Cataract Surgery: It’s Time

I had my annual eye exam last week and the news was both good and bad. The bad news was that it’s finally time to have the cataracts that have been slowly growing in both eyes removed. My close-up vision remains good, but distance vision has deteriorated to the point that glasses can improve things only slightly, with objects and views in the distance remaining fuzzy and blurry without the surgery.

I knew this was coming eventually, but it was still something of a blow to my sense of good health to get the news. I recently finished re-reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, M.D. and one strong lesson reabsorbed is that the aging process is one of things and parts breaking down. Just like a complicated power plant, eventually parts of us stop working as they should and either need to be repaired, replaced, or removed. When that’s not possible, we adjust.

The surgery will make a positive difference. I will continue to need glasses for reading and such, but may not need progressives any more once the new lenses are in place in my eyes. I will also be able to see better at night, and overall clarity should return versus what I’m experiencing now (which is everything in the distance being uncomfortably blurry).

Between Medicare and our military insurance the entire cost of the surgery will be covered, so that was the good news. I won’t even have a co-pay. New glasses following the surgery will be more expensive though, even with insurance, because the frames I’ve chosen cost more than what they have in the past few years. But, they’re The Ones, still come in right at the top end of what we can afford, and I am not going to budge – I want them!

I’ll meet with the surgeon the last week of this month, and surgery will be scheduled for some time in February. It’s time.

Eating & Exercise: Getting the Ship Turned Back Around

A tasty, healthy dinner, courtesy of Trader Joe’s: air-fried vegetable spring rolls, steamed chicken shu mai, and organic coleslaw.

As we both feared and somewhat expected, the eating and exercise regime Brett and I created in Hawaii fell apart when we started traveling again, and we were never any place long enough to set a consistent routine and stick with it. Restaurant meals, airport food, and delicious and affordable local cuisine in Mexico changed how we we ate the past four months. Hot and/or humid weather, dealing with San Miguel de Allende’s higher altitude, and sometimes uncomfortable walking venues kept exercise opportunities inconsistent or impossible at times. We did our best, but always knew we could do better.

Surprisingly, we gained very little to no weight. We had learned to keep our portion sizes small, so large lunches or brunches in Mexico meant we would skip dinner. I thought all the delicious bakery items we enjoyed in San Miguel de Allende would do us in, but they came with less sugar and fat than they would have in the U.S,, and that seemed to help keep things on an even keel. We’re both out of shape though when it comes to walking and moving around. My hips are stiff again, and the heat and humidity knock me out in short time. There are no refreshing ocean breezes here to keep us going like they did in Hawaii but I can and will acclimate.

It’s time for both Brett and I to get serious again with our health. We’re settled now, we have an abundance of sources to supply us with fresh, healthy food, and a dog that needs to be walked a few times a day. Our apartment complex has an air-conditioned gym with treadmills we can use on super hot, humid or bad weather days, so we have no excuses for not exercising every day.

I am once again keeping a daily food diary. We’ve added meat back into our diet, but only occasionally and in small portions. For the most part our diet is still mostly vegetarian/vegan. We’re eating more fresh fruits and vegetables again, drinking several big glasses of water each day, and we’ve stopped buying sweets other than something small to enjoy after dinner each evening. Both of us have new walking shoes on our shopping list. Brett walks Kaipo several times a day, and I go with them for a long walk every evening. As time goes on, the distance we walk will increase.

Beginning next week I’m going to start the weekly eating and exercise posts back up again – they were a big help to me before and will be again. Brett’s and my efforts in Hawaii made a genuine difference in our health before and it’s important we get this ship turned around and heading in the right direction again. We can do this!

Eating & Exercise: Staying Healthy So Far In Mexico

We’ve enjoyed avocado toast on whole grain bread with fresh pico de Gallo for breakfast and lunch.

After nearly two weeks in San Miguel de Allende, I think I would give our attempts to eat healthy meals and get enough exercise every day a grade of B-. We have been on a fairly steep learning curve when it comes to dining, for a variety of reasons, and the amount of exercise we’re getting remains hindered by both high temperatures here since we arrived (thankfully without humidity) and the altitude.

We’re fortunate that healthy/vegetarian/vegan foods have been easy to find, things like tofu, oat milk, whole grain breads and such, and are extremely affordable as well. We have good access to a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (which we soak in a special disinfectant and rinsed if they will be eaten raw). We drink a lot of (bottled) water, are careful about the produce we eat, and so far have suffered no ill effects.

Meals have been sort of weird though, to be honest and we’ve had a few days where we just didn’t feel like eating, or eating much. We do eat breakfast every day and have enjoyed things like avocado toast, banana bread with peanut butter, huevos rancheros, but we mostly have our favorite, a bowl of cereal with fruit and oat milk. Lunches have been hit or miss – some days we’re out and skip lunch completely, maybe only stopping for a snack or a cup of coffee, but we usually try to pull together a few things out of the refrigerator and convince ourselves it’s a meal.

One of our “weird” (but delicious) dinners: fried potatoes with onion and garlic, and a fresh fruit salad.

Dinners have been hit or miss as well. We’ve had meals from pasta with tomato-basil sauce and roasted vegetables to just a bowl of potato salad. Evenings are usually still quite warm and since I don’t relish standing over a hot stove I’ll often just pull a few things from the fridge and put together a cold dinner from whatever I can find (cheese and crackers with fruit, for example).

Brett and I shared this little mini blueberry pie for dessert one evening

We still enjoy a small dessert most evenings, like sharing a mini pie or having a slice of banana bread from the organic store. Things are less sweet here than they are in the U.S., and we like that.

We carry water when we walk, but if we start feeling too hot we stop for a cool drink and a rest. The above is a chilled lavender latte – it was very refreshing!

I think eventually we may have to be very careful not to overeat, but so far we’ve been able to keep our portions under control. I continue to record my calories each day and have yet to go over my daily allotment. When we’ve eaten a big calorie meal, like our brunch last week, we cut back the rest of the day and we plan to do the same in the future.

We also continue to walk every day and have so far gotten in at least two miles each day, sometimes more. The route into Centro from our apartment complex is downhill, but that means we have a climb when we come back. It’s exhausting, but good for our legs and hearts. On the hotter days, or if we’ve had to carry several shopping bags, we’ve taken a taxi home and those have been worth every peso spent (cost ranges from $3-$4 USD).

I love the colors of San Miguel de Allende

The altitude seems to affect me more than Brett – a downhill walk into Centro this past week left me gasping for breath, for example. But, I get a little better each day and can go further without getting weak so hope to be fully acclimated by next week. Most streets here have sidewalks, although they’re narrow, and the only place we really struggle with the cobblestones is right outside our gate – they are very uneven and there is no easy way of getting over or around them. Every walk we take, no matter where we go though is a visual delight, with loads of interesting things to see, discover, and ponder, so we try to take a slightly different route each time if we can to keep it interesting.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (4/10 – 4/16)

This will be my last structured eating and exercise post for around a month, but I’ll start it up again once we’re settled in Mexico. There’s just going to be too much take out, too many microwaved meals, etc. as well as too much to do between now and when we arrive in San Miguel de Allende. The Monday posts have been very helpful for me, not only to track our eating and exercise but also for menu planning and helping us stay within our budget when food shopping, so they will return.

In the meantime we still plan to watch and count our calories, and choose healthy foods as much as possible. Both Brett and I have made too much progress over the past two years to throw out everything we’ve learned and changed. Being on the move for the next few weeks is going to be a challenge but we’re determined to eat as well as we can under the circumstances.

Last week’s meals almost completely cleaned out the freezer, and there’s only a very few items left in the pantry. Our standout meal for the week was the mabo tofu with beansprouts. The combination of tofu and mung bean sprouts in mabo tofu sauce was a happy accident when I neglected to add the bean sprouts to last week’s pad thai. I don’t think we’ll ever make it any other way again, it was that delicious. However, adding the rest of the bean sprouts to the vegetable soup was less than idea as they soft of overpowered all the other vegetables.

Sunday: Mabo tofu with beansprouts; rice

Monday: Vegetable & barley soup; toasted cheese sandwiches

Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner: waffle; vegan sausage patties; strawberry syrup

Wednesday: Thin crust margherita pizza

Thursday: Tofu burger; rice; cucumber spears

Friday: Bean, rice, and cheese burritos; coleslaw

Saturday: Mini cheese pizzas on artisan bread

We finished the chocolate-avocado ice cream this past week but still have a two more evenings of chocolate-filled crepes to enjoy. Our other dessert this week will be small bowls of Anahola Granola to finish that up. We plan to pick up something special at a local pastry shop to share for Brett’s birthday celebration on Friday, and will try to find something else for our regular evening dessert.

Next week’s meals will use up everything that’s left in the freezer and pantry. Once it’s all gone we’ll start getting takeout, mostly sandwiches and such. A whole deli sandwich easily feeds the two of us these days.

  • Tofu & pepper stir fry
  • Chili shrimp
  • Vegetable & barley soup
  • Vegetable spring rolls
  • Tofu & broccoli stir fry
  • Something from Konohiki Seafood
  • Take out
The dying grass was still visible after two days of rain.

We had to give up walking laps in the yard as we were killing the lawn, not something we want to do right before we move out of our apartment. Thankfully we’ve been getting lots of activity indoors with packing and other chores, but we sure miss our hikes and walks.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (4/3 – 4/9)

The next two weeks are going to be interesting as well as a challenge. Our car sold extremely quickly (we figured it would take a week or so, but it sold in a day), and now we are without transportation until the 22nd of the month and will be living off what we have in the house. The buyer was nice enough to take us over to our local Big Save to buy a few things before we handed over the keys, but we really didn’t have time to plan and hope we picked up enough to carry us through until we can get to a store again.

We bought lots of fruit and vegetable, a couple of packages of CookDo sauces, and a pad thai dinner kit, as well as a special treat to celebrate the sale of the car. We think we have enough on hand to carry us through until the 22nd, but while our meals will stay healthy they are going to get repetitive and there may be some weird combinations of things. The goal remains to use up everything we have on hand so that we can segue into sandwiches and other take-out meals our final week here, when we’ll have a car but no way left to prepare any meals other than heating things in a microwave (and we won’t have dishes to eat off of either other than paper plates and bowls and plastic cutlery).

We ate more carbs than usual last week or at least it seemed that way, but last week’s meals helped us get rid of several condiments and other items that were still in the fridge and the pantry. We finished up some barbecue sauce with the corn dogs; pickled ginger with the curry; soba noodles, soba tsuyu (dipping sauce), nori (seaweed), and katsuobushi (bonito flakes) for the zaru soba; and arborio rice in the risotto. We’re going to make an effort to use up more this coming week, but there are some thing we won’t be able to finish, including bottles of oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and Worcestershire sauce from the fridge or red wine vinegar, sesame oil, and vanilla in the pantry. We keep trying though.

Sunday: Vegan corn dogs; coleslaw

Monday: Stouffer’s macaroni & cheese; roast vegetables

Tuesday: Vegetable curry; rice

Wednesday: Zaru soba; hayayakko; namasu

Thursday: Shrimp risotto; steamed green beans

Friday: Pad thai with shrimp

Saturday: Mini pizzas with roasted vegetables

We enjoyed chocolate filled crepes with a little whipped cream on top and the avocado chocolate ice cream for our desserts all week, with the exception of Japanese taiyaki ice cream treats, filled with green tea ice cream and sweet red beans, that we bought to celebrate the quick sale of the car.

The outer fish shell holds creamy ice cream inside, and is the same as a cake cup. The tai, or sea bream, symbolizes good luck or auspicious happenings in Japanese culture.

We have four containers of tofu that have to be used up in the next two weeks, so it will appearing in two different meals this week. Otherwise we’re continuing to use up what we have in the freezer and fridge. Our mabo tofu will include an unusual ingredient this week: bean sprouts. We bought some to go into the pad thai, and I completely forgot to add them!

  • Margherita pizza
  • Breakfast for dinner (pancakes, sausages, & fruit)
  • Tofu burgers
  • Mabo tofu
  • Bean, rice, & cheese burritos
  • Mini pizzas
  • Vegetable & barley soup

There was no hiking this past week and sadly won’t be any more for a couple more weeks. The first setback was my walking shoes giving out last weekend. They had been growing more and more uncomfortable but finally got so bad I said, “no more!” Next, the weather (rain and wind) conspired almost all of last week to keep us indoors, except for Wednesday when we took advantage of the sunshine to get our car ready for sale. That effort provided us with a LOT of exercise even if it wasn’t walking.

We’re grateful for the wonderful walking and hiking venues Kaua’i has provided for the past two years, helping us to lose weight and be in the best possible shape for our upcoming adventures.

Finally, with our car gone we are now stuck at our apartment for the next couple of weeks until it’s time to pick up our rental car. As necessity is the mother of invention, and we have no way to get anywhere except for calling Uber, we decided to try walking laps in our back yard for exercise, and try to do three sets a day of 30 laps. That has gone better than expected and provided good mileage and steps, so we will continue until we have a car again.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (3/27 – 4/2)

We ate well this past week, especially on Wednesday, our anniversary Day of No Cooking. We ate meat that day and on another couple of days in the Asian chicken wrap sandwiches we bought at Costco, and even though all was delicious we decided at the end of the week that we preferred not eating meat. We’re not ever going to go full vegetarian or vegan, and meat will appear again in the future, but only very occasionally. We just feel better overall when meat is not a part of our diet, even in small amounts.

Two small pieces of friend chicken and five small pork wontons each almost proved to be too much – we could barely finish.

I’ve also started thinking this past week about what we’ll take with us to the condo for our last eight days on Kaua’i. The condo comes equipped with a small refrigerator, microwave, toaster, and coffee maker. It would be easiest to take things like pastries and other quick items, but with some effort we can continue healthy eating in our temporary quarters. I see avocado toast and Kodiak protein toaster waffles with fruit in our future for breakfasts and sandwiches and vegan/vegetarian entrees for lunch and dinner. We’re determined to take along everything we will need when we move up to the condo and not spend on eating out (except for one meal out with a friend).

Since we no longer have a dining table we have to hold our plates in our laps these days. We picked up some healthy, vegan/organic, and easy options at Costco last week including bean, rice & cheese burritos, vegetable & barley soup, and our favorite vegetable spring rolls with edamame, so we’re mostly good to go for the next few weeks. It will be interesting to see how it goes when we have soup.

Below are our dinners last week. We each ate just one of the Asian chicken wraps, and had the other two halves for lunch another day. My vegan platter from The Beach House was the highlight of the week for me – the vegetable preparations were amazing.

Sunday: Chick’n pot pie

Monday: Vegetable spring rolls; rice; sweet & sour coleslaw

Tuesday: Costco Asian chicken wrap sandwiches

Wednesday: Local vegetable platter (Laura), and seared ahi; garlic mashed potatoes; and sautéed broccoli (Brett)

Thursday: Bean, rice, and cheese burritos; spicy coleslaw

Friday: Thai peanut mini pizzas

Saturday: Sweet & sour shrimp; rice

We finished the red velvet cupcakes and coconut cake last week, but Costco didn’t have any fudge cupcakes when we shopped so we instead bought some vegan chocolate ice cream made with avocado and a package of chocolate-filled crepes for our desserts for the next couple of weeks. Both are very yummy and both have fewer calories than the cupcake quarter or slice of coconut cake, an added bonus.

I’m looking forward to next week’s menu. None of it is difficult to fix and some of it will use more things up. It does sort of feel like we’re camping though.

  • Vegetable curry
  • Vegan corn dogs
  • Shrimp risotto
  • Mini pizzas
  • Macaroni & cheese
  • Vegetable & barley soup; toasted cheese sandwiches
  • Zaru soba; hayayakko

Hiking was once again a mixed bag last week. On Monday we did a full hike on the Old Hapa Road trail. It was a breezy day, and we went later than usual so that the sun wouldn’t beat down on us (there’s no shade out on the trail). That’s one thing I love about this time of year: the sun goes down later and we can walk later in the day. Tuesday we did our not-so-big shop at Costco and Walmart. It always involves a lot of walking, and although it’s not as brisk as a regular hike we’re always end up feeling more worn out and tired than we do from a regular hike.

There were lots of stunning views to take in around Nawiliwili Harbor. The various lava formations were also fascinating, but they made walking difficult at times.

Wednesday’s hike was on the east side shore path, around Nawiliwili Harbor and Ninini Bay. If not for Brett’s previous visits I would have never known the path was there as you have to drive through a golf course and resort to get to the parking area, and access to the trail is not well marked. There were LOTS of interesting lava formations to check out along the way, but they were also very difficult to climb/hike over – I was in constant fear of falling. The views were spectacular however so a good time was had. The weather that day was sunny and HUMID, a good preview of what summer will be like in Nashville!

There are two very small, private beaches on the shore of Ninini Bay (although swimming there would be dangerous). The rest of the shore is lava rock. Nene, endangered Hawaiian geese, were spotted on our walk down to the bay, always a happy sight.

Thursday we headed back to the Old Hapa Road, but had an early turn-around because it started to rain. Friday and Saturday were both very stormy, with lots of rain and very strong winds. Both were good days to stay indoors and read and accomplish other things. The week coming up doesn’t look so good either, but we’re hoping to get out as much as we can.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (3/20 – 3/26)

Can healthy eating and convenience or prepared foods co-exist? I think so . . . IF labels are carefully read and portion sizes are watched. Brett and I are continuing to try to follow Michael Pollen’s seven rules for healthy eating as much as we can, even as we add more prepared foods into our diet. We still are

  • Eating as much real food as we can
  • Trying not to eat too much of it
  • Trying to eat mostly plants
  • Not eating anything our great grandmothers wouldn’t recognize as food
  • Not eating anything with more than five ingredients, or ones we can’t pronounce
  • Staying out of the middle of the supermarket (impossible here as Asian food ingredients are right in the middle of supermarkets!)
  • Not eating anything that won’t eventually rot.

I admit to still being a work in progress when it comes to good eating, but I’ve made huge progress in the past couple of years. It’s sometimes difficult to find the right combinations of healthy ingredients, convenience, and economics when it comes to buying food but I do the best I can for us, and our efforts to eat better have paid off. I still cook with fresh ingredients, organic as much as I can, although I’m still quick to use sauces like CookDo or buy prepared desserts (especially since our current oven is less than ideal for baking). It’s also getting harder to avoid other prepared foods these days as we transition out of our apartment and live on the road again.

Anyway, we had some good meals last week. All easy to prepare and healthy. The surprise favorite was the Japanese seafood pancakes – they were very yummy. We’ve got our fingers crossed they’ll still be in stock at Walmart next time we shop.

Sunday: Breakfast for dinner (plant-based sausage patties; protein waffles; spiced apples

Monday: Broccoli & tofu stir fry in spicy peanut sauce; rice

Tuesday: Margherita pizza

Wednesday: Japanese seafood pancakes; rice; cucumber slices

Thursday: Coconut dal with squash; rice; roasted zucchini with Indian spices

Friday: Mini pizzas with masala & leftover spice-roasted squash

Saturday: Tofu with Thai red curry sauce; rice; sweet & sour coleslaw

Desserts this past week have been quarter pieces of Costco’s giant red velvet cupcakes or slices of Pepperidge Farm coconut cake. We’re trying to come up with some new dessert ideas for the next couple of weeks, but will probably pick up another package of Costco’s fudge cupcakes – they’re delicious and reasonably priced.

We’ll be shopping again tomorrow and are thinking about maybe getting a casserole at Costco (if there’s a vegetarian one), or possibly some soup, and who knows what we’ll find at Walmart – it’s always a mystery about what will be in stock. We have a pretty good idea of what we’ll be having on our Day of No Cooking (Wednesday) though, and meat will be eaten.

  • Chick’n pot pie
  • Macaroni & cheese
  • Vegetable spring rolls
  • ?? Shrimp fried rice
  • ?? Bean & rice burritos
  • ?? Sweet & sour shrimp
  • Mini pizzas
  • Day of No Cooking

Clockwise from the top left: Historic San Raphael church on Thursday, before the rain started; fat cows grazing among the cactus; Haupa Mountain (Black Mountain) from the trail; San Raphael in the sunshine; some of Old Hapa Road’s original lava rock paving.

This was not the best week for hiking, at least for me. I was under the weather on Monday, so Brett headed out on his own. It rained all day Tuesday, but it was cool and breezy on Wednesday so we decided to hike the Old Hapa Road. Rain threatened the entire way, but luckily didn’t show up while we were on the trail. Thursday was overcast and very windy, so we decided to hike the Old Hapa Road again. We were five minutes down the trail when the heavens opened up, pouring sheets of rain, and we were thoroughly soaked by the time we made it back to the car. However, the sun was out on Friday (still very windy though) so we hiked the Hapa Road trail again. Saturday was furniture moving day, and Brett and I both got a workout, Brett especially because he turned out to be the only help the buyer had to get the furniture out of our apartment and into their home. We enjoyed our day off yesterday, and are hoping for better hiking weather this week.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (3/13 – 3/19)

I noticed this past week that it’s been keeping a food diary for nearly two years, tracking what I eat, the calories, and my exercise on MyFitnessPal. I still plan my meals the day before and pretty much stick with what I’ve planned. I’m going to continue to the best of my ability while we’re traveling as keeping a diary (as well as continuing to measure every portion) has been a big contributor to my weight loss.

One issue we’re facing now is we’re running out of ingredients and don’t want to replace them before we leave unless absolutely necessary. For example, we no longer have any sugar other than a little bit of brown. We use very little sugar as it is, but it’s a necessary ingredient in namasu or three bean salad, for example, so I’m no longer making those salads. We also only had a very little oil left, both vegetable and olive. We really didn’t want to buy more of these ingredients as we know we won’t finish them but we decided vegetable oil at the least was a necessity and picked up a small bottle last week. We’ll have to toss anything that’s left over, which may or may not be most of a container, but we know we’re coming to a place where we’ll be using even more prepared foods which don’t require separate ingredients.

Pickings were somewhat slim at the stores last week. We bought sushi at Costco for our dinner on Monday, but the quality has gone w-a-y down and it was disappointing. Walmart’s vegan selections were also very picked over. Between what we found and already had on hand, we still managed to come up with some tasty, healthy meals last week.

Sunday: Chick’n pot pie

Monday: Sushi; cucumber slices; apple slices

Tuesday: Cacio & pepe; roasted zucchini

Wednesday: Tofu & pepper stir fry; rice

Thursday: Zaru soba; hayayakko (chilled tofu); cucumber slices

Friday: Mini pizzas with roasted vegetables

Saturday: Shrimp risotto; roasted zucchini & peppers

There won’t be a lot of cooking going on next week. Everything other than the tofu and broccoli stir fry requires little preparation.

  • Breakfast for dinner: waffles & vegan sausage
  • Mini pizzas
  • Tofu & broccoli in spicy peanut sauce
  • Margherita pizza
  • Japanese seafood pancake with shrimp & squid
  • Indian coconut squash dal
  • Tofu with Thai red curry sauce
Matcha Swiss roll

We had matcha roll cake for dessert a couple of evenings last week. We hadn’t seen it in the stores for a while, so when we spotted it at Times Market we picked one up. Otherwise we’ve been alternating between red velvet cupcakes and coconut cake for our dessert each evening. We should be thoroughly tired of each by the time we finish them and be ready to move on to something different.

We’re always finding interesting things to stop and look at out on the Maha’ulepu Trail. This past week we spotted a cairn made by other hikers, a lone sea grape plant, strange orange mushrooms, and a giant curving root (from the side it looks like a giant iguana crossing the trail).

We got in four good walks this past week. Although not as strenuous as our hikes, we always get in more than an hour’s worth of walking on our food shopping day, and it’s always far more tiring than our hikes. We did our regular Maha’ulepu hikes Wednesday through Friday. We spent two days at the beach (Brett still hiked the trail) on Tuesday and Saturday, and took our regular day off on Sunday. The ocean was very rough on Thursday and Friday, and as always we paused along the way on our hikes to watch the waves pound the cliffs, sending spray up and over the top. The sight is always breathtaking.

I didn’t carry my phone last week, but caught this shot of a wave sending spray over the top of the cliff a couple of weeks ago. Brett and I have become pretty good judges of whether a wave will hit the rocks in such a way to create spray, and the ones on Thursday and Friday last week pretty much all created massive displays. It was mesmerizing.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (2/28 – 3/5)

I initially had decided to fold this post into the weekly Sunday one, but over the last month I received so many likes on these posts that I decided it was worth keeping as a regular Monday feature.

We are slowly moving toward eating more prepared foods as our goal the next two months is to use up as much as possible so very little has to be thrown away when we move out of apartment. Our pantry grows more empty every day, and we’re slowly using up the many condiments in our refrigerator. There will obviously be things that we won’t be able to finish (like a jar of hot peppers or a jar of YaYu’s spicy chili crisp that she left behind), but we’re going to try our best. Anyway, vegan entrees and such are filling in a lot of slots in our menu these days and will continue to do so until we leave.

We had lots of tasty dinners this week. The California roll salad helped us almost finish our remaining rice (once it’s gone we’re going to use Japanese microwave cooked rice). I used quinoa this past week to make fried “rice” which used up the remainders of a bag of quinoa, and our chicken patty sandwiches used up some barbecue sauce (and we ate the last of some corn chips that we had gotten for the girls and then forgotten about – they were “refreshed” in the microwave). There were of course mini pizzas one evening – we have two jars of pizza sauce to use up – and otherwise meals were made from items in the freezer or the pantry.

Sunday: Vegan chick’n pot pie (with added black pepper)

Monday: California roll salad

Tuesday: Chick’n patty sandwiches with barbecue sauce; corn chips

Wednesday: Shrimp fried quinoa

Thursday: Roasted poblano enchiladas; cilantro rice; cucumber spears

Friday: Cheese mini pizzas with pepper and onion

Saturday: Breakfast for dinner (pancakes; plant-based sausage patties; fresh blueberry syrup; vegan sausage patties)

Desserts this past week were either Girl Scout cookies (four Thin Mints and two Samoas, our favorites), a quarter piece of one of Costco’s jumbo fudge cupcakes, or two pieces of mochi ice cream. This week we’ll segue into Costco’s red velvet cupcakes, Pepperidge Farm coconut cake, and a little more mochi ice cream. Having a tiny dessert and sharing a cup of coffee after dinner has become one of our favorite rituals and keeps us away from sweets the rest of the day.

Next week’s menu will continue to include prepared foods or convenience items, like the chili shrimp sauce and tofu burger mix. I’m not cooking much at all these days.

  • Macaroni & cheese
  • Margherita pizza
  • Fried chick’n with mashed potatoes & country gravy
  • Corn dogs
  • Chili shrimp
  • Mini pizzas
  • Tofu burgers

There are so many fascinating rocks and rock formations out on the Maha’ulepu Trail, from volcanic basalt to lava rocks to sandstone with everything in between. Sometimes it feels like we’re walking on the moon. I would be in heaven if I were a geologist.

The good weather we’ve been having means more beach days which means fewer days for walking, but we still aim to get in a minimum of four days per week. The Maha’ulepu Trail is our hiking venue these days, but the trailhead sits right next to Shipwreck Beach, so if we go there to the beach Brett will take a solo hike while I stay back on the beach with our stuff. The trail has all sorts of different paths and detours coming off of it, and it took me almost all of last month to figure out and remember our route without getting lost. We always stop along the way for a few moment to watch if we spot whales or other sea creatures (sea turtles and giant manta rays!), or if the waves are crashing particularly high against the cliffs, but mostly we just walk out and back and enjoy the views along the way.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (1/16 – 1/22)

All the walking and hiking we’ve done over the past two years, and the changes we’ve made in what and how we eat in the last six months have made a real difference. Both Brett and my lab numbers this year were better than they’ve ever been and the doctor is very happy with our current weight as well. More than our appearance, the fact that our eating and exercise these days has made such a profound improvement in our health is what really matters to us. We feel like we’re heading overseas this time in our best shape ever, complete with vaccines, boosters, and our cholesterol and other numbers in a very good place. We’re determined to keep it going!

With the girls gone Brett and I are back to having to finish up lots of leftovers. The curry I made last week provided days of leftovers as did the broccoli & tofu stir fry. I guess it’s one of the curses of eating smaller portions these days. Other than the risotto we’re going to have next week though, everything this coming week is a one-and-done meal. Both Brett and I enjoy having leftovers available for our lunches, but day after day of the same thing is something we always hope to avoid.

We have once again using the dishes we bought when we arrived in 2020, before our storage shipment arrived. We had put them away for YaYu, but she doesn’t really want them and we figured it will cost us less to give her what we would have paid for shipping them and let her buy something she likes. We can either sell these dishes at our yard sale or take them to the thrift store. Anyway, photography has been a challenge. I miss our Japanese dishes but they have now either been packed for storage or sent on to Meiling and WenYu.

Sunday: Japanese curry with tofu & vegetable; brown rice

Monday: Chopped vegetable & barley soup; Parmesan toasted bread

Tuesday: Broccoli & tofu stir fry in spicy peanut sauce; brown rice

Wednesday: Chick’n pot pie; roasted zucchini

Thursday: Vegetable potsticker soup with spinach

Friday: Cheese mini pizzas

Saturday: Chili shrimp; brown rice; namasu

We enjoyed small pieces of the chocolate mini cakes all last week but finished them last night. This coming week we’re having lemon meringue pie again!

Next week’s menu goes around the world: We’re having Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, and American dishes, all without a bit of meat!

  • Zaru soba & hiyayakko (chilled tofu)
  • Vegetable spring rolls with rice
  • Poblano enchiladas
  • Mini pizzas
  • Vegan corn dogs & onion rings
  • Turk’y cutlets with gravy
  • Risotto with peas
Farewell to Kukuiolono, our walking venue for nearly two years.

Monday through Wednesday we walked the perimeter of the golf course – the weather and temperature were perfect, and my foot barely hurt at all and was getting better. As we got near to finishing our walk on Wednesday though, the groundskeeper (not our favorite guy) rolled up to us in his golf cart and told us he would ignore our walking that day but going forward there would be NO further walking on the course allowed until after 6:00 p.m. and he would be enforcing the “new rule.” He was very unpleasant. There was not a golfer in sight at any hole on the course, and we don’t go out on the course if there is, so we’re not sure what changed or why, but Brett and I decided it was the last straw for us and we would walk elsewhere for the rest of our time on Kaua’i. We have loved walking at Kukuiolono, but we are not willing to get into it with some guy on a power trip (our favorite groundskeeper ignores the rule if there are no golfers out) and we’re not the types to sneak around. The park closes at 6:30, so there’s no longer a way to get in a perimeter walk in if we come at 6:00 either.

We enjoyed beautiful views from the Maha’ulepu trail on Wednesday.

So, on Thursday we headed over to the Maha’ulepu heritage trail. That hike didn’t go so well. We had come directly from my skin check appointment and my blood sugar was low, and we hadn’t brought a snack. It was also hot and humid, and I had forgotten my hat. Finally, we walked too far into some very rough terrain which set off the neuroma in my foot and the bursitis in my hips. By the time we got back to the car I was a wreck! Still, the views were beautiful and we decided to give it another try on Friday, this time equipped with snacks and hats. We turned around before we reached the rough part, ate our snack at the turn-around, drank a lot of water and we both felt great when we finished. Best of all, my foot and hips didn’t hurt at all. We thought rain might keep us from walking there on Saturday, but the trail was dry and although the humidity was a bit high, the temperature was cool and there was a nice breeze. The trailhead for Maha’ulepu is located fairly close to us, and as it’s a beautiful walk along the shore it’s where we’ll do our walking until we leave. We got in a full six days of walks/hikes this past week, something that hadn’t happened in a while.