Sunday Afternoon 7/15/2018

This is pretty close to the view we’ll have from our condo – we’ll be a couple of floors down though, looking out over the roofs of the pavilions at the pool and the beach.

Less than two weeks to go before condo time! Sometimes the thought of being there in another couple of weeks seems like the only thing keeping me sane.

Yesterday when we were out on our walk we ran into a woman who we met back in April when the landlord first advertised the house. She was interested then, but he just contacted her this past Friday and told her she had been “chosen” (while at the same time renewing the ad on Craigslist). We have heard him say some very unkind and untrue things about her over the past few months, and while we were talking with her we also learned he has been sort of trash-talking us. He was also hinting to her that we won’t be getting our deposit back because of all the “damage” we’ve done to the house. The reality is the house will be as clean as (or cleaner than) it was when we moved in, and I think he’s going to be quite surprised when he discovers he’s dealing with me over the inspection and the security deposit. He’s going to find out pretty quickly that I know Hawai’i law and our rights as tenants, I’m not a pushover, and that he can either deal honestly with us or see us in small claims court – we have up to a year to file against him. No matter what happens though, we’ll still be out on the 28th, and I can’t wait.

The girls’ room is clean and ready for inspection (minus the last of our hanging clothes)

Things are moving along with the cleaning though. The girls’ room and bathroom have both been deep cleaned and except for cleaning the ceiling fan both are ready for inspection. Brett’s going to do all the fans in the house a couple of days before we leave so they are super clean for the walk-through inspection (dust accumulates quickly in this weather). I got our bedroom closet cleaned out and freshened up this past week, and we’ve started cleaning our bedroom and in the kitchen – all the cabinets have been emptied and the insides wiped down. The oven was supposed to be repaired this past week but that didn’t happen and it’s looking more and more like it won’t be done before we move out. I’m going to go ahead and finish cleaning the stove this week (we’re not really cooking on it any more) so it’s ready whether the oven is or not. We’ll be emptying out the refrigerator and freezer this week so that I can turn them off for a while next weekend to deep clean it as well. After it’s empty (or nearly empty) and clean we’ll be getting take-out for our meals.

On top of all this turmoil though we got a surprising piece of good fortune dropped into our laps this past week. On Wednesday evening I received an email from Airbnb suggesting that we cancel our 2019 Tokyo reservation because our host still had not obtained licensing for the rental. We communicated with the host, and will be working directly with her versus booking another Airbnb rental, staying in the same apartment at the same price. However,  Airbnb gave us a gift certificate for the entire amount of our three-month stay even though we had only paid for the first month (which was refunded in full). The certificate is worth several thousands of dollars, and can be used for any Airbnb rental anywhere in the world if we book before July of next year. They also gave us a gift certificate for $100 to use toward any Airbnb experience! We’ll have to think about that one, but right now it looks like we’ll be traveling again after we finish up next summer’s stay in Portland – stay tuned!

I won’t be posting this week until next Sunday – there is so much to do around here and I need to focus on that. It’s been busy enough that even if we don’t get out for a walk both Brett and I usually get all our steps/miles just from working in the house!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’ve tried to read more of Standard Deviation this week but haven’t gotten through much – a few pages and I’m ready to fall asleep.
  • Listening to: Apparently a whole lot of babies hatched at the same time this past week because the yard is filled with the sound of peeping baby chicks! They are making enough noise to drown out just about everything else. The washer and dryer are doing their thing too – we have to get YaYu’s uniforms ready before she goes to work this afternoon. So far the neighbors are quiet, but we’re expecting the neighbor above us to turn on his wood chipper or whatever other noisy piece of equipment he’s using any moment now.
  • Watching: I caught up with another episode of the Great British Baking Show, and we’ll watch another episode of Endeavour tomorrow after it posts online. Otherwise, I’ve been watching an episode or two at a time of Victory at Sea (Amazon Prime) and the Ken Burns’ documentary about World War II (The War, on Netflix) when I can find time to squeeze them in. I’ve watched both series before (a couple of times actually), but the second world war era is my favorite historical period to study (followed by the Civil War) and the film clips, photos and stories from then still fascinate me even though I’ve seen most of them before. The narration for Victory at Sea is a bit over the top now, to the point where it can make me laugh out loud at times, but I get that it was a different time when the series was made (1952), and the war and the Allied victory were still fresh in everyone’s minds.

    Nothing says fine dining like eating a microwaved chicken pot pie on a paper plate.

  • Cooking/baking: With the oven still not repaired, the party pan of Stouffer’s chicken enchiladas I had planned to fix tonight won’t be happening – it will instead be going over to the condo with us. Brett and I are having steak sandwiches tonight, and chicken pot pies, quiche, macaroni & cheese, and pork tacos this week in our effort to completely clean out the fridge and freezer. I’m actually looking forward to doing some cooking and eating “real” food – all this processed food is starting to wear me down.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I finally got all of the touch-up painting done. It was nothing that particularly needed to be done, but I’m not giving this landlord an inch (and he did leave paint for us if we ever needed it). Getting the girls’ room finished was a big accomplishment, especially getting the blinds cleaned, and the closet freshened up. The room was not really dirty, more like cluttered, but it looks really, really good now and is move-in ready. Brett took a full carload of items to the thrift store last week – we should only have a bag or two left to go, if that, when we leave the house. I finally remembered to order locks for our luggage and luggage tags from Amazon – they should arrive next week. Brett and I got in a few walks last week, but usually we were too busy in the house and/or the weather was awful (rain or oppressive humidity). I booked the last two flights inside Europe with RyanAir, and reserved our hotel stay in the Cinque Terre.
  • Looking forward to next week: The car detailer is coming to the house tomorrow to get that job done, and once the car is spiffed up we will get it listed for sale. Fingers are crossed that sale goes quickly. I am also going to begin researching and reserving our train travel in France, reserve our rental cars, and Brett and I are going to discuss what museums we want to visit and pre-book those.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Because of the humidity, mildew is a constant issue here. We had some in the showers that was very stubborn but I researched online and found two ways to treat it and both methods worked perfectly (although the whole house smelled strongly of bleach for a couple of days). YaYu paid for her first semester at Bryn Mawr – no loans! She has enough in the bank now to cover the rest of this year’s expenses and most of next year, and she’ll be working right up until we leave so she can fatten her bank account even more. The generous gifts from Airbnb were a complete surprise, and are a game changer as far as future plans are concerned.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We sold a few more small things and I’m setting all that money aside for now for our final week in the house when we’ll be going out or getting take-out for our meals most of the time. So far though our monthly food bill has been less than half of what we usually spend, even it if it mostly prepared foods. Including fees for our luggage, reserved seats, and carry-ons, the total for the two RyanAir flights for both of us were less than $300.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling more and more grateful each day for the time we have to clean and get ready to move out of our house, especially with the summer heat and humidity we’re having to deal with now. I cannot imagine only having a week or less to get this house ready for our crazy landlord. We may end up getting screwed over by him, but we know we will be leaving the house in superb condition.

    Clean and tidy has a different meaning now that we’re sharing our bathroom with YaYu.

  • Bonus question: Which would you rather clean, the kitchen or the bathroom? Neither really – sometimes I wish we could afford someone to come in and do it for us. But, since that’s not happening, the bathroom is actually the easier of the two in my opinion. Although it sometimes seems like it takes a bit more elbow grease (the tub and shower stalls), kitchens actually have a whole lot more places for dirt to hide and require near constant upkeep. We learned lots of cleaning tricks back in the day when we had to clean our navy housing for inspection, and learned quickly that keeping up with the cleaning in both the bathroom or kitchen and not let it slide (however, it turned out that every house we lived in had either the bathroom or kitchen remodeled when we moved out). Here’s one cleaning trick we learned: to clean oven racks or a cast iron grill, double-bag two large trash bags. Place the racks or grill in the bag, set outside (on a patio, or rocks – just not on grass or near plants) and add a generous amount of ammonia. Tie up the bags and let them sit overnight. You will see some ammonia leaking from the bottom of the bags, but it’s the fumes inside that are doing all the work. The next day wash racks or grill with steel wool, or even just a magic sponge. The grease and dirt will come right off with light to no scrubbing, and the racks will look good as new! If your oven is not too dirty, you can also set a glass measuring cup of ammonia inside the oven overnight with the door shut. Grease and dirt in the oven should easily wash out with little to no scrubbing. A magic sponge works great to clean and keep your oven glass door clean and grease free between oven cleanings.

That’s all for this week – hope you all had a good one. What did you accomplish this last week? What good things happened for you? What is your least favorite room to clean?

I’ll be back next Sunday!

Sunday Afternoon 7/8/2018

The living room is now YaYu’s room until we move out. I like a clean and orderly house so this is keeping me on edge a bit, but we’ll be out of here before we know it.

We are “living rough” around here these days. We’ve still got the Aerobed and our queen-size bed until right before we move out which is helping us stay more comfortable than we imagined we would be at this point. Also, because the landlord bought our washer and dryer and they’re staying in the house we don’t have to deal with the using or paying for the laundromat. But otherwise things have gotten somewhat basic around here. We’re eating on paper plates with plastic utensils these day, and have few to no cooking tools. I will say that living this simply really helps to focus the mind on efforts to get stuff done and moving along.

The pantry these days (baking soda and vinegar are for cleaning)

As I wrote last week we ended up not having to hold our garage sale this weekend because everyone who came to pick up the items we had listed on the Buy & Sell “shopped” all the stuff we were going to put out at the sale and pretty much all of it got snapped up. We put the last few big items on Buy & Sell on Thursday and all sold in a day. Brett will take the few remaining items to the thrift store this week. Next up on our to-do list will be getting the car detailed and listed for sale.

I had a bit of a dental scare this past week when some of the glue on the bridge I have on my lower front teeth fell out. Our dentist was on vacation, and I had visions of needing to have the whole bridge replaced before we leave, costing us $$$, maybe $$$$. But I called the dentist the day he got back and he said it just needs re-gluing, everything else is fine. He said if it comes unglued while we’re traveling that I should see a local dentist about it. I guess that could end up being an interesting “cultural experience” if it happens. Our dental insurance covers us worldwide, and thankfully we’re visiting countries where good dental care is offered but fingers are crossed that after the re-glue this week I’ll be good to go for a while.

YaYu’s final scholarship check arrived in the mail yesterday . . . and was $500 more than she was expecting! The organization first emailed her last April that she was being awarded a $1000 scholarship. A couple of days later though she received a second email from them with an apology and note that she would only be getting $500. Oh well. But, when she opened the envelope today the check was for $1000 after all, bringing her total scholarship amount from local Kaua’i organizations to $5500. She continues to earn lots from her job, and will be leaving the island with a very healthy bank account.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished both the Donna Leon and Elizabeth George mysteries, and have started Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny. It’s a fun read – perfect for now when everything around us is craziness. I am also #1 on the waitlist for another book at the library, and hoping it becomes available this week.
  • Listening to: We’ve had a cool morning, with heavy rain at times. But now the neighborhood roosters are screaming, and dogs are barking, so maybe all we’re going to be stuck with for the rest of the day is overcast. We’ve got the laundry going right now but otherwise it’s quiet inside – I’m writing and Brett and YaYu are reading.
  • Watching: Without a TV, Brett and I haven’t been really watching much of anything. I did catch another episode of The Great British Baking Show online, and we’re going to watch Endeavour tonight on my computer.
  • Cooking/baking: Alan & Cheryl bought our grill, and another person who came to pick up something asked about and ended up buying our slow cooker (!) so all we have now is a rice cooker, microwave oven and the stovetop for cooking – the oven still isn’t fixed and no word when that’s happening. So, it’s been interesting, to put it mildly, trying to come up with things to fix for meals. Stouffer’s entrees have helped us fill in some gaps. but tonight for dinner I’m making Chinese stir-fried tomatoes with eggs. The pantry is empty except for some rice, a jar of peanut butter and some Diet Snapples.

    When teenagers move out of their room . . . sigh. We eventually got everything out and are ready to begin deep cleaning the room beginning tomorrow.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I am thrilled with how much we sold this past week, and that it has gone to people who were so happy to get it. YaYu got her stuff packed and we cleaned everything out of her room so the deep clean in there can begin next week. We didn’t get to walk much last week because of the humidity, rain, and because we were sometimes busy with customers. Somehow though we still managed to get in our steps and miles most days. I’ve been keeping up with my liquid intake – the humidity earlier in the week was brutal and staying hydrated has been a necessity.

    Friday afternoon was cooler and quite breezy for a change so we finally got out for a walk. Lots of heavy wave action was going on.

  • Looking forward to next week:  I’m not exactly looking forward to it but we’ll get YaYu’s room AND bathroom deep cleaned next week, and then move into the kitchen and get started in there as the cabinets are all empty now. Getting these two areas done will take us that much closer to getting out of here and moving over to the condo.

    Costco’s haupia cake . . . so good it should be illegal.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Both Brett and I are so, so happy that  friends Alan and Cheryl are finally here on Kaua’i (but sad too that we’ll only be able to see them for a couple of months before we take off). Costco had haupia (Hawaiian coconut custard) cakes again so we are enjoying one of those – they’re big so they last for a little over a week between the three of us. For the past couple of years I have had a terrible time getting anyone to cut my hair as short as I want it (like super short), but yesterday I finally got a great cut and I love it! Along with the humidity there has been rain every day, a good thing because it means we don’t have to water the lawn and run up our final water bill. And of course, the amount of YaYu’s scholarship check was a very good thing!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We “stocked up” on frozen meals (as much as our little freezer would hold), fruit, and produce from the farmers’ market, but otherwise we didn’t spend anything else this week. We made a nice bit of money from selling our stuff, half again what we thought we’d make! Most of it went into the bank but we’re holding on to some to cover the car being detailed.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling very grateful the fix on my bridge will be an easy and inexpensive one versus having to spend a big amount right now on having a new bridge made. I’m also thankful and blessed that I was able to meet and talk with so many wonderful people this week when they came to buy stuff from us. The aloha is so strong here.
  • Bonus question: What’s the best thing you’ve ever found at a garage sale? What’s the best free thing you’ve ever found? Brett and I talked about this and agreed that our best garage sale find was the Cassette Feu butane cookstove that we found at Portland yard sale a few years ago. We already had one that we bought in Japan when we lived there (with all the instructions, labels, etc. in Japanese), and had been wanting to buy a second one so we were beyond thrilled to find a brand new, never-opened one at the sale for just $10. The price was amazing considering that retail price for the cooker model we got is anywhere from $70 to $90. These cookstoves are great for camping, for tabletop cooking, or to use if power is lost and the stove and appliances won’t work. The best free thing we ever found was a white KitchenAid stand mixer, complete with all the attachments. We were walking home from Trader Joe’s in Portland one day, and spotted the mixer in a free pile in front of a house. We took it home, cleaned it up, and sold it on Craigslist – the money we made went toward our move over here to Kaua’i!

That’s it for this week – I hope you had a great week too. What good things happened for you? What are you cooking or baking? What are you looking forward to next week?

Sunday Afternoon 7/01/2018

Everything ready to be loaded into the small container – all of this didn’t even cover one side of it though.

July is here! This is going to be a busy month for us, although after this coming week things should calm down and it will be all about the cleaning. But, we’ll be out of the house on the 28th and into our condo at the beautiful Waipouli Beach Resort for a final “Kaua’i vacation” before we go. Right now though it feels like Crazyland around here. The house has been something of a mess as we had things organized and staged for the movers last Friday and now we’re now getting things ready to go to Alan and Cheryl this week and for our garage sale on Friday. We were able to sell a few more pieces of furniture through our local Buy & Sell group this past week – those things thankfully went very quickly. The only furniture that’s left to sell now are our sofa and living room chair, and the two wicker chair that were out on the lanai, but we’ll put them out at the garage sale and hopefully they will go. Whatever is left over from the garage sale though will go to the thrift store.

I scored an amazing deal this past week for the car rental for our last 24 days on the island. We are going to have our car detailed and listed for sale on the 20th of this month, and want to have a rental we can use on the chance the car sells quickly. I started checking the deals Costco had (we have always found the lowest price through their site) and the best I found there was $57/day through Budget. Brett had also checked with two local car rental businesses, where you can get a “less than new” car for supposedly less than regular car rentals, but their prices, once we added in fees and taxes, weren’t any better. When I showed Brett the Costco price he thought it was OK, but suggested I call the local Budget office and see if they would give us a kamaaina discount. However, the price I was quoted was more than the Costco price (!) so I said “thanks but no thanks, I’ll go ahead and rent from Costco.” I was asked to wait for a moment and then the agent I was speaking came back and offered me the same car for $38/day, all taxes and fees included! So, one more thing taken care of – I just hope though we can fit all of our luggage in the car when it’s time to head to the airport.

Brett level (on the right) is keeping the oven light off for now. So classy.

The repairman came as scheduled this past week to replace the oven door glass, but he could not finish the repair because the landlord had failed to order an additional part needed. Sigh. So, the repair guy ordered the part but no one has any idea how long it will take for it to show up or when the repair guy can come back. It also turns out that the landlord would have been better off ordering a whole new door versus just the glass – the door costs $146 and Brett could have put it on. By ordering just the glass but paying the repairman’s service fees for installing it the landlord is paying twice that. In the meantime, without a door the oven light was staying on all the time which was super annoying, but Brett jury-rigged the light switch with his level. I also figured the lack of a door on the oven, and the fact we probably won’t be using it again before we go (and can’t anyway until the door is repaired), made it a good time to clean it for our move out, so I got that job done.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m almost done with the Donna Leon mystery and have been enjoying it, but the new Inspector Lynley mystery, The Punishment She Deserves, also came off of hold this week so I’m reading that too (Inspector Lynley during the day, Donna Leon at night). Elizabeth George’s Lynley mysteries are always great to read, but always require just a bit more concentration to catch everything (which has sort of been hard to do this week).
  • Listening to: It’s overcast and cool-ish today (but still a bit humid) so everybody and their brother is out working on their lawn – lots and lots of weed trimmers and lawnmowers are in operation outside and it’s noisy. Inside it’s quiet though – YaYu is at work (double shift today), and Brett is reading. I’m getting ready to start the laundry though so the inner quiet will stop for a while. With YaYu wearing a uniform to work the amount of laundry we have to do has been cut in half versus what we washed while she was in school (three changes a day: school, sports, and evening).
  • Watching: Brett and I have watched a few more episodes of Bailey & Scott, another episode of The Great British Baking Show, and we’re going to watch another episode of Endeavour tonight. We’re taking a break from Parts Unknown – it’s just too much to try to binge watch. The TV will come down off the wall tomorrow to be boxed up for its move. Anything we’re watching from here on out, until we get to the condo, will be done on our computers or tablets.

    We didn’t move very much this time, but it still seemed like we had So. Much. Stuff.  (there were also a few things in the kitchen besides what’s in this picture)

  • Cooking/baking: The cookware went into our shipment on Friday so all we have to cook with now is our wok and a frying pan. Add this to YaYu’s crazy schedule and her decision to give up meat and it’s difficult to know what to have. Brett and I are going to have Stouffer’s stuffed peppers for dinner tonight, and all I know that we’ll be having next week are Italian sausages and marina fixed in the slow cooker, and kalua pork in the slow cooker. I’m putting the slow cooker out at the garage sale though so this may be the last week we’ll have it. If it doesn’t sell though we’ll take it along to the condo and use it there before taking it to the thrift store. Brett is going to clean up the grill this week and we’ll see if we can get someone to take it off our hands.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Getting everything organized for the movers was a chore – we kept going through the house and finding things we’d missed before on each round (and still found a couple of things we missed after they left). To us it still looks like we have way too much stuff, but it’s less than a quarter of what we shipped over here. I finished painting the pantry closet, and have started on the other closets. It was difficult to find time to walk this week – it rained quite a bit, and was very humid in between – but we managed to get four walks in. It was cool and windy enough on a couple of days that we were able to walk out to the Pineapple Dump.

    Fierce seas out at the Pineapple Dump

  • Looking forward to next week: We’ll be getting everything staged to go over to Alan and Cheryl’s house this week, and then setting up for the garage sale. It’s going to take some work, but it means we will be that much closer to getting ready to go. I’m not sure though what we’ll be displaying things on – we have one 6-foot table (that will be for sale) but that’s it. I’m looking forward though to getting rid of more stuff – that’s the important thing. 
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu took Brett and I out on Thursday to see Incredibles 2 – very fun! It was especially nice to get out of the house for a while – we didn’t realize how much we needed a break until we had one.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We’re still pinching ourselves over huge savings on the car rental because the best we thought we might save with the kamaaina discount was around $150, tops. We also took the last of our change/$1 bill savings to the bank this past week. It was an easy way to put away a little extra every month, and it added up more quickly than we imagined. Brett and I plan to set up a new jar once the Big Adventure is over, to save for our next adventure.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling thankful right now for the time we’ve had and will have to pull all the parts of our move together. Although this coming week is going to be hectic and busy, after this we’ll have lots of time to wrap up things up here and get ourselves relaxed and ready to travel.
  • Bonus question: Do you like any weird or strange food combinations? This question came from YaYu, who puts sriracha, other hot sauces, red chili flakes or chili powder on everything. She also likes marinara sauce on salad instead of salad dressing. No thanks! I don’t think I eat any weird combinations now, but when I was young I liked sour cream with ketchup sandwiches because they were so tangy. I can’t imagine eating that now – ugh! Also, I went through a thankfully short phase where I liked peanut butter and mustard sandwiches. I have no idea where that combination came from but I’m sure glad it didn’t last long. I never had any weird cravings when I was pregnant either – just tasty Memphis barbecue.

I had to boil eggs in the wok yesterday because all the saucepans went with our shipment. I’m going to try to boil spaghetti in it this week – wish me luck!

That’s all for this week from the shrinking Casa Aloha – I hope you all had a good and productive week as well. What good things happened for you? Did you or do you eat any “strange” food combinations? Do you have special plans for the Fourth of July?

Sunday Afternoon 6/24/2018

We spent some of Father’s Day at the beach – it was a beautiful day!

After a few weeks of feeling like nothing much was happening around here, things are about to get busy, at least for the next few weeks. This coming Friday morning Royal Hawaiian will arrive to pack up the items we are shipping back to the mainland, then the following week our friends Alan and Cheryl arrive on the island and we’ll be moving the furniture and items they purchased from us over to their house, and the week after that will be our big garage sale. I’m going to try to keep to my regular writing schedule, but will not make any guarantees. If nothing else, I want to at least do the Sunday Afternoon post to catch up. I hope readers will hang in there with me until all these things get taken care of and we can sort of stand down again..

The glassy water on Tuesday should have been a warning about how still the air was.

This past Tuesday evening I had a scary run-in with heat exhaustion while Brett and I were on our walk. We are walking later in the day now in order to give the sun time to go down a bit more and the breeze to pick up a bit, but that evening there was absolutely NO breeze when we got to the beach path – I’ve never felt the air so still. It didn’t seem all that humid though, or overly hot, so we started off at our usual brisk pace. We always carry water, and always stop to drink at our turn-around point before starting back, which we did. The return trip to the car is mostly downhill and there’s usually a breeze in our face to cool us off, but if anything the air was even more dead this time on the way back, and about halfway to the car I started to feel strange. I stopped and drank some more water but by the time we got down to the bottom of the hill I knew something was wrong – I was sweating profusely, my legs were cramping, I was starting to get a headache, and felt like if I went further I was going to pass out. I stopped and sat down at one of the shaded picnic tables and Brett went off to get the car. I must have looked awful because a woman who was walking her dogs stopped and stayed with me until he came back. I took a long, cold shower and drank a lot of water after we got home, but it took several hours before I felt normal and not overheated. Anyway, lesson learned – we can still walk if it’s hot, humid and there’s no breeze, but not at our usual pace, and we need to turn around sooner.

We’ve decided our landlord is just plain nuts. He brought some potential renters over this past week, a lovely retired couple, but after showing them around he made himself at home in our living room and proceeded to rant about his expectations, what someone could and couldn’t do in the house, how much he charges for minor things, etc. pretty much effectively talking them out of ever wanting to have to deal with him. Plus, he slipped in a few racist remarks and gossiped about other potential renters including making up stuff about them. It was appalling. We’ve pretty much decided he’s setting us up to give us back very little if any of our security deposit – he was looking over everything while he was showing the house, and told us while he’ll do a walk-through with us the “real” inspection happens after we move out and that’s when “finds” things (which is illegal under Hawaii landlord-tenant law). We will be glad though to be finished with this guy – but it’s sad because up until the last few months he has been very easy to work with.

Some of the “river of debris” that currently runs the entire length of Kealia Beach, made up of small pieces of driftwood left over from April storms and flooding. Clean-up crews will eventually get to it, but it’s not a priority for now.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Grant – such a good biography and for a couple of days after it was done I felt a bit lost not having it to read. I had two more books come off of hold at the same time though which worked out well. I read The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy In a Store by Cait Flanders in three days and am now reading The Temptation of Forgiveness: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon.
  • Listening to: Another quiet day at Casa Aloha. YaYu is working the breakfast and lunch shift today, and Brett is reading. It was raining earlier this morning, and there’s a nice, cool-ish breeze now. No one for now is working on their lawn or power-washing anything, and the chickens are quiet, so it’s all very peaceful and I love it!
  • Watching: We finished up the second season of Goliath – great acting all around – but didn’t enjoy it as much as the first season. We’re currently watching Scott & Bailey, a British series about two female police detectives in Manchester. So far it’s been good, and we’re glad there are a few seasons of it as well. We continue to watch an episode or two of Parts Unknown a few evenings a week. The new season of the Great British Baking Show is back on PBS too – I love that show!
  • Cooking/baking: Not sure what we’re having for dinner tonight but we have several choices. Quiche maybe? The oven door is supposed to be repaired on Tuesday, so it will be nice to have that option available for cooking again. On the dinner menu this week will be pork and eggplant stir fry, macaroni and cheese, pepperoni pizza, and noodles with pork sauce. My KA mixer is going into our shipment on Friday, so I’m going to try to bake one more cake before it goes.

    My favorite view on Kaua’i shows the power of the ocean, and how far away we are from every other place out here in the ocean.

  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I got the last of the pictures down and nail holes filled, but the landlord not so subtly let us know the other day that in his opinion we were in violation of our lease by hanging any pictures at all (even though I dare him to find any of the holes), so I’m not sure at this point why I’m putting all this effort into it. I’m still working on the pantry shelves because the shelf liner we used stuck to the paint so I’m having to sand and then repaint the shelves. YaYu did a great job of cleaning out her room, closet and dressers the other day so things are moving along in there as well. We had hoped to walk five days this past week, but only got in four – we didn’t get to walk on Friday because it rained most of the day. On Saturday though it was cool and breezy enough for us to walk out to the Pineapple Dump to check out my favorite view on the island.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m greatly looking forward to getting the first round of our upcoming move out of the way on Friday. We’ve got lots of work to do this week to get ready for that, but it will mean things are starting to move along again. Hopefully Brett and I can also fit in another trip to the beach.

    Duke came a relaxed with us for a while – such a good little pug!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I went to the beach not once, but twice this week – so nice! Last Tuesday the sweet little pug in the picture above came and sat with us while his “mom” went swimming – he had come up to say hello and then made himself at home on my beach mat, and the young woman asked if we would keep an eye on him while she went out in the water. No problem – he must have known we were “pug people!” YaYu worked lots of hours (and got overtime) and made lots of tips this past week. She is getting ready to pay her first bill at Bryn Mawr in the next couple of weeks so this helped calm her down a bit. We found haupia (Hawaiian coconut custard) cakes at Costco and  bought one – Brett is in heaven as he hasn’t had any for over two years and it’s one of his favorites.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: It was just a so-so frugal week for – we skipped the farmers’ market again but stopped at Safeway for a few things so it evened out, and we bought peaches and another watermelon (and a cake) at Costco when we went to get gas for the car. I also ordered a replacement screen from Amazon to hang in the doorway between the house and the garage – the one that was here when we moved in is on its last legs. We put $3.46 into the change/$1 bill jar, the change we got back at Safeway.
  • Reporting gains and losses: I didn’t gain or lose any weight this month, and we put $2775 toward the Big Adventure.
  • Grateful for: I’m feeling sort of thankful right now for all those times we had to clean our navy housing for white-glove inspections – we know how to deep clean and we’re going to hold the landlord’s feet to the fire to get as much of our deposit back as possible!
  • Bonus question: How did you learn to cook? I am for the most part a self-taught cook. My grandmother on my mom’s side was not a good cook – the only thing she made that was memorable were her stewed apples. They were divine, but she never passed on how to make them so they’re only a memory now. My dad’s mom was a wonderful cook, but she lived far away so I only got to observe her and eat her cooking during the times I visited Indiana (same for my dad’s sister and his sister-in-law – they were both amazing cooks). My dad didn’t cook, and mom was frankly mediocre. Cooking was more of a chore for her because she had never really learned from her mom, plus she worked full time and was heavily into convenience foods which were very salty and not very healthy. Growing up I paid attention when my friends’ moms cooked and picked up some of their techniques, ideas and flavors, and I also noticed things that tasted good whenever I went out and often tried to replicate them. I consider myself a “journeyman” cook though – I have solid basic skills, know how to follow a recipe and when and how to adapt or change it, and the things I make turn out well and taste good, but cooking is not a passion for me. I’m also at a stage in my life right now where I’m ready for a break from regular cooking and meal planning.

The grands – this cracks me up!

That’s all for this week! I’m not sure when or if I’ll get to post this week – we have a lot going on. How did your week go? What are you reading? What frugal things did you do? What good things happened for you?

Sunday Afternoon 6/17/2018

We call this section of the beach path we’re walking now the “Pass of Doom” – each side of the cut is high enough that the breeze stops, the sound of the waves disappears, the temperature climbs by 10 – 15 degrees, and the humidity concentrates.

Happy Father’s Day to any and all dads who are reading today! YaYu is working, but here at Casa Aloha Brett is enjoying a Day of Doing Nothing (although he still got up and made the coffee this morning). We bought a beautiful fresh fruit tart at Costco the other day and will having that this evening as part of our celebration.

Pass of Doom II – thankfully not as long as the other one, but all the same oppressive features (this was in the early evening, when it was in the shade – still hot and muggy though).

Summer has arrived . . . and so has the humidity. We’re not to the stage yet where it’s a constant, miserable presence, but it’s getting there. The heat and humidity has been hardest to deal with when Brett and I go for our walk. There’s thankfully almost always a cool breeze down by the beach, but we still seem to always come back soaked in sweat. We recently changed where we walk on the beach path because we wanted more hills to help continue our “strength training,” and are enjoying all the different views and vistas.

This view is our reward at the turn-around point of our walk. Note how the waves arrive out past the rocks and their directions as they approach the shore!

One of the things I will miss the most about Kaua’i is our year-round local farmers’ market. The weekly Kapaa market is always been bursting with affordable, beautiful produce, and it’s made it possible for us to eat far more fruits and vegetables than we would be otherwise. I also will miss several of the farmers that we’ve gotten to know. Below is what we bought this last week, all for $24.50. We got the two big bags of lychee for just $5, less than we usually pay for half that amount. They’re also very sweet and juicy.

This week’s haul from the farmers’ market.

We were supposed to be heading to the Big Island next weekend to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but because the park and Camp Kilauea (where we were going to stay) are both closed due to volcanic activity we’ve decided to cancel the trip. We had thought about driving up from Hilo over the north side of the island and spending the night in the Kona area, but just are not feeling it and were not thrilled about incurring the extra expense for gas, meals, and a hotel room (our cabin at Camp Kilauea had a kitchen). Plus, our flight times conflict with YaYu’s work schedule which would have made things tricky, so we’ve decided to save our money and put it toward the Big Adventure. Our airline tickets were purchased with miles I had accumulated, and while I’m sad to give those up it’s not as painful as if I had paid cash (although realistically if I’d paid cash we’d still be going)

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Cooking Gene this week and am making good progress getting through Grant. Using food and Southern cooking as the central theme, The Cooking Gene gives an in-depth view of the lasting influence of slavery. It’s an interesting, but a tough read at times. I’m thoroughly enjoying Grant – it’s well-written and has added lots of detail and nuance to things I already knew about him. I had no idea though when I started that the book has 1104 pages! I’ve been reading three to four chapters a day, and hopefully I can finish it before it goes back. I’ve started Cave of Bones by Anne Hillerman. I loved every one of Tony Hillerman’s mysteries, but this is the first one by his daughter that I’ve read and so far it’s great.
  • Listening to: It’s very quiet around here today. YaYu is at work, Brett is reading and I guess all the dads are taking a day off from yard work and other chores because there’s not one weed trimmer or lawn mower being operated in our neighborhood (yeah!). There’s just the buzz of the ceiling fan right now and a few birds singing in the trees outside. The laundry awaits, but I’m not in any hurry to get it started – I prefer the quiet.
  • Watching: We’re still watching two or three episodes of Parts Unknown each evening – we’re now in Season Three. We’ve also started watching the new season of Goliath, with Billy Bob Thornton. Loved Season 1 and so far Season 2 is keeping up.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having curry with chicken and vegetables for our dinner tonight, one of Brett’s favorites. We were hoping for the oven to be repaired last week, but parts are on order and it’s anyone’s guess when they will arrive from the mainland – they could arrive this week or it might take a while. This week’s dinner menu includes panzanella (bread salad) with chickpeas and feta cheese, mabo nasu with steamed rice, chicken noodle soup, and pizza (which can be cooked out on the grill).
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’ve got almost all the pictures down and nail holes repaired along with lots of other small tasks that keep moving us forward. Brett and YaYu got her passport/eye exam/college lab work all done last Tuesday – it was a very busy day. Brett and I did our not-so-Big Shop on Friday and went to our election training on Saturday but otherwise it’s been a fairly slow week.
  • Looking forward to next week: There’s really nothing on the calendar this week. YaYu will be working but otherwise Brett’s and my time will be our own. Maybe, just maybe, the stars will align and we can get down to the beach for a while.

    So proud of our son! (not sure what lap he’s on here)

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Our son completed his annual fundraising event in Japan yesterday, the “Imperial Challenge.” He collects pledges, and then walks around the Imperial Palace for as many laps as he can (one lap is just over three miles) – this year he walked over 27 miles in almost nine hours, and raised almost $4500 (¥498,900). He created this event three years ago, and has now raised a total of $11,500 for Nanbyo Network, an organization that assists children suffering from incurable conditions as well as their families. We are so proud of him! We also learned that we don’t have to strip and wax the floors when we move out! YEAH!! The landlord brought in a masonry specialist this past week and as we suspected the entire floor needs to be cleaned with a special solvent and then re-sealed, and it will be a major job. The landlord will take care of everything including the stripping, so we are completely off the hook. This is the best news ever for us because we have absolutely been dreading getting the floors done to the landlord’s satisfaction. We’re still planning to turn over the keys three days early though as the condo will be available and we’d rather be over there than staying in an empty house.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We had another fairly low-spend week, but we did take care of our monthly food shop, visited the farmers’ market, and we paid our electric and water bills (with cash).  Brett did bring home some tasty items from the Kilauea Bakery last Tuesday, including lilikoi cream puffs. We almost completely emptied our refrigerator and freezer this week, and were able to get everything cleaned out of the pantry and moved into the kitchen. I’m proud of the nutritious meals I was still able to pull together using the very little we had on hand. We put $8.95 into the change/$1 bill jar, $3.88 in change back from the bills, $3.07 from recycling and $2.00 change from the bakery.
  • Grateful for: I look at travel blogs, articles and forums that are available online almost every day in preparation for our travels. Any angle of travel I want to know about or figure out, I can find something about it online. While we’ve bought guidebooks (they still have their place and function) and and will take them with us, these days it’s easy to read others’ experiences and advice to figure out what we might want to do in any location, where and what are the best things to eat, what we maybe want to avoid, how we can save, etc. Every day I learn something new.
  • Bonus question: What do you like best about summer? Well, it’s definitely not the humidity here! When I was a child I loved summer: no school, swimming, barefoot days outside, our library’s summer reading challenge (yes, I was a nerd), barbecues, and summer fruit. Summer is no longer my favorite season except for the fruit. These days you can get summer fruits (melons, berries, etc.) year round, but there’s still something special about summer fruits picked in season. Ripe peaches, juicy melons, sweet plums – it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. We get tropical fruits here year round, and I will miss papayas, lilikoi, mangoes, lychee, etc. but I admit I’m already looking forward to Oregon berries, melons, plums and peaches next summer. One of my favorite summer desserts is Peach Melba: a perfectly ripe peach half topped with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberry sauce poured over it. YUM!

Another pretty view along the stretch of the beach path we’re walking now.

That’s a wrap for this week! How was yours? What good things happened for you? What are you reading and eating? How’s the weather where you are? What’s your favorite thing about summer?

Sunday Afternoon 6/10/2018

Looking west from Barking Sands – next landfall is Japan!

Brett and I both felt that our getaway to the west side was too short. It was a very relaxing time for both of us, and we wanted to stay a few more days before coming home. Both of us also wished we had gone out there earlier, and that YaYu (and the other girls) had been able to come with us as well.

The almost-end of another pretty sunset. The island of Niihau can be seen on the left horizon.

But, we are back into the thick of things. If we thought YaYu’s school and volunteer schedule was nuts, her work schedule is almost crazier with her working day shift one day, evenings the next, or having it changed at the last minute. She is working her tail off, bless her heart, and making lots of money, but she’s also exhausted and having a hard time fitting in other tasks that need to be taken care of, such as applying for her new passport (she has to appear in person) and getting some more medical stuff taken care of for Bryn Mawr.

Brett and I are taking care of things around the house, trying to get something done every day so we’re not overloaded with a ton of work right before we move out. The people who were supposed to look at the place before we left last weekend never showed up, and there’s been no other interest. The landlord claims he still has the other two interested parties from a couple of months ago on the line, but Brett and I would be very surprised if they haven’t moved on to other opportunities. It’s kind of sad because the house is actually a very nice place in a great location.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading The Cooking Gene, and enjoying how the author links together history, race, genealogy and food. I’m learning a lot as I go along as well as having to think more deeply about some things (and rethink a few things I thought I knew). My copy of Ron Chernow’s Grant came off of hold from the library at the same time as another book, so I’m reading Grant during the day on my computer and The Cooking Gene at night. Hopefully I can get one or both finished in time to get to the third book before it has to go back. Two of Brett’s and my favorite mystery authors, Ian Rankin and Tana French, both have new books being released in October. I’ve already pre-purchased both of them from Amazon.
  • Listening to: It’s pretty quiet around here right now. Brett is reading, and YaYu is still sleeping – she doesn’t go into work until later this afternoon – and we haven’t started the laundry. A few birds are singing outside, a couple of roosters are crowing off in the distance, but there’s thankfully no noisy yard work going on (for now, anyway). Yesterday our next door neighbor ran his pressure washer for over three hours non-stop, even when he wasn’t doing anything, and I thought I was going lose my mind! In the meantime I’m mainly listening to the sound of the ceiling fan overhead – summer is here, the humidity is back and the fans are on almost all the time now.
  • Watching: Brett and I finally finished Indian Summers, and are now watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, which is proving to be a bittersweet experience. The series is supposed to leave Netflix on June 16, so we’re trying to squeeze in as many episodes as we can between now and then.
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having kalua pork tonight versus fried rice because we currently have to avoid using our range as much as possible – the outer oven door spontaneously shattered in the early morning hours on Thursday while we were asleep (it hadn’t been used in five days either). The glass thankfully has not fallen out of the door (yet), but there’s no guarantee that won’t happen at any moment. According to the landlord, repairs are “in the queue.” In the meantime, everything we cook has to be prepared in the slow cooker, the microwave or out on the grill, and baking is obviously out of the question. I’ve put grilled pork chops and grilled teriyaki chicken on the menu this week, and we’ll fill in with leftovers as necessary, but I am going to have to almost completely redo the Big Shop list.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’ve been steadily working on getting items on our monthly goals list taken care of. I removed all the pictures from the hallway, and some from the girls’ room and filled the nail holes – the landlord will be hard pressed to find them because I can barely find where they were! I’ve also been working on getting things out of the pantry and have three shelves cleaned off so far, but I’m going to have to do a bit of touch-up painting because the shelf liner stuck to the paint and has had to be sanded off. It’s been a good week for walking and other exercise too. Instead of studying French online, I’ve gone back to studying my phrase book and practicing how to order, or buy something, etc. – things I will actually need to use.
  • Looking forward to next week: Brett and I will be working at the polls in August for the Hawaii primary and we have our training session this coming week. YaYu has worked the elections for the past two years, and was asked if she would do it once more, but she can’t because of her job so Brett and I stepped up. Otherwise, there’s nothing special on the calendar other than our Not-So-Big-Anymore Shop on Friday. We’re looking forward to a relaxing week – the weather is getting better so we may actually get to the beach.

    Sweet, juicy lychee are only in at the farmers’ market for a very short time.

  • Thinking of good things that happened: Lychee were back in the farmers’ market again this week – so happy for the chance to enjoy them once more before they disappear for another year. We also enjoyed a lilikoi chiffon pie from Aunty Lilikoi’s in Waimea that we bought on our way down to the PMRF last weekend and brought home to share with YaYu – so delicious! It had been too long since we last had one. We all had a lovely luncheon at the Nawliwili Yacht Club yesterday with the Zonta Club of Hanalei, where YaYu and others received their scholarships.

    Lilikoi chiffon pie – YUM!

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) Brett got a very nice free haircut from a Supercuts trainee (although the guy next to Brett didn’t fare so well with his cut). 2) Other than a trip to the farmers’ market we had a no-spend week, and ate from the pantry, fridge and freezer, all of which are getting exceedingly empty. 3) Our water and electric bills were both once again lower than they were the month before. 4) I did some research, and was happily surprised to figure out that we won’t need to purchase travel insurance, a savings for us of over $900. Our credit card insures lost luggage, cancelled flights, etc. – everything but medical – and our medical and dental insurance cover us worldwide. 5) We put just $3.00 into the change/$1 bill jar, our change from the farmers’ market.
  • Grateful for: What a sorrowful week this past one was. Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and others whose names most of us will never know, gave up their struggles with their demons. Once upon a time someone reached out to me when I was at my lowest, and let me know that I was valuable and that I was needed in the world. Because of that person’s intervention I was able to go on and eventually met Brett, had four amazing children and now two beautiful grandchildren, and I have had a wonderful life. My demon hasn’t been around for a long, long time, but I know it still exists – I can still hear it pacing just out of sight now and again. If you know someone who is suffering from depression, reach out to them because they might not be able to reach out to you to ask for help. You don’t have to be a therapist; just be available and let that person know you care and are there for them. Don’t wait for someone to ask – make the first move. It can make a difference.
  • Bonus question: What is your favorite song opening (because I need to think about something happy)? There are two song openings that always, always draw me in no matter what I’m doing: Monkey Man by the Rolling Stones (1969), and Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down (2000). Both are at the top of my list The Rolling Stones have had loads of great song openings, but I think what gets me with these two songs are that the openings are quirky enough for some reason to always make me stop whatever I’m doing to listen. I heard Monkey Man this past week, which got me thinking about other openings that have caught my attention in the same way, but after a lot of thought, besides Kryptonite I couldn’t come up with anything else. The opening to Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit in the Sky is high on my list of favorite openings but mainly because it triggers nostalgic feelings more than anything else, immediately taking me back to my senior year, driving around San Diego in my little red ’63 VW bug. Brett said his favorite song opening is the guitar riff at the beginning of Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools.

Anthony Bourdain’s death has affected me deeply, and it will take me a long while to come to terms with it. He was one of the most honest people around, seemed to lead a charmed life, and yet we now know carried demons along with him that eventually overtook him. He had such a pure interest in the world and a genuine affinity for the unpretentious, especially for the common man or woman, viewing their lives and contributions as an integral part of a good and just society. And, he embraced the unknown and was always curious, always wanting to know and learn more. Ian Sinclair said it best for me in a tweet I read on Friday, about how to mourn the loss of this man: I feel we should mourn Anthony Bourdain in the way he would have wanted. Eat something cooked with love. Drink a cold beer. Book a trip somewhere you’ve never been. Try a new food. Tell your friends and loved ones that they are loved. Pour a bottle of truffle oil on the ground.

Sunday Afternoon 5/27/2018

Ready for graduation with stoles and honor cords. So very proud of this girl!!

She did it!  YaYu’s graduation was a wonderful, fun celebration in spite of pouring rain throughout the ceremony. Even with umbrellas the graduates and everyone else there got soaked. We shivered too as the wind picked up and the temperature kept falling lower and lower throughout the evening. But, no one left early, everyone listened to the speeches, the songs, watched the kids walk across the stage to collect their diplomas, and then we celebrated! By the time we dropped YaYu off for the big grad night party we could barely see her face for all the lei she had collected beyond the ones we gave her, including one made from 10 containers of cup noodles! With her graduation over, we now segue from one chapter of our lives into another. We are all eagerly awaiting what comes next, both YaYu’s transition to college life and our upcoming travels!

Time to celebrate! Family lei from her brother and sisters, from Brett’s sister and brother-in-law, and the orchid one on top in memory of her grandparents. Brett and I gave her the haku (wreath). She received many more from friends, and had lei up to her nose by the time we dropped her off for the Grad Night party!

We met with the Royal Hawaiian moving estimator on Friday morning and learned it will cost us about half again as much as we thought to ship our stuff back to the mainland. Ouch. Our guess for the weight and his estimate matched, but because our shipment is a small one we will pay a higher rate per pound than we did moving over here. However, we won’t trust our stuff to anyone else because Royal Hawaiian does such a superb job, so we’ll have to readjust our budget to cover the overage. We are feeling even more thankful now for our friend’s offer to store our stuff for the coming year. By the way, the estimator, born and raised on Kaua’i, stayed and talked story with us for nearly an hour after he finished up the work part of his visit. This easy friendliness is one of the parts about living here that we are going to miss so much.

This is salt that’s been blooming up through the floor throughout the house for over a year.

Our landlord has started to spool up the drama over our leaving at the end of July. First, he has still not chosen a new tenant, although someone is scheduled to view the house next Saturday. A few weeks ago the landlord had two prospective tenants (both professionals) ready to write him a deposit check on the spot. Nope, they were not good enough for him, and there’s been little to no interest since (Hello! Because you’re asking way too much for rent!). Also, there are a couple of maintenance issues that have to be completed before a new tenant can move in. Someone who lived here before us installed shelves on the wall (without permission) in the living room and smaller bedroom, and didn’t do a very good job – the shelves are crooked and several holes were made in the wall. We asked the landlord when we moved in if he would take down the shelves, but he said no at that time so we have lived with them while we’ve been here. But now he’s asking us to take them down, fill all the holes in the wall and repaint! Nope, not touching that one with a 10-foot pole. It’s his problem; we didn’t cause it (he has apparently now hired a painter). Second, the cement floors throughout the house are emitting efflorescence, i.e. salt blooms coming up through the cement due to moisture from underneath the floor. He asked us to not only strip the wax (which we are going to do), but re-seal the concrete floors, and then come back and re-wax. Again, we said no to re-sealing the floors because it’s beyond the scope of our abilities, and again the problem is not something we caused. What we offered to do was to strip the floors for him, and then move out three days early so that he could come in and get all the repairs done before the next tenant moves in. However, he still thinks we should come back after our lease is finished and wax the floors for the next tenant! We again said no, that we are giving him three days at our expense which should cover him having to wax the floors after sealing, which could take up to two days or more to complete because all the old sealer has to come off too. Actually, the problem with the floors is a MAJOR repair issue from what we have learned. It’s possible that the baseboards in some areas will have to be removed in order to effectively re-seal the floor. We’ve decided that if he bothers us about the floor again, we’ll go ahead and strip and wax the floors, then he can strip them again for sealing. Anyway, on top of everything else we have going on, it has been exhausting dealing with him this past week. We feel like he is trying to come up with excuses to keep our security deposit, especially if it looks like he won’t have another tenant right away, and to cover his costs for the repairs too. We’ve had a good relationship with him all along, but things are starting to get weird now.

Blogger continues to disappear my comments. I keep trying though.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’ve almost finished The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai. The stories are fascinating, and the book is a real page-turner. I’ve got my next book downloaded already: The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South.
  • Listening to: It’s cool-ish and rainy outside, so it’s quiet other than the sound of rain dripping off the eaves. No birds, no breeze, and it’s pretty humid too. Also, there’s a teenage girl next door loudly arguing with her mother. I try to cut them some slack (they lost their home on the north shore in the flooding last month and are staying with our new neighbors) but they are loud, and it’s trying my patience today. YaYu is still sleeping off Friday’s grad night and a long work night yesterday, and Brett is reading. We’ll start the noisy laundry after YaYu gets up.
  • Watching: Brett and I watched Indian Summers, a PBS series from a couple of years ago that’s now on Amazon Prime. We had no problem following the Indian characters or most of the men through the series, but all the young English women looked the same to us and we couldn’t keep them straight! Every time we watch it’s “Didn’t she just . . .? Wait, isn’t she with xxx? No, that was xxx” and so forth. We found a couple of movies that we’re going to check out tonight.

    Fresh orange cake with dark chocolate glaze

  • Cooking/baking: We’re having fried rice again for dinner again tonight – YaYu is off from work so she’ll do the cooking. I baked an orange bundt cake yesterday and yes, put a chocolate glaze on it. I have almost used up all the cocoa powder though – there’s maybe enough to glaze one more thing. On the menu this week will be hamburgers along with sweet potato fries; spaghetti with marinara and grilled Italian sausages; and stuffed peppers. Otherwise we’ll be eating leftovers and other odds and ends out of the refrigerator.
  • Happy I accomplished this week: Brett and I got the dining table moved out to the garage where we stripped off the messy old finish and got it sanded, oiled and buffed – it looks gorgeous! I cleaned out some more stuff around the house and filled a bag for the thrift store as well as pulled enough together to mail another package to Meiling (more kitchenware, an extension cord and a shower curtain) and also mailed two Starbucks mugs from Beijing and Shanghai to a friend who collects them. Brett also sorted through all of our personal papers and threw away and shredded things we do not need or want to keep, which turned out to be most of them. I booked our stay at an Airbnb in Lucerne, Switzerland, reserved a hotel room for our overnight in Boston, reserved a car rental to drive up to Vancouver, B.C. for our flight to New Delhi, and got tickets for our flight from Hong Kong to Perth – the fare for the only non-stop available dropped to an affordable price. I drank lots of water, and we walked five days. It rained almost every day last week, but I remain grateful for the rain because it means we don’t have to water the lawn.
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re all looking forward to our first week of summer break. No early mornings, no lunches to plan or make, etc. Next Saturday afternoon we’re heading out to the west side (as soon as the rental viewing is over) for a two-night stay at one of the PMRF beach cottages – fingers are crossed for good weather! There won’t be Sunday post next week because the cottages have little to no Internet connection, but I’m looking forward to being offline for a couple of days.

    YaYu being honored at the Senior Award assembly last Tuesday (she’s so tiny!). She was in the top five in her class for dollar amount of grants and scholarships received!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: There’s no way to top YaYu’s graduation, both the lead up to it and the actually ceremony, rain and all. It was fantastic! The principal announced at the ceremony that all 273 students who began the year graduated, and the scholarships and grants for the entire class totaled over $3.5 million dollars! Not too shabby for a little country high school out in the middle of the ocean.

    LOL – this is so true!

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: 1) I ordered sheets, a mattress pad and pillow sham for YaYu’s dorm room from Bed, Bath & Beyond and used a coupon to bring the total with tax to almost $5 less than the original order before tax, and also received free shipping. 2) Our flight to New Delhi next January leaves from Vancouver, B.C. and non-stop flights from Portland to Vancouver have been running around $200 per person (or more) which is way more than we want to pay, especially for such a short flight. We instead rented a car and are going to drive up to the Vancouver airport, a 5 1/2 hour trip from Portland, with lots of pretty scenery along the way. The cost will total less than $150, including gas. 3) Last month we renewed our Costco membership, but because we won’t be using it much in the coming year we downgraded to a regular membership, and saved $60. 4) We were going to go to the farmers’ market last week but realized we still had more than enough produce on hand so stayed home and saved $15 – $20. 5) We put $4.20 into the change/$1 bill jar: $2.52 from Long’s for mineral oil (for the table), $1.48 from Big Save, and 20¢ from the Kilauea Bakery (Brett bought us coconut macaroons!).
  • Reporting gains and losses: I lost another pound this last month, bringing my total loss now to 32 pounds gone. We applied $4613.50 in income and savings toward the Big Adventure.
  • Grateful for: Feeling very thankful right now that Brett was given the “all clear” this past week on his annual skin check. He’s had a couple of moles that I thought looked suspicious, and I have been worrying he would get bad news which would end up affecting all our plans, but the doctor said there was nothing irregular or cause for worry. Healthwise we are now cleared and ready to go!

    Our precious, elegant, beautiful and intelligent treasures. This portrait, my favorite, was taken about two months after YaYu joined our family.

  • Bonus question: What do your girls’ Chinese names mean? I may have answered this question before, but Meiling means “beautiful intelligence.” It was not the name given to her at the orphanage but we were told that name was “not very special” and Meiling was suggested as a substitute. WenYu means “elegant jade,” with the character for elegant connoting a “scholarly elegance.” My nickname for WenYu has always been “Her Serene Highness” – she really is elegance and serenity combined, even as a baby and toddler. YaYu means “precious treasure.” The intake worker at the orphanage wrote that she chose the name to give YaYu all her best wishes and hopes for a happy future. Each of their names, given when they were tiny, fits them perfectly. I marvel at how the orphanage workers, and the person who suggested Meiling’s name, were able to choose names that have turned out to fit them so perfectly. I also marvel at our good fortune, that Brett and I were blessed with these three beautiful, intelligent, elegant and precious jewels.

That’s a wrap for this week – it was a good one here at Casa Aloha! I hope everyone had a great week as well. What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

Sunday Afternoon 5/20/2019

YaYu will graduate this coming Friday evening! She finished up the last of her academic work last Wednesday and is now busy with her class preparing for their ceremony. But, there are no more sports, homework, conferences, meetings, crazy schedules, tests, etc., and only a couple more days of school lunches to go. Brett and I have had a child in school somewhere for the last 35 years, so this is going to be a BIG change for us, but one we’re looking forward to.

YaYu also got a job! She started work last Thursday as a hostess and busser at a popular and busy nearby restaurant. This restaurant was her first choice of places to work so she was thrilled to be hired. She’s come home tired every night, but loves it. WenYu worked as a busser at another restaurant last summer and made a LOT of money, so fingers are crossed that YaYu does as well this summer. Both Brett and I have noticed that just the two of us being home feels a little bit different because our “baby” is at work versus hanging out with friends or at some school activity. It’s another sign that the times they are a’changin!

I got an email from the owner of our Tokyo Airbnb rental this past week, that as of next month she will no longer be listing her apartment(s) with Airbnb and our reservation will most likely be cancelled. Oh no! Apparently Japan is not banning temporary rentals (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.), but all of these rentals must be registered with the government by June 15, and Airbnb will require registration before continuing to list rentals. The Tokyo office doing the registration is completely backlogged, and the owner wrote  there’s no way her registrations will get done in time so her listings will be coming down. We still want to rent the apartment though, and she still wants to rent to us at the same price, so our son and daughter-in-law have agreed to serve as go-betweens for us so that we can hopefully keep our reservation. If this was happening in any other country we would give up the rental and start over, but Japanese people are very honest and we feel it’s safe to deal directly with the owner, especially since she lives so close to our son (and because he’s an attorney). Temporary rentals (minpaku) are a necessary part of lodging offerings in Japan as there are not enough hotel rooms and inns for tourists, especially with tourist numbers sky high and the Olympics coming in 2020, and there is also an overabundance of empty rental properties. Tokyo apartment and condo residents however want better regulation of who owns these rentals and who is staying in their buildings.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished I’ll Be Gone in the Dark last Thursday. It was a terrific read, and I highly recommend it if you are at all into true crime stories. I felt sad the entire time I was reading knowing that the author died before the suspect was arrested, but the book was also creepy to read at times because the rapist/murderer was active in the area where we lived for a few months while Brett was going to school for the navy. I’ve just started The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai, and am looking forward to it – besides the topic, it’s said to be one of the best books in recent years set in Mumbai (Bombay). My fascination with Indian history and culture continues . . . .
  • Listening to: Birds are singing outside, and there’s a nice breeze moving through the trees (which is also helping to keep the house cool). Brett is studying Italian, and the washing machine is doing its thing so it’s fairly noisy inside, although YaYu still hasn’t come out of her room. We started the laundry earlier than we did in the past in order to wash YaYu’s uniform – it looks like she’ll be working most Sunday evenings.
  • Watching: Although I did stay up late on Friday night to watch the royal wedding (and loved all of it), Brett and I are otherwise still watching the Footloose series on Amazon Prime. Yesterday we watched the episode on Madeira, and now we want to go there! We’re almost done with the series though, and saving the Tuscany episode for the last. We did watch an episode about Rome in their city break series, and another about hiking the Cinque Terre, and gleaned quite a bit of useful information from those. We’ve checked to see if there was anything else interesting to watch when we’re done but haven’t found anything that catches our attention. I would love your recommendations!
  • Cooking/baking: We’re going to be having fried rice on Sunday evenings for the next few weeks because we have to use up a lot of rice in the next couple of months, and without YaYu being at home for dinner as much as before we need to find ways to use it. YaYu is working tonight though and I will be manning the wok (my portion will be made with riced cauliflower vs. regular rice). It will pretty much be just Brett and me at home for dinner most evenings going forward, so I’ve had to recalibrate what and how much to fix and currently have no idea how that’s going to go – hopefully I’ll have a better idea by next week so I can come up with a menu. YaYu has asked though that I still cook enough for leftovers for her to have for lunch, or when she gets home at night. I baked a pan of chocolate-glazed brownies yesterday, so no baking until those are finished.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: Although it feels like many things were left hanging this week, Brett and I did get our Big Shop done, and also bought cleaning and other supplies from Home Depot that we need for the big move-out cleaning. He and I also signed up to be poll workers on the day of the Hawaiian primary election in August. YaYu usually worked at our local polling place, but because she has a job she can’t commit this year, so we’re taking her place. Brett stopped by the local car rental agency and got a price for a month’s rental beginning in July, while we sell our car.  We missed two days of walking this week because of scheduling difficulties, but I drank lots of water once again. I still haven’t picked back up my French.
  • Looking forward to next week: Besides YaYu’s graduation ceremony, I also excited about attending the Senior Awards assembly at the high school on Tuesday morning, where all students receiving scholarships and grants are recognized. Our meeting with the moving estimator got bumped until this week, so I’m once again looking forward to finding out what that part of our journey is going to cost us (and also a bit afraid). No beach for us last week (busy schedules and not-so-great weather) but fingers are crossed for this week.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Brett and I had a wonderful time at our meet-up with Laura and her husband Mike last Tuesday. We talked for over two hours and probably could have gone a couple more. I am batting 1.000 with reader meet-ups, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting and making friends with some very lovely people! I had a very nice birthday – lots of birthday greetings from friends and family, and Brett and YaYu stopped by the Kilauea bakery and got lilikoi cream puffs and a lemon-lilikoi bar for a treat (I had the bar!). YaYu getting hired by her first choice for a job was also very good news. Fresh pineapples from Maui were only $1.99 each this week so we bought a couple of those to enjoy.

    Yummy birthday treats!

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: We spent $130 under our food budget this month even though we bought house-cleaning and other non-food supplies from Home Depot with our grocery money. We put $17.76 into the change/$1 bill jar this week: $5.01 change from our cable bill, $4.69 change from coffee at Java Kai, $3.22 from recycling,$1.50 left over from the farmers’ market, $3.48 change from Safeway, and 6¢ found change.
  • Grateful for: All four of my children have always loved going to school, and I am so thankful that through all these years that it’s never been a chore to get them up in the morning or interested in their studies. All four attended an array of diverse public schools K-12, had amazing and dedicated teachers for the most part, and were challenged academically. They also all hung out with great kids and made wonderful long-term friends. With all the bad you sometimes hear about public schools, we are thankful for the education all our children received and their positive experiences.

    Current lava flow from one of the fissures on the Big Island. The volcanoes there were a big reason we chose to live on Kaua’i – all of the volcanoes here are extinct!

  • Bonus question: Have you ever experienced any big weather events or natural disasters? I have experienced three hurricanes: a Category 1 when we lived in Key West, and two Category 3 typhoons when we lived in Japan. Even though we didn’t personally experience any issues, I don’t care to go through one of those again. A tornado touched down nearby our house when our son was a baby, less than three months old. I was taking a class (the classroom was actually a tornado shelter) and never knew it happened, but Brett had to go into the closet under the stairs in our apartment, and he thought the whole place was going to come down because it shook so much. I can’t count how many earthquakes I experienced when we lived in Japan. One night we went through four of them, from a 6.0 to 6.4 (the strongest I’ve ever experienced), one right after the other for a period of around four hours. Thankfully none of them lasted very long, and no damage was done, but the experience was disconcerting to say the least. The current volcanic eruptions happening on the Big Island are very upsetting, and the possibility of a tsunami genuinely frightens me (thankfully that possibility is low, but still).

That’s all the news for now from Chez Aloha! How was your week? What good things happened for you? Did you save any money this week? What are you reading?

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?