Sunday Afternoon 05/13/2018

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! I hope you are enjoying your day and being spoiled by your loved ones. Today is my annual Day of Doing Nothing: Brett and YaYu are taking care of all the chores, cooking, etc. while I relax and read all day.

We didn’t want to lose our reservation at this beautiful resort, especially with the ocean view. The whole property is amazing – our son and family just stayed here.

We almost cancelled our condo reservation this past week, the one for our last three weeks on the island, but heard back from the owner yesterday and thankfully got everything straightened out. Earlier this month I could no longer find the listing online, so did a bit of sleuthing and discovered the unit is for sale! I wrote the owner and told her we did not want to have to deal with showings, etc. but she got back to me and reassured us that the condo was now professionally managed by an on-site company; is only shown between bookings; there have been no offers; and even if they got an offer next week escrow here takes so long that the sale wouldn’t be complete until after our reservation is over (this is true – escrow here takes several months).  I’m glad it’s been straightened out, but we spent a couple of very anxious days wondering if we were going to have to find someplace else, especially now when there is very little available for our dates.

This week a representative from Royal Hawaiian Movers will be coming over to see what we’re shipping/storing and to give an estimate. We moved 4,500 pounds over here, but are hopefully moving less than 1,000 back so fingers are crossed that the shipping fits our budget. Royal Hawaiian did a superb job with our move over here, and I don’t think I’d trust anyone else to handle our stuff at this point. A good friend in Portland has offered to store our things in her basement for while we’re on the road and until we’re ready to move to our new location, a huge savings for us. This past week I listed a bunch of stuff on our local Facebook group, and all but five items sold in less than an hour – it was crazy! I had to create waiting lists for a few items because I got so many requests. Most buyers came and picked up their stuff quickly (and sometimes bought other items we planned to sell later!), but as always happens some didn’t show up or kept changing when they would be coming. Sigh. More stuff will get listed in early July, after our shipment goes and before we hold our big moving sale.

I thought we might be able to leave Kaua’i without any centipede interactions, but Brett got bit on his heel on Friday. It was very, very, very painful, but the swelling isn’t too bad and the pain was gone in a day. Besides the toads here, nothing frightens me more than centipedes. They’re the reason I will put up with the chickens and roosters in the yard – centipedes are a favorite treat!

Also, the Blogger platform continues to eat almost all of my comments. I keep trying though – occasionally one sneaks through.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Little Fires Everywhere the middle of last week, and re-started I’ll Be Gone In the Dark again. I’m especially excited to read it now as the alleged Golden State Killer was captured between now and when the book was released. However, I may have to put it down again as it looks as if another book from the library may be coming off hold soon.
  • Listening to: I’ve enjoyed a nice, quiet morning and it’s very quiet outside except for the sound of the breeze moving through the trees. Brett and YaYu have the laundry sorted but thankfully haven’t started it yet – that’s going to change in a few minutes though and things will get noisy.
  • Watching: Brett and I have been watching the Footloose travelogue series on Amazon Prime and enjoying those. We’ve watched episodes on the Cotswalds, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, southern Italy and we’re getting ready to watch one about Tuscany and Rome – we’ll be paying close attention to that one! I find the host’s voice almost hypnotic, in a good way, but one evening it actually lulled me to sleep.
  • Cooking/baking: No cooking or baking for me today, and I have absolutely no idea what YaYu and Brett are fixing for dinner tonight. Brett and I will be doing our Big Shop this week although it’s actually not going to be very big this time. On the menu will be another CookDo pork dish with rice; pepperoni pizza; stuffed peppers; and hot turkey sandwiches with gravy and stuffing. YaYu has finally completed all of her evening events/meetings/celebrations and is home every evening for dinner.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got my travel notebook caught up to date, and so we’re clear on what’s done and what we still need to take care of. Getting pictures of everything we wanted to sell and getting it posted on Facebook took a bit of effort, but I was thrilled by how quickly most everything I posted sold. Brett and I walked every day last week except for Friday – it felt great even though we got caught in a downpour yesterday and got soaked. I went over or closely approached 10,000 steps on several days, and am generally walking 3/12 to 4 miles per day. I drank lots of water, but still haven’t gotten back into my French. I can read lots and understand some, but cannot speak it for the life of me and still have lots of trouble with pronunciation. Nothing is sinking in any more – I need to be in a classroom.
  • Looking forward to next week: I don’t know if I’m exactly looking forward to it, but my birthday is tomorrow. For my present this year (birthday and Mother’s Day) I ordered a pair of capri leggings from J. Jill. There’s nothing special planned for my birthday, which is fine by me. YaYu baked a chocolate-glazed matcha cake this morning, but mainly she and Brett will be eating it. I’m greatly looking forward to meeting ON reader Laura on Tuesday. She and her husband moved to Kaua’i a while ago, and live on the north side of the island. Everyone I’ve met so far through the blog has been delightful, and I treasure the friendships I’ve made. The other Laura, her husband, Brett and I will be meeting at Java Kai in Kapaa, my favorite coffee spot on the island. The weather has been improving and we are hoping for the chance to go to the beach this week.

    So proud of our girl!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I enjoyed attending YaYu’s Kiwanis award banquet last Tuesday, and were surprised to find she was the only senior to receive the scholarship award this year. Usually it’s divided between three or four students – we don’t know if she got it all because no one else applied this year or because they thought YaYu deserved all of it. YaYu was also awarded another $1000 scholarship from the Zonta Club of Hanalei – her scholarships now total $5000! On a different note, we got a lot of stuff out of the house last week because of the sale.

    The most popular item I listed was this blue & white garden stool from Thailand. SO MANY people asked to buy it.

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We raised $450 from our sale. Hopefully the last few things will sell in the next week or so. 2) Our landlord bought two more pieces of furniture from us and we will be able to take the amount of what he’s bought off our rent this and next month. 3) I cashed in the $495.89 we’ve earing in credit card rewards and had it applied toward the balance. 4) Other than buying produce at the farmers’ market and one stop at the store for eggs, we had a no-spend week. 5) We put $8.00 into the change/$1 bill jar this week.
  • Grateful for: I’m glad we’ve been able to get so many parts of the Big Adventure taken care of already. Things are starting to get a bit crazy now, and it sometimes feels like I’ve got too many balls up in the air. I know it will all come together though. The travel notebook has already proved to be an immense help. I’m also grateful for all the people who responded to our sale on Facebook, and were so pleasant to deal with, whether they bought something or interacted with me online. Brett and I got to “talk story” with some very interesting people from around the island when they came to pick up their stuff.
  • Bonus question: What’s your earliest birthday memory? It’s interesting what memories stand out as we get older. My family did not make a big deal over birthdays, so most of what I remember is that because my birthday always falls on or right after Mother’s Day, that occasion always got all the attention when I was young. My parents did throw me one big party on my sixth birthday which fell toward the end of my year in kindergarten, and invited all the girls from my class. I don’t remember what we all did at that party, but there is a photograph showing all of us standing around our backyard swings with the girls all wearing lovely white dresses (except for me – my dress was a pastel color). Mom served us tea sandwiches (with the crusts cut off) for lunch, but the most special thing that day were the individual little square packages of ice cream in assorted flavors that my parents served with cake following lunch – I remember all of us being very excited about the ice cream because we could choose the flavor we wanted (I remember the assortment included pistachio because my Dad was happy no one else wanted it). I also distinctly remember all the girls arriving to the party with presents, but don’t remember any of what I received other than a much-desired set of Colorforms. My siblings had their way with my gifts shortly after the party though and few if anything I received survived for very long. Also, in kindergarten we brought treats to school on our birthday to share with our classmates during snack time. I had the same birthday as another boy in the class so we were given two days to bring our treats. I got the first day, and my mom baked chocolate chip cookies for the class (cookies were the usual treat) but the next day the boy, whose family owned the LA Times newspaper, brought cake and ice cream and a clown to entertain everyone! Even at age six I felt glad I had gotten the first day and didn’t have to follow that fabulous experience with just cookies.

That’s all for this week from Casa Aloha! Again, happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who are checking in – wishing you all a wonderful day. How did your week go? What are you reading? What good things happened for you? What frugal things did you do this past week?

Sunday Afternoon 5/6/2018

It’s been a very busy but fun week (which is why I didn’t get a post up on Thursday). I’ve had the best time with my grandchildren, my son and daughter-in-law, but they are on their way back to Japan today. Normally I’d be feeling very down in the dumps over their leaving because I wouldn’t know when I’m going to see them again, but while I’m sad now and will miss them all, I know that this time next year we’ll be in Japan finishing up our three-month stay there. In fact, I booked our flight from Auckland to Tokyo this past week (found an amazing nonstop fare)!

Enjoying birthday ice cream at Lappert’s in Poipu. Our grandson’s cone was originally twice the size of what’s in the picture, dipped in chocolate and with sprinkles – impressive!

This past week I went on the tubing tour with my daughter-in-law and grandson and we had the best time! So. Much. Fun! It was also special for me because once again I got to see a place on the island that I never would have seen otherwise because of its location on private land. This past week we gathered for several meals, spent time swimming over at their resort, had our grandson over for a couple more sleepovers, had ice cream to celebrate his birthday and took him shopping for a new Lego set. Our granddaughter began letting me hold her, and I got to watch the two of them for an afternoon so M & M could go out on a lunch date and have some time together without the kids in tow. The sun finally came out yesterday and they finally made it to the beach, and last night we got together one last time for a Hawaiian-style dinner: kalua pork, chicken, macaroni salad, rice, and a delicious cucumber salad made by our D-I-L. We had a fabulous week – the only thing better would have been more sunshine and less overcast and rain (although that didn’t slow any of us down)!

She doesn’t want to forget “Hawai’i pono ‘i”

Brett and I also attended two events with YaYu this past Wednesday: a luncheon at Gaylord’s restaurant for the Shinseki Foundation scholarship winners, and her National Honor Society banquet that evening. In between the two events we got together with everyone at the Kukuiula Market for ice cream, and YaYu picked out a piece of “Hawai’i decor” for her dorm room from one of our favorite shops there. Two years ago WenYu chose a plaque that said “Stay Calm and Think Aloha,” but YaYu chose a pillow cover with the words of the Hawaiian state anthem. She said it had taken her nearly four years to learn it, and she doesn’t want to forget. The big surprise of the evening came when we got home that evening, opened the envelope from the Shinseki Foundation and discovered her scholarship was for $2000, not $1000!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading Little Fires Everywhere, but again didn’t get a lot of reading done this past week. Every night my head would hit the pillow and I was asleep in a couple of minutes.
  • Listening to: Brett’s cousin is visiting the island today – his cruise ship makes a stop in Kaua’i – so Brett is showing him and his wife around for a few hours. I stayed home because our grandson was here for one last sleepover last night, and I had to get him ready to go after Brett had gone. YaYu is studying (just one more week of academics left to go!), and the laundry is almost done. It’s quiet outside for a change – just a few birds but no roosters, no weed trimmers.
  • Watching: We didn’t watch anything this week. We’re going to watch another episode Unforgotten tonight on PBS. We’ve been calling the show “Soft Talkers” though because we have to turn the volume way up to understand what anyone is saying.

    Old favorites and new CookDo cooking sauces from Japan, to make Chinese-style dishes.

  • Cooking/baking: We’re having a simple “breakfast for dinner” tonight: scrambled eggs, grilled breakfast sausages, fruit, and toast for Brett and YaYu. A few things I intended to make last week didn’t happen, so this week we’ll be having grilled apple & chicken sausages (finally), grilled Korean chicken, and chicken & vegetable curry, plus I’m going to make a couple of pork dishes using the sauces my D-I-L brought from Japan.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: My daughter-in-law and I got all of YaYu’s graduation lei ordered – so happy that task is completed! I also finished booking our stays in Perth, Australia, and Rotorua, New Zealand, as well as our flight to Tokyo. All of our lodging for the Big Adventure is now reserved (and paid for) except for one night in Napier, New Zealand, but the B&B where we want to stay there isn’t open for booking yet. We have just five more flights left to book now (Bordeaux to Bologna, Rome to Lisbon, New Delhi to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Perth, and Tokyo to Portland). I drank lots of water this week, but didn’t study French even once. Brett and I were able to take three walks – we had really been missing them.
  • Looking forward to next week: We will be attending the Kiwanis awards banquet on Tuesday evening, where YaYu will receive her scholarship. I’m mainly looking forward though to returning to some semblence of normalcy so that Brett and I can get out and walk almost every afternoon, and I can get our eating and sleeping schedule back on track.

    Suited up for the tubing tour with helmets, gloves, and lights (I’m wearing a bathing suit under my clothes). I love my grandson’s “not another picture” expression.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Both my granddaughter letting me pick her up and the unexpected amount on YaYu’s scholarship check were the highlights of my week. The tubing tour was a lot of fun as well, and the view we were able to see of Mt. Wai’ale’ale and the Blue Hole were beyond stunning. We learned our landlord chose the single professional woman as the next renter, and she wrote to let us know she wants to buy our living room furniture (sofa, chair and coffee table) and will also buy the stainless worktable in the kitchen! Our moving sale keeps getting smaller and smaller, a good thing!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: This was not the most frugal of weeks for us – we were out and about a lot with family and spent some $$ on our grandson for his birthday. They did bring over all the travel-size toiletries that were provided in their condo, so we are set now for our travels. The nonstop fare I booked from Auckland to Tokyo saved us nearly $400 from what we thought we’d be paying for that flight.  We put $12.56 into the change/$1 bill jar this week, odds and ends from several places we spent money this week and $5.19 from recycling.
  • Grateful for: So, so very thankful for the past 11 days we got to spend with our son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. Every day was wonderful, and I can’t wait to see them again next year!

    Our beautiful girls – adoption was a win-win for all of us.

  • Bonus Question: What’s a path you took in life that’s very different from what you imagined? The most surprising one for me is motherhood. Raising children was something I never saw myself doing or really wanted to do when I was young. However, when I met Brett I felt he would be a good dad (and he is) and that changed my mind. Who knew though that parenting would be the thing I’ve enjoyed doing most of all? After our son was born I learned I could not have more children, but he was an easy child to raise and we wanted to adopt. It seemed impossible for us because we moved so frequently with the navy, but in 1994 I learned about adopting from China from one of my college professors, and Brett and I decided to go for it even though our son was almost out of high school at that point. We intended to adopt just once, but life happens and we ended up with our three wonderful daughters. My children are my greatest joy, and the part of my life I am most proud of.

One more gratuitous photo of my adorable grandchildren enjoying a BIG shave ice together.

That’s all this week from Casa Aloha! How did your week go? What frugal things did you do? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

Sunday Afternoon 4/29/2018

I am having the BEST time with our son and family! We’ve already had our grandson over for a couple of sleepovers, and I spent all day last Thursday with him in the pool at their resort (I think I went down the slides around 20 times – fun!). Our granddaughter recognizes us now, and points us out to her mom and dad (at 18 months she’s still not quite ready yet to let us hold her though we’re getting close). I went down to Poipu for a day at the beach with them yesterday (the beaches here on the east side remain closed due to the lingering brown water advisory from the floods) and then they all came over for dinner last night, and were back for a big breakfast this morning. We’ve also all gone out to breakfast at the Kountry Kitchen, which is always fun. The pool at their resort is fabulous though – I knew they’d have trouble getting our grandson out once he got in, and our granddaughter loves the kiddie pool there too.

Living room of our summer 2019 rental in Portland

I’ve had no plans to book a place in Portland for next summer until after the first of the year, but this past week I was checking at what was available in our price range and discovered there wasn’t much – only five places! Portland is a very expensive city these days. I began to have visions of having to move from place to place all summer because all I would be able to find later were rentals for a week or so at a time. Or, we’d have to rent a car because the only place available would be in an un-walkable neighborhood or far away from public transportation, and our costs for the summer would skyrocket. So, I started down the list and wrote to each owner of the five possibilities, telling them about us, and asking when was the earliest they would accept a reservation. Our first choice turned out to no longer be a rental, and our second choice wasn’t available during the summers. But, the owner of  our third choice said he’d be willing to book us now if we wanted, so I went ahead and did that and we are now set for next summer! The house is a lovely two-bedroom condo that’s within our budget, and located in one of the prettiest areas in Portland, in a great neighborhood with convenient public transportation.

This past week our landlord here brought three potential renters through the house(on the same day, so not as disruptive as it could have been) – the first was the original Mr. Potential Renter, the one who wants central air; the second was a couple with one child; and the third was a single professional woman. All three loved the house and the second couple was willing to write a deposit check on the spot, but we learned from the third woman that he is asking for $500 – $500!!! – more a month than what we are currently paying! Unbelievable. That’s also $300 more per month that what was published in the ad, but he blamed that error on his wife. We’ve loved living in this house, and we’ve had a great relationship with the landlord, but yesterday made me glad that we’re moving on. Like a lot of landlords on the island he’s charging that much because that’s what the market will bear right now, but I also feel it’s a bit greedy.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading Little Fires Everywhere, and I love it, but didn’t make much progress this week as I usually fell asleep after the first few pages. My insomnia is over, but it’s like I’m now catching up on all the sleep I missed.
  • Listening to: It’s a bit overcast (again) this morning, but it’s not raining so lots of people are out working in their yards, and the roosters have been on a tear too. Everyone is over here now – M & M came for breakfast this morning – so there’s lots of chatter going on. Our grandson spent the night last night, but right now he and YaYu are playing a game on the Wii. We just got the laundry started too, so it’s a happy, busy, noisy morning here!
  • Watching: Brett and I really haven’t watched anything this week – we’ve been so busy and/or tired every evening. We did watch the movie Coco again with our grandson – it was just as enjoyable the second time as the first.

    Matcha treats for me: Cookies, KitKats, and even a yummy matcha baumkuchen!

  • Cooking/baking: We’re having fried rice with Chinese barbecue pork, eggs and vegetables for dinner tonight – I’ll do all the prep but YaYu will fry it up. No baking will necessary for a while  – our D-I-L brought us loads of treats from Japan, including several matcha-flavored ones for me, which I am slowly enjoying. I’ve put slow cooker kalua pork (we’re going to make a Hawaiian-style meal for our son and family); pulled pork tacos; grilled Korean-style chicken; and grilled chicken & apple sausages with rice on the menu this week, but we may go out to dinner with our son, or eat over at their place one evening, so nothing is set in stone. YaYu’s track season is finally over, so she and Brett will be home for dinner every night again – yeah!.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I didn’t really accomplished much of anything special this last week – I’ve just mostly been enjoying my time with the family. I have spent some time working on our travel budget, figuring out how much we’ll have each day to spend for meals and transportation, but there’s still work to do with that because every month is different with some having more travel than others, or one area being more expensive than others. I drank lots of water every day this past week, and studied French almost every day, but we didn’t even get to take one walk because of the weather, track meets, and family. Next week should be better though with track season over. I did get that whole day in the pool though (and slept like a log that night)!
  • Looking forward to next week: Just spending more time with my family! I’m going on a tubing tour with my son and grandson tomorrow, floating through the old sugar cane and pineapple plantation irrigation channels. It’s been on my bucket list so I’m looking forward to going.

    Daughter-in-law and granddaughter enjoying the beach.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: I spent a wonderful, sunny afternoon at the beach yesterday with my son and family, and got to swim in the ocean for the first time this year. We headed south to Poipu, where the water was clean and the clouds were few – it was glorious! Finding a great long-term rental in Portland for next summer and being able to book now was a very good thing, and a big relief. I loved being able to swim and play in the pool with our grandson the other day – he is a lot of fun (and a total bundle of energy), and I can’t wait to do it again this week. I also got our hotel room reserved for Hong Kong, and most of our New Zealand lodgings booked. The only lodgings left to set up now are in Perth, Australia, and Napier, New Zealand, but the place we want to stay there isn’t accepting bookings yet for our dates.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than paying our regular bills (water and gas), we had a no-spend week! We put $5.15 into the change/$1 bill jar, change back from paying our water and gas bills.
  • Reporting gains and losses: I didn’t lose any weight again this past month, remarkable since we got in so few walks, so my total weight loss since last year still stands at 32 pounds. Our son and D-I-L said they could see a difference in both Brett and my appearance, that we both look “slim and fit!” We paid $1570 on our credit card balance this month, but there’s still a bit more to go.
  • Grateful for: I take the Internet for granted most of the time. Sometimes when I need to look up something I’ll stop for a moment and wonder how we ever managed before it came along, but most of the time I never give it a thought unless we’re knocked offline for some reason and I start to panic a bit because I’m not connected. I have been extra thankful recently for the ability to look things up on the Internet, make reservations, compare locations and prices and so forth. It’s an amazing tool and is helping us not only save but also get the most for our money on our upcoming Big Adventure.

    The most dangerous savory snack of all for me is . . . Cheetos, the world’s most perfect junk food.

  • Bonus question: Do you eat junk food? I’ve thankfully never been all that into junk foods, except for Cheetos, which I adore. They’re one of those foods I can start eating and lose track of time and suddenly, the bag is empty and I’m still craving more. I’ll eat potato chips, popcorn, and some other savory snacks occasionally, but they don’t call to me. Cheetos (the fried ones) on the other hand are on a whole different level, but I know better and just don’t buy them even though I am often very tempted. I also really, really like caramel corn, and G. H. Cretor’s “Chicago Mix” of cheese and caramel popcorn is an especially dangerous snack for me. I guess Diet Coke counts as junk food too – I usually have one a day, but can stop with that, and I’ve gone long stretches without drinking it. But otherwise I have no problem avoiding junk food.

That’s a wrap for this week from Casa Aloha. This coming week is going to be a busy one for us, but I have a couple of posts ready to go, so things here should keep rolling along. How was your week? What are you reading? What good things happened for you?

Sunday Afternoon 4/22/2018

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It’s going to take a long, long time for Kaua’i to recover from last week’s floods, especially the towns from Hanalei to the west. The slideshow above is a small look at the destruction caused by the record rains and flooding (Hanalei received 28 inches of rain in 24 hours). The flood’s effects won’t stay localized to the North Shore either because tourism, the main industry on the island, will be affected all over. Visitors come to Kaua’i to experience nature and the local environment versus staying at a resort the entire time, and road repairs, trail maintenance and other clean-up will be a long process.  Although other areas on the island fared better than the north shore, all of Kaua’i was affected by the storm. The Coconut Marketplace (where the man is on his paddleboard) is just around a couple of miles away from us in Kapaa, and areas on the south shore were flooded as well and had to be evacuated.

And yes, that’s a buffalo on the beach! Buffalo are raised on a ranch, near Hanalei and flood waters drove all 85 of them off the ranch with three making it all the way down to the beach. Almost all the buffalo have been rounded up taken back to the ranch, but it was something to see video of them running along the beach or pictures of them standing in the middle of town.

Food donations have been pouring in from all over the island, and soup kitchens have been set up to feed residents who have lost their homes or don’t have power. Pet food has also been donated.

The island is receiving assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers, but most everything that’s being done has come from state and local residents pitching in. Over $20 million has been donated for relief and rebuilding (Google and Facebook each donated $1 million). Many families on the island lost everything. We learned this past Friday that our next door neighbor’s sister’s house in Hanalei was destroyed, and it sat on pilings seven feet off the ground!

Toys for our granddaughter. The Chatter Telephone is an American classic!

Our son and family arrive this week, and I am so excited I can hardly stand it! I’m especially looking forward to getting to spend time with the grandkids. Our granddaughter (“the Destroyer”) was just five months old the last time we saw her, but now is walking and talking. Our grandson has gotten taller and lost several teeth since we were in Japan last year. I’ve promised our grandson that I will go down both slides at the pool with him, and Brett and I are planning to take him out one day for a belated birthday excursion, including hot dogs at Puka Dog, a stop at Lappert’s Ice Cream, and finishing the outing with a visit to the toy section at either Walmart or Kmart so he can pick out something he wants (the last time we did the choosing we got him something he already had). We’ve already gotten a couple of toys for our granddaughter that she can play with here, as well as some Kona coffee for our daughter-in-law, flour tortillas and cheese for our grandson (he loves quesadillas), and plenty of Diet Coke for our son. In spite of the ongoing clean-up, I think there will still be plenty for them to do while they’re here, although some plans are going to have to be adjusted. Fingers are crossed that the weather improves while they are here.

Finally, last week I gave myself a goal of commenting on someone’s blog at least once a week. I have tried to comment not once, but twice this week, on two different blogs, and my comment vanished each time when I hit the publish button! Sigh. Hopefully it’s just a temporary glitch with Blogger.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Goodbye Things on Friday, and give it one thumb up. Lots of points the author makes are things we’re already doing or have done, but the book got me to think more deeply about what we’ll put into storage while we travel, and what we’ll keep for when we eventually settle down again (not much). I downloaded Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng, from the library yesterday. I’ve been waiting for it for a long, long time, and am excited to get started.
  • Listening to: The birds are back! Lots of birdsong outside today – it’s been missing for the past couple of weeks due to the miserable weather. But, it’s not raining and there’s blue sky peeking out between the clouds. The next door neighbors also have a large (noisy) humidifier running – the hot water gasket under their kitchen sink failed the other night and almost the whole house was flooded so they’re drying it out. Inside, YaYu is preparing her traditional bowl of Sunday ramen (with added vegetables, sliced Chinese barbecued pork and LOTS of hot sauce) and Brett is listening to Youtube videos. The laundry awaits.
  • Watching: Brett and I greatly enjoyed Case Histories, and wish more episodes had been available through Prime (there are more, but you have to pay to see them). Last night we watched one of my all-time favorite movies, Kung Fu Hustle. Tonight we’ll go back to watching the Ruth Rendell Mysteries, which are OK but not the best mystery show we’ve ever watched.

    Chocolate Overload (otherwise known as Brett’s birthday cake)

  • Cooking/baking: Dinner tonight is Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs again, because we found big, ripe tomatoes at the farmers’ market this past week, and it’s a dish that makes all of us happy. I baked Brett a triple-chocolate bundt cake with chocolate glaze for his birthday yesterday, so he and YaYu are set with sweets for a while. On the dinner menu this week will be meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy (one of our son’s favorite meals, and difficult to make in Japan); noodles with pork sauce; slow cooker chicken adobo with bok choy; and stuffed peppers. We don’t have a schedule for getting together with our son and family for meals, but I think I’ve got all the bases covered.

    With the garage freezer shut down, everything from the Big Shop had to fit into the house freezer. I don’t think there’s room in it right now for a piece of paper!

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I worked some more on my travel notebook, and I am caught up for now. I was thrilled this past week to find an amazing non-stop fare from Boston to Portland in early December and booked that leg of our journey in extra-comfort seats (flight is 6 1/2 hours). WenYu is going to come stay with us in Boston for the night we’re there, and then see us off at the airport the next day. I also found a sweet, affordable apartment in Sydney, located fairly close to the Botanical Gardens, and not too far from the Opera House. We had not intended to reserve anything this early, but this place was too good to pass up and we knew it wouldn’t last long. Brett and I did our monthly Big Shop last Friday, probably the last “big” one before we leave. We got the last few things in the garage freezer moved into the house, and shut the outside one off. I studied French almost every day, drank lots of water, but we only got in two walks because of YaYu’s schedule and the weather. Next week isn’t going to be much better, unfortunately. Both Brett and I are very ready for YaYu’s obligations to be over!

    The living room of our Sydney apartment

  • Looking forward to next week: I can’t ask for more than having my son, beautiful daughter-in-law and grandkids here.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We learned this past week that YaYu will be one of 43 valedictorians in her class (WenYu’s class had just nine). So proud of this girl – she has maintained a 4.0+ GPA all through high school. I have been seeing our eye doctor twice a year for the past two years because I was beginning to develop cataracts, but they are no longer growing and my vision has stabilized for now, so the Dr. said I can go back to once-a-year vision checks (having to have my eyes dilated is not a good/fun thing!). Costco surprisingly had a few items that we haven’t seen for a while back in stock, including frozen cherries (one of my favorite snacks) and the big packages of ground pork! I woke up to sunshine yesterday morning – the first time in weeks – it was glorious!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) We are changing to T-Mobile’s military plan today, which will save us $48/month and give everyone unlimited data. 2) We will also be eligible for free Netflix through T-Mobile (we didn’t qualify with our current plan), for another $14.00/month savings. 3) We ran out of quite a few things this past week, but I shopped the fridge, pantry and freezer and was able to come up with some tasty meals without having to go to the store before the Big Shop on Friday. 4) In spite of buying some extra items for our son and family, we still came in under budget on the Big Shop. 5) We put just $3.00 in the change/$1 bill jar, our leftover from the farmers’ market.

    Truckloads of pet food have been donated and dispersed.

    Volunteers set up soup kitchens to feed displaced persons and rescue workers.

  • Grateful for: The outpouring of help and aloha we’ve seen this past week has been awe inspiring and humbling: boats evacuating stranded residents and bringing in supplies; a doctor setting up clinic for those trapped by landslides; massive amounts of food donated and cooked for those who lost their homes; funds donated for farmers who lost all their crops; community or school groups volunteering their time to assist with clean-up; paniolo (cowboys) helping to round up escaped livestock (buffalo or otherwise); city and county workers putting in extra hours to clean up debris; random acts of kindness everywhere, and on and on.
  • Bonus question: Do you enjoying gardening? In a nutshell, no. I wish I did and am somewhat envious of those who do garden and enjoy it, but any sort of yard work or planting or such just does nothing for me. I blame my father – he made gardening a chore when I was young, and I developed a strong aversion to it. While Dad was planting, watering, trimming, harvesting and doing all those things that would have been fun, my siblings and I were stuck with weeding and hoeing, or things like cleaning and sorting wood chips – necessary but backbreaking, miserable and mundane tasks that destroyed my desire to have a garden. Brett and I have set up and maintained a garden in the past, but gardening has just never been my favorite thing to do. I am thrilled that we have someone taking care of the yard here, and I would be happy to live in a condo with nothing more than a deck or lanai and a few plants in pots. I used to have a green thumb when it came to houseplants, but currently don’t have any (because of bugs).

That’s all for this week from Casa Aloha. How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

(I don’t have any way to credit the flood-related photos above – they’ve just shown up in various feeds on Facebook, taken by different people around the island.)


Sunday Afternoon 4/15/2018

Our walk venue on Monday – the rubber track was very comfortable for walking, but I still prefer the beach path and the gorgeous views.

This past week was one of those that felt both incredibly busy yet also very relaxing. I got lots done, caught up on chores and other things that needed to get done, but also found plenty of time to read and have fun. YaYu’s track schedule was once again crazy, maybe more so than usual. They have a new coach this year (a single guy with no other obligations) and he wants the team at the stadium as much as possible to practice on the track, which is at a minimum 30 minutes away from the high school and our house. Other than Thursdays (meet day) though, YaYu never knows until the day before whether they’ll be practicing at the stadium or not, and it’s far enough away that Brett and I usually can’t plan or do anything while they’re practicing there. YaYu is having a great track season, but we are all looking forward to it being over!

A bit of blue sky on the other side of the mountains at Kipu Kai Ranch gave us hope on Tuesday that things might be clearing up. Nope.

The weather stayed mostly miserable for another week (we’ve had only two full days of sunshine since February 22), although last Monday the clouds cleared out for a while in the afternoon, the sun came out and it actually got a bit hot. Brett and I had an errand near the stadium that day, so we did our walk on the outside lane while YaYu and her team practiced. We were hoping the good weather would last through the next day, when our ATV tour was scheduled, but it was not to be. The rain and clouds were back on Tuesday although it thankfully didn’t actually rain while during the tour even though it threatened to the entire time. The sun appeared for the last stop on the tour, the overlook for the Kipu Kai beach on the south shore, and it was glorious. Getting to see that beach was one of the big reasons I wanted to do the tour too. There was LOTS of mud everywhere, but the whole experience was fun, fun, fun from start to finish, and best of all we got to do it with our friend Denise!

This gorgeous bougainvillea tree in Hanapepe made me think for a moment that spring had really arrived. The clouds in back told the real story though.

Meiling got back the results from her DNA test and discovered she is 97.99 . . . Chinese! The test results were interesting though. Han is the main ethnic branch in China, followed by Mongolian and then several other minority groups, and it was interesting to see the makeup of her DNA. The results also mentioned a couple of medical markers, but those were vague (“you might develop xxx in middle age or older”). Neither of the other girls is particularly interested at this time in doing a DNA study (nor are Brett and I).

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Eat Up! mid week, and have also finished Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann, and The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn. I could put neither book down – both were the definition of page-turners. Although it was non-fiction, Killers of the Flower Moon read like a fictional murder mystery, and was about a tragic and unsettling piece of American history, the Osage murders in Oklahoma, something I ashamedly admit to knowing nothing about before reading this book. The Woman in the Window grabbed me from the first sentence and wouldn’t let me go until the last page (I read all  448 pages in less than two days). I’m back to non-fiction today though with Goodbye Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki.
  • Listening to: We’re listening to the sound of more rain again this morning. There were massive thunderstorms passing over all last night, many areas on the island are flooded, and there have been landslides and closures. Hanalei on the north shore has gotten 24 inches of rain in the past 24 hours. Here at Casa Aloha, YaYu is fixing her brunch (spicy Thai noodles with chicken), and we’re getting ready to start the laundry so that will shatter any other semblance of quiet. Supposedly there will be more thunderstorms tonight. (Photos above by Kolohe Kapu.)
  • Watching: We finished up all the available episodes of Death in Paradise this week, and started a new British mystery series, Case Histories. There’s currently only one season of the show available right now on Amazon Prime, so when we finish we’ll have to look for something else.
  • Cooking/baking: Because we’re starting to run out of lots of things (Big Shop is next week), it’s breakfast for dinner once again tonight: scrambled eggs, grilled sausages, fruit and toast for Brett and YaYu. I made brownies a couple of days ago, so no baking today. Other dinners on the menu this week are grilled chicken & apple sausages along with steamed broccoli,  grilled pork & vegetable kabobs; chicken and vegetable curry; and fried rice with Chinese barbecued pork and vegetables.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got started on a big project of organizing all of our travel reservations for the Big Adventure. Both Brett and I have things saved in our email accounts, but I wanted to have all of it in one easy-to-locate place for both of us to access. The project’s not finished yet but I’m off to a good start. I also made our flight reservations to Philadelphia from Dallas, and hotel reservations near Bryn Mawr, so the first half of The Big Adventure is set. Brett and I went back to Hanapepe on Friday and picked up a guidebook for Australia from the Talk Story bookstore. While we were down that way we also took care of a couple of Big Adventure-related errands at places that were on the way coming and going. I drank lots of water, studied French every day, but it’s been a terrible week for walking thanks to YaYu’s schedule and the not-so-good weather.
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re meeting Denise tomorrow for breakfast at the TipTop Cafe! She heads home on Wednesday, but I’ve got an appointment with the eye doctor on Tuesday so we picked tomorrow morning for one last meet-up. Otherwise we’ve got nothing on the calendar for the week.

    Blue skies as we approached the Kipu Kai beach overlook! The weather stayed overcast and rainy on the other side of the mountains though.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: The ATV tour was the only touristy thing I’ve ever really wanted to do here, and it was worth every penny. We had a great time, and riding with one of the guides was the way to go. Plus, Brett and I got to spend some quality time with our friend Denise and have plate lunches afterwards at Mark’s Place, and those are always good things! Besides picking up guidebooks while we were in Hanapepe, we also stopped at the Midnight Bear Bakery for coffee and a pastry, and brought home a treat for YaYu.

    I had a macadamia nut cinnamon swirl pastry for lunch at the Midnight Bear Bakery in Hanapepe. Maybe not the healthiest of choices, but it was divine.

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) YaYu asked Bryn Mawr to recalculate her financial aid award because they had based their calculations on us having just two in college versus three next year, and they increased her aid for next year! However, the previous aid award gives us a very good idea of what the following year’s aid amounts will be after Meiling graduates. 2) We had to pay income tax this year (no more extra child credit). It wasn’t too bad, but we put it on our credit card for the reward points and then paid it off. 3) The cost of the Australia guidebook was completely covered by the used book store credit we had received. 4) We’ve done a very good job of using up produce odds & ends and leftovers this week – nothing has gone to waste. 5) We put $15.51 into the change/$1 bill jar: $8.75 back from the water bill, $5.02 back from the cable bill, and $1.74 change from the dentist. We spent all our money again at the farmers’ market.

    I have learned lots of vocabulary with Memrise, and while I can read and understand sentences I still can barely put one together. My pronunciation is terrible, and I am completely unable to conjugate a verb. I need some real communication! (#1 is the correct answer above, BTW)

  • Grateful for: I’m feeling thankful these days for my training as a language instructor. It doesn’t make learning French any easier, but it has helped me realize what I need to do to be a more effective learner. In my case, that’s getting lots of feedback, and real communication, even if that’s just from other learners. Textbook and online exercises help, but they only go so far, for me anyway.
  • Bonus question: What is your least favorite household chore? I have maybe covered this before, but hands down I hate dusting, mainly because it has to be done here  every. single. day. There is no rest. Sometimes it needs to be done twice even because the dust here is awful. It’s even worse right now because of the damp and the dust is sticking to everything. I would rather clean toilets than dust. I also don’t like doing yard work, or the laundry, which is the main reason we only do it once a week. I am one of those obnoxious people though who will refold towels and such if someone folds them “wrong.” Otherwise I don’t mind most chores because I like a clean, tidy house. My favorite chore is probably washing the dishes – I find it very contemplative – but I only have the morning and lunch duty these days – Brett does the dinner dishes every evening.

That’s all for this week! Thank for indulging me with some time off last week. How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happen for you?

Sunday Afternoon 4/8/2018

The beautiful (and tiny) YaYu went to her prom last night. She was our “late baby” – Brett and I were both over 50 when she joined our family) – but what a wonder and joy she has been (and is)!

We learned this week that YaYu was awarded two more scholarships: $500 from the Rotary Club, and $1500 from Kiwanis, bringing her scholarship total to $3000! We’re so proud of this girl, and it’s so, so gratifying to see all her efforts rewarded.

Our landlord has apparently already found a renter for after we move out at the end of July. Landlord has been in the rental game for a long time and has learned to advertise early, and I guess someone moving here for work saw the ad and latched onto it because of the garage. I’m also guessing Mr. Potential Renter had been looking at Craigslist and caught on quickly to what a house with a garage usually rents for and decided this place would be a bargain (it is). One interesting twist though is that the Mr. PR insists he can’t live without central air-conditioning, and is willing to pay to have it installed! So, this past week a representative from an A/C company came out to look things over and give the landlord an estimate: $7900. Landlord is willing to kick in $1800, but that’s still a LOT of money Mr. PR will have to come up with. So we will see. My money is on the guy deciding this place isn’t as affordable as he thought (or he wises up and decides to go with A/C window units versus central air).

A few of the books we’re looking at these days

This past week we finally started checking out some of our guidebooks. It’s fun and exciting, but also still a bit overwhelming at this point, with almost too much information to take in. Some of these books are also heavy which makes me wonder if we’ll take them along with us, or as someone suggested, just rip out the pages we’ll need/use.

Finally, we have a lot going on this week so I’m going to take a few days off from writing. I’ll be back next Sunday though.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m more than halfway through Eat Up! and the further I go, the more I’m enjoying it. Ruby (after GBBO I have to use her first name) again and again covers aspects of food and eating that I hadn’t even considered. It’s all very interesting and enlightening.
  • Listening to: The sound of yet more rain is our background music this morning. No birds, no roosters, not a single other sound is out there. It’s quiet inside too: YaYu is still out with her friends, and Brett is reading. We’re not planning on starting the laundry until later this afternoon, so I am going to enjoy the peace and quiet as long as possible (wish the rain would stop though).
  • Watching: We finished up Last Tango in Halifax (and hope there will be another season), and were going to watch new episodes of Death in Paradise but discovered Better Call Saul also had new episodes so we watched all of those. All the actors in the series are superb, but Michael McKean has really stood out. The ending to Season 3 was jaw-dropping.

    The matcha cake with a dark chocolate glaze is very tasty!

  • Cooking/baking: We’re having breakfast for dinner again this evening: scrambled eggs, sausages, fruit and toast for Brett and YaYu. I baked a matcha cake with chocolate glaze a couple of days ago, so no baking today. I’m now trying to figure out how many other things I can glaze. Also appearing on the menu this week, in between YaYu’s track practices and meets will be lumpia and potstickers; Thai red curry chicken; mabo dofu; and pork & pepper stir fry. There’ll be rice with everything, but we need to use it up.

    Around 100 feet from where Brett and I start our walk is a sacred ancient Hawaiian burial site, the Kapa’a Ahupua’a, Puna Moku. I’d never noticed it before this week because I’d always been looking ahead or to the left at the ocean.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got four packages of bakeware/kitchenware boxed up and ready to be mailed to Meiling next week. She was never interested in cooking and baking when she was young, but she’s developed into a pretty good cook and baker lately, and I’m happy she can use this stuff. Not a big deal, but I spent all last week organizing and cleaning up my Pinterest boards. I hadn’t looked at Pinterest for nearly a year but had fun playing with it again. It is still addicting. We made good progress on cleaning out the garage freezer this past week. There are still a few more things to use in there, but we should be able to reach our goal of having it emptied out by the end of the month. I drank lots of water, studied French almost every day, and Brett and I got in three walks. It was not a great week for walking thanks to both the weather and our schedules. Yesterday the rain started two minutes before we reached the car and we got soaked!
  • Looking forward to next week: Good friend Denise is arriving on the island today, and on Tuesday morning she, Brett and I are doing the ATV tour out at the Kipu Kai ranch! Fingers and toes are crossed that the rain holds off, although it’s probably going to be muddy one way or the other. Brett and I plan to head back to Hanapepe one day this week to use our store credit and get a couple more guide books (for Australia and New Zealand). We also want to stop by the bakery when we’re in town. I’m going to start putting together our travel itinerary notebook this week, and I get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it (a feeling somewhere between excitement and what in the heck are we doing?).
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Besides YaYu’s scholarship announcements, she went to her prom last night. Prom is so different these days from when Brett and I were in high school. Back then you had to have a date, but these days it’s more about friends getting together, dressing up and having a good time. Of course plenty of people have dates, but YaYu and five of her friends went together, and from the messages and photos YaYu sent they had a wonderful time. One of her friend’s parents both work at the Marriott (where the prom was held) and got the six girls a room there, so after prom they had a slumber party at the hotel, and had brunch there this morning – fun!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: I earned a big enough bonus from doing Swagbucks last month that I was able to get another $25 Amazon gift card for 2200 points, but I am now officially done with Swagbucks. YaYu found her prom dress at Ross for less than $20, borrowed some sparkly shoes from a friend, and her friends did each others’ hair and makeup – the big expense was the $50 prom ticket. We put $10.07 in the change/$1 bill jar: $2.07 from recycling, $4.00 back from purchasing YaYu’s graduation tassle and stole (she is reusing WenYu’s cap and gown), and $4.00 back from last week’s valet parking at Duke’s. We went to the farmers’ market but spent all our money!
  • Grateful for: Both Brett and I, and our daughters, are blessed that our son is able and willing to pay for their books while they attend college. It’s a big expense, but he has stepped up every year for Meiling and WenYu, and will be covering three of them next year. When Meiling joined our family 20 years ago, M was not happy – he did not want a sister. But, he’s become all three girls’ biggest fan and is a terrific big brother to each of them.

    This is me when I think about commenting on others’ blogs.

  • Bonus question: What’s one thing you know you could be better at doing? I am terrible – I mean the worst – at commenting on others’ blogs. Every year I resolve to do better, but I am not one who can casually dash off a comment – writing anything is always an effort, even a quick comment, because I’m never satisfied with anything I write. Introversion also plays a strong role; that is, it’s one thing to write on my own blog but quite something else to inject myself into someone else’s work even when invited. It’s like going to a party where I don’t know anyone else: sort of scary. I also often find that by the time I get ready to comment someone else has usually said what I want to say, and has said it better than I ever could. All of these are of course excuses and rationalizations – I just need to make more of an effort at commenting (although just thinking about it already has my heart pounding).

That’s a wrap for this week! How did your week go? What good things happened for you? What are you cooking?

See you in a week!


Sunday Afternoon 4/1/2018

Wishing all who celebrate a very happy Easter!

We had originally thought we might go out for brunch today, but none of us was really up for it, especially after Brett and I just went out on Friday for our anniversary. We gave YaYu some candy this morning, but that’s the extent of this year’s Easter celebration at Casa Aloha. Back when the girls were little I used to decorate the house for Easter – we had several pieces of rabbit-themed Fitz & Floyd ceramics (Kensington Rabbit) that I picked up for a song when we lived in Japan, and also many beautiful washi paper-covered eggs I would put out. Brett and I always staged an elaborate egg hunt for the girls (inside because it usually always rained in Portland on Easter), and I’d make a eggs à la goldenrod with their hard-boiled eggs for brunch, and fix ham for dinner. Part of me misses those days, but another part is happy that all the hoopla is over.

Living room in the Portland house we’ve reserved – we’ll celebrate Christmas here!

I was able to take care of several more bookings this past week, including reserving the Portland Airbnb we wanted for our family stay in December. I found some fantastic air fares and for the most part very good schedules as well, and booked our flights from Portland to Dallas, from Philadelphia to Miami, from Lisbon to the U.S. in December, from Miami to Buenos Aires, and our flights over to New Delhi in January. Finding that last one was a bit of surprise – I went to look just to get a general idea of what fares were like, and found one-way tickets for less than half of what I expected to pay, on China Airlines via Taipei, so I snapped them up. I also got an excellent price on our trip back to the mainland in December by first heading to Madrid from Lisbon, and then flying to London and on to Boston, on Norwegian Air. The only downside is that we’ll have a 7 1/2 hour layover in the Gatwick airport, but we should be able to get out of the airport for a couple of hours to see some of the surrounding area. The upside (besides the low price) is that we were able to reserve exit row seats, with extra legroom for the longer flights, at no additional charge. We’ll spend a night in Boston, and then fly on to Portland the next day. Also, I found a decent fare for a non-stop flight to Buenos Aires from Miami on Aerolineas Argentinas, and after doing some research I decided to go ahead and book them now because all signs were pointing to the fares increasing beginning next week. However, when I clicked to complete the booking I got a notice that the price of the tickets had dropped by over $350! Amazing! I cannot say enough good things right now about Airbnb and Expedia. Both have been a dream to work with, and Expedia has consistently offered the lowest fares for the flights we want with the best routes. Budget-wise we’re currently $258.50 over what we estimated our costs to be, but the total includes the tickets to New Delhi, which we had not expected to buy until later.

This view!

We enjoyed much nicer weather this past week, and Brett and I even made it to the beach last Monday. It was glorious, but after an hour big dark clouds came in, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped to where we were shivering.  When it started to rain we gave up and came home. But, the hour we were there was absolutely wonderful. YaYu is back at school this week and back to her crazy schedule, so not sure when we’ll make it back to the beach but in the meantime the sunshine and blue skies are making me very happy!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading Eat Up! Ruby Tandoh is a wonderful writer (as well as a talented baker), and is covering lots of the issues that make eating such a minefield. I’ve felt that it’s taking me longer to get through books than it did last year, but then I realized so far all I’ve been reading is non-fiction, which does take longer. I’m also falling asleep these days when I read – all that sleep I missed is catching up with me.
  • Listening to: It’s mostly quiet inside and out. Brett’s is finishing up our taxes (we have to pay this year – ugh) and YaYu is studying in her room. Besides being Easter Sunday, it’s also overcast and cool again so it’s quiet outside too. Of course that doesn’t stop the roosters around here from screaming, but most of the other noise is tamped down. We’ll start the laundry in a little while. Everything will go through the dryer today because it’s too damp outside to dry anything, so that will up the noise factor once we get started. But for now, the quiet is nice.
  • Watching: We discovered that Netflix had new episodes available of Last Tango In Halifax, so we’ve been watching that this week, just an episode an evening to make it last.
  • Cooking/baking: I’m making eggs à la goldenrod again for our dinner tonight, in homage to Easters past. YaYu and Brett will have their eggs served over toasted French bread, and we’ll all have fresh fruit on the side. No baking today – we still have enough treats on hand. On the menu this week, scheduled around track practices and meets, will be noodles with pork sauce, stuffed peppers, and grilled fish tacos with fresh mango salsa.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I drove down to Hanapepe on Tuesday and dropped off a box of books at the Talk Story bookstore – they take used books and give back store credit. Other than all the good travel deals it was a pretty uneventful week. I drank lots of water, studied French every day, and we walked every day except for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings when YaYu had her stadium track practice and meet, and Brett and I had our dinner date.
  • Looking forward to next week: Hopefully more good weather and another trip or two to the beach! If it dries out enough Brett and I are going to try to take our Stone Dam trail hike next week.

    Duke’s Hula Pie: Chocolate cookie crust filled with macadamia nut ice cream, and topped with whipped cream, fudge sauce and toasted macadamia nuts. Out. Of. This. World.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I had a lovely anniversary dinner at Duke’s Kaua’i on Friday evening (the restaurant is named for Duke Kahanamoku, the famous swimmer and surfer). We had a table with a great view of the beach, our dinners were delicious, and to top it off we were treated to a slice of their famous hula pie! Brett and I were happy to share it – there was no way either of us could have eaten that slice on our own because it was massive. On our way back home from Hanapepe last Tuesday we decided to stop off in Poipu and treat ourselves to lunch at Puka Dog, always a good thing. The line when we got there was incredibly long, but the wait was worth it – those hot dogs are delicious (especially garnished with lilikoi mustard and coconut relish)! And, our landlord messaged us to let us know he wants to buy our washer and dryer!

    Brett agrees with Anthony Bourdain that Puka Dog is worth a stop! (A.B. ate here on No Reservations)

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: It doesn’t feel like we had a very frugal week because I spent a lot of money on the reservations I made. But, we saved on all of the flights we booked, and will be getting LOTS of reward points from our credit card. We also got $30 in store credit from Talk Story Books, much more than we would have gotten from selling the books at our moving sale, and will use the credit to purchase guide books for Australia and New Zealand. We put $6.21 into the change/$1 bill jar this week: $5 back from the farmers’ market, and $1.21 from Safeway (for milk and our fruit salad for dinner tonight).
  • Grateful for: Thirty-nine years ago I married my best friend, the best dad ever, and my partner in everything. We used to talk back then about growing old together, and well . . . here we are.  We’re very different people from very different backgrounds, with very different interests, skills and talents, and yet we’ve always agreed on the “big” things like money, kids and child-rearing, where to live, retirement, etc. We’re good at compromising, and rarely argue, and we’ve never gone to bed angry with each other. Brett has only once said “no,” to me – he figured out pretty quickly that if left to my own thoughts and devices I would put the brakes on something all by myself before I got us into trouble. I’m beyond thankful for all of our time together and all of our adventures, the good times and even the not-so-good. Here’s to many more happy years together!
  • Bonus question: Do you have a favorite Easter candy? I haven’t had one for a couple of years, but hands down my favorite is and always will be Cadbury Creme Eggs. They’re so sweet they make my teeth hurt, but that sweetness limits how many I eat. Except for the caramel variation, I’ve liked the other flavors they’ve introduced from time to times as well, especially the one year when they had orange creme in the center. So good! The chocolate ganache filling was pretty nice too. Otherwise I can take or leave most Easter candy, especially jelly beans which I don’t care for except for a few Jelly Belly flavors. Brett loves marshmallow “hiding eggs,” but always waits to buy them the day after Easter when they’re selling for $1/bag or less.

And that’s how this week went at Casa Aloha! How was your week? Did you celebrate Easter? What are you eating this week? What good things happened for you?

Sunday Afternoon 3/25/2018

Accepted at Bryn Mawr College with a full scholarship!!!

What started out as a very rough week – rejected by Smith and Amherst, waitlisted at Wellesley and Carleton – had a very happy ending with YaYu’s acceptance at Bryn Mawr with a full scholarship. The college has been on her list from the very beginning, so this was an especially nice finish to what were otherwise two very difficult and depressing weeks. YaYu is over the moon though (us too). She plans to major in East Asian Languages & Culture (Chinese) and minor in Education, working in tandem with Haverford College, which is nearby.

And since we now know when we have to be where, Brett and I have been sitting together with the calendar and finalizing the first half of our adventure. We’re leaving Kaua’i (August 20), and will be flying to Portland for a couple of days to do some shopping for YaYu and see friends – we’ve already rented a place to stay through Airbnb while we’re there, in a wonderful neighborhood not far from where we lived back in the day. From Portland we’ll head to Dallas to spend a couple of days visiting with Brett’s sister and brother-in-law, and dropping off our important papers and documents for safekeeping while we’re on the road. Then it’s on to Philadelphia and Bryn Mawr to get YaYu moved in to her dorm. From Philadelphia we’ll fly to Miami and then head down to Buenos Aires to begin the Big Adventure!

We could see big swaths of chocolate-brown water running through the ocean when we took our walk yesterday, runoff from five days of rain. It will take anywhere from two to seven days to dissipate.

We had nothing but rain, rain, rain almost all this past week – it started on Monday and the skies didn’t clear until yesterday. As of yesterday there have been only six days this month when it hasn’t rained here. It made me wonder how we ever lasted so long in the Pacific Northwest because all this gloom has been hard to take, to say the least.

This week I am:

  • Reading: I didn’t pick up Eat Up! at all this past week until Friday evening because I was too anxious to concentrate for more than a couple of paragraphs, and finally decided it would just be easier to wait until life calmed down again. I picked it back up again on Friday evening and am enjoying it immensely.
  • Listening to: The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the bird are singing and all’s right in the world, at least here right now. Besides birdsong, I’m also listening to loads of baby chicks peeping away in the yard – they’re quite loud. It’s quiet in the house right now though. Brett and YaYu are reading, and we haven’t started the laundry yet.
  • Watching: We watched two movies at the beginning of the week: I, Tonya and Murder On the Orient Express. Allison Janney in I, Tonya was nothing short of amazing – she deserved the Academy Award.  Tonya Harding was always front-page news in Portland (usually not in a good way), but I never had any idea of the abuse she put up with for so many years. We watched Dunkirk on Friday night (even YaYu thought it was good, and she hates war movies). We also watched some a couple more episodes of The Brief, and tonight we’re going to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
  • Cooking/baking: Our egg-centric dinner tonight is Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs, along with rice and cucumbers. I’m baking some orange-chocolate cupcakes later this afternoon so Brett and YaYu will be good for sweets for a while. I didn’t end up making the turkey divan casserole last week, so we’re having that tomorrow, and mabo nasu with rice, spaghetti with marinara and meatballs, and pork fried rice are also on the menu this week. We’ve still got track season going on, so our schedule remains screwy for a few more weeks.
  • Happy I accomplished this week: I consider that with all the tension and stress going on this past week the fact that I did not stand in front of the refrigerator and just stuff myself was a huge accomplishment! It was that kind of week. We got more things sorted for the thrift store, and YaYu and I went to the new Ross store down the road and got started on her dorm supplies. We found a very nice comforter and towels, but most everything else is going to have to be purchased nearer the college when we get to Pennsylvania. I drank lots of water and studied French every day, but Brett and my daily walk didn’t happen except for last Sunday and yesterday because of the weather. Not my accomplishment, but Brett finally got his hair cut. I liked his hair long, but he could never depend on it looking nice, so he’s back to his usual short style. I think it’s incredibly unfair that he still looks so young – he’ll be 68 next month! 

  • Looking forward to next week: I’m looking forward to recovering from the past two weeks of stress, disappointment, tension and frazzled nerves. The process was so competitive this year! Brett and I are celebrating our 39th anniversary on Friday with dinner at Duke’s Kauai, down by Nawiliwili in Lihue. We’re super excited about eating there (their seafood is excellent), and sharing a piece of their famous Hula Pie!

    Can’t wait to spend time with these two!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: I don’t think anything can top YaYu’s acceptance – it was the last school she heard from, and it was such wonderful news. YaYu burst into tears when she read the announcement. I think that buying that comforter on Thursday was a good omen – her class color at Bryn Mawr will be dark blue, and the comforter is a beautiful dark blue and white print!  My daughter-in-law sent us loads of pictures again this past week and we are getting VERY excited about their upcoming visit. They are planning all sorts of activities, and Brett and I have promised to provide as much childcare as they want as often as they want.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: YaYu always has an eye for savings, and chose the cute and affordable name-brand comforter for her dorm room at Ross for less than $30 versus another more expensive one, as well as a quality set of bath towels for around $15. We also looked at some throw pillows for her bed, but she said she wants the ones that are on our sofa now which will be another big savings. All the movies we’ve watched this past couple of weeks have been free, courtesy of Amazon credit earned through Swagbucks. We put $4.55 into the change/$1 bill jar, left over from the farmers’ market and the Big Shop.
  • Reporting gains and losses: I lost another pound this month, so that makes 32 pounds gone since February of last year. I’m just going to keep on keeping on. We put $1067.50 into our travel savings, for a total now of $17,646.07. We’ll be using our savings in a big way in the next couple of weeks as we begin making reservations for our Big Adventure lodgings and flights.
  • Grateful for: All of us are feeling so very, very thankful for YaYu’s admission to Bryn Mawr and for the very, very generous financial aid she received. YaYu has the most impressive high school resume of all of our kids, both grades and extracurriculars, and yet she had the toughest time of all being accepted in spite of applying to more schools. Admissions were just incredibly competitive this year. The colleges that YaYu applied to received anywhere from a 15% to 45% increase in the number of applications received, so it was very tough standing out and being chosen. She received lovely, warm letters from the colleges where she was waitlisted, and all encouraged her to stay on their list, but she wants to go to Bryn Mawr. We think the college is going to be a wonderful fit for YaYu, and are happy too that another one of our girls will be attending one of the Seven Sisters. These schools provide a unique and empowering experience for women, on top of giving them a top-rate education.

    Lewis & Clark still has the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen though. It was almost impossible to study there – you couldn’t help but find yourself constantly staring out of the window, taking it all in.

  • Bonus question: If you attended college, do you remember how much it cost? I attended Lewis & Clark College in Portland back in the early 1970s – the cost for tuition and room and board was right around $4000 per year, something my very middle-class parents could afford while they were also paying out-of-state tuition for my older brother to attend the University of Washington. Fast forward to now, and the tuition plus fees and room & board at Lewis & Clark is $63,588! The University of Washington cost for a non-resident is $46,482. And that’s not counting books, travel expenses or other miscellaneous costs. What middle class family can afford that these days, let alone for four years, or even save enough? Bryn Mawr’s costs are not any better, but compared to Lewis & Clark they offer much better financial aid. Hopefully YaYu’s savings will be enough that she doesn’t have to take out any loans, at least not initially, but she will be working while she’s in school to help her bottom line. The cost to attend the University of Hawaii would have been somewhere between $28K – $30K, and that’s for a resident. Financial aid would have helped, but that’s still a lot of money every year.

What a week! I’m so glad it ended on a high note. How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

Sunday Afternoon 3/18/2018

Second round coming up!

It’s been a week of ups and downs. YaYu received rejection notices from both Bowdoin and Colby on Friday, but took them in stride and we all drowned our sorrows in bowls of ice cream that evening. Yesterday morning she heard from both Colgate and Bates: rejected at Colgate, and waitlisted at Bates. Admission to all four of these schools was very competitive this year – the increase in the number of applications received at the schools ranged from 25% – 45% more than last year. This first round of decisions was tough for YaYu, but she will hear from five more schools this week, and remains hopeful for good news. Brett and I keep reminding her that whatever school she ends up attending, even the University of Hawaii, will be a great fit for her and will be her school. On the bright side though, earlier in the week she learned she had been awarded a General Erik K. & Patricia Shinseki Foundation scholarship for $1000! That will be officially awarded on May 2, at a recognition luncheon held at Gaylord’s restaurant in Kilohana (Brett and I get to go too!). And, in other good news, Meiling got the tech job she interviewed for week before last! She’s especially excited because beyond the experience her salary will be more than double what she’s made at previous jobs.

Blue skies and calm seas for as far as the eye can see.

After nearly three weeks of overcast skies, strong wind, and lots and lots of rain, Friday saw the return of sunshine and beautiful weather. It was actually even hot when Brett and I walked on Friday! All the gloomy weather reminded us though of why we decided to leave Portland more than four years ago. Brett and I have both concluded that wherever we settle when the Big Adventure finishes, sunny, warm weather will again be a top consideration.

I’ve been going through my annual bout of insomnia for the past few weeks, but hopefully it will be over soon because I’m very, very tired of being tired all the time. I have absolutely no idea what causes it, but even reducing or giving up caffeine has no effect on my ability to fall asleep, nor does any of the other tricks or sleep aids I’ve tried. I think nerves over YaYu’s college news has been playing a role this year, but that should all be over next week and hopefully my sleep schedule will start getting back to normal.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Chinese Lessons this past week. It was a thought-provoking read for me because I could identify with so much of the author’s experience, thoughts on, and nagging questions about adoption. I’m just getting started with Eat Up!: Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want by Ruby Tandoh, about one of life’s greatest pleasures: eating. Ruby was a finalist on the Great British Baking Show one season, and this book has gotten great reviews.
  • Listening to: It’s very quiet here, both inside and outside. Everyone is reading or writing, and the laundry hasn’t been started yet either. Outside right now there’s a wonderful breeze blowing, enough to cause some noise as it rushes through the palm trees. Otherwise even the animals are quiet this morning, and no one is working on their yard, at least for now. There are some clouds out, but it’s still mostly sunny. I hope that lasts too!
  • Watching: This past week I watched Season 2 of The Tick on Amazon. I didn’t think it was quite as funny as the first, but still entertaining. Brett and I watched the first episode of British series The Brief, but switched to movies on Friday evening beginning with Get Out (really good), then Ladybird last night, and tonight we’re watching The Shape of Water. We’ll be back after that with The Brief.

    Open-faced hot turkey sandwich – yum! They’re a total carb-fest, but I skip the bread and have just a quarter cup each of the stuffing and mashed potatoes.

  • Cooking/baking: Dinner tonight will be baked chili rellenos, along with rice and cucumbers. I made a plain yellow cake this morning – we have a lot of whipped cream on hand, and YaYu thought yellow cake filled with whipped cream would be delicious. I wasn’t able to fix yakisoba with chicken last week so we’re having that this week, as well as slow cooker chicken adobo with bok choy; vegetable and chicken curry; roast turkey with mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy; hot turkey sandwiches; and turkey divan casserole (we’re picking up a roast turkey breast at Costco). And, there will be some more ice cream eating going on as well, one way or another. YaYu is on spring break this week, so I need to make sure there are leftovers and snacks around for her.
  • Happy I accomplished last week: I got the big living room tansu pretty much cleaned out, and did some work on the baking cupboard in the kitchen. We had planned to mail some of our baking things to Meiling, but unless it can fit into a flat-rate box it will go out at our moving sale or to the thrift store – the postage to mail anything from here, even to the west coast, is just too much. Although I drank lots of water and studied French almost every day, between YaYu’s practice and meet schedule, being under the weather on Monday night and most of Tuesday, and some epic rain on Wednesday, Brett and I were only able to walk on Friday and yesterday. We’ll be out again though later this afternoon.
  • Looking forward to next week: All of us are excited and nervous about hearing from the rest of the colleges – Wellesley and Bryn Mawr announce on Wednesday, Carleton on Thursday, Smith on Friday, and Amherst on Saturday. Last week YaYu got an email from the Bryn Mawr financial aid office asking her to clarify some information for them, but we don’t know if that means good news is coming or not – the notice certainly wasn’t giving anything away. We’re also supposed to get another week of overcast and rain, but we are hoping beyond hope that the sunshine continues – we (me especially) need it! Brett and I had to postpone our Starbucks coffee date last week, but should be able to go this week.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: In spite of not receiving good news from colleges this past week, YaYu’s scholarship award and Meiling’s new job were enough good news to keep our spirits up. Also, the sun broke through the clouds Thursday afternoon in time for YaYu’s track meet so it didn’t have to be held in the rain – thank goodness! She beat her personal best in the long jump by a foot last week! She was also moved up to the next faster heat in the 800m race, and while she didn’t finish as high up as others she also didn’t come in last!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We almost had a no-spend week except for buying ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream to celebrate and/or mourn YaYu’s college announcements. Otherwise we did the typical frugal stuff around here, including getting the list made for next week’s Big Shop. We put $11.11 into the change/$1 bill jar: $5.01 change from our cable bill, $2.87 back from recycling, and $3.23 from ice cream shopping.
  • Grateful for: Believe it or not, I’m thankful for all the rain we have received this winter – it’s the rain that keeps Kaua’i green and lush, but all the cloudy days have also helped me appreciate the sunshine that much more, as well as realize that I am happier when there’s more sunshine than not. I just don’t do well with clouds, rain, and overcast anymore, at least not when it drags on for days or weeks. I am also thankful that because of the clear skies and calmer ocean Brett and I were able to watch some whales off in the (near) distance yesterday when we took our walk! We saw one leap out of the water, and another wave its flipper, and there was also plenty of spouting going on. I had been afraid I wouldn’t see any whales this year because the ocean has been so rough, and it’s almost time for them to leave Hawai’i.
  • Bonus question: How did you and your spouse/significant other meet? I’ve probably mentioned it before, but Brett was my instructor in a transistor theory class at navy “A” school in Millington, Tennessee. I can still close my eyes and picture the first time I saw him, standing in the middle of the classroom holding two electric leads as I walked in. He came right up to me and introduced himself. He was above me in rank (obviously), so I had to address him formally in class, but something definitely clicked right from the start. The transistor class was only two weeks long, but after I finished and moved on to the next course he asked me out. Our first date was going to see the totally forgettable movie I Will, I Will . . . For Now with Diane Keaton and Elliot Gould. I came home from that first date and told my roommate I was in love. I found out later that Brett used to watch me from the window when my previous class took our breaks (my class before transistor theory was on the first floor; TT was on the second), and he pointed me out one day to the two other instructors he worked with, telling them he was going to marry me some day. Our meeting was 41 years ago this past May 25th.

How was your week? What good things happened for you this week? What are you looking forward to next week?


Sunday Afternoon 3/11/2018

YaYu’s college notifications start arriving this week! She’ll hear from two colleges at the end of this week, from two more next week, and then the rest by the end of the month. The mood around here is cautiously hopeful, but we are stocking up on ice cream tomorrow (cookies ‘n’ cream and mint chocolate chip), chocolate sauce and whipped cream so we can either celebrate with her or help her drown her sorrows. Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME remains her top choice, but the other schools she is waiting to hear from are Bates, Colby, Wellesley, Amherst, Smith, Colgate, Bryn Mawr, and Carleton. All are in cold, cold places! None of us have any idea whatsoever how it’s going to shake out, but I hope you’ll send lots of good thoughts her way. It’s going to be a very anxious few weeks for her (us too)!

One of several squalls we spotted out on the horizon last Wednesday. What the picture doesn’t show was how cold and windy it was, in spite of the surf having calmed down some.

Just like most places on the mainland (and otherwise), we’re eager for spring to arrive. We’ve had yet another cool, breezy, overcast, and rainy week here. Monday was gorgeous: warm weather, blue sky and sunshine, but I had a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day so we didn’t really get to enjoy it much other than we got to spend a nice afternoon in Kilauea. The clouds were back by evening and the rest of the week went downhill from there. We didn’t even open the doors or windows on Thursday or Friday because it was so cold, but yesterday evening things began to clear our and it was lovely again for a while, but very cool again this morning. This has definitely been the coldest winter we’ve experienced since we’ve lived here, which has been great for walking. We know warmer weather is coming though (along with increased humidity). I always think to myself when the weather is like this that I’m glad I live here and didn’t spend thousands for a vacation only for us to be unable to go to the beach or have to deal with lots of red mud.

I consider myself a very healthy person, and doing all the right things (weight-bearing exercise, healthy eating and weight, enough daily calcium, etc.) so I was surprised (and a little scared) to learn this past week that I have beginning osteoporosis in one hip and in one place in my lower spine. The first call I got from the doctor’s office about the bone density scan said the results were good, but then a few days later I got a call that the doctor wanted to talk with me about the results. It turns out my scores for the hip and spine were right on the dividing line between actual osteoporosis and pre-osteoporosis (and the other hip was close). The doctor told me to keep doing what I have been but prescribed medication to see if the progression can be stopped, if not reversed somewhat. My mom and her mother both had “good bones,” but I don’t have any idea about my dad’s side of the family, or what I might have inherited from that direction.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finally finished Hamilton! Yeah! I’ve started Chinese Lessons: An American Mother Teaches her Children How to be Chinese in China by Patti Waldmeir. Waldmier, a single mom, became the Shanghai correspondent for the Financial Times, and lived there with her two daughters, both adopted from China, for around eight years. I’m finding it very relatable, both her feelings and experiences as an adoptive mother, and her children’s reactions to being adopted and attitudes toward China. Although all three of our very American girls are proud to be from China, speak Mandarin (fairly fluently), have visited China more than once and enjoyed their time there, they have absolutely NO interest in living there (well maybe YaYu, but that’s for the food).
  • Listening to: It’s been a quiet morning here other than there have been a couple of very loud roosters of and on out in the back yard. We haven’t started the laundry yet, and with just Brett and I here it’s been quiet inside – a taste of things to come? With the windows still closed there isn’t much noise from outside, but I can hear someone’s weed trimmer off in the distance.
  • Watching: Brett and I watched both seasons of Shelbourne Hotel this week, and of course now we want to go to Dublin and stay there, even if just for a night, or just to have tea. Last night we watched Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and tonight we’re going to watch Coco with YaYu.
  • Cooking/baking: YaYu is making fried rice for us again tonight – we have leftover rice, and everything else we need (chicken, vegetables, and eggs). I baked a batch of ginger sugar cookies this past week to use up some molasses and spices and because the weather is cool, and there are still some of those around. On the menu this week is lumpia and potstickers along with rice; yakisoba with chicken; stuffed peppers; and grilled chicken (which we didn’t end up having last week).

    One of the old gravestones at the CME church in Kilauea. This young man drowned in 1888, at age 33.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got a kitchen cabinet cleaned out this week – actually, I moved things around so that one cabinet now holds the dishes that will go into storage and another holds the things we are not keeping. When we were up in Kilauea on Monday for my doctor’s appointment, Brett and I finally stopped to visit the historic Christ Memorial Episcopal Church and cemetery. We usually turn the opposite direction from the church to head home, but are glad we took the time to visit the church and grounds – it was very interesting, especially the cemetery. In spite of the weather Brett and I got in five walks (and about got blown off the path on Friday!), I studied French every day, and drank lots and lots of water.
  • Looking forward to next week: Fingers are crossed for good news for YaYu, and for some nice, sunny weather! Maybe three weeks will be the charm and we’ll be able to get to the Stone Dam Trail this week.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Our movie watching was all free, courtesy of Amazon credit I earned from Swagbucks. Otherwise, it was just another regular week frugal-wise – nothing really stands out. It was another no-spend week except for the farmers’ market, and we put $9.00 leftover from there into the change/$1 bill jar.

    The Moloa’a Fruit Stand

  • Thinking of good things that happened: WenYu may have found a good summer job in Boston! It makes me sad she won’t be coming home this summer, but overall it will be good for her, and save all of us a lot of money. She’ll be able to stay with a friend there for the summer, so thankfully won’t have to worry about housing. Brett and I stopped at the Moloa’a fruit stand on the way home from Kilauea, and while they don’t make frosties any more, I did have a very thick and tasty papaya, pineapple and banana smoothie. YaYu is having a fabulous time at her Key Club convention – it’s on Maui this year!
  • Grateful for: Once again, I am very grateful for the prescription plan we have from our military insurance. It provides 90-days of medication, through the mail, at no or very, very low cost. The prescription service is fast, too. The doctor ordered my new medication on Monday, and I received it on Thursday (I could go to a local pharmacy if I needed it sooner though).

    Authentic Key lime pie is amazing. That is all.

  • Bonus question: Which do you like more: cookies, cake or pie? As I’ve said before, I am not a big sweets person these days but I do love a good piece of pie. I don’t think there’s any kind of pie I don’t like. My favorite fruit pie is cherry, I adore pecan pie, and I’m evenly divided between whether I like lemon meringue, banana cream, or Key lime pie more. The best piece of pie I ever had was a slice of banana cream at a restaurant called Perry’s in Portland. The pie had a wonderfully flaky crust, crushed pineapple and bananas under a luscious filling, and the whipped cream on top was perfect, and topped with toasted coconut. Every bite was amazing. Perry’s used to sell their pies, but I never saw that banana cream again (it probably sold out within minutes). My favorite cake is carrot cake, and my favorite cookie is anything with lemon, especially those ginger sandwich cookies with lemon filling. I can pretty much stay away from anything else though. I also love cobblers or crisps of any kind, maybe because they’re not as sweet as other desserts.

That’s all for this week!