Premeditated Leftovers

The Occasional Nomads have two food-related goals this year: 1) eliminate food waste as close to entirely as possible, and 2) lower our food costs as well as know exactly what I have on hand in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. We spent much of January getting better organized, and I found several items I had no idea we had on hand.

We got off to a somewhat shaky start in early January with food waste because of a refrigerator still stuffed with leftovers from the holidays. We did our best and ate what we could, but still had to throw away half a container of pico de gallo salsa and some other produce that was past its prime. Otherwise we’ve been careful and creative about finding ways to use leftovers and odds and ends. I’ve been checking the vegetable bins in the fridge frequently to make sure nothing gets pushed to the back and forgotten, and I’m trying to be more observant about adding produce odds and ends to soups or making stir-fries.

Our mid-month shopping at Aldi, Whole Foods, Costco, and Trader Joe’s came to $242.47.

We’ve set a $450/month budget for food in 2023 and did okay in January, spending a total of $433.86, although that took both very careful planning and shopping. Whether that amount will stay doable over the year remains to be seen. I have been starting each shopping trip with a two-week menu, shopping carefully with a list made from that menu, and obsessively sticking to the list. There is absolutely NO “stocking up” allowed, even if I see a good price, something I was guilty of doing in the past, and definitely NO impulse buys. Those two things could always wreck my budget in the past, and we don’t have room for extras here anyway, no matter how good the price. This means we will be avoiding Costco as much as possible going forward, hopefully only stopping once a month for a few items. Costco will remain our go-to store for some things (laundry detergent, paper towels, vitamins, organic apples, soups, syrup, peanut butter, and oat milk are a few things that still make sense), but we had to shop there for almost everything when we were on Kaua’i, and it’s been a hard habit to break. Finally, I am only shopping with cash this year, something I got lazy about at the end of last year. We allot $200 at the beginning of the month, $250 mid-month and otherwise we don’t go into a store unless absolutely necessary (with planning, it’s kind of amazing how little, if any, we have to buy between shopping trips). Any leftover cash goes into our change/$1 bill jar!

I’m trying to be more conscientious about dividing up food into meal-size portions. For example, pork chops usually come four to a package but we only use two at a time, and in the past I was always scrambling to come up with a second pork meal once I defrosted the package. Ground meat comes in one-pound packages but we only use 1/2 pound at a time that meant more scrambling. An investment we’re making this year is in reusable silicone food storage containers (Stashers) that can be washed in the dishwasher when they’re empty (eliminating one-use plastic freezer bags or containers).

Our beginning collection of Stasher bags: two sandwich size, and one quart size.

We’ve also started making our own fresh dog food this year. The recipe I came up with comes from advice from friends, and reading what a dog needs for good nutrition. Using a pound of turkey I buy at Aldi, a pound of chicken livers from Publix, and adding brown rice, mixed vegetables, pumpkin, and vegetable broth (and salt and calcium), I can make two weeks of food for Kaipo in the slow cooker for $6.30 (it will cost a little more in the future when I run out of the pumpkin and brown rice we already have on hand). The best part? Kai absolutely LOVES his fresh food!

Finally, besides spending less time in the kitchen, one more personal goal this year is finding more creative ways to use leftovers and planning them in advance when I make my menus and go shopping. Premeditated leftovers are going to remain a work in progress for a while (a long while, I think), but they fit my desire to do less cooking so the effort will be made.

It’s going to be an interesting year, but our goals are achievable and I’m excited about finding new ways to cook and save!

January Goals

After all the expense of the holidays, January keeps it going for us with two of our three girls having birthdays before the middle of the month (with the third girl’s birthday in early February). Otherwise, it’s usually a quiet month, and Brett and I have come up with ten goals to work toward in January:

  1. Keep grocery spending under $450. With everyone here for the holidays, December’s grocery costs were astronomical compared to what we usually spend. We’ve got several leftovers though to start off the year. While Costco shopping was necessary in Hawaii, here it’s really a massive money drain, and we plan to stop in once a month only if necessary, and otherwise limit our shopping to Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s, and occasionally Publix or Whole Foods.
  2. Aim for zero food waste.
  3. Have one full no-spend week. This will take some planning (like making sure the gas tank is full for example), but it’s doable.
  4. Have four no-drive days. We plan to hang out at home on Sundays this month.
  5. Try one new recipe. I want to make slow cooker Coq au Vin this month. I love it, but have never made it myself before.
  6. Track my meals and calories every day on MyFitnessPal. I got out of the habit of doing this while we were in Mexico but got started again at the end of last year and I am going to keep it up – it makes a difference. I’ve been thinking of starting up my activity cards as well but haven’t committed to doing those again yet.
  7. Walk 40 miles. Weather permitting, we should accomplish this just by walking through the apartment complex five days a week – one loop is 2.1 miles. However, bad weather kept us inside much of December, so we’ll just have to see how it goes this month.
  8. Visit one natural or historical site in the area. Our plan is to visit the nearby Carnton plantation home this month and/or maybe Radnor Lake State Park.
  9. Read three books. I was going to reread Gone With the Wind, but there’s a wait list for it at the library. I’m currently going through books I’ve already read in my Kindle library and choosing some of those to reread (Being Mortal by Atul Gawande was first) and otherwise waiting for books to come off hold from my end-of-the-year list at the library.

I’m just getting started with my crocheted sweater project so don’t know how to goal myself – there are some things going on with my glasses so it may have to be put off until next month. Many of the above goals seem pretty basic, but writing them down and knowing what we’re working toward made and big difference in the past. Brett and I think it will also help move the year along – 2023 will be a full year in Tennessee and we want to make the most of it!

My Not-So-Big List of Goals for 2023

I know these lists of goals usually show up at the end of the year, but I’ve been working on this for the past couple of months and thought, Why not post it now? What are you waiting for? since things are going to become very busy around here in the not too distant future.

I don’t have many goals for next year, but enough I think to keep me (and Brett) motivated and busy:

  • Save enough to pay cash for our Big Family Event in early January 2024. Beyond our usual saving hacks, we’re going to continue putting away $5 bills as well as $1s, and we plan to collect natural items in the area during the fall (pine cones, Osage oranges/hedge apples, acorns, etc.) to sell on Etsy – I was surprised to find there is a demand for this stuff. I am going to apply for a part-time job at Trader Joe’s, but that’s still an unknown for now so we’re mostly going to save the old-fashioned way. If I do end up working, that income will go into other savings for the time being.
  • Buy only handmade items, either through Etsy or local venues. We don’t plan on buying anything more this coming year, either for us or the apartment, but if we do we’ll choose handmade or locally produced.
  • Source all clothing purchases from thrift stores, eBay, or Etsy (except for socks, underwear, and shoes). Neither of us need anything thing right now, but if we feel like we do, thrift stores and Etsy will be our sources.
  • Try one new recipe each month. I don’t cook much these days, and usually stick to favorite recipes, so trying one new dish a month should be enough.
I will be making this sweater pattern that I purchased on Etsy. Yarn is a 50% wool/50% acrylic blend, and I’m thinking lavender gray for the color.
  • Crochet a sweater. I haven’t crocheted in years, but I found a pattern I like on Etsy, will purchase the yarn next month, and WenYu (a master crocheter) will help me get started when she’s here in December. I can do this! I can knit, but those skills are even rustier than crocheting.
  • Stay in shape through continued walking, healthy eating, and tracking my calories on MyFitnessPal. I let MyFitnessPal go when we were in Mexico, but it was very helpful before and I want (and need) to get back to it.
First up on next year’s reading list is this classic.
  • Reread 52 books. My theme for 2023 will be to read books I’ve read before, including some from high school, college, and beyond – I want to see how I feel about them now. The first book up in the new year will be Gone With the Wind, which I read when I was 11 years old (I expect I may find it rather sappy now). I’m going to be very picky because I’m pretty sure the books I disliked back in the day I will dislike just as much now, but I’m looking forward to giving some of them another chance.
  • Visit 12 historical or natural sites in our area. At the top of our list is a visit to Mammoth Caves National Park, but there are Civil War battlefields and other historical buildings in the area to visit, the Shaker village, and loads of natural areas worth seeing while we’re in the area. We are hoping to do some camping with M and K this spring and summer, if possible but haven’t figured out yet how we’ll pull that off.

Some of these may change or more may be added as the year goes along, depending on how things play out. I also want to post a monthly list of goals here and see if that helps us stay motivated as well to accomplish more through the year.

Should We Do That?

Although we’ve recently been focusing on the idea of a big road trip, Brett and I talk almost daily about what we want to do and where we want to go when our time in Nashville is over. Mazatlan? Big road trip? New England? Settle down somewhere else in the U.S.? Something else? All of these appeal to us in one way or another, but they all come with pros and cons, and we’re grateful we have the time and opportunity now to examine all of them more deeply. It’s fun to have possibilities or to sketch out rough plans, and it gives us plenty to talk and think about together, but we’re not getting any closer to making a decision, let alone the right one. All we know for certain now is what we don’t want.

We decided this past weekend that it was time we set up a spread sheet. We need to define what we want and will need going forward, and then evaluate the different ideas and places we’ve come up with using those criteria. We’ve made a list of nine items once again, but unlike the past when many of our criteria were in support of our daughters and how a relocation would affect them, the focus this time was solely on our needs as aging retirees. We need to have a logical system for evaluating choices versus getting wrapped up in ideas that have us potentially changing our mind every couple of months or even weeks. Spontaneity, creativity, adventure, and trying something new have always played a strong role in our decision making, but this time is different.

Below is our list of nine criteria to evaluate the potential of particular locations or travel ideas. None of these have been ranked (yet) as being any more important than any other except for cost of living/affordability and healthcare. We discovered when we did this the last time that as we went through the process of evaluation our wants and needs mostly sorted themselves out and ranked themselves without our intervention. Back in 2014, much to our surprise, Kaua’i met eight of our nine criteria, but I don’t think that lightening is going to strike again. Our nine criteria this time are:

  • Cost of living/affordability
  • Healthcare/dental care
  • Housing
  • Proximity to family
  • Adventure/activities
  • Climate
  • Transportation
  • Taxes
  • Senior services

We have less than two years until it will be time to move on, and we’d like to know sooner rather than later where we’re going and what we need to be doing to get there in the most cost effective and efficient way. We’re fortunate to have a variety of choices and time on our side for now, but we know we have to get it right. There will be no more do-overs for us this next time.

Travel In Our Future

Photo by Leonardo Yip on Unsplash

Brett and I are starting to like this being settled in one place with our own stuff. We like having a dog in our lives again. We’re currently no longer itching to travel, travel, travel other than visit sites or destinations in our area. Brett has already put his foot down that our move to Mazatlán will be our last, and I have agreed. We will not be selling our furniture or things this next time either. Going forward, where we go our stuff will go with us.

Beginning with our departure from Hawaii last May, we found travel experiences disappointing to downright miserable, and something of a deterrent to future travel. I shudder now when I think of the long waits we endured in airports, the expense of dining in airports, or of getting an hour or so of sleep between flights. With airline schedules constantly changing these days, flights being cancelled or placed on hold, and prices going up as well, going from one place to another is no longer the exciting process it was for us back in 2018. Since leaving Hawaii, our journeys from one location to another turned into everything from uninviting drudgery to pure misery versus being the thrilling start to a new adventure they were before.

So, what’s a couple who loves to travel and experience new locations to do? There are still so many things we want to experience, and places we want to see, but we dread the process of getting there.

Mazatlán gets especially hot mid-summer through early fall, and those months would be an ideal time for us to leave town for a while. Early fall is a wonderful in Japan, and mid-summer a great time for us to head up to the northeast to spend time with the girls. We can see ourselves renting a New England beach house or mountain cabin for a month, and spending a couple of autumn months in Japan each year. The “shoulder season” before the summer travel season begins would be for visiting other destinations. There are still plenty more places we’d love to see, including several in South America and others in Europe and Asia.

Travel is definitely going to have a place in our future, but it’s going to have to be done differently than in the past. We’re going to have to adjust our attitudes and expectations going forward and change how we think about and do travel, from possibly upgrading how we travel to the length of time we stay in a location to even possibly taking part in a tour now and again. The travel industry is not going to return to its pre-Covid heyday, and we’re not getting any younger either, nor have the energy we once had for full-time travel. We don’t want to sell all our stuff again, or put it into storage, and the thought of lugging around two big suitcases is no longer as exciting as it once was. We’re ready to have a home to come back to. And, time with our family is more important to us than ever. We know we can make that work for us when it comes to future travel, visiting family and some of our favorite places every year but making time for new locations as well.

The adventure isn’t over yet, and we intend to remain Occasional Nomads as long as possible, but travel in our future is going to happen in a different way.

That Didn’t Take Long

Brett told me the other day that he never wants to move again. It’s not that he’s fallen in love with Tennessee, but he said he’s tired of all the packing, unpacking, setting up, etc. that goes with moving. Our last few travel experiences didn’t help his mood: the long plane flights and schedules that were changed without notice, lugging the big suitcases around, driving a big van through all sorts of crazy weather and having to unload it every evening and load it again in the morning, and on and on. At age 72 he said he’s had enough.

While I still enjoy and look forward to traveling, our experiences since we left Hawaii have left their mark on me as well, and I admit to being somewhat relieved to be settled again with our own things, even if many of those things are actually new to us. I honestly did not enjoy the whole moving part of the past few months, but also know that I don’t want to stay in Tennessee for more than two years. I know that means we’re going to have to pack up and move once again.

I’ve promised Brett though that next move will be our last, and that someone else will move us and do all the work. One of the reasons I’m so fierce about saving once again is that if we are not going to do it ourselves, we are going to have to pay someone else to pack our things, load a truck, move our stuff, and unpack at our destination. I’m all done with that part of moving.

We are 100% decided at this point that when we leave Tennessee we will head to Mexico, to the city of Mazatlán on the Pacific coast. We enjoyed our time in San Miguel de Allende, but knew that while we could happily live in Mexico, SMA was not the right place for us for a variety of reasons.

Why did we choose Mazatlán?

  • It’s beach town on the same latitude as Hawaii but with a much, much, much lower cost of living. We can easily afford an oceanside modern condo or apartment, or a house with an ocean view and Pacific breezes as well as a housekeeper (and gardener if needed).
  • We thought the cost of living in San Miguel de Allende was fantastic, but Mazatlán’s COL is even lower. We can live very well there on half of our income. The other half can be used for travel, investment, and saving. And, I can continue to afford to live there if Brett predeceases me.
  • The city has an international airport with direct flights to several American cities (two hours from Phoenix, for example) as well as Mexico City. We can fly from Mazatlán to the U.S. and either up to the northeast to see the girls, or over to Japan. We could afford to visit Japan and the girls every year as well as travel to another destination in the world.
  • Although our health and dental insurance cover us worldwide, good health and dental care are available and extremely affordable in Mazatlán. As we age, we can also afford to hire home health assistance if needed.
  • There is a large expat community in Mazatlán, but not an overwhelmingly large one like there was in San Miguel de Allende. There is a tourist season, with an influx of snowbirds and visitors, but nothing approaching the numbers of SMA or cities further down the coast such as Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco.
  • The city has well-run public transportation, and we would not need a car there (two of our daughters are already interested in purchasing our car from us).
  • Mazatlán’s weather is hot and dry. It can be quite hot during the summer and into the early fall, but the rest of the year is pleasant and warm. There are numerous walking venues, and a long, accessible beach. The city is known for it seafood, shrimp especially.

Will we move all of our stuff to Mazatlán? Yes – it would be an affordable move. We like the stuff we’ve purchased here and if it holds up we plan to keep it.

Mazatlán has everything we want, from an oceanside location to a low cost of living that will allow us to continue to travel while still being settled somewhere. We will get everything we want at a cost we can afford. We’ve got two years to go here in Nashville, but we’re back in savings mode once again so that when the time comes we’ll be ready to make our move!

Until One Is Committed


William Hutchinson Murray

(This is a repeat of a previously published post)

The best description I ever heard of the China adoption process was that putting the dossier together was like doing your taxes over and over and over and over and over and over . . . again and again and again and again . . . . At the beginning of each adoption journey, a slew of documents needed to be assembled upfront: a home study, birth certificates, marriage certificate, medical reports, police reports, financial statement, adoption statements, immigration forms, etc. – there were nearly 20 documents required in all. Each one of those documents had to be notarized in the state where they originated, then each notarized document went to the Secretary of State of that state for the notary to be certified. After that, the entire stack, by now a couple of inches high, was sent by courier to the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. for each document to be certified again, and finally the whole thing was again sent by courier to the Chinese Embassy for each document’s final certification and approval. Four copies had to be made of every page and certification for the entire dossier and only then could it finally be sent to China and put in line for us to be matched with a child.

The process took several months to complete, and along the way, there was always the possibility for China to tweak or change their requirements. For example, we were almost done with the dossier for Meiling’s adoption when China suddenly announced that physicals could no longer be more than six months old, and ours were seven months old at that point. Panic! But, our doctor squeezed us in, and every other part of the certification process worked flawlessly (for a change) and in just a few short weeks our dossier was finally complete and off to China in late May of 1996. Matches and referrals were taking only three or so months then, so our hopes were high that by the time we returned home in August from taking our son to college we would have news of a daughter.

However, when we returned home and called our agency the news was not good; in fact, it was very bad. China had shut down adoptions for families that already had children, which of course included us. Our agency was moving families into other adoption programs, but China had been the only program that would accept us because of our ages (we were each over 40 years old). What had happened, we later learned, was a power struggle over the international adoption program had broken out between two different political bureaus in China, and adoptions had ground to a halt while they fought it out and reorganized. (We also learned our agency was convinced at the time that the entire program was going to collapse.)

All of our hopes and love, and quite a bit of money, had gone into the adoption process for more than a year, including all of the work of assembling our dossier. I was in graduate school at the time, and my work began to suffer because I could barely concentrate. Brett unhappily slogged off to work each day as well. Our son was at college in another state, so it was just the two of us at home each evening, and we were glum, depressed, and unsure of what to do or how to proceed.

On one particularly bad day, one of my professors emailed me the quote above, and told me to “hang in there.” I shared it with Brett that evening, and we talked about how deeply committed we still were to adopting from China and had been from the start. All sorts of unexpected and serendipitous events had happened and helped us along the way to make our adoption dream come together so far, and we decided that rather than pull out we would stay with it to the end and see what happened, no matter the outcome. We both felt in our hearts that our daughter was waiting for us there.

The William Murray quote was a turning point for us. And, it has proven prescient ever since. When we have committed to something, whether it was adding an additional child to our family again through adoption, getting ourselves out of debt, moving to Hawai’i, or planning a trip – when we have committed ourselves, as the quote says, Providence has always moved too. Things we couldn’t have imagined have happened to help make our plans a reality, and we were given the drive, vision, and persistence to see our dreams come true and our goals reached.

Commitment has been the step where we’ve gone from “do you think?” or “should we?” to “let’s do this” and then started figuring out how to accomplish it. The path to success has not always been straight or smooth or easy, but time and experience have shown that the unexpected does and will occur along the way to help, especially when we need it most. As each journey continues we begin to see things in different ways and act on them accordingly, with our commitment to finishing growing stronger the further along we get.

As the new year began in 1997 we were still waiting, but Brett and I had reached the depths of despair. There had been no positive word from our agency for weeks, and we felt like we were hanging on to hope by our fingernails. We had enjoyed having our son home for Christmas, but he returned to school on January 9. So, when the phone rang on the morning of January 10 I assumed it was him asking about something he had forgotten and wanted us to send. I had been lying on our sofa, crying and asking God for some kind of a sign, that if there was to be no adoption to let us know somehow and we would let it go, but if there was hope then we would continue to hang on. When I answered the phone that morning it was not our son but our social worker: “Laura, there’s a baby girl waiting for you in China,” and on March 12, 1997, in the hallway of a hotel in China, we met our little Meiling for the first time and she was ours.

This was the only picture we received of Meiling before we met her.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!

Game Changer

Brett and I are still coming to terms with how much of a game changer our move to Nashville is going to be for us going forward.

We have absolutely NO REGRETS about accepting our son and daughter-in-law’s request to move to Nashville for the next two years. The request was unexpected, but there was never any doubt about accepting. Brett and I have loads of experience making changes on the fly, can quickly adapt and adjust, and we always make the best of any situation.

However, this move not only changes our plans for the next couple of years, but, as we’ve been figuring out the last few weeks, also for years ahead.

There will be loads of things happening in the next few months we were not expecting to have to do again for a few more years, including purchasing a car and once again buying furniture and other things we’ll need, from a coffee maker to mixing bowls to bed linens and towels. We thankfully didn’t get rid of everything, but most of what we owned here in Hawaii is now gone.

With international travel off the agenda for the next couple of years, Brett and I knew the odds of returning to full-time travel once our DIL and granddaughter returned to Japan were greatly diminished. We talked about whether it made more sense to rent furniture for the next couple of years and buy a used car, but decided we would be happier in the long run if we purchased furniture pieces we could live with for the rest of our lives, and a car that would last the rest of our lives as well.

Once we accepted the above, we realized we wanted own a dog again as well and would adjust future travel plans around that reality. We’ve come up with two paths once our time in Nashville is over: putting our furniture and other possessions into storage and setting off on an extended road trip around Canada and the U.S. along with our puppy for a couple of years, or buying a house and settling down somewhere in the northeast, most likely Maine, and traveling during the winter months (our middle daughter, WenYu, has already offered to store our car and all of the girls have volunteered to watch Kaipo). Both plans have lots of positives and potential for us.

Brett and I were very excited about our upcoming full time travels once again, and have honestly felt sad at times about abandoning those plans. But we are both forward thinkers and optimists, and we also like the options and opportunities we’ve been given. We plan to make the most of our future, and will remain nomads, even if that only turns out to be occasionally.

So Many Things To Do Before We Go

Time seems to be ticking by more quickly these days, although it still seems like there will be enough time to get everything done without getting ourselves overwhelmed. To make sure we don’t forget anything we came up with a (first) list of tasks to complete and when to complete them so we hopefully won’t become overwhelmed toward the end of our time here.

Here’s the month-by-month schedule we’ve come up with. Items are not necessarily in the order they will be or need to be done:


  • Continue packing items for storage
  • Finish assembling all necessary toiletries, health supplies, and OTC medications
  • Begin airing out suitcases & Brett’s sport coat


  • Send birthday gift to WenYu
  • Finish packing all items for storage; address all the boxes
  • Make a final evaluation of wardrobe items (what’s going with us, what’s not)


  • Order additional (“emergency”) supplies of prescription medications
  • Mail all items for storage
  • Begin washing all stored clothing
  • Sell remaining furniture; move patio furniture into house and begin using inflatable mattress
  • Begin deep clean of apartment for move-out
  • Celebrate 43rd anniversary with a Day of No Cooking at three favorite restaurants
  • Open mainland mail service account; close local post office box


  • Sell car
  • Hold yard sale; take all leftover items to thrift store
  • Purchase additional carry-on bag at thrift store for YaYu’s items; finish packing her things
  • Celebrate Brett’s 72nd birthday
  • Take all remaining unopened food items to local food bank
  • Close Costco account
  • Finish cleaning apartment; turn over keys and get back deposit
  • Pack suitcases and carry-ons for travel


  • Purchase gifts for Airbnb hosts (local rum miniatures; Kaua’i Kookies; small passionfruit jams; macadamia nut chocolates; Anahola granola)
  • Pick up rental car
  • Pick up hard copies of medical and vision prescriptions from doctors
  • Move to condo in Princeville
  • Close local bank account
  • Mail inflatable mattress for storage
  • Depart for Philadelphia (we’re actually flying into the Baltimore-Washington airport and driving up to Philly)

Laura’s Rule of Lists posits that as things get done, more things will come up, items we haven’t thought of yet or remembered. There will also be a few surprises thrown in for good measure. However, if we can get all the above done on time, we’ll leave Kaua’i in good very shape!

2021 Goals Recap and Some Goals for 2022

It’s that time of the year again when we assess how we did with the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of this past year, and make some new goals for the coming year.

2021 joint goals for Brett and me:

  1. Continue to stay healthy! Brett and I continued to lose weight this past year and we walked 1056 miles in spite of October’s and November’s weather. We gave up eating meat, eggs, most dairy and limited gluten and feel much, much better for it. We were vaccinated for COVID and got our boosters, Brett got both doses of the shingles vaccine, and I will get my second dose early next year. I got the flu vaccine as well, but Brett didn’t as he risks a possible reaction. We’re in very good shape for our ages, did not add any medications, and we feel great!
  2. Save enough to cover YaYu’s 2021-2022 college expenses. Mission accomplished! We have transferred our last bit of college savings to her account and she will pay her final bill after the first of the year.
  3. Save $8000 for future travels, including an additional $1000 in Delta gift cards from Swagbucks. We saved over $11,000 for travel, enough to cover the first month of three Airbnb rentals (Strasbourg, Oxford, and Edinburgh), our flight from Baltimore to Paris following YaYu’s graduation, a deposit on an eight-day condo rental on the island before we depart, and a few travel-related clothing purchases. I earned $750 in Delta gift cards before I gave up doing Swagbucks, and along with one I purchased from Hawaii Planner covered our flights to Pennsylvania in May for YaYu’s graduation.
  4. Save $600 for Christmas 2021. Done!
  5. Send at least one stored item to each of the girls. The girls took back with them a huge amount of their items; we cleaned out over eight boxes and containers filled with their things. We still have YaYu’s items with us but will begin mailing some to her early next year and carry some along with us when we go to her graduation. We also got a box ready to send to our son, and I sent off some paperwork to my older brother in Australia.
  6. Go to the beach at least 26 times. I’m not sure how many days we made it to the beach, but it sure wasn’t 26! The weather has not been conducive to beach visits this year.

2021 Personal Goals:

  1. Read 52 books. I read 63 books this year!
  2. Add 20 minutes of upper body strength training with weights to my daily exercise. I did strength training until November, when it just sort of petered out. I never really got into it at all, and came to resent having to do these.
  3. Continue to study Japanese, and add French as well. I finally gave up on Japanese, and Memrise French didn’t long, but Brett and I started learning French together in November with Duolingo and are continuing with that. We’re enjoying it enough that even if we don’t get to go to France, we’ll stick with the lessons – they’re good for us.
  4. Start writing a book. This is never going to happen. 

Our Goals for 2022:

  • Attend YaYu’s graduation and get to Europe!
  • Re-establish residency on the mainland (mailing address; voting).
  • Mail our stored possessions to WenYu; sell everything else
  • Continue to follow up with Plan B, just in case
  • Continue with pre-Christmas eating plan and walking regime
  • Continue to save as much as possible before departing Kaua’i
  • Read as many books as possible

All of our goals other than the last one should be completed by the middle of the year. After that we plan to rest and enjoy ourselves wherever we may be!