Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (10/17 – 10/23)

Some of our Big Shop last week: there’s a case of oat milk under the cart, and more produce up in the seat. We’ll do a much smaller shop in another week to get us through until next month.

Is it costing us more to eat vegetarian or vegan? That’s a question we asked ourselves last week as the amount we spend on groceries really hasn’t gone done much since we stopped buying and eating meat.

The picture above is $252.27 worth of food from last week’s Big Shop at Costco. Everything in the cart is edible except for a Harry’s razor and blades set that we bought for Brett’s travel stash (it was on sale this month). We also purchased one item for the girls’ Christmas presents, but otherwise everything is for us and should last a while. The box of spanakopita in the lower right corner contains enough for eight meals; the box of organic falafel patties has enough for five meals. There are six meals in the box of frozen lasagna seen on the left side, and eight in a box of vegetable egg rolls we bought. A box of organic tofu buried somewhere in there contains four packs that will provide protein for four meals for less than $10. The big box of petite cream puffs will give us 12 desserts. The produce we bought – mixed colored peppers, green peppers, tomatoes; cucumbers, avocados, apples, bananas, and bag of frozen blueberries – will last for at nearly couple of weeks and will be used in several dishes. There’s a pack of mini naan breads for our weekly pizzas, and two loaves of Dave’s 21-grain bread for sandwiches. We picked up snacks and treats as well for the next few weeks: trail mix, whole-grain fig bars, and a once a year splurge of Cretor’s Chicago Mix popcorn (cheddar cheese and caramel corn – so good!). $250 got us a lot of good, healthy food that’s going to last us for a while. We spent an additional $50 at Walmart, which included items like tissues, antacid, bubble wrap, and other non-food items.

We had planned to buy a piece of fish so we could have grilled fish tacos this week, but prices were through the roof so we said no thanks to that. Remembering what Costco-sized packages of meat used to cost, if we had bought the amount of meat needed to prepare as many meals as we otherwise bought we figured we would have added at least an additional 25% to our total if not more. So, what we buy costs less overall but by spending the same we’re getting more. I sometimes wish we weren’t so dependent on Costco, but it remains the best bang for our bucks when buying food on Kaua’i.

The only change we made to last week’s planned dinners was to substitute spanakopita and falafel for the fish tacos we originally had planned. We added Brie to our cheese board last week, but cut back on the amount of other cheeses so we didn’t overindulge (too much). It was all very, very good and we ate well while still keeping our calories under control.

Sunday: Risotto with peas and rosemary

Monday: Mini pizzas with red pepper and onion

Tuesday: Vegan sloppy joes; grape tomatoes

Wednesday: Pasta with marinara and meatless meatballs; roasted peppers

Thursday: Spanakopita; falafel patties; cucumber and tomato salad

Friday: Cheese board (Manchego, Irish cheddar; Brie) with guacamole, pickled beets, gherkins, apple, dried apricots, and crackers.

Saturday: Vegetable egg rolls; vegetable fried rice

We were hoping to find another apple pie at Costco to enjoy again for dessert, but once again none were available. We looked at the big custard pies that were in the cooler, but weren’t able to check the calories, etc. so instead bought a six-pack of tiramisu cups and the big box of mini cream puffs, both of which had calorie levels per serving that fit our calorie restrictions and will be a nice change for a while.

We have some new dishes to try next week: Amy’s vegetable lasagna and tikka masala made with tofu. Otherwise everything is something we’ve enjoyed before and that we’ve been looking forward to having again:

  • Vegetarian lasagna
  • Chick’n patty sandwiches
  • Tofu tikka masala
  • Tofu & pepper stir fry
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheese board
  • Chick’n nuggets and onion rings

With last week’s (mostly) good weather we took lots of good walks including three perimeter walks at the golf course (we took a day off on Friday), a two-mile hike on the Waiokapua trail at Barking Sands, and our Big Shop walkathon. We didn’t push ourselves to hunt for golf balls this past week either, but still managed to find 87 of them! We have competition these days from other ball hunters, and with fewer golfers we had thought things would slow down, especially since we’re not actively hunting like we did earlier, but there were just lots of lost balls all over the course. We’re going to go back to our old walking route through the woods beginning in November though, and stay off of the golf course completely which will quickly bring finding golf balls to a halt.

Scenes along the Waiokapua Trail (clockwise from upper left): the beginning of the trail; ocean views; 2-inch thorns on a dead kiawe bush (pronounced key-ah-vay); 3-inch thorns forming on a young kiawe (yikes!); and parasitic orange dodder/hellweed covering (and killing) a plant on the side of the trail. We saw several plants covered with it, sad because once it gains a foothold it’s almost impossible to remove.

There was a nice breeze when we hiked the Waiokapua on Tuesday, so in spite of the sun I felt fairly comfortable the entire time we walked. I wore a hat to keep my face shaded, and kept myself well-hydrated but I somehow still ended up with symptoms of heat exhaustion (dizziness, nausea, weakness) by the time we finished and set up our chairs on the beach. I realized later I had forgotten to bring and wear a damp tenugui (Japanese hand towel) around my neck. I don’t know if overheating and the excessive perspiration I experience when I sometimes walk are symptoms of aging or if something else is going on, but that damp towel helps keep my body temperature regulated for some reason. I always wear one when we walk at the park, and always carry another dry one to wipe the perspiration off my face, but I forgot to do it when we were packing up for the beach. It was a good lesson though and how quickly I can became overheated, and something I need to remember when we’re out walking overseas, especially when it’s hot. After a short while in my beach chair under the umbrella and with a cool drink I was back to normal in short order, but it was a bit scary that I became overheated on a flat 2.25-mile hike even with sufficient hydration.

Sunday Morning 10/24/2021: I’m Over It (or at least trying)

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Our rug listing on Buy & Sell has been an exercise in frustration and patience.

Something in me snapped this week, and although I love Kaua’i for so many reasons, right now I am feeling somewhat done with it. Every single time we have listed an item on our local Buy & Sell it goes something like this: For a couple of days I will get a message or messages asking if the item is still available. I answer yes, and then never hear back from 99.9% of these people again. Sometimes there’ll be a ridiculous low-ball offer or two that I have to refuse, but usually I hear nothing back. I’m a patient person, and the .01% of the requests eventually messages back and a sale gets set up, but then sometimes that person doesn’t show up, and doesn’t reply to further messages and I have to start the cycle all over again. If this had happened maybe once or twice I wouldn’t think much of it, but it has honestly happened with every item we’ve listed and it’s gone beyond just being annoying. It has happened seven times this week with our rug listing, and the last person who messaged about it lives on the Big Island! Why ask if an item is available if you have no intention of buying it? It’s like being trolled over and over and over again. So far we’ve thankfully ended up selling the items we’ve listed but it’s been a frustrating, discouraging experience each time. I don’t know if this current situation is related to a the pandemic economy or if something else is going on but when we sold our stuff in 2018 nothing like this happened even once, and no one quibbled about prices. People would ask if an item was available, come over and buy it, and talk story for a while. We have our items priced well below market value, and I never expect a quick sale for anything, but this current situation of mystery requests, no shows, and low-ball offers has gotten very, very old. I know I’m like an old lady screaming “get off my lawn!” for writing this but I am feeling so frustrated these days, especially since we have more to sell locally over the coming months. Our eBay items are getting lots of looks and watchers, and I made a sale this past week. Etsy sales have slowed way down although I had two good sales from the shop the past week as well. But the Buy & Sell situation has gotten ridiculous.

Although it’s over a year away, Brett and I spent several days this past week talking about where we’d like to go after we finish our stay in Japan in February 2023. We toggle between going back to Europe or maybe back to Australia for a long stay. It’s all academic at this point, especially since both Japan and Australia are still closed to visitors, but it’s been fun thinking about where we’d like to go. The UK is currently seeing a big spike in COVID cases again, apparently because of their recent reopening and for a variety of other reasons including limited mask wearing, lack of vaccinations in young people, low numbers for boosters, and a few other things. So, we will be watching how things go there, but hopefully by August of next year the situation will be under control once again. We’ve also talked a lot about a possible future landing spot in the U.S., from the standpoint of knowing we should have a game plan or framework for that set up before we depart and as we travel. We have a preference for where we’d like to go, but want to have a couple of back-up locations as well.

After all the wind, rain, and other weird weather we’d been experiencing, this past week was very pleasant. The winds died down to mostly gently breezes, the sun shone without being too hot on most days, and we didn’t have to worry each time we went for a walk whether or not we would get wet or not before we finished. Ally the cat even showed up on a couple of days to let us know she was okay – we hadn’t seen her in a while and were sort of worried. We assume she takes shelter under someone’s house during bad weather but she must still get fed as she didn’t look any worse for the wear.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished the The Perfect Nanny on Friday evening. It was a pleasure having just one book to read even though this book was creepy (and sad) one. With perfect timing, Apples Never Fall, by Lianne Moriarty, came off of hold yesterday so I segued right into that. I am waiting to see if someone will give me a new Kindle for Christmas (there have been hints not to buy one now). My current one, purchased in early 2015, can barely hold a charge these days so I’m nursing it along. If I don’t get one for Christmas I’ll get one in January.
  • Listening to: The wind was howling again when I got up this morning, but it seems to have gotten itself under control so now all I’m hearing is a gentle breeze. I really love how quiet this location is from all the other neighborhood noises we put up with before. Anyway, it should be a lovely day. We woke up later than usual this morning, so Brett is in the kitchen putting away last night’s dishes and making coffee. After I have a cup it will be my turn to make some noise in there, fixing pumpkin apple pancakes for our breakfast this morning.
  • Watching: We finished Season 1 of Only Murders in the Building this week, but The Great British Bake-Off, Inspector Morse, and Billions continue. Squid Game with be up next as will Ted Lasso and The Morning Show. There are also some other detective procedural series on Britbox we want to check out as well. So much to see, so little time!
  • Happy I accomplished: 1) Our Big Shop on Tuesday went well, although as always it made for a tiring day, and we went slightly over our budget picking up another Christmas item for the girls. 2) I got a couple more things listed on Etsy including the blue fish plates we use when we have pizza, and got Etsy orders packaged and sent out as well as an eBay order that’s going to Hong Kong! 3) We organized some more golf balls for local sale as well; they’ll get listed in early November. 4) I got another six weeks of activity cards set up too – by the time I get through those we’ll have finished Thanksgiving and be into December. Time is going by swiftly these days.
  • Looking forward to next week: Once again there’s nothing special on the calendar, so we’ll take each day as it comes and take care of our regular chores and activities.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Tuesday was our scheduled Big Shop day but we went to Barking Sands instead. We were expecting clouds and some wind, but instead enjoyed a long, perfect beach day, with a light breeze and blue skies. Brett and I needed to be there more than we realized, and we left to come home feeling rejuvenated and better than we had in a while. 2) The weather was calm enough on Wednesday that we were able to get a fire going in the fire pit in the evening and make s’mores as well as enjoy some conversation and time outside. 3) Our new avocado tree has sprouted – the tap root has developed branches and the new tree popped out this week. 4) Meiling is on her way to Paris! She had tickets and reservation to go in the spring of 2020, but those were cancelled for obvious reasons. Things have opened up again there (if you’re vaccinated, that is) and she’s finally on her way. 4) I rarely comment on Twitter, but one I made the other day about a cake went somewhat viral – it’s been fun reading the replies for the past couple of days (all positive).
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Gas is now up to $4/gallon at Costco, the highest it’s ever been since we came to the island in 2014 (at gas stations out in town it’s going for $4.59 or higher). We’ve tamped down our driving as much as we can (Tuesday’s beach trip was a splurge) and other than going to the park almost every day we try not to drive or at least combine as many trips as we can. We also aim for one full no-drive day per week and have been meeting that goal for the past several weeks. 2) I stopped by our credit union branch on Friday to make a deposit and it turned out to be the one-year anniversary of the branch’s opening, and I was given another crisp $2 bill as a thank-you! I got one last year because I happened to go in during their grand opening. 3) We went $20 over our budget on our Big Shop, but we picked up another item for the girls’ Christmas presents and now have a well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer. We’ll take $20 off of our end-of-the-month shop. Both Costco and Walmart had lots of vegetarian/vegan choices this time, including some things we love but haven’t seen in a while, like spanakopita. 4) Our final case of toilet paper arrived yesterday from Amazon and should see us through until next April. After that we’ll buy what we need until we leave at Target or Walmart. The price for the case was still less per roll than anything we can find on the island. We had just two rolls left from our last case, so the timing on this one was perfect. 5) We put $2.72 in the change/$1 bill bag and finished all our leftovers. We had to throw out a head of lettuce that was rotting from the inside out – ugh. 6) Other than our Big Ship it was a low spend week with, a quick stop at Big Save for four items we couldn’t find at Costco or Walmart, and an extra trip to Walmart for a mailing box (84 cents).
  • Adding up what we sold last week: I sold one hashioki and two temari from my Etsy shop, and the Japanese antique iron teakettle on eBay to a buyer in Hong Kong. The total going into our travel account when the dust settles and after eBay collects their fees will be $139.87 (it would have been more but I still owed Etsy because of the broken jubako). We’re going to keep the rug listing up for another week, but we will be more than okay if it doesn’t sell because otherwise we will send it back on the plane with WenYu and Meiling.
  • Grateful for: We’re feeling thankful these days for our little Honda Civic and the good gas mileage it gets (30+ mpg on the highway). We only need to fill up every 10-12 days, and with our decreased amount of driving we’re still keeping those costs are under $25.
A nice, crisp fall day on Kaua’i
  • Bonus question: What’s your favorite season? That would be fall (if we were any place other than Kaua’i)! I have loved fall since I was a small child. Septembers in Southern California were always brutally hot, but then toward the end of the month and into October the temperatures would cool, the leaves would change (mostly just die and fall off the trees from the heat in September). I remember a favorite activity when I was very young was picking a day to sit on the curb and watch the fallen leaves swirl down the street in the cool air because I could imagine Halloween coming, and then Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. I loved having to put on a sweater for the first time in the season, and also loved the change from salads, barbecues and other hot weather foods to soups, stews, and casseroles. Although I do like spring, I still prefer autumn and the feeling of things cooling down rather than warming up. When we lived in Key West there was always a day in October when the hot, steamy summer weather would “pop,’ for lack of a better word. It was still warm, but the blue of the sky became more brilliant and the air felt different. There are similar seasonal changes here in Hawaii, but they are even more subtle – our first couple of years here we didn’t notice anything, but these days I can feel the changes as they show up (although we’re currently having a different sort of year as far as weather and temperatures go).

In what passes for excitement on Kaua’i, our new Target store had their “soft opening” this past week. The opening had been delayed for weeks while remodeling of the old Kmart building went on (Hawaii time). The “grand opening” is actually today, whatever that means, but Brett and I went yesterday to see if we could find an appropriately-sized mailing box for the teakettle I just sold, and to check it out and see what they have versus Walmart and what prices were like. We would prefer to shop at Target, but we ended up going to Walmart afterwards as Target didn’t have a box that was the right size, and Walmart still has better prices, especially on food items, as well as a definitely better Asian food section. Anyway, we had to wait in line to get into Target, and the store is beautiful and bright, and will bring some much-needed options and choices to the island. When we got home I packed up the teakettle, and then discovered the printer was out of ink so I couldn’t print the mailing label. Brett will have to go back up to either Target or Walmart later today or tomorrow to get a new ink cartridge – grrrr.

That’s all for this great week – it really was close to perfect for us with good books, good food, frugal finds, a beach trip, s’more by the fire pit, and everything else that went on. Can we have another please? Here’s hoping it was a good week for all, and that the week coming up is as good or better!

Side Trip Ideas

Clockwise from top left: Colmar, France; London; Glasgow; Bacharach, Germany; Loch Ness, Scotland.

One of the things we enjoy most about doing a long stay in a particular place is that it gives us the time to to make shorter side trips to other nearby places we want to see without all the hassle of repacking our big bags, etc. We stayed in Florence for a month in 2018, and did an overnight getaway to the Cinque Terre and a day trip to Sienna. During our three month stay in Blockley in 2018 we did three-day getaways to Bath, London, and Edinburgh.

We learned a lot from those trips about how to plan and use time efficiently as well as how to save. We rode trains on all those earlier trips, but this next go round we will be using buses for some of our side trips. While not quite at fast as a train they cost much less and are big, comfortable, and come with WiFi and other amenities. We also booked Airbnb rentals for our stays before; this time we’ll be looking more closely at B&Bs and hotels and employing other strategies to save on dining out.

We’ve come up with some ideas for side trips and getaways we’d like to do during our stays in Strasbourg, Oxford, and Edinburgh. Our finances will be the ultimate decision maker on whether they happen or not, but all can be adjusted according to our situations at the time

  • Strasbourg: Because we’ll be located so close to the German border and the Rhine River, at the top of our list is a two or three day trip of day cruises on the Rhine to see the castles. We’ll definitely be making a day trip to Baden-Baden and visiting the Black Forest, but we’re also planning rent a car for a couple of days and driving the Alsatian wine route or at least part of it, and visiting Colmar, located to the south of Strasbourg.
  • Oxford: While the city of Oxford itself will most likely keep us plenty occupied during our time there, we want to go back to London for four or five days, and also spend a couple of nights back in the Cotswolds if possible, either in or near Blockley. The Oxford-Heathrow bus is an affordable way of getting to London, but the train isn’t all that much extra. We’d probably rent a private room in someone’s home versus springing for a hotel or private Airbnb lodging. We did this when we traveled through New Zealand and enjoyed the experience and the people we met along the way, and saved quite a bit as well.
  • Edinburgh: We hope we can pull off a “big” 4-day side trip to Inverness and Skye while we’re in Edinburgh, taking the train both ways as the trips are said to be among the most scenic in Scotland. We’d spend two days in Inverness then to Kyle of Lochalsh and pick up a rental car to cross over to and explore the island of Skye for a couple of days. We also plan to spend a couple of days exploring in Glasgow, and if we have the energy and funds, head up to Aberdeen as well.

One of our favorite things to do whenever we first visit any city is start with a walking tour, a free one if possible, so we’re already researching those. Besides teaching us about the city and its history, the tours help ground us, and guides always have great tips about other places to visit as well as good, affordable places to eat.

For now, we’re at a “we’ll see what happens” for each of these places we’re staying, and decided once we’re there if these side trips are financially feasible. We’re not contemplating any side trips while we’re in Japan. It’s too far out for now time-wise, and in our opinion will be too cold for sightseeing when we’re there. We’ll enjoy being with family and happy exploring the neighborhood where we live.

Putting the Travel Wardrobe Back Together, Part I (Cool/Cold Weather)

My cool/cold weather coats and tops have been waiting patiently to be useful again.

One of the great things I have loved about our apartment is the second closet in the bedroom where Brett and I have been able to store our cold weather travel clothing. We’ve kept a light burning in the closet 24/7 since we been here – the small amount of heat retards the growth of mildew – and keep the doors open during the day so that fresh air can circulate.

We still had a bit of a problem last summer with mold growing on some shoes, and Brett had to toss the pair of boots he traveled with last time. Only a small amount of mold grew on one pair of my shoes, and it was easily brushed off and hasn’t returned. The mold did cause some musty odors to arise however and almost everything will have to be washed probably more than once or dried cleaned to remove any lingering odors.

I have only needed to add very few things for our upcoming round of travel. I’ve already bought leggings and new sneakers, and will get new Perfect Fit pants and denim leggings (the old ones were too big) at the beginning of next year. I plan to buy a turtleneck tunic from J Jill and a pair of Duckfeet Chelsea boots, but that’s all that’s needed to update. I will need a hat for fall in Scotland and winter in Japan, but plan to find something stylish while we’re in Edinburgh.

My current packing list is below, although probably a couple of things may change before we depart. It seems like a lot – it is a lot! – but it’s perfect for full-time travel and long stays. I never got tired of any of it last time around because I had enough that I wasn’t wearing the same four or five outfits over and over and over again. More importantly, having all of this kept me from buying anything else during our travels except for the black gloves (Italy), the pashmina and cashmere scarves (India and Scotland), and the beautiful long wool jacket in India. Not counting accessories (gloves, scarves, shoes) and pajamas my cold weather wardrobe consists of 35 pieces.

Here’s what’s going into the suitcase:

  • Plum quilted car coat
  • Black rain jacket
  • Short black lightweight (but very warm) quilted jacket
  • Short lime green lightweight (but very warm) quilted vest
  • Knit denim wrap jacket
  • Black leather gloves
  • 3 scarves (1 bamboo fiber, 1 pashmina, 1 cashmere)
  • 9 tops/tunics in black or shades of indigo (includes knits, sweatshirts, and a chambray tunic)
  • 8 pairs of leggings: 4 black, 3 charcoal gray, and 1 dark olive (half are back-ups)
  • 2 pairs Perfect Fit Pants, 1 black and 1 dark olive
  • 1 pair denim leggings
  • 2 sweaters (long black cardigan, grey turtleneck)
  • Black boucle knit sweater poncho
  • 6 long-sleeve knit tops for layering and seasonal transition (includes the new turtleneck tunic)
  • Long Indian wool jacket (my dress-up outfit LOL)
  • 2 pair cold weather pajamas
  • 5 pairs shoes: 2 pair short boots, black Chelsea & blue suede; red slip-on walking shoes; 2 pair slip on sneakers (black & navy)
  • 1 pair Italian wool clogs (house slippers)

Will this all fit into my suitcase and leave room for warm weather clothing? Yes!

Because we are leaving in spring, all of the coats and jackets will be vacuumed sealed in space bags and go into the bottom of the suitcase. Most of the other pieces can be rolled and take up very little space. Space is also increased with one outfit worn on travel days, and a pair of pajamas and another outfit in my carryon (more so in cold weather than hot). Also, Brett carries less clothes than I do, and he always puts a few of my things into his suitcase.

The weight of everything will be another matter, but between the two of us we somehow always managed to keep our luggage below the necessary weight limits and I am confident we will manage once again. We have vowed though not to use discount airlines if at all possible because of their near-impossible weight limits.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (10/10 – 10/16)

On our last shopping trip shredded mozzarella was on our list; we use it for our mini pizzas and occasionally other dishes. I have been buying the Walmart brand because of the price but the other day decided to splurge and instead picked up the bag of Tillamook. What a difference! The Tillamook cheese cost nearly $2 more per bag, but the quality and flavor were just light years ahead of the Walmart brand. The same happened a few weeks ago when we decided to buy a jar of Rao’s pizza sauce instead of the Great Value brand. The GV sauce was OK, but the Rao’s has been wow!

Those two items have gotten me thinking a lot about saving versus quality. When does it make sense to stick with a cheaper or store brand versus choosing a more expensive name brand? While our goal is to make healthy food choices and to keep our food budget in line, we are still figuring out where and when we can and should splurge, and the times when buying the store brand is an equally good and healthy choice (canned beans come to mind). Kauai’i is a unique laboratory for this because of overall prices on the island and a limited amount of shopping options and choices, We’re learning lots that we can and will carry along with us in the future and that will inform our shopping while we travel.

We had some great meals last week, and some tasty leftovers as well. I had forgotten how quickly yakisoba goes together and how satisfying it is, even without any meat or other protein included. The chicken pot pie was from Marie Callender, found in the vegan section at Walmart – it was very good and we’ll be buying it again. The spicy bean dip also went together quickly and we enjoyed the leftovers for lunch for a few days. I’m planning to make it when the girls are here for Christmas, and will use it as a base for nachos. I swapped some leftover peanut stew from the freezer for the basil b’ef stir fry that was planned as there was no basil available at the farm stand this past week, and we didn’t want to pay the (super expensive) local supermarket price.

Sunday: Vegetable yakisoba

Monday: Vegan chick’n pot pie; steamed broccoli

Tuesday: Spicy black bean bake; Fritos; grape tomatoes

Wednesday: Vegan chick’n tenders; onion rings; coleslaw; barbecue sauce for dipping

Thursday: Mini pizzas with barbecue sauce; leftover chick’n, and onion

Friday: Cheese board (Manchego, Irish cheddar, and Boursin with shallots)

Saturday: Vegan peanut stew with sweet potato & kale; steamed rice

We’ll be Big Shopping on Tuesday, but still have a few things to use up in our pantry and freezer next week. Still, our meals will be uncomplicated and easy to prepare. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we can find the meatless meatballs again at Walmart, and that Costco still has the vegetable egg rolls in stock. You never know here though.

  • Risotto with peas
  • Vegan sloppy Joes
  • Vegetable egg rolls & fried rice
  • Mini Pizzas
  • Cheese board
  • Spaghetti with marinara (and hopefully meatless meatballs)
  • Grilled fish tacos

Walking has once again been hit or miss this week. After missing two days at the end of last week because of bad weather, we were able to walk on Sunday, then again on Monday, but had to stay home on Tuesday due to rain. We walked again on Wednesday but then had to stay home on Thursday for the plumber (a beautiful day outside, of course), and because of rain again on Friday. Saturday we tried to walk earlier than usual, and got a mile in before the rain started. We typically walk a little over 80 miles each month; this month we walked only slightly over 30. We’re still aiming for 1,000 miles of walking this year but this winter’s weather may shoot down our chances for accomplishing that goal. It’s supposed to rain all next week except for Friday, and we fear this is what much of the winter here is going to be like going forward.

A beautiful double rainbow at the park last Wednesday, but there’s a somewhat faint bank of clouds behind it, and it was raining up at the park not too long afterward this picture was taken.

Brett and I are trying to wean ourselves from the golf ball finding and to that end have sort of slacked off, but golf balls seem to keep finding us! After all the crazy weather week before last we figured there wouldn’t be many lost balls to find when we walked last Sunday, but we somehow came home with 17, and this was after watching one of the groundskeepers drive his cart around the perimeter to pick up balls and seeing the haul (30+ balls) two young guys had also made that day. On Monday, we were thinking we’d be lucky to find one or two lost balls, but ended up coming home with another 10! All these were easy finds too – no “hunting” involved. We found another 21 (!!!) on Wednesday, ending our short walking week (just 3 days) with 48 lost balls. We have decided to “officially” stop looking by the end of November so we can get everything organized and listed on Buy & Sell, and hopefully have all of the golf balls out of the house by the time the girls arrive for Christmas. We’re going change our route again in the next couple of weeks (weather permitting) and start walking through the woods again versus out on the golf course at the park.

Sunday Morning 10/17/2021: Earth, Wind, and Thankfully No Fire

There were no beautiful sunsets this week, so for something different here’s moonrise over a palm tree taken from Hole 6 at the Kukuiolono golf course.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

The wind this past week was in Surrender Dorothy territory every single day. It has blown hard, strong, and LOUD almost all week long and I was honestly tired of waking up to it, having it as background all day, and having to listen to it at night while I am trying to fall sleep (it could be heard though earplugs). Thankfully things quieted down a bit yesterday. Unfortunately it looks like it may be around for a while as we’re now officially in La Niña conditions, which means cooler temperatures (air and water), more wind, and stronger storms for the next few months. Reduced humidity (if it isn’t raining) has been a nice side effect of the weird weather although I’m not particularly crazy about how cool it’s been. We’d love to go to the beach, but there hasn’t been any beach weather for a while. I honestly feel sorry for the people who have been coming on vacation recently (and there have been a LOT of them) as the weather has been less than ideal.

And, there was an earthquake last Sunday! We have been though several of them in Japan – 6.4 was the worst, strong but mercifully short – and recognized immediately what was happening (versus it being our upstairs neighbor’s washing machine off balance again). Apparently somewhere south west of the Big Island the ocean floor “bent,” whatever that means. Kilauea had erupted again recently, but the two events were not connected this time. I think this earthquake was somewhere in the 4-point range, but it was also over quickly, thank goodness. Still, it was strange to feel things shaking here, if only for a few moments.

We have only four items left to sell on eBay (an antique tea ceremony basket, an antique iron teakettle, a coffee mug, and a group of vintage navy cloth patches), and only the remaining hashioki and a few other vintage items are left on Etsy. The items on eBay have been getting lots of extra looks and have picked up some watchers, so we’re hopeful they will sell before the end of the year as we’d like to close that account. I may close the Etsy shop then as well (for tax purposes). We’ll see what happens in the next couple of months. There is a man who keeps messaging me (politely) on Etsy asking me to sell him the antique iron tea kettle at a price that, after postage, would leave me with around $15. I keep explaining to him why I won’t sell at the price he wants, he says okay, but every few weeks he’s back and tries again. I’ll keep the teakettle before I let it go at his price – it’s valuable. After a lot of thought about the cost to send our wool area rug back to Massachusetts, we decided to sell it here before we go. Although we deeply love the rug, the shipping cost is just too high and too complicated, even sending it back on the plane with WenYu and Meiling. I read a great article the other day on moving overseas (which is sort of what we’re doing), and the main message was “get rid of everything and minimize as much as you possibly can” and we’re determined to do that this time. We’re going to store a very few small but meaningful items with WenYu, but otherwise everything else will be sold this time. Downsizing remains a process – so many things we thought we’d keep we no longer will. Some things are more difficult to let go of than others, but we’re getting it done, and as always, once the stuff is gone I never miss it.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished John Banville’s Snow on Monday, and started Life As We Knew It just because I wanted to reread it again. The book is the first in a dystopian trilogy for YA readers written by Susan Reid Pfeffer, about what happens to a family and community in eastern Pennsylvania after a world-wide, catastrophic natural disaster. I love the book for not only its great story (written in the style of a teen’s diary), but for also showing how the family survives (albeit barely) and the steps they take to overcome the many hardships that arise – there’s lots of food for thought. It’s not really a mystery as such, but since I otherwise do not care for dystopian fiction, I figured I could fit it in this year. Anyway, it was finished on Friday and I am now reading The Perfect Nanny, a thriller by Leila Slimani. It is a sort of Columbo-style mystery: you know what happened and who did it right from the start, but have to read to find out the why and the how.
  • Listening to: The wind isn’t as loud as it has been this week, but it’s still having its moments this morning where things pick up. There are lots of clouds in the sky as well, so who knows what the afternoon will bring? Inside it’s quiet – Brett got up early this morning and has already left to run some errands up in Lihue and Kapaa.
  • Watching: This week was almost the same as last week: Only Murders In the Building on Tuesday, Great British Bake Off on Friday, and Billions every other evening. Billions has become more interesting since the main characters seem to reacting less to each other and instead dealing with other characters and plot lines in Season 3. I finished all the available Father Brown episodes this past week, but we discovered that BritBox has the entire Inspector Morse series, so we began watching those, and will follow up with the Lewis series, and finally catch up with Endeavour so that we will be very ready to take a Morse/Lewis/Endeavor walking tour when we’re in Oxford. I’m looking forward to hooking up with Apple TV next month and watching Ted Lasso – I’ve heard nothing but good things about it for months.
  • Happy we accomplished: We try to do at least one task each day that moves us closer to our goal of selling (almost) or getting rid of everything before we go, and did several things this past week toward that end, including packing up some things to take back to YaYu next year, getting other items ready to list on our local Buy & Sell, and sorting other things that will sell better at a yard sale. Otherwise it was pretty much just taking care of regular chores around here. We did get our shopping list made for Tuesday’s Big Shop – that’s always an accomplishment.
  • Looking forward to next week: Same as always these days: good/better weather, possible a beach day, and hopefully selling something on eBay or Etsy. I am looking forward to our Big Shop on Tuesday as we’ve done a good job this last month of using things up.
We miss these people so much!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) Our daughter-in-law sent us a load of pictures from this summer and fall – I think I must have gone through them about 20 times already! I miss them all so much, but seeing so many pictures helps. 2) The pottery plate I sold on Etsy arrived safely at its destination – what a relief! 3) We found something other than golf balls on one of our walks last week: a ripe lilikoi! We have been walking past a vine that has been flowering like mad for the past few weeks, but has only produced a couple of fruits. We watched one of those ripen and then picked it on Wednesday, and it was delicious. 4) Not the most exciting thing in the world, but we got a new toilet on Thursday. The previous one had been slightly problematic since we moved in, maintenance and repairs had nursed it along, but it finally gave up for good on Thursday (not the toilet itself but all the seals, gaskets, etc.). Our landlord got a plumber in right away, and by early evening we had a brand new toilet. The only not-good part was having to go without for a few hours during the day – not fun, but we survived. And, the repairs/labor didn’t cost us a dime!

From blossom to fresh picked to wrinkled and ripe to yum! on top of coconut cake

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had a boring, but frugal week: it was completely no-spend and we had two no-drive days as well. We didn’t put anything into the change/$1 bill bag but we ate and enjoyed all of our leftovers and we didn’t throw away any food. My sandal purchase from Duckfeet earned me enough points that I will get a discount when I make my next purchase (the boots). It won’t be much, but every bit helps. In other good financial news, there will officially be a 5.9% increase in our Social Security payments next year, and in Brett’s military retirement pay as well. It couldn’t come at a better time.
  • Adding up what we sold: I sold four hashioki, my Japanese bamboo shopping basket to a local woman from Japan, and a box of 60 golf balls. $74.35 went into our travel account.
I wanted to keep this basket, but it’s impractical for full-time travel, and I know where to get another one in Japan before we eventually settle down.
  • Grateful for: We were very thankful once again this week to have such a great landlord. We were also grateful to be renting last Thursday and not shouldering the expense of several hours for a plumber, including his having to drive back and forth to Home Depot a couple of times for parts and eventually a whole new toilet.
  • Bonus question: What streaming services do you use? We dumped cable and switched to full-time streaming back in 2016 and have never looked back. One of the best things about streaming, in my opinion, is that you can share accounts with others which can give you more for less. Currently we stream Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu (without ads), Showtime, and Britbox. Netflix is free with our phone plan and we share it with the girls: Amazon Prime is necessary for survival on Kaua’i (IMO) so we pay for that and use the streaming service (the girls share their own Prime account); Hulu and Showtime are free courtesy of our daughters’ accounts (we also used to have access to Disney+ but our daughter dropped the account that provided that service for free); and we pay for Britbox. Total out of pocket for us is $16.91 per month, very affordable for all we get. When I purchase a new phone next month we will pick up Apple+ for free as well. We have been known to sign up for free trials for a week or month in order to binge-stream a particular show, but that doesn’t happen often. Some of these streaming services will travel along with us but there are often barriers in place in many countries that means we can’t use them. Japan has more streaming services than we have in the U.S. though, so we always have plenty to watch there!

A very affordable price for premium economy seats on a flight over to Paris showed up this past week, and after some checking around to be sure this was a good time to buy, we went ahead and purchased them. We will be using the Delta gift cards earned through Swagbucks to cover our flights to YaYu’s graduation – we’re going to fly into Baltimore-Washington (BWI) because it’s nearly $500 less than flights into Philadelphia – but even using what’s left over on our gift cards Delta could not match the other airline’s price (or good schedule) for our two seats. While it was quite exciting to make our Airbnb reservations last month, it’s almost more exciting to book our first flight – we have just seven months until our departure!

That’s a wrap for this week! Other than our plumbing issues it was a pretty good week and lots got done to move us closer to our departure, even if it was only a decision to make some changes. We were sort of surprised to realize we have less than seven months to go, but time seems to be moving along quickly these days and there’s lots to do. Here’s hoping it was a good week for all, and that next week is as good or better!

In Praise of Duckfeet

I expect to be wearing these sandals for years to come.

I don’t often highlight specific products, but in an age where products don’t often meet the hype, Duckfeet is the real deal.

I have very difficult feet when it comes to finding comfortable shoes. Both my feet are wide, with high arches. Thankfully they are not as bad as they were in the past but they are still troublesome at times. I had bunion surgery in 2013 on both feet; one foot was a success, the other not so much, so my feet are now essentially two different sizes. I have tried many well-known, expensive brands of shoes over the years in my efforts to find comfortable, well-made shoes, but those experiments have often ended with one shoe that falls off and one that I can barely squeeze my foot into.

When Meiling was a baby I had a pair of fisherman sandals, made by Rockport if I remember correctly, that I quite literally wore out. They were extremely comfortable, and I walked everywhere in them for nearly three years until the leather fell apart. Every since I have looked for a similar pair but never found any that matched the style and quality of that pair I loved.

Last month Meiling sent me a picture of some sandals she was preparing to buy, fisherman sandals made by a company called Duckfeet. I got very excited when I saw them because 1) They were exactly the style of fisherman sandals I had been looking for over the years; and 2) Duckfeet shoes are naturally built for wide feet with a wide toe box.

Duckfeet are known for their minimalist, foot-formed design that offers ample room for toes to move and air to reach the feet . . . . Each pair of Duckfeet is handcrafted in Europe without the use of synthetic materials . . . . No two pair of Duckfeet are exactly alike. Every pair of boots, shoes, and sandals is naturally tanned and processed by hand, allowing for subtle variations in the leather. These variations are highlighted by the way you wear them, giving each pair its own story.

I had a pair of black sandals on my provisioning list, and since last month was a “Laura month,” I went ahead and bought a pair of Duckfeet black fisherman sandals to try. I was honestly expecting to be disappointed once again, but instead have been happy and impressed with my purchase. I received free shipping and they arrived quickly. They fit both of my weird feet right out of the box. The larger foot was only slightly tight at first but after wearing the sandals around the apartment for a few days it now fits comfortably. In fact, I like the sandals’ fit so much that I’ve added a pair of Duckfeet’s Chelsea boots to my list and will purchase before we leave. I have finally found a brand with stylish shoes that fit my weird feet, that are waterproof, and are built to last. I expect to wear these sandals for years, which is fine by me – the style is classic.

The Roskilde Chelsea boot in black: my next Duckfeet purchase

Duckfeet shoes have been making shoes in Denmark since 1975. Offering many styles, from sandals to boots, each pair is handmade made from high quality leather. The finish on the leather is naturally waterproof, and the crepe soles can be replaced when they wear out. A pair of Duckfeet shoes or sandals are not cheap, but prices are not into the stratosphere either or as high as other brands (like Mephisto, etc.). In spite of their width, they are stylish and come in a wide variety of colors.

I love my Duckfeet. May they give me years of wear and happiness!

Healthcare On the Road

photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon/unsplash

When Brett and I begin traveling next May, we will leave the U.S. with no concrete plans to return. It’s not that we won’t return, but there are no calendar dates are set and no visits planned, at least for the first couple of years.

A big consequence of this is that we won’t be in the U.S. for regular doctor visits and prescriptions refills, or to have dental work taken care of. We are doing careful planning to make sure we can get prescriptions refilled as necessary, see a dentist at least once a year, and get our vision checked regularly as well.

As it is illegal to ship prescription medication into most other countries, we will begin our journey with a six-month supply of our medications. Our regular prescriptions are for 90 days, and we can get a one-time 90-day “emergency supply” as well to carry along with us. But what do we do when that runs out?

We have a few arrows in our quivers when it comes to prescription medication. First, as military retirees we can visit any U.S. military hospital in the world and get a prescription filled, so we will carry written prescriptions from our doctor with us that will get us through the first year as well as a letter explaining the reason we take the medication. When those supplies run out we will have to have a doctor’s visit at a military hospital or in the country we’re in to get a new prescription. Our military health insurance follows us world-wide so those costs can be reimbursed, but a visit to a physician overseas is not the wallet-emptying expense it is in the U.S. For example, we will need to visit a GP when we’re in the UK because it is against the law in there for a pharmacy to fill any prescription that’s not written by a British physician. The cost for the visit to see a GP at a same-day clinic is around $55, and we can get a check up as well as our prescription. The cost for a GP visit is even less in other countries such as France or Italy.

photo credit: Yusef Belek/unsplash

Dental care is another area where we’re doing some research so we know our options before departing. We have been reading a lot about “dental tourism,” or places where excellent dental treatment is available for a fraction of what it costs in the U.S. Two noted areas for quality dental work in Europe are Spain and the island nation of Malta. Having a crown procedure in Spain, for example, is around $500, the same cost as it is in the U.S. if you have good insurance. Thankfully, our dental insurance also travels with us throughout the world, but it’s good to know that if we need any sort of major procedure done we can get it done overseas without breaking the bank, and could even get a side visit to Spain or Malta! Cost comparisons for dental procedures overseas can be found online. Japan also offers good dental care at a lower cost than the U.S. although not as low as in Europe.

Vision care is currently the big unknown. For the past few years I’ve needed a new lens prescription almost every year; it’s been every other year for Brett. Since we have no idea of what an exam and new glasses might cost overseas, we plan to set up a separate vision savings account that will be dedicated to these potential costs, and hope that we estimate too high. I will be getting new glasses next month, and Brett will get new glasses next spring right before we depart, so hopefully this is something we won’t need to worry about for a while. I wouldn’t mind getting new glasses in Japan though – they honestly have the most stylish frames I’ve ever seen.

We’re doing our homework on what’s available where, how much it costs, and how we can keep up with our prescription, but know there are still going to be unknowns. We are extremely fortunate to have good health insurance to take along with us, and several options for care no matter where we are in the world, but the goal as always is to be proactive about staying healthy so that we can enjoy our time as much as possible as we travel.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (10/3 – 10/9)

Last week would have been a great one for cold weather dishes because it was unusually cold for this time of year. I have always loved fall, and one of my favorite things about it was always the transition to putting warmer, heartier dishes on the menu, things like soups and stews. We’re experiencing what passes for fall, and we’re seeing pumpkins, gourds, and other autumn motifs out in the stores (along with everything Halloween), but we’re mostly still wearing shorts and slippers, so it’s sort of hard to get excited about making or eating soups or other cool-weather dishes, vegetarian or otherwise.

One of the things I’ve realized recently is how little I use my InstantPot since we gave up meat. I would probably have it out at least a couple of times a week if we weren’t eating meatless, but I may only use it once a month or so these days, maybe to make risotto. It would probably be the same now with a slow cooker. The Instant Pot will get a workout when the girls are here at Christmas, but I’ll probably sell it shortly after as Brett and I return to a meatless diet. Funny to realize that something I wanted for so long doesn’t really work for me any more.

We had some tasty meals (and leftovers) last week. Everything was pretty easy to fix which made me happy too.

Sunday: Cheesy tomato, spinach, and white bean bake with baguette slices

Monday: Roasted vegetable ravioli with pesto; steamed broccoli

Tuesday: Tofu patties; steamed rice; namasu

Wednesday: Panzanella with feta cheese & chickpeas

Thursday: Mini pizzas with tomato, pepper, and onion

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Mini corn dogs; onion rings; apple slices; namasu

One the menu next week:

  • Chicken tenders; onion rings
  • Spicy black bean bake with corn chips
  • Vegetable yakisoba
  • Chick’n pot pie
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheese board
  • Ina Garten’s summer garden pasta
1/20 of a Costco pumpkin pie is still very satisfying.

We finished off the mochi ice cream early in the week, and are now in the middle of a 10-day Costco pumpkin pie marathon. One-twentieth of the pie is less than 200 calories, and very affordable – the entire pie costs just $5.99, so our servings are just 30 cents a slice. I can barely buy a can of pumpkin on Kaua’i for less than $5! By having one pie now, we’ll be ready for another around Thanksgiving!

We always take one day off every week from walking (usually Sunday) to let our bodies rest, but this week we ended up with three days off due to rain and wind. In spite of some cold and unpredictable weather (walkers were wearing windbreakers and other jackets on Wednesday), we walked the perimeter Monday through Thursday. Friday’s weather was horrid but cleared right when it was time for our walk. However, it was still very windy and we decided a walk on the golf course would be a soggy mess and we’d end up wet and miserable. Saturday the rain was gone but wind was even worse (and louder) if that was possible, and we just didn’t feel like spending nearly an hour being out in it so we stayed home again. We still found 53 lost golf balls though in the four days we walked, an average of 13 balls per day.

Another one of those pesky dark clouds being led by a rainbow. This cloud thankfully headed out to sea and skipped the golf course.

The other day I climbed on the scale to weigh a package I was shipping, and was surprised by the weight of everything (me and the package) – it was much lower than I imagined, but very happy when I weighed solo as it was also much, much less than I imagined, especially for the middle of the afternoon and being fully clothed. Things are apparently still changing! I’ve been feeling more sore in new places following our walks recently and am not sure what’s going on with that – maybe more of a workout these days? – but getting two extra days off last week helped things repair and feel better again.

Sunday Morning 10/10/2021: We Got a Lot Done

Sunsets have been practically non-existent this past week. The sky tried hard on Wednesday, but the above was as good as it got.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

*** If Linda Denton is reading will you please leave a comment so I can get back to you? Your Messenger posts appeared in my feed but disappeared quickly for some reason before I could capture all the information. Thanks! ***

This past week felt discouraging for some reason, at least the beginning of the week, and it put me in mood. Although good things happened during the week, and we were busy and got a lot done, overall the feeling seemed to be one of time standing still, and nothing happening that moved us forward. I’m not sure why I felt so down though as I’m not usually a glum person. Maybe it’s just that I’m just feeling restless and ready to go now. The mood has passed for now but I’m afraid of its return as we move toward our departure.

I found a message via Etsy first thing this past Monday morning that several pieces of the jubako I had sent the previous week had arrived broken. The jubako had been very well packaged for shipment (a box within a box with layer upon layer of bubble wrap around each piece and everything cushioned with loads of styrofoam peanuts), but the photos the buyer sent me showed a box that had been severely mishandled by the post office. The box was crumpled and looked like it had been dropped as well as punctured. I had to refund the purchase and lost what I paid for postage because I had foolishly forgotten to add insurance (I always do but forgot this time). It’s weird and very frustrating that the other jubako I sold and packed exactly the same and sent through the mail (uninsured as well) made it all the way to France in perfect condition but this one to the west coast ended up smashed. Between the movers who packed us out from here in 2018 and now the post office, only two of the seven beautiful jubako we once had have survived intact. Prior to this, all had been moved several times with no issues.

From what I could find out though, having the post office trash an item now and again is a given when selling through Etsy (or eBay), although most packages seem to arrive safely. I read a few threads where sellers told horror stories about the condition some of their packages arrived in (if they even ever arrived). I believe I pack things very securely, but I have to be careful about the package size as the postage from here can be prohibitive, more than the value of some of the items I’m selling! This past week Brett checked the UPS store’s prices for packing a plate I sold this past week: they quoted $34 and 24 hours for the packing, and for the size of the package the postage would have been an additional $90 (!!!) to ship to the mainland using the least expensive USPS option, w-a-y more than my asking price for the plate (which includes free shipping)! So, we strengthened the box we had, added heavy cardboard around the rim of the plate to protect it, wrapped it in two layers of heavy bubble wrap, packed it securely in styrofoam peanuts (hopefully), and shipped for less than half of the earlier quote. The package is insured, but I’ll be holding my breath until I know it’s arrived safely. Sometimes I don’t think I’m cut out for this though because it makes me so nervous.

Our granddaughter turned five this past week. She was still three, just coming out of the toddler stage the last time we saw her, and will be six when we see her again next year. She looks so grown up now, and her English is amazing. She had just a few words when we last saw her, but chatters away now and uses English more than Japanese these days. Our grandson is also growing and changing rapidly and it’s almost impossible to accept that he’ll be in middle school when we see him next. We miss them so much, and have lost so much of the little time we get with them. Next year can’t get here fast enough!

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’ve been reading Snow, by John Banville, a mystery set in Ireland. I love finding a new (to me) author who has a long list of titles under their name and I’m looking forward to checking out some of the author’s other work because this book is a good one, with a twist on the English “cozy” format (it’s also quite adult). What’s kind of weird though is that the library has no record of me checking out this book! It’s on my Kindle, I’m reading, and yet it doesn’t exist in my library files. Hmmmm.
  • Listening to: If I had to pick a word to describe this past week it would be windy. We have had strong, LOUD wind blowing across the island and around our building and through the yard all. week. long. Wind gusts on Friday and yesterday were in the 30 mph range and we could barely hear each other or the TV inside for all the noise outside. It felt very cool to cold most of he week as well and it’s still quite cool this morning, almost worthy of a sweater. Anyway, it’s still very windy outside but there are brief moments of quiet which are delightful (and almost surprising). Brett’s putting away last night’s dishes and making coffee, and our neighbor is stomping away upstairs (he has grown increasing loud up there over the months), so it’s kind of noisy overall this morning. And, the wind is picking up again . . . .
  • Watching: The new season of Great British Bake Off is underway on Netflix, but it started two weeks ago! So, we caught up with the first two episodes this past Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and then watched the newest episode on Friday. Until a new winner is crowned it will be our Friday viewing for the next few weeks. We’ve moved into Season 3 of Billions, and have been watching two episodes each evening, and we’re still enjoying Only Murders In the Building on Tuesday evenings although I think we only have a couple of episodes left to go for this season. The girls have recommended Squid Game (on Netflix) for our next show.
Boosters were quick and easy procedure for both of us. Brett had less residual pain than I did this time.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: 1) Brett and I got our boosters on Wednesday. Both of our arms were more sore this time compared to when we got our initial vaccines, but that only lasted a couple of days. 2) I found a great flight schedule at a great price that will bring YaYu directly into Lihue without having to go through Honolulu, so purchased her ticket for December. This was the last flight we purchased for our children – after graduation they are responsible for their own tickets. 3) Brett and I did some downsizing last Sunday on our day off. He went through his things in the closet and put together a bag of Japanese items (books, calligraphy supplies, etc.) that he took to the Japanese teacher at WenYu’s and YaYu’s high school, and I packaged up our son’s collection of Christmas ornaments that we’ll send to him this week. 4) After a lot of thought and research, we figured out how to get a couple of some awkwardly shaped items back to WenYu’s for storage while we travel. They’ll go back on the plane when she and Meiling fly back to Massachusetts at the end of December. It was a relief to figure this out because sending it as baggage will save us a bundle versus other shipping methods. 5) I filed my quarterly Hawaii GET estimated taxes. It was super easy to do and the total due was just $3.52 (because all but two of my sales were out of state and are not taxed by Hawaii). 7) We made a reservation for Edinburgh!
  • Looking forward to next week: We have absolutely nothing on our calendar next week so all I’m hoping for is another Etsy or eBay sale and at least one more thing leaving the apartment, and hopefully good walking weather and maybe a beach day.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) We’re now set for all the girls to be here for Christmas with YaYu arriving the day after WenYu and YaYu! 2) After a few slow weeks with almost no sales, this week I had a sale on both eBay and Etsy; the Etsy sale was another bigger one. 3) We finally have another avocado tree on the way – the seed we have been soaking for over three weeks finally produced a tap root, so here we go again.
We were just to the point of tossing out this avocado seed when the tap root finally emerged.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We reserved our lodgings for our Edinburgh stay using our credit card (then paid it off), and since our card currently rewards rebate points 3X for any travel-related purchases we are looking forward to a BIG jump in our rewards balance at the end of the month. We’re thinking of using our rewards to load up our Kindles with books to take on the road. October is Brett’s month for provisioning and he has ordered a pair of pants and a rain jacket from LL Bean. He got 10% off his order, free shipping, and the order was made through Swagbucks so I will be receiving some extra bucks from the purchase in a couple of months! (Swagbucks has been so much more pleasant and stress free since I gave up doing surveys. I’m saving for a $50 gift card for more free books for our Kindles). We didn’t put anything into the change/$1 bill bag this past week but we ate all our leftovers and didn’t throw any food away except for a rotting sweet potato that had gotten lost in the back of our pantry.
The hand-painted plate that sold was from the famous pottery village of Mashiko. Fingers remain crossed that it arrives safely to its new owner.
  • Adding up what we sold last week: A coffee mug and a large Japanese pottery plate left the house this past week. The funds from those covered the amount lost in the jubako debacle with some to spare. The coffee mug made it safely, but I’m still waiting with fingers crossed on both hands to learn if the plate arrived in one piece. I have another box of golf balls up on our local Buy & Sell but no takers so far.
  • Grateful for: When I’m feeling discouraged I try to make sure to take time each day and remember all that I have to be thankful for: my good health, a loving husband and family, a comfortable and safe place to live in a wonderful location, an ample variety of healthy foods to eat, and a steady income and money in the bank. I have a blessed life.
  • Bonus question: Do you have a travel bucket list? Sort of is my best answer. These days my list is more about revisiting and learning more about places we just touched the surface of because we didn’t have time for more exploration, like Oxford, Strasbourg, and Edinburgh. For all the many visits and time we’ve spent in Tokyo, we never run out of places to see and new things to experience there and elsewhere in Japan – our visits are always an adventure which is one of the many reasons we love going there. Amsterdam and Venice are sort of bucket list destinations, and we are going to make an effort to see those places in the next couple of years. But otherwise, I’ve seen and what I wanted to see and do.
Note the gap across his chest and how blurry the fabric is!

The cool, midcentury modern aloha-style shirt Brett ordered months ago finally arrived this past week. He had had so much trouble communicating with the vendor when the shirt initially didn’t arrive when promised that he cancelled the sale in August and received a refund, but the shirt still somehow showed up this week. And what a joke it was! Although it was advertised as being made from cotton, the fabric was instead a sleazy, shiny man-made fabric of some kind, so thin it had to be lined (with the same sleazy fabric); the design was poorly photo printed onto the fabric and blurry; and although he ordered the size he usually wears, Brett could barely get the shirt buttoned around him! Not sure where the company is located or how they stay in business, but we were so glad Brett had gotten his money back! Returning for a refund would have been a nightmare.

That’s a wrap for another exiting week at Chez Aloha! Actually, it was pretty exciting, and although the week started off in a discouraging place, it ended with exciting things happening so everything is good. We’re looking forward to another busy week, and more good things happening – hope everyone else is too!