My Secret Vice

I don’t smoke. I have a small glass of wine twice a week and a gin & tonic on Friday evenings, but otherwise don’t drink alcohol. I’m not a shopaholic, and I don’t gamble (too scared of losing money). I monitor my calories every day and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. I drink a couple of cups of coffee every day but otherwise stick to water.

However, I do have one secret vice. It’s seasonal, and appears around this time every year.

That little vice? Cadbury Creme Eggs.

The minute they show up on the shelves I am unable to resist temptation. I like chocolate but can avoid eating it the rest of the year if I have to. However, can’t stay away from these creamy chocolate eggs that appear every year for the Easter holiday.

They’re so sweet they can make my teeth hurt, but I don’t care. I adore the combination of smooth milk chocolate and the sweet white creme filling with its spot of orange for the yolk. One year Cadbury offered them with an orange creme filling and I thought I had died and gone to heaven – orange & chocolate is my favorite combination. Sadly, those never appeared again. I don’t care for the caramel filling at all, but the newer chocolate creme filling is quite good. Apparently Cadbury offers a white chocolate cream egg and an Oreo cookie creme egg in the UK. I’d be willing give them a try although neither excite me as I’m not a fan of white chocolate nor Oreos. However, I can imagine a Cadbury egg with mocha filling might be close to nirvana.

I’ve been having one of these scrumptious eggs a day, occasionally two, since their appearance this year, adjusting everything else I eat to fit their calories into my daily eating plan. I know they’re not healthy but in my book they’re more than worth it.

Easter is this coming Sunday, and after that the eggs will disappear for another year. I’ve had my fill this year and am ready to say goodbye.

I know they’ll be back.

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

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

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

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

Sunday: Vegan corn dogs; coleslaw

Monday: Stouffer’s macaroni & cheese; roast vegetables

Tuesday: Vegetable curry; rice

Wednesday: Zaru soba; hayayakko; namasu

Thursday: Shrimp risotto; steamed green beans

Friday: Pad thai with shrimp

Saturday: Mini pizzas with roasted vegetables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Morning 4/10/2022: Temporarily Grounded

Wednesday’s break in the rain provided the only sunset of the week.

Good morning! Aloha kakahiaka!

I joke that we live in a vortex, but last Sunday afternoon the wind was blowing into yard from different directions and swirling through the middle (which is why the ti plants in back are standing up straight versus bent by the wind)

We have had an absolutely crappy week weather wise. Rain, rain, wind, rain, more rain, more wind . . . along with one beautiful day that didn’t last long enough. Thankfully we’ve had loads to do to keep busy, especially with the yard sale coming up in just a couple of weeks. We’re in the process of getting everything out into the living room right now, and will then spend the next couple of weeks getting things organized, arranged, and priced. We’re going to hold the sale in our living room and kitchen rather than move everything up and down the stairs to and from the back yard every day. We’ll close off the back of the apartment to keep things we’re not selling off limits.

We found more rolls of paper towels and bags of hand soap in the back than we thought we had. Hopefully there’ll be a buyer at the yard sale looking for a bargain.

We spent last Wednesday getting our car cleaned up and ready to sell, and listed it for sale late that afternoon. We figured it might take a week or so to sell, but the ad got over 300 views in less than 24 hours. There were the usual ghosts, and although the price was at the low end for the model, age, and condition, two people immediately asked if we would lower it by one-third for them; soon after another asked if we would discount the price by 20%. Anyway, in no time we had four people ready to test drive the car on Friday, and the first person who came offered the full asking price in cash. The papers were signed, the money deposited in the bank, and the car was gone by noon, but the buyer was nice enough to take us to Big Save before bringing us home so we could top off our groceries for the next couple of weeks. We are now pretty much stuck in the apartment until the 22nd, when we’ll pick up the rental car for the rest of our time on the island. If we absolutely have to go anywhere between now and then we’ll use Uber or take the bus.

Brett and I joke that we keep getting signs that it’s time for us to go. The latest was the arrival of some new, noisy neighbors this past week. If the weather is good, even for a moment, or the rain stops, they are outside and having a party. For just two people they are incredibly loud – we can clearly hear everything they are saying, and sometimes it feels like they are standing right out in our yard. They stay up late too – on some nights they’ve been outside whooping it up until midnight. One of the things we’ve loved about our apartment and its location is how very quiet it’s been but between our clompy upstairs neighbor (who has become increasingly annoying in other ways as well) and these new additions to the neighborhood we’re feeling much better about moving on.

This morning I am thinking about:

Our Honda Civic still looked pretty good for its age (11 years) and ran well too – we’ll miss it. It was the perfect island car.

  • What we accomplished: 1) Getting the car detailed for sale took some effort, but sold it in less than 36 hours for the full asking price. 2) We cleaned out the back storage area of the apartment and got the stainless steel shelves moved into the living room for the yard sale (the shelves will be for sale too). 3) We took a big bag of food to the Kaua’i Food Bank with things we had in the pantry that we won’t be able to use before we go. It was a crazy mix of stuff, from canned beans to arborio rice to dried apple chips, but we were glad we could pass it on to those who can use the items.
I can’t get over how curly my hair is these days. Or how much I take after my dad.
  • Good things that happened: 1) I got a great hair cut last Tuesday and feel so, so much better. 2) Selling our car so quickly and getting the full asking price was a very good thing, even if we are going to be stuck at home for the next couple of weeks.
  • How we saved: 1) We had the car exterior professionally washed and waxed, but detailed the interior car ourselves for a total of $31, the price of a bottle of ArmorAll for the interior and cost of the wash and wax. 2) We put $3 more dollars into the sandwich fund. 3) We haven’t thrown out any food (yet) and we managed to use up several condiments and odds and ends of other things from the refrigerator and pantry.
  • What we’re looking forward to next week: 1) Better weather! 2) We’re going to start packing our suitcases this week. We’ll be washing all of the clothes that have been stored for the past two years and then both of us will begin the process of filling our suitcases. 3) We’re hoping to get almost all the yard sale items sorted and arranged in the living room for the yard sale, and maybe get started on pricing.

We now have less than a month left to go on Kaua’i. I am finding myself feeling a little verklempt when I think about leaving, or go through my pictures. Although it’s time to move on we have made so many wonderful memories during our time here and it’s going to take a while for it not to feel like home. Our decision in 2012 to move here was a good one and we all thrived here. We have much to look forward to in the coming days, but we know we’ll always be looking back as well to our time on Kaua’i.

I still pinch myself when I think about our time on Kaua’i.

That’s a wrap for this week. Other than being stuck at home, next week should be another good, productive week. I hope everyone had a good week as well and that you’re looking forward to one that’s coming up.

Just Plain Nuts

The title of this post is the only description you need to understand what’s going on with real estate on Kaua’i these days. There is a real estate bubble pretty much everywhere in the U.S., and mortgage rates are rising, but prices on our little island have now left the stratosphere and entered unknown territory.

This 320 square foot “studio” condo is priced at $315,000 ($984/square foot). There’s no kitchen, and the HOA is $1,372/month and covers electricity, cable, wireless Internet, water, and trash. The resort does have an amazing swimming pool and lovely beach, but it’s basically a hotel room for sale.

The lowest priced condos on the island are selling for around $250K right now. That’s for a one bedroom, one bath, 640 square feet place in a lovely resort setting. That sounds affordable . . . except the monthly HOA fee is $1,822! And, the condos are leasehold property, not fee simple, which means there’s a small monthly leasing fee to pay as well. The lowest HOA I could find on the island was $431/month, but that was for a 720 square foot condo (selling for $350K) in a complex with no amenities.

This 1100 square foot kit home in Hanalei, with no yard and in very close proximity to two other homes, has an asking price of $2,495,000.

Buying a home here versus a condo might save you a ridiculous monthly HOA fee, but the current median home price on Kaua’i is $1.3 million. The lowest priced home for sale on the island is $480K for a 1,100 square foot leasehold home in the Hawaiian Homelands (blood quantum requirements must be met). The home pictured below, 916 square feet on a 10,000 square foot lot (located a very short distance up the road from us), is priced at $675,000. Out of 307 homes currently for sale on the island, there are only ten houses selling for that price or less.

It’s just plain nuts. And yet, people are buying property on the island hand over fist, not only to live here permanently, but as vacation homes and investment properties as well. Purchasers are remodeling like crazy too. It’s frankly mind boggling the amount money being spent.

A home bought in the $500K range in 2014, the year we first arrived on Kaua’i, is now most likely worth a million or more, or at least very close to it. Locals who bought their homes back in the 80s or 90s in the $50K – $60K ballpark are now holding millions worth of value in their property. There is also a building boom happening on the island as land is sold and divided, some of it given to children to build their homes with other lots sold as people cash in. Our friends told us the other day of a “view lot” on their street that had recently sold, with about 30 feet of flat land from the street before dropping down a steep cliff. The sale price was $300,000.

It doesn’t take much imagination either to guess what rental prices are like these days. We know we were very, very fortunate to find this place when we did. The owner is asking nearly $200 more per month for our apartment than what we’ve been paying . . . and will easily get it.

Could it all go bust? Of course – a deep recession, a huge storm, or some other unforeseen issue could cause housing prices to plummet. But for now, property owners and home buyers with money to burn are riding high and it truly seems not even the sky’s the limit any more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday: Chick’n pot pie

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

Tuesday: Costco Asian chicken wrap sandwiches

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

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

Friday: Thai peanut mini pizzas

Saturday: Sweet & sour shrimp; rice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Morning 4/3/2022: One More Month To Go

Monday’s sunset built slowly but put on a beautiful show. The clouds were actually a deeper red than they appear in the photos.

Time is moving along quickly, and just four weeks from today we’ll leave our beloved apartment. There will be a new renter moving in on May 1, so we’ll pack up the car that morning, meet our landlord at around 10:00 or so for a walkthrough, hand over the keys and get our deposit back before leaving to head for the north shore for our final eight days on Kaua’i. We’re expecting an entirely different experience with this landlord than the one we had moving out of our house in 2018.

Thank you for all the lovely comments about our upcoming move to Nashville. We are excited about the transition, which will truly be another Big Adventure, and know what a blessing it will be to have M and K so close to us for a couple of years. We’ll also be seeing our son and grandson more as well versus just once a year in Japan. Brett and I met at the naval air station in Millington, just north of Memphis, forty-five years ago (he was my instructor for a two-week course on transistor theory). We were married in Memphis, and our son was born in Millington, so we’ve spent some time in Tennessee and are familiar with the western part of the state. However, we’ve only driven through Nashville, to stop and see The Hermitage, so we’re looking forward to experiencing and learning about the city and the surrounding area as well.

Our top choice for a new car is the Subaru Outback, perfect for either an extended road trip after Nashville or surviving New England winters.

So many things remain to be figured out for our move. The biggest issue we will face is finding housing but our daughter-in-law doesn’t think she’ll know more for another month or so, or maybe not even until she arrives in Nashville. The consulate apparently contracts with certain apartments, and if M takes one of those, her housing stipend is a tax free benefit. We’re of course encouraging her to go that route. Which apartment buildings are on their list remains a mystery for now, and whether we could possibly share an apartment with her also remains unknown. We think at this point though the best solution may be for Brett and me to rent our own, separate apartment but in the same building/complex as hers, if possible. We’re going to purchase a car online before we arrive but otherwise we have no idea about anything else. We plan to arrive in Nashville mid-July and hopefully by then will know enough to secure an apartment and get started settling in.

This morning I am thinking about:

Scrubbed and clean, oiled and buffed. I wish I had taken a before shot – the table was a mess but cleaned up nicely!

  • What we accomplished last week: 1) We did our last Big Shop here last Tuesday, and ended up pretty much shopping for the rest of the month. Our usual mid-month shop will be very, very small, which is as it should be. 2) I stopped procrastinating and cleaned up a teak bathroom table we’ve been using in our shower so it’s ready for the yard sale. Lots of elbow grease was involved but it looks almost new again and I can double the asking price. I learned how to clean and restore natural (unfinished) wood pieces years ago rejuvenating old tansu in Japan. 3) We took two more bags of stuff to the thrift store, bought another suitcase there for $12, and finished packing YaYu’s things to take back with us to Pennsylvania. 4) We survived our first week living with patio furniture and an inflatable mattress and it wasn’t as awful as we thought it would be – the mattress is more comfortable than we had anticipated. 5) Brett and I moved up to Level II with our Spanish lessons. My high school Spanish and Brett’s background with Latin has helped us understand and acquire things far more quickly than we did with French. Also, Spanish pronunciation is far easier.
Besides all the delicious food we enjoyed on Wednesday, I had fun experiencing some new-to-me locations on our hike. This is Nawiliwili Harbor in Lihue, where the big cruise ships dock. The dark mountain in the the middle background is Haupu (Black Mountain) – we usually only see the other side of it.
  • Good things that happened: 1) We had a wonderful anniversary celebration this year even though we had to make changes to our original dining plans and ended up going a bit over budget. 2) Brett’s sister asked if she could join us for a week or two when we are in Mexico – yes! 3) We watched the Academy Award winning movie Coda on Thursday evening – it was sublime. 4) Brett and I both got our second COVID boosters on Friday, so along with masks and plenty of hand sanitizer we’re as prepared as we can possibly be for avoiding the virus during our upcoming travels.
We treated ourselves with one last trip to Lappert’s Ice Cream after getting our second COVID booster.
  • Ways we saved: 1) Even though we bought food for the entire month, we stayed under our bi-monthly food budget. We just don’t need much these days. 2) We added an additional $5.39 to our sandwich fund and are about set for meals during our final week in the apartment. 3) Although we went over budget a bit on Wednesday, we felt we got very good value (food and experience) for what we spent so no regrets.
The sunset views alone made our meal at The Beach House worth the expense
  • Looking forward to next week: 1) I have an appointment to get my hair cut on Thursday morning with a stylist who specializes in curly hair! My hair’s getting long enough to drive me crazy so I’m excited to get it shortened and shaped up. 2) The weather didn’t cooperate for any beach days this past week, so we’re once again hoping for better weather this coming week.

Other than selling our car, we are finally done with our local Buy & Sell. We listed our last item this past week, a rug, and got several requests for it over the span of three days . . . but not one person followed up, including a woman who said she was coming right over to get it and then never showed up. We were just going to roll up the rug and donate it to the Habitat for Humanity thrift store on Friday rather than deal further with Buy & Sell, but just before I took the ad down another woman contacted me, asked if the rug was still available, and she did come right over and buy it! The car will be listed for sale toward the end of this week, and the yard sale will be held the weekend before we move out.

That’s all for this week! Good things happened, much was accomplished, books were read, and good food was eaten. I hope it was as good for everyone else as it was for us and that you all are looking forward to the week coming up as much as we are.

Happy Anniversary! Our Second Annual Day of No Cooking

Celebrating our anniversary with a Day of No Cooking is one of the best ideas we’ve come up with. We have a lot of fun planning what and where to eat, and it keeps the celebration going all day as well. Plus, there are zero to minimal dishes or kitchen clean-up to do for a whole day.

I like the Kountry Kitchen’s food, but I LOVE eating at the Tip Top so breakfast there was a happy change to our original plan.

We had a wonderful day this year for our 43rd anniversary in spite of having to adapt our original plans twice and on the fly. When Brett went to check out Kountry Kitchen’s menu Wednesday morning he discovered the restaurant was closed for the day! Oh no! We immediately contacted our friends who were joining us for breakfast, and met instead at the Tip Top Cafe. While I wasn’t able to enjoy Eggs Benedict as hoped, I had no complaints about my giant banana-macadamia nut pancake, nor did Brett with his two giant regular pancakes. We had a good catch-up with Alan and Cheryl – we hadn’t seen each other in ages.

Big wave action at Nawilili. The lava formations were fascinating, but made for some rough walking and climbing.
Lunch from Konohiki Seafood was very, very affordable and very, very good – we will definitely be stopping by again at least once before we depart Kaua’i.

After breakfast Brett and went for a hike along Nawilili and Ninini Harbors on the east side. The scenery was beautiful, but the walking somewhat difficult because it was on very rough and haphazard rocks much of the way. After we finished our hike we headed to Konohiki Seafood in Hanamaulu for some takeout: ginger fried chicken, pork wontons, and inari sushi. The selection of delights at this little market was amazing, and everything was very affordable. We also made a quick stop at Times Market and picked up a container of namasu for the side and then headed home to eat an easy but delicious lunch.

We enjoyed a fabulous evening at the Beach House restaurant, complete with beautiful sunset and ocean views. I enjoyed a beautifully prepared vegan platter of locally grown vegetables, Brett had seared ahi with garlic potatoes and broccoli, and we each had a glass of wine.

Our first-choice restaurant for dinner turned out to be unavailable (long story), so Brett and I looked for another restaurant in the area but not one seemed to have any open spots for dinner, anywhere. In desperation I finally checked the Beach House restaurant in Poipu, a lovely but very expensive restaurant, and to our surprise they had an opening. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner and experience there, totally worth the extra expense. We kept costs down by having a cocktail at home before we left, skipping an appetizer, and coming home to enjoy the last giant red velvet cupcake and decaf coffee versus ordering dessert at the restaurant. We still ended up going over our original budget for the day but with no regrets – dinner was very special and a lovely way to begin our farewells to Kaua’i.

Here’s to many more happy years!

Although we ended up with a few dishes to wash this year, we once again enjoyed a perfectly delicious, day-long anniversary celebration, and we’re looking forward to another special day next year in Nashville!

Beyond Plan Z

We did not see this coming. At all. It was not anywhere on our list of future or possible plans. But . . . life happens. And, family comes first.

As planned, we will be heading to Mexico after YaYu’s graduation, but in early July we will depart San Miguel de Allende for:

Our daughter-in-law works for the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and toward the end of last month was offered a two-year posting at the consulate in Nashville. It’s a major promotion for her and, as she says, her “dream job.” However, our son cannot relocate because of his position and the nature of his work in Japan, so they asked if Brett and I would be willing to put our plans on hold and move to Nashville for the next two years as support for M and our granddaughter, K, who will accompany her.

We didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Our grandson, who is now in middle school, will stay in Japan with his dad. They plan to travel to Nashville 2-3 times a year, during our grandson’s school breaks, and our DIL and granddaughter will travel back to Japan at least once a year.

Everything is changing rapidly and plans are being drawn up, reworked, etc. We are being reimbursed by our son for our UK Airbnb deposits and our plane tickets to England. We’re starting the process of choosing and buying a car online to pick up once we arrive in Tennessee, and we’ll again be buying some basic pieces of furniture once we get there as well as other necessities. Instead of London, we’ll be flying from Mexico City to Boston to rent a minivan and pick up our stored things from WenYu to take along to Nashville. We don’t know yet whether we’ll be sharing housing with M and K or getting our own place. M will receive a housing stipend but it’s unknown at this time if she’ll be allowed to use that for shared housing with us or not. There are of course lots and lots of other unknowns as well but details are getting filled in as they come up.

Full-time travel for the Occasional Nomads is off the table for the time being. Following our time in Tennessee, we think we’ll either move to a permanent location in New England or do one last long road trip around the U.S. interspersed with shorter international visits. In the meantime, our priority for the next two years will be to help and support our daughter-in law and granddaughter – travel can wait.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday: Margherita pizza

Wednesday: Japanese seafood pancakes; rice; cucumber slices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Morning 3/27/2022: Whatever Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Sunsets were all over the place this past week.

We had a return trip to airline hell once again this past week, this time with our Delta flights back to the mainland. I had just checked our itinerary at end of the week before and all was well, and then last Sunday afternoon Brett received a notification that changes had been made (I made the reservation but he got the notification . . . hmmm). While the route hadn’t changed, long layovers had been added and we would now be arriving in Baltimore eight hours later then planned, in the middle of the night! Also, all of our seating had been changed – we had booked and paid for Comfort+ seats, but on two of the three legs of the journey we had been moved to Economy with all Comfort+ seats on those flights sold out. Finally, beyond the time and seating changes made, we had scheduled a rental car pickup for the short drive to Philadelphia but now the car rental agency would be closed and not open for several hours later, and we’d lose the first night of our hotel reservation. Grrrrrrr.

I fortunately found a new flight schedule that works for us. The original flight was Lihue-Seattle-Minneapolis-Baltimore; the new itinerary is Lihue-Honolulu-Atlanta-Baltimore. We’ll leave Kaua’i earlier in the day and arrive in Baltimore several hours earlier as well. While making the change I received repeated invitations to upgrade to first class, and we had the miles to do so, but every time I tried . . . nothing. I ended up spending 80 minutes on hold to message with a representative only to learn first class was sold out (then why are you offering me an upgrade?). We were able to get the last two seats in Comfort+ for the Honolulu to Atlanta to Baltimore parts of our trip, but for that long flight to Atlanta those are possibly the least ideal seats in the section (in the middle of a row). Funny thing though – when I checked our reservation again a couple of days later there was another invitation to upgrade to first class, but this time for more than twice the amount of miles that were required earlier, and now only for the Atlanta-Baltimore leg of the flight, a less than two hour flight. No thanks.

We are of course worried because our odds for catching COVID are going to go way up, especially with the new sub-variant making the rounds. We’re vaccinated, boosted, will be wearing masks the entire time, but it’s going to be a crap shoot whether or not we can remain virus free by the time we’re due to depart for Mexico. Canada has dropped their testing requirement for entry but we’re in the process of working up a plan for what to do if one or both of us tests positive before then.

Anyway, this morning I am thinking about:

  • What we accomplished: 1) The last box for storage was sent on Friday. It was the largest box we shipped (not the heaviest though) and is due to arrive in Massachusetts this Wednesday. All our other boxes have arrived safely and been put away. 2) The buyers picked up all the furniture yesterday so the apartment is empty. Getting everything out of the apartment was a chore, but Brett and the other guy somehow got it done. We of course miss our sofa and bed but are glad to have them sold. All that’s left to go now are one rug, the car, and the yard sale stuff. 3) With YaYu’s input I made dining reservations for her graduation and my 70th birthday. We’ll be eating earlier in the evening than we had hoped for because reservation times are already full due to all the graduation celebrations in the area that will be going on. I’m looking forward to eating at the restaurant we decided on together.
Our living room decor for the next month
  • Good things that happened: 1) A BIG family issue that was up in the air has been settled. Stay tuned for exciting news! 2) The weather was pretty awful on some days this past week with high winds and lots of rain. Even when the sun came out it’s still been very windy. However, we got a treat on Thursday when we woke up to a rainbow on one side of the apartment and then saw another giant rainbow on the other side of the building as the sun started to go down (with rain in between all day)! We are going to miss Kauai’s rainbows.
  • What we saved: 1) We needed another roll of packing tape and more rice from Walmart last week, but returned an unused roll of bubble wrap which covered the cost of those items, so we ended up with a completely no-spend week. 2) We were invited to again participate in a one-week Nielsen survey – they sent us two crisp $1 bills to join the survey (which went right into the sandwich fund), and we’ll each receive $10 when the survey is over. When we received our survey kits five days later there were six more crisp $1 bills for us! 3) The large box we just sent to Massachusetts had enough extra room in it for our comforter, comforter cover, and pillow shams. We’re glad we won’t have to buy those items again later.
  • What we’re looking forward to: 1) Brett and I will celebrate our 43rd anniversary on Wednesday, and we’ve scheduled another Day of No Cooking. We have three great dining locations planned, and will be getting together with friends for one of our meals. The challenge will be to stay at or under our budget! 2) We’re doing another Not-So-Big Shop on Tuesday which will be our penultimate trip to the Kaua’i Costco. That store has been a lifesaver for us. 3) We’re hoping good weather shows up again and that we can get back to the beach at least one day this coming week.

There’s been some family stuff going on the past couple of weeks or so, burbling under the surface, and a decision was made this past week! It’s something unexpected but good . . . and change is coming. Everyone is healthy and doing well, and everything else is moving along as it should so there are no complaints, and all of us are excited about what’s going to happen. In the meantime Brett and I are still in a holding pattern here although things will be picking up again in the next couple of weeks. I have a feeling we’re going to go through April very quickly.

That wraps up another week! In spite of being under the weather one day, and having some bad weather on other days, it was a good week and what needed to be done got done. We segue into April this week, our last full month on Kaua’i, and are looking forward to getting more done to get us ready for our next Big Adventure. I hope it was a good week for everyone, and that you’re looking forward to the one coming up as much as we are!