. The weather at the beginning of the week was downright crazy, but Brett and I and some of the other hardcore walkers still managed to get out on the beach path almost every day. There is a middle-aged man who walks every day with his mother, who must be in her late 80s to early 90s, and uses a walker. Plus, the man distance swims in the ocean every day before he goes and picks up his mom for her walk. They’re both very inspirational. We used to just wave to each other as we passed, but now stop and chat from time to time and check up on how the other pair is doing, and we’ve established the same relationship with some other walkers who are usually out the same time we are.

I have been reflecting for the past few days on what to do with the blog next year. I’ve been posting five days a week this year for the most part (with some help from Brett), and I would like to step back from that and maybe go back to posting three days a week as we gear up for big changes next year. But what to give up? What to blog about? I’ve enjoyed having a schedule of sorts, but there are downsides to that as well. Anyway, lots to think about over the next few weeks.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’ve almost finished The Namesake, and am eager to start on The Leavers. It’s another immigrant story, but with a (sad) twist. And of course two other books I had on hold, Pachinko (National Book Award finalist) and This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm, also came off hold right afterwards. Fingers are crossed I can get all three of the new downloads finished before they have to go back.
  • Listening to: It’s quite breezy outside (although not as bad as it’s been), but otherwise it’s quiet, both inside and out. There are LOTS of birds out (and one annoying rooster), chattering and chirping away. Brett is reading, and YaYu is sleeping in, but once she gets up she’ll be making noise in the kitchen, and we’ll start the laundry.
  • Watching: Brett and I finished all of Longmire, and then accidentally discovered that a new season of Broadchurch was available and binge-watched that. Can I just say how much I love this show? It’s the British detective/police procedural at its very best, and Season 3 was as good or better than the first two. We’re still working our way through Auntie Duohe, but I think it’s coming to an end soon. I watched the HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce for a few nights last week (it was excellent) while I worked on Swagbucks, and last night I watched the movie The Prestige, but haven’t found anything new I want to watch otherwise. Yesterday evening Brett and I watched a very interesting documentary called Obit, about the obituary section of the New York Times.
  • Cooking/baking: There’s still plenty of cookie dough in the freezer, but yesterday I baked a POG bundt cake. Word from my tasters is that it’s delicious. Dinner tonight is one of our favorites: Chinese stir-fried tomatoes with eggs, rice for Brett and YaYu, and cucumber for all of us.

    It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas, even in Hawai’i . . . .

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: It feels like just a whole lot of nothing got accomplished! Actually, it was a very relaxing week and I’m caught up with everything around the house, and actually enjoyed being able to do a few chores again now that my hand has been released from its trappings. Brett and I walked the beach path every day except Friday when it rained; I drank eight glasses of water every day; and studied French for at least 10 minutes every day. I wish there was a French class offered around here because I’m to a point where I need more than just interacting with an Internet site, but alas, I’m on the wrong island for that. Brett got our Christmas tree up yesterday, but the ornaments won’t get hung until next week, after Meiling is home (she’ll probably hang about 5-10, then claim she is bored and I’ll finish up the rest, just like every other year).
  • Looking forward to next week: Once again, we’ve got nothing specific on our calendar, but Brett and I are thinking we might head down to the south shore or the west side one day to check things out, and maybe go out to lunch or at least for coffee.  We keep hoping to get to the beach one day, but so far the weather still hasn’t been cooperating.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: My new Skechers walking shoes arrived and they are wonderful. The shoes I was wearing were so uncomfortable, but I feel like I’m walking on clouds now. I had a very good month for Swagbucks in November, and got a very big bonus! I can only hope December will be as good for earnings – I’m saving again for another Southwest Airlines gift card. I weighed all of my cold weather clothes that I’m taking on the Big Adventure, and they were less than a quarter of the total weight limit we have assigned ourselves, which was a relief as they’re the heaviest of what I plan to take. My hot weather clothing weighs a whole lot less and all my shoes are very lightweight.
  • Grateful for: I am very thankful these days that I didn’t get rid of my size small pants, and brought them along when we moved over here. After losing 30 pounds, having those pants has saved me from having to find and buy new ones (my size M pants were baggy enough for a clown). I can get into almost all of the pants I have now, but will have to lose a bit more to fit into a couple of them. What I can wear now provides plenty of variety though.

    Kuhn Rikon paring knives are sharp, have a protective cover, come in lots of fun colors  and are affordably priced.

  • Bonus question: Did you make a wish list for the holidays? This year was the first time in a long, long while that I made a wish list. Brett and I usually don’t exchange gifts, and otherwise I’m happy and thrilled with whatever I receive because it’s a gift, right? But, this year the girls asked me to give them some ideas, and Brett and I are going to exchange gifts this year. Meiling set up a family ‘Secret Santa’ exchange again (we’re randomly assigned a name, can’t reveal who the gift is from, and gifts can cost no more than $30). Brett wanted a list from me as well. So, I gave Brett a catalog from J. Jill with a few items circled, but also put a Zappos gift card, an Amazon gift card, a pair of silver hoop earrings, a warm scarf or two, some Lush lip balm, and a couple of Kuhn Rikon paring knives (to carry when we travel) on my list.

That’s all from Chez Aloha for this week! How did your week go? What are you reading? Did you accomplish a lot? What good things happened for you?