The 2021 Highlight Reel

The past year was not the most exciting year we’ve ever spent for a variety of reasons. Brett and I practically turned into full-time hermits and stuck close to home, only heading out of our apartment for walks at the park or a few other hikes, a few trips to the beach, or shopping trips and a very occasional meal out. Our daughters’ visit was the first and only time we had others in our apartment all year, and we didn’t visit anyone else either.

I really didn’t realized how tightened down we’d become and how little we did until I went through this past year’s blog posts. I am so grateful we moved up our travel plans because I don’t think we could have survived another year of pretty much standing still.

Lots of important things did get accomplished however:

  • Health: Brett and continued to lose weight; segued to a vegetarian/vegan diet; and walked/hiked over 1,000 miles. We got our COVID vaccines and boosters; Brett finally got his wonky parathyroid gland removed, and I had an endoscopy and confirmation of a small hiatal hernia. Regular skin checks were done and we are up to date with our dental visits.
  • Travel: Plans for future travel went through several permutations, starting with walking tours in the UK and then Japan followed by short visits to some other places if possible. We then got caught up in the idea of permanent moves to first Portugal and then France, and finally ended up with a decision return to full-time travel. An itinerary was made, our Kaua’i departure date moved forward from 2023 to 2022, and Airbnb reservations were made in Strasbourg, Oxford, and Edinburgh. We have tickets to get us over to Paris in May of next year following YaYu’s graduation from college and are getting ready now to hit the road again.
  • Downsizing: We decided to once again sell almost everything before departing Hawaii, and started the downsizing process with the sale of my KitchenAid mixer in June. We sold something (or more than one thing) at least once a month, and the Etsy shop I opened to sell my hashioki collection and a few other Japanese vintage goods proved to be more successful than I imagined. All of our son’s and daughters’ things we’d been keeping were sorted and sent back to the mainland or Japan, either with them or through the mail, and Brett and I began the process of packing up the few things we will be keeping to be mailed to our daughter WenYu’s home for storage.
  • Savings: We made our last deposit into YaYu’s college savings this month. Through regular deposits, downsizing sales, the Etsy shop, the change/$1 bill bag, and other savings hustles we put away over $11,000 into our travel savings, more than enough to make our initial reservations and purchase our flight to Paris.
  • Family & friends: We had a lovely reunion with our niece and her family when they visited Kaua’i in June, and also were able to get together with another friend visiting the island the same month. While we greatly missed being able to see our grandkids, son, and daughter-in-law this past year, they sent loads of photos and we kept up through messaging and calls. The highlight of the year was having our three daughters together with us for 10 days for the Christmas holiday, and we made the most of our time together. I remain grateful for all the friends I’ve met and made through the blog, and your comments and interaction.

Although we stuck close to home this past year we still accomplished quite a bit and moved a great deal closer to reaching our goals for next year. As busy as we’ve been recently, things will be picking up after the new year, and we know our remaining time on the island will be moving along at a quicker-than-expected pace.

So, it’s goodbye to 2021 with fondness and gratitude, and it’s on to the new year with hope for all it promises to bring.


Sunday Morning: 9/12/2021: Time for A change

Sunst of the week was Friday evening. The rest of the week was meh.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

Back in high school, my senior English teacher predicted I would some day write the Great American Novel, and for years I carried a dream of writing about the life of an ordinary American woman leading a somewhat ordinary life and making her ordinariness interesting. Well, the book never happened but for the past nearly 12 years I’ve been writing what I jokingly call the Great American Blog, about the life of an ordinary American woman’s life and adventures, and I think at least some of it has been interesting.

However, I spent most of this past week debating with myself whether it was time or not to close the blog. I have been posting five times a week since last March, and I had reached a point where I didn’t feel as if I had anything more to say about anything. I was starting to complain (to myself) almost daily about having to write so much. I thought about whether I should or even wanted to change the direction of the blog. I of course have opinions about lots of things that are going on these days, but decided I have no desire to convince anyone of anything, let along alienate anyone (the few mild political comments I have made always seem to bother someone). I still have loads of stories, but some I haven’t told are really no one else’s business. What, I kept asking myself all week, would, could, or should I write about?

Working on the Sunday post

I thought very deeply and honestly about whether I wanted to continue writing, and the answer in the end was yes, although I came very, very close to saying no. I am not ready yet to let it go. I enjoy writing, love interacting with readers, but I figured out I don’t need to write so often or so much. I can do shorter posts. I don’t have to keep to a schedule. I realized that’s the main reason I enjoy writing a blog: I’m the boss, I control the whole darn thing, and I can post what I feel like when I feel like it. Somehow though I had let this blog begin to control me and that needed to change.

We will be traveling again some day. That’s a given, in spite of COVID’s efforts. And, when we do eventually hit the road there will be lots more things to write about again. For the time being though there will be less. The Sunday post will continue as it’s the most fun to write and draws the most readers. To my surprise, what we’re eating and how many golf balls we find on our walks (another fun post to write) is also very popular. But otherwise? I’ve decided to post when I have something to write about or share, whether that’s a recipe, travel tip or memory, or something about life in general. I don’t want to be on any sort of schedule because a schedule eventually turns the blog into work, into an obligation that in my case was becoming more and more difficult to fulfill.

Anyway, I hope you all will stick around and see what happens.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I finished both Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and A Rule Against Murder last week, and reached my reading goal of 52 books finished this year. For now, I’m going to keep going with my mystery theme and see how many books I can finish by the end of year. I’ve already decided on my theme for next year but that’s for later. It took me a very long while to find something that didn’t have a long waiting list (mysteries are very popular), but I eventually found a highly rated Japanese mystery/thriller, Six-Four, and am already into it. It is SO Japanese, and very different from anything else I’ve read this year.
  • Listening to: There’s a fairly stiff breeze this morning, and lots of clouds, but nothing threatening for now, surprising because it rained hard last night. It’s quiet inside and out – Brett is putting away last night’s dishes and making his breakfast, but other than a few birds cheeping outside there’s nothing happening there to cause any noise. In other words, another perfect morning!
  • Watching: We have been enjoying the Whitechapel series so far – its premise is an updated twist on historical British murders and crime, and so far it’s covered Jack the Ripper and the Kray Twins, but the latest seems based on an American crime (Devil in the White City). Tuesday evenings we watched a new episode Only Murders In This Building, and Wednesday we the latest episode of Vera, but we’ll finish up Whitechapel early the coming week so are already looking for something new. Has anyone watched Billions (on Amazon Prime) and can recommend? I love watching Damian Lewis (he does American accents so well that it’s strange to hear him speak with his natural British accent), and wondered if this might be a good series for us.
Getting started on our first ball sort and grading
  • Happy I accomplished last week: We’ve almost got our first golf ball order put together for eBay: 100 balls in 4A or 5A condition, and a box of 50 mixed condition yellow balls. Brett and I sat down last Friday and went through everything to pick the balls in the best condition, and we’re still trying to figure out how much our opening bid should be. I also photographed and listed a mid-size Japanese hibachi on our local Buy & Sell and Craigslist as it’s too heavy to ship, but it was discouraging for a few day and then it sold yesterday. Otherwise we had another week with no big or special accomplishments, just making sure all the regular stuff got done.
  • Looking forward to next week: A long-time blogging friend, Bob Lowry (Satisfying Retirement In a Changing World), and his wife, Betty, will be visiting Kaua’i this week! We’re meeting for breakfast at the Tip Top Cafe on Tuesday morning, and then plan to meet up again for happy hour and dessert before their departure a week later, and hopefully a beach day at Barking Sands together as well if the weather cooperates. I can’t begin to say how much I’m looking forward to meeting them – we’ve talked about getting together several times and it’s finally going to happen. Also, this week we’ll be doing our “big” Big Shop for the month. We already have a good amount of food on hand so I’m not sure how big it’s actually going to be though. We had nice weather this past week on a couple of days, and fingers crossed for more this week so we can go back to Barking Sands.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: 1) We had an absolutely perfect beach day on Thursday at Barking Sands. I think we stayed out there for over three hours because it was so nice, and once again we had the entire beach to ourselves, which is what makes going there so great: all that space! 2) Our avocado tree has a new home! Our landlord asked us this past week if he could have it as he and his wife have been wanting to plant one in their yard, and after he stopped by last week to take care of a maintenance issue it left with him. 3) One of our fellow walkers at the park gave us a bag of three big avocados from her yard this past week besides enjoying the delicious fruit we’re starting another tree from one of those seeds 4) I had three Etsy sales, with one order coming all the way from France! I offer free shipping for U.S. orders but anything from overseas has to pay postage, and it was surprisingly less than I thought, thanks to Etsy. The packaging of the item required a bit more effort than usual though.
Our avocado tree has a new home . . .
. . . but a new one is getting started.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: I stopped doing Swagbucks this past week except for a some easy tasks that only take a few minutes each day, and will provide enough SB for a $50 Amazon card sometime next year. I had earned enough SB for another $250 Delta card, and decided that was good enough for now because otherwise it was making me nuts. It’s wonderful being free of Swagbucks, and we still have $1750 total in Delta gift cards to put toward our flights to Pennsylvania next year. Our only spending this week was a trip to Costco on Wednesday to buy wine and sunscreen, and check for peanut butter, followed by a stop at Times Market to pick up two desserts (a matcha Swiss roll cake and a Pepperidge Farm coconut cake) and a jar of natural peanut butter – Costco has not had any natural/organic peanut butter for well over a month now. Brett saw the dentist on Friday afternoon for a new crown ($$$), but that expense was covered out of savings. We didn’t put anything into the change/$1 bill bag this past week because we used our debit cards at Costco and Times for a change. There was no food waste this week, and all the leftovers were eaten.
  • Adding up what we sold: Two hashioki, a Year of the Tiger clay bell, and a small jubako were sold on Etsy this past week (the jubako shipped to France!). The three sales were a nice surprise as I didn’t think I’d have any after having a week-long sale. I also sold one of our porcelain hibachis after several annoying requests from other interested parties. There were lots of views, good reviews, watchers, etc. on both eBay and Etsy, but no sales this week on eBay. The deposit to our travel account this week will be $190.87.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling grateful this week for all of my readers, for your support and conversation, your advice and ideas, for having my back, but most of all for coming back again and again to read what this very ordinary woman has to say.
  • Bonus question: Is there anything you won’t eat? I can’t eat most lettuces because of a food intolerance – they upset my stomach and cause other problems, so I avoid salads. I also greatly dislike olives in spite of repeated tries – the briny, salty flavor just doesn’t work for me (Brett loves them however). I hate fruit-flavored things, especially lime and cherry – I’d rather be sick than take a cherry-flavored medication – the only one I can tolerate is orange. I have no desire to ever try any bugs, grubs, or reptiles, things like rattlesnake or alligator – it makes my stomach turn just to think about eating any of them. The weirdest foods I have ever eaten were jellyfish and baby birds (not at the same time), and there is no way I’d eat either of those again. But otherwise, nothing is off limits.

The hibachi that was finally sold yesterday.

This past week we decided to contact an auction house next year when it’s time to sell our big hibachi table and a few other more valuable things. After this past week’s experience on Buy & Sell/Craigslist trying to sell the antique hibachi above, we realized neither of those is the right venue for some of the stuff we’re letting go. I got several messages: Is this still available?, I would responded yes, and then either hear nothing back or receive a request for a 25% discount (no), with offers of less than the cost of a similar-sized clay pot at Home Depot or Walmart. We had already priced it low because we knew it would be somewhat difficult to sell on the island. The woman who finally bought it yesterday also initially asked for a discount, but when she came over and looked at it she paid our full asking price without any hesitation. We’re happy it went to someone who will love it like we have over the years. Anyway, the auction house serves a whole different audience, and is seen statewide, so hopefully we’ll have better luck selling through them. We auctioned several Japanese woodblock prints before we left Portland and did very well, so we’re hoping for a similar experience here.

That’s a wrap for this week! It’s been a great one overall, with mostly nice weather, a wonderful day at the beach, books finished and a new one started, good food, staying connected with friends and family, and feeling pretty good for the most part. I’m looking forward to what the coming week brings, and hope everyone is as well.

Technical Issues

I am going to be taking the next ten or so days off from blogging (and many other computer-related activities) while I wait for a new laptop to arrive from Apple. Beginning last Saturday, I started having multiple issues with my current Macbook, such as it shutting down for no reason and also refusing to start up at times. At one point on Sunday it took nine tries to get it to boot up, and this morning it finally flat out refused to start. YaYu spent well over an hour with Apple Help on Sunday trying to resolve the issues, but the end result was the recommendation I take it to the Genius Bar. 

There’s no Genius Bar on Kaua’i, just a small Apple retail store that sends Macs somewhere off island for repairs. After some discussion about the best way forward, Brett went ahead and ordered a new Macbook Air for me. It is scheduled to arrive at the end of next week, between July 1st and the 3rd. YaYu is already excited about setting up the new arrival, but she has been an invaluable help in keeping this one going as long as possible so we could get as much as possible off of it before it died.

Blogging on my phone doesn’t work for me, but I can answer comments. I’ll be back in a short while, as soon as everything is set up again. Thanks for understanding!

10 Years a Blogger

I rarely have given a thought to how long I’ve been blogging, but this past weekend it struck me that it was 10 years ago this month that I first started out. Ten years? How did that happen? That’s a lot of writing under the bridge. 

Some readers may remember that my first blog was I’m Losing It Here, all about our family’s efforts to get out of debt along with me (once again) trying to lose weight. I started the blog because I thought that writing about the process would help me stay honest, motivated and on track. More for my own sake than any other reason, I blogged about our ups and downs, what we were learning along the way, and eventually even shared a frugal recipe or two. Writing about that journey truly kept me sane, and I learned much along the way, not only about the process of ridding ourselves of debt, but about myself as well. I can’t begin to tell how surprised I was though to discover one day that others had somehow found I’m Losing It Here and were actually reading what I had to say. And, some were sticking around to read more. And then following me! And commenting too! As a beginning blogger you hope to attract readers, but when you actually do . . . WOW!

Getting ourselves out of debt, according to Dave Ramsey, should have taken 11 months. It actually took over three years because stuff happens, especially when you have three kids at home, but in 2013 Brett was able to retire (something we initially had no idea could happen), and we had segued into getting ready to move to Hawai’i, to the island of Kaua’i. The blog segued as well to Noho’ana Hau’ole: Life Is Good, which chronicled our steps in downsizing, selling our stuff, selling our house, and finally making our big move in June of 2014. Once again, writing kept me focused and on track as we completed our goals and set new ones every month along with everything else that went along with making such a big move. 

Once in Hawai’i, the blog changed again, this time because WordPress initially refused to coordinate with our new IP provider. The View From the Treehouse, named after the views from our first house on Kaua’i, focused on adjusting to life on a small island in the middle of the ocean and about all that beautiful little piece of rock had to offer. Brett came on board as well to add articles about his hikes around the island. The View sadly ended when the hosting company charged me more than double for my second year than what I had paid for the domain when I set it up.

And thus it was back to WordPress, and The Occasional Nomads came to be. I wasn’t ready to stop writing; in fact, at this point, I realized I almost needed to write more than wanted to write, and it was time once again to change my blogging’s focus and direction. While continuing to write about our life on Kaua’i, I also wanted to write about travel. Brett and I have always loved to travel, but at that time we were still in the dreaming stage about trips we might take once all our little birds had left the nest. Little did I guess when I started The Occasional Nomads that he and I would become actual full-time nomads, but as the saying goes, here we are. And what a ride it’s been! I know we’ll eventually slip back into being truly occasional nomads once again, and that I’ll be blogging about it, but we’re not there yet.

Back in the dark ages, in my senior year of high school, my English instructor predicted that I would someday write The Great American Novel. I’ve thought about it over the years, of writing about the daily minutia of life, the dreams, the goals, the small and the great struggles, and the successes and failures that regular people endure or celebrate every day as they create and make a life. But a novel isn’t in me. So instead I’ve documented the life I’ve made, the life I’m still creating, and the dreams we’re fulfilling. As our son once said, I like the sound of my own voice. It’s why I’m going to keep writing.

And to all who have found me and kept reading over the years, thank you. Without your validation, blogging over the years would have been nothing more than shouting into the wind. As most teachers will tell you, we always get back as much if not more from our students than we give out in the classroom, and it’s been the same with blogging – I feel like I’ve received far more over the years from readers than what I’ve produced. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of you and becoming friends for life. Your kindness, support, and advice (and putting up with numerous typos, misspelled and misplaced words) have meant the world to me. I hope you’ll all stick around to see what happens next.

I’ve Been Moved To the Injured Roster

My lovely multi-colored, swollen, and very sore left hand.

Last Sunday evening I took a bit of a tumble during Brett’s and my walk. I was looking over at the remnants of a fair/festival that had been going on in the park by the side of the beach path and not watching my feet, and my right foot caught the edge of the path and boom! Down I went. I fell pretty hard too, but thankfully my head hit the grass and not the concrete path. My hand and rib were not so lucky.

I felt OK enough after the fall to finish our walk, and felt kind of banged up in the evening. But when I woke up Monday morning . . . yowza! My hand was swollen, bruised and hurt something fierce, and my chest hurt like crazy too, including when I breathed. So, off to the ER we went.

The bad news was I have a hairline fracture on the side of my finger. It’s not a major injury, but I’m splinted up for the next couple of weeks while it heals. The good news (?) was that while I didn’t fracture a rib, I did bruise one pretty badly. The doctor said it will heal faster than a fracture, but be more painful at first.

I’m typing this with one hand (and making lots of mistakes), so other than a post I had already put together for tomorrow I’m going to take a blogging break for around a week or so, and then will reassess how I’m doing, Poor Brett – once again he will be taking on almost all of the household chores, plus helping me dress, etc. for a while.

Life can change in a moment, but I’m so grateful and fortunate the injuries weren’t worse. I’m also very thankful for our insurance – between Medicare and Tricare For Life everything is 100% covered.

While I won’t be actively blogging I’ll still answer comments, and hope you’ll give me some time to get to them (and not expect the answers to be too detailed).















A Domain of Our Own

The Occasional Nomads has finally made the big time – we have our own domain!

And, we have a new web address:

We ran out of space on the (free) blog on Monday, so I purchased an upgrade from WordPress with more storage. The upgrade also removed all the ads that WordPress was placing on the site. Brett and I have no plans to monetize the blog so the site will now be completely ad free!

You’ll still be able to reach the site from the old web address, but the new one will hopefully be easier to remember.







A Different Look for The Occasional Nomads

Yes, we’re still The Occasional Nomads, but with a new look!

I felt like I needed a change this week, so I’m trying out a different design for the blog. I’m going to give it a few days and see how I like it, and how readers like it.

I’m not sure yet how I feel about the blog’s name being downsized in the upper left corner, but I do like the new picture (taken in Kyoto) and the themes of the blog being highlighted on the splash photo. It’s different without being too different.

Let me know what you think! The design change was free, so I’m not out anything for trying it out, and easily can go back to what I had before.

Fall Break

A Rainbow Shower tree: Hawaii's attempt at fall color
A rainbow shower tree: Hawaii’s attempt at fall color

YaYu is off from school this week for fall break, and I’ve decided to take the week off from blogging as well. I’m working on several posts, but to be honest it’s difficult writing when I’m lying on my back, and I can only sit up for a short time so that doesn’t work very well either. I feel like I need some time off.

Don’t go away – I’ll be back next Sunday afternoon!

Tanned, Rested and Ready to Blog Again


Thanks for letting me have a little time off! I spent my “vacation” reflecting on the blog, and how I saw it going forward or at times, or if I even wanted to continue. I honestly felt that I was drifting further and further away from the direction I had intended for The Occasional Nomads when I began it last year, as well as dragging myself into a rut I wasn’t going to be able to climb out of. I wasn’t sure if the ennui I was experiencing was because I had lost interest in blogging, or because I had somehow headed off in the wrong direction.

What I did figure out was that I didn’t want to stop writing, but some changes were definitely in order.

Some things around here are going to stay the same, but others will be eliminated, combined or changed. For example, aspects of Feel Good Friday, which I loved writing each week, will now be folded into the Sunday Afternoon post. That has always been my favorite post to write each week, and I’ve always gotten good feedback about it. The Weekly Menu Plan will continue as well, but I want to incorporate more recipes, thoughts about healthy eating, and a bit more about food shopping here on Kaua’i rather than just listing what we’ll be eating for dinner during the week. I’m going to shift the day for the menu post from Monday to Wednesday though since that’s the day Brett and I shop at the farmers’ market, and our weekly menu is somewhat based on what we find there.

I’m also going to be adding some new, occasional features to the blog. One will be A Postcard From: XXX, small photo vignettes and write-ups about a particular place or site we have visited on our travels. As Brett and I continue to get out and travel more, I also want to include more information about how we bring it off, from saving to buying airfare to finding lodging, restaurants, local transportation, and so forth. We’re not travel experts by any means, but I’m hoping some of our experiences can be helpful for someone else.

I’m also an unabashed collector, and also fascinated by what others collect, so I plan to occasionally post pictures and information about some of the many things I’ve gathered over the years (and that made the cut to move with us to Kaua’i). I hope they’ll help give you some additional insights into who I am and what I like.


Finally, I am super excited that my good friend, Mary Bartnikowski – photographer extraordinaire, world traveler, writer and educator – will begin contributing to the blog as well. Mary is the author of four books, is an award-winning photographer in both the Silicon Valley and worldwide, and has led programs at Stanford, Apple, Intel and other global sites. She has traveled solo to 32 countries, and circled the world twice, buying one-way tickets along the way (and was almost crushed to death by elephants in Nepal, but thankfully survived 🙂 ). Along with her gorgeous photographs, Mary will writing about her Kaua’i experiences and insights, as well as educating us about what she does here on Kaua’i. Mary, Brett and I will all be posting to a new feature we’re calling #Kaua’i. These posts will highlight different aspects of our beautiful island, from sunsets to hiking trails to beaches to restaurants and other goings on. Mary will also be offering photo and travel tips along the way.

So, here we go – I’m looking forward to writing and sharing again!