This Week’s Menu: So Many Choices

Fettucini with creamy red pepper alfredo sauce
Fettucini with creamy red pepper alfredo sauce

This week’s menu was slightly more difficult than it typically is for the unusual reason that right now our fridge, freezer and pantry contain an embarrassment of riches, almost like we have too much food, and therefore too many choices. I go through this every month right after we do our Costco shop – there is almost too much to choose from, or at least it seems that way. Definitely a first world problem, I know.

Creating a menu when there are so many choices uses a somewhat different thought process than when supplies and choices are more limited. First of all, it requires less creativity. But still, there are questions such as: What should be used first? Will this or that be more useful later in the month?

YaYu asked if she could make dinner on Friday – she found the recipe for vegetarian red pepper alfredo sauce online and wants to try it. She doesn’t know yet if she’ll be able make the fettucine from scratch – it will depend on how late track and tennis practice finish.

Here’s what we’re having this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Grilled Italian sausages with sautéed peppers and onion; ciabatta rolls (no bread for me)
  • Wednesday: Mapo dofu; steamed rice; sliced cucumber (no rice for me)
  • Thursday: Meatloaf; roasted potatoes; gravy; steamed broccoli (no potatoes for me)
  • Friday: Fettucini with creamy red pepper alfredo sauce; grilled zucchini; bread (I’ll have the alfredo sauce over zucchini)
  • Saturday: Leftovers (YaYu will be at her swim team banquet)
  • Sunday: Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs (we’ve all been craving this again); steamed rice; cucumbers (no rice for me)
  • Monday: Grilled flank steak; onion rings; coleslaw (no onion rings for me)

We have everything we need on hand, so no trips to the store this week. We won’t be able to go to the Kapaa market on Wednesday, but Brett and I have decided we will try to head down to the Friday farmers’ market at the stadium. It’s a small market, but they have good prices and we should be able to get papayas and bananas there, and maybe find a few other things.

Follow Your Nose

Outdoor yakitori stand
The aroma from an outdoor yakitori stand takes me right back to my first visit to Japan, when I was 18 years old, and visiting Inokashira Park in Kichijoji. There was a stand right outside the entrance to the park, and the smell was intoxicating. The yakitori was pretty tasty too.

Believe it or not, some of the most intense and lasting memories we have come from the aromas we encounter when we travel. Sadly, most of us tend to disregard the impressions we receive from our sense of smell when we travel, and instead concentrate more on taking pictures or buying souvenirs to remind us of our journeys.

And yet, our sense of smell has the ability to repay the the encounters we have with scents and aromas many times over. Experiencing a particular scent after we return home, or in a different location, has the power to transport us to both a place and time, pleasant or unpleasant, filling our minds again with what we were hearing, seeing and feeling when we inhaled that aroma. It’s the same way the scent of bread baking or other foods cooking can take us back to our grandmother’s kitchen, or the scent of freshly mowed grass can bring back memories of a park we visited or games we played as children.

Here are a few of my favorite travel memories associated with aroma:

  • The scent of green tea always reminds me of tea shops in Japan and China. They were calming, comforting and quiet places, even in the busiest of cities.
  • Barbecue – The aroma of smoky barbecue still takes me back to a little shack called The Brown Pig, which sold the most amazing barbecue in Millington, Tennessee. I craved it when I was pregnant.
  • Temple incense – when I smell incense now my mind leaps to several temple visits in Japan

    Fresh tatami mats are green;
    Fresh tatami mats are pale green, and have a refreshing aroma
  • Whenever I walk past a tatami shop in Japan, and smell the fresh mats, I’m transported right back inside our off-base Japanese house, where we lived for 18 months in 1990-1991. We had fresh tatami in our dining room and bedroom – heavenly!
  • The tang of ocean air and the aroma of sunscreen always remind me of childhood summers spent at our family’s San Clemente beach house.
  • Any time I smell dashi, the broth made from dried bonito that’s the basis of Japanese cuisine, I’m right back in Japan. I call it Japan’s “background scent.”
  • Yakitori cooking on an open grill (see the picture above)

    This stuff really worked!
    White Flower Embrocation
  • The scent of Tiger Balm and White Flower Embrocation always puts me in Hong Kong, having to stay in my hotel room with a very, very bad cold and watching a man across the road practice some kind of martial art on the top of his building. I still use White Flower – it works!
  • Campfire smoke = coffee around a morning campfire at Honeyman State Park in Oregon

The smells we encounter when we’re on the road are perhaps our most intense travel experiences, even if we don’t recognize them as such, or pay much attention to them at the time. While a picture can remind us of where we’ve been and what we’ve done, a remembered aroma can put us right back inside a memorable experience.

Sunday Afternoon 2/19/2017

The view looking south from Kilauea Point, where big swells were breaking against the rocks. You can't see them, but the hill is covered with birds.
The view looking south from Kilauea Point, where big swells were breaking against the rocks. You can’t see them, but the hill is actually covered with white red-footed boobys.

We had another lovely week here at Casa Aloha, with Valentine’s Day turning into something special. I gave Brett and YaYu each a box of See’s chocolates (the best!), and Brett gave me a small bouquet of roses – very unexpected and sweet. We usually don’t do anything celebrate or mark the day, so this year turned out to be a nice surprise for all of us. The day itself was glorious, so Brett and I headed back up to Kilauea to visit the National Wildlife Sanctuary (admission free with our senior lifetime National Park pass). We almost didn’t get in because there were so many visitors, but we decided to wait and see what happened and within a few minutes a few cars came out and we were allowed to drive in. We saw more wildlife than we thought we might, including several whales, nene (Hawaiian geese), and other shorebirds. The views were nothing short of spectacular.

Kilauea Point Lighthouse
Historic Kilauea Point Lighthouse

We found out this past week that YaYu has to attend a mandatory four-day orientation on Oahu in June for her China trip this summer. We called the organization to say that we couldn’t afford the additional expense of four days on Oahu, but a homestay will be arranged for YaYu with another student who will be going on the trip. So, we will have to buy her a round-trip ticket over to Oahu and back, and pay a very small stipend to the family for breakfast and dinner, but we can fit those things into our budget by June.

The total for all that beautiful produce we bought at last week’s farmers’ market was . . . $32! The most expensive item was the little jar of honey, which cost $5. The big head of broccoli was $4; the tomatoes and bunch of bananas were $3 each; the small head of cauliflower, bok choy, Swiss chard, zucchini and cilantro were $2 each; and the cucumber was $1. The two papayas cost $4, and all the oranges and tangelos together were just $2. We won’t be going to the market this week as YaYu has a doctor’s appointment up in Kilauea at the same time, but we’ve got enough to get us through next week. That head of broccoli is big enough for three meals!

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Life As We Knew It on Friday, and am now reading Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo. I’ve enjoyed everything he’s written, so am greatly looking forward to this book.
  • Listening to: It’s very breezy outside today – the trees are making lots of noise. But, otherwise no outside noises, including roosters (yeah!). Inside it’s quiet except for the washer and dryer doing their thing. 
  • Watching: Brett and I continue to work our way through Ripper Street. In the past we’ve watched more than one episode of shows at a time, but are only allowing ourselves one an evening now, to stretch things out a bit. Friday evening we watched The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, a documentary about famed animator Hiyao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. As we are all major Studio Ghibli fans here, this was especially interesting to us. Once again though, I could barely understand a word of Japanese – thank goodness for subtitles.
  • Cooking/baking: We usually have eggs of some kind on Sunday evening, but because there’s no school tomorrow (President’s Day) YaYu is having a friend over this evening for dinner and a sleepover, and I’ve got the slow cooker carnitas going today and we’ll have tacos and rice this evening. I’m going to make a pan of brownies this afternoon for the girls to nosh on later. I made ginger sugar cookie dough yesterday evening, and baked the cookies this morning (the dough needs to be chilled before baking, the longer the better).
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I got all our food shopping done for the next month, and came in $20+ dollars under budget, so that’s money into the savings account. We lowered our food budget this year from $600 per month to $500, so to come in under is some serious saving. Hopefully we will get most of the food used up by the time we leave for Japan. I didn’t make it to the pool for a swim this past week, but on the days I couldn’t go I added in an additional session on the exercise bike. Otherwise I got in all my bike rides, even though were a couple of times I didn’t feel like it, drank all my water, and did my language studies. I am really disliking Rosetta Stone at this point, but just have four more lessons to go and I am done!
  • Looking forward to next week: We really don’t have anything on the calendar next week other than YaYu’s doctor’s appointment, but the trade winds are supposed to be quite brisk, so not sure if Brett and I can make it to the beach or not.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu had to attend a Kiwanis Dinner on Valentine’s Day, and she and a partner decided to take along some more of the chocolate bars they’ve been selling as a fundraiser. She and her partner sold 90 of them! YaYu has now almost completely covered the cost of her April trip through fundraising. She also worked yesterday afternoon to distribute the malasadas the swim team sold, and she a bag for all of us to share – I admit to having one (and it was divine). I must be losing weight though because a pair of pants I couldn’t put on at the end of last year went on easily when I tried this past week (but I’m holding off on officially weighing myself until the end of the month).We put $24.73 in our change/$1 bill jar this week.
  • Grateful for: I am feeling very thankful that the staff at PAAC (Pacific and Asian Affairs Council) is working to make sure we can afford to send YaYu to the orientation in June by finding a homestay for her so that she can go on the planned trip to China. I can’t explain it in words, but I could really sense the spirit of aloha coming from the woman in Honolulu that I spoke with, that they will do everything they can for YaYu, and will look out for her as well.eleanorroosevelt_640x400
  • Bonus question: Which famous person, dead or alive, would you like most like to know? This required a bit of thought, but I honestly would love to have had the chance to know Eleanor Roosevelt. She overcame a very difficult childhood, infidelity in her marriage, the loss of a child, and jokes and taunts about her appearance to become a powerful, insightful First Lady who championed the rights of the underprivileged, and who later became a respected representative for our country to the United Nations. She also became “her own person,” secure in who she was and what she could accomplish, and did this in a time when women of her class were (other than during WWII) expected to stay home and tend to their house and family. She’s always been an inspiration and role model for me.

That’s a wrap from Casa Aloha! How was your week? What good things happened for you? What are you doing this afternoon?

Five Frugal Things 2/17/2017

Roasted baby carrots - yum!
Roasted baby carrots – yum!

Here are five frugal things that happened at Casa Aloha this last week:

  1. Rather than throw them out, I used the crushed Maui onion potato chips left in the bottom of a bag to top this week’s tuna casserole – very retro (and tasty)!
  2. The remaining baby carrots in the big bag we bought at Costco last month were looking kind of sad, but I roasted them and served with our Valentine dinner this week. They were delicious!

    img_4576
    This month’s shopping list for Costco; Walmart and Big Save are on the back. The question marks are for items we’re not sure about based on price and/or availability.
  3. We made a list for our monthly big shop at Costco, WalMart and Big Save. We always shop with a list, and if something’s not on the list we don’t buy it.
  4. This year’s rebate check from Costco was $144.47. A matching amount was transferred into our travel savings from our grocery budget.
  5. I listed a full-size bedspread and matching pillow shams, and my blue Chantal roasting pan (that I won as a sales incentive), on Craigslist. We need neither of them.

What frugal things did you do this past week?

Kapaa Farmers’ Market: How Much Did We Spend?

It was cool and drizzly yesterday, so crowds were larger than usual. If the weather's good there are fewer tourists.
It was cool and drizzly yesterday, so market crowds were larger than usual. If the weather’s good there are fewer tourists – they head to the beach!

Every Wednesday afternoon Brett and I get ourselves down to the Kapaa Farmers’ Market, located in the parking lot near the New Town Park. The market begins at 3:00 sharp with the blowing of a whistle (with no buying or selling allowed before the whistle), but we always like to be there a little bit early so we can scope out what’s available and how much it we can afford. We always go with a list, but are open to buying other things if we see something we like and can eat in the coming week, and if the price is right.

The last few weeks at the market have been frankly amazing. We’ve been going to the market for over three years now, and I can’t remember seeing such an abundance of fruits and vegetables, all of them freshly picked that morning. There really is something for everyone.

Here is just a fraction of what was available yesterday:

Giant heads of broccoli
Giant heads of broccoli
Even bigger heads of cauliflower
Even bigger heads of cauliflower
Ripe papayas
Ripe papayas
Beautiful breadfruit (ulu) - so many tasty ways to prepare this
Beautiful breadfruit (ulu) – so many tasty ways to prepare this
Giant beets
Giant beets
Local honey
An assortment of local honey
Sweet, tasty jackfruit - these babies are bigger than soccer balls
Sweet, tasty jackfruit – these babies are bigger than basketballs
Hawaiian ginger bouquets
Hawaiian ginger bouquets

Our favorite produce stall is Dang’s Anahola Fresh Farm – we head there first every week, and buy most of our produce from them because of their great selection and prices. Although many farmers sell to restaurants and stores on the island, this family makes a good living selling at just three island markets during the week. Otherwise, they’re working on their farm.

Hanging Dang's sign before the market starts - the Dangs are from Thailand.
Hanging their farm sign before the market starts. The Dangs are from Thailand.
Some of Dang's beautiful produce, including lettuces, zucchini blossoms, fresh mint and daikon radishes.
Some of Dang’s beautiful produce, including lettuces, zucchini blossoms, peppers, beans, fresh mint and daikon radishes.

Finally, here’s what we bought yesterday. Can you guess how much we paid for all of this beautiful produce?

Our fruit purchases
Our fruit purchases
  • 1o navel oranges
  • 3 tangelos
  • 2 papaya
  • 1 bunch of bananas (7)
Our vegetable purchases
Our vegetable purchases
  • 1 giant head of broccoli
  • 1 small head of cauliflower
  • bag of ripe, medium tomatoes (9)
  • 1 large bunch Swiss chard
  • 1 large bunch bok choy
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 small jar honey with comb as a treat for Brett

Prices will be revealed on Sunday!

This Week’s Menu: Breakfast, Lunch and Leftovers

Melissa D'Arabian's slow cooker pork carnitas
Melissa D’Arabian’s slow cooker pork carnitas

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lunch here at Casa Aloha is easy to sum up: 97% of the time it’s leftovers. YaYu takes leftovers for her lunch at school almost every day, and Brett and I also try to eat what’s leftover in the fridge for our lunches as well. If there are no leftovers, Brett will fix himself something like celery with peanut butter, or a sandwich of some kind. I might have some cheese and fruit these days, or a bowl of soup and fresh vegetables of some kind.

Brett almost always has a bowl of oatmeal every morning with either yogurt or soy milk and some fruit. For YaYu, he makes different things, like eggs and bacon or taquitos or maybe a bowl of rice with some leftover meat on top – anything that’s hot and filling. He’s had to be a little more creative lately, and there have been more frequent repeats now that she’s not eating any dairy. Either Saturday or Sunday morning, YaYu fixes herself a big bowl of ramen, always with added greens and some other kind of protein. I’m currently rotating through three different breakfasts: Greek yogurt with berries and a sprinkle of granola; a fried egg and fruit (and sometimes a slice of bacon), or a whole, fresh papaya and a spoonful of peanut butter. I used to always have cereal for breakfast, maybe an English muffin with peanut butter and jam, but what I’m having these days is working well – I’m rarely hungry before lunch.

Our only rule about breakfast has always been: anything goes. The girls used to get things like pizza or stuffed peppers or waffles with berries and whipped cream for breakfast, but that’s when I was cooking for the three of them. YaYu doesn’t care for pancakes or french toast or bagels and such, and I can’t have them any more, so those things don’t get made or offered these days. That’s not a bad thing – on the whole we’re all eating healthier at breakfast now.

Anyway, here’s what’s on our dinner menu this week. Almost everything is guaranteed to produce plenty of leftovers 🙂 :

  • Tuesday (this evening): Valentine’s Day Dinner: grilled lemon chicken; sliced cucumber and tomato salad; French bread for Brett (YaYu will be at a Kiwanis dinner)
  • Wednesday: Tuna noodle casserole; fresh fruit (tuna salad for me)
  • Thursday: Roast chicken; stuffing; gravy; steamed broccoli (no stuffing for me)
  • Friday: Asian chicken salad
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs, bacon, toasted English muffins, fruit (no muffin for me)
  • Monday: Slow cooker pork carnitas; tortillas; shredded cabbage; tomatoes

Our food stocks are starting to get low, but Brett and I are doing our big monthly Costco shop on Thursday. We’ll pick up cucumbers, tomatoes, bok choy, papayas, bananas, and broccoli if we see it at the farmers’ market this week.

Also, to make the lemon chicken I marinate boneless, skinless chicken thighs all day in a mixture of 1/3 cup lemon juice, 3 TBSP dried basil, 1 TBSP olive oil, and 2-3 cloves minced garlic. It cooks quickly when we grill because the lemon juice partially “cooks” the chicken and makes it very tender. The marinade is also great with chicken wings.

10 Easy Ways To Save More for Travel

shutterstock_248845498There are those people who, when they decide they want to travel, can whip out their checkbooks and cover any trip they want.

Brett and I are not those people. We have big travel dreams, but a small income, so any trips we want to take have to be planned and then saved for. Over the years we’ve come up with a variety of ways to add to our travel savings so that when we do go off somewhere, everything we need and want to do is covered and we don’t end up with a balance on our credit card.

Here are our favorite tips for how to save for travel:

  1. Set up a dedicated travel savings account, and start a monthly allotment to that account. How much you can deposit into your travel account each month will depend on your regular operating budget, but even a small monthly amount can add up quickly.
  2. See if you can save on regular budget categories, and then put the difference into your travel savings. For example, if your monthly food budget is $700, see if you can find ways to save and get it down to $650, or $600. At the end of the month, put the difference into  your savings. This is one of our favorite ways to add to our travel account – it’s almost like a game, and keeps us on our toes when it comes to saving in all areas of our budget.
  3. Do a “no-spend” week, or month, and deposit all usual discretionary spending amounts into your savings. If you stop and pick up a coffee every morning, don’t for one week. Same for going out for lunch while you’re at work, or eating out or picking up dinner. Plan ahead, keep track of what you would have spent on those things, and then at the end of the week, or month, deposit that amount into your savings. This isn’t to make yourself miserable while you save, but rather to see how much you can add to your savings.
  4. Save your change and $1 bills. Brett and I put away around $700 – $800 per year doing this, although one year we saved over $1000. We try to use cash as much as possible, and when we get coins back we immediately put them aside. Same for $1 bills. When we use our debit card, we always round up to the nearest $5 if possible (i.e. if the amount owed is $11.17, we round up to $15, and $3.83 goes into savings). This might require some effort at first to remember to do it, but after a while it becomes a habit. Once we have $25 in $1 bills, or are able to roll our change, off it goes to the travel savings account. This year we are also occasionally setting aside $5 bills – it’s not as easy to do as with $1 bills, but once in a while we feel we can set one aside. Twenty of those though and we’ve got another $100 saved.
  5. Recognize needs versus wants. This also takes some training and effort, but start asking yourself if you really need that new t-shirt, or burrito from Chipotle, or whatever from IKEA, or whether you’d rather enjoy coffee and a croissant in Paris or a week on the beach in Hawai’i. Same for your food shopping – go with a list and stick to it. There’s nothing wrong with looking, but visualizing your saving goals while you look can help keep you more focused on what you need versus what you merely want. This practice might not immediately put money into your savings account, except that you’ll probably have more money left at the end of the month that can be saved for travel.
  6. Dedicate all refunds, rebates and gifts to your travel savings. We get a nice rebate every year from Costco and from our insurance company – both of those go right into our travel savings. Same for our annual tax refund. Unfortunately, no one sends us money for our birthdays any more :-(.
  7. Get a travel rewards credit card. If you’re good about paying off your credit card every month, this is a great way to earn either miles that will help reduce the cost of air travel, or cash back that can go into your travel account. Brett and I use our credit card to pay recurring monthly expenses like our cable bill and phone bill, and then pay it off every month. Our card rewards can be used to either book travel or receive a check – we always take the check. We don’t use the card to pay for groceries because we’ve found that using cash and setting aside the change and $1 bills we get back is more than would be generated in rewards from the card. Warning: use reward cards carefully. Be sure pay off your credit card balance every month. You don’t want to end up with a huge credit card bill that you have to pay versus putting away money for your travel dreams.
  8. Sell things you don’t need or use any more. Take an inventory of your stuff every once in and while, and use Craigslist, eBay, Facebook or other sites to sell unused and unneeded items around your home, with the money you earn going straight to your travel savings. You can also become a savvy shopper at thrift stores or yard sales and find items that can be refurbished and resold online. Someone I know carefully bought high-end clothing brands at thrift and consignment stores and resold them for a profit on eBay, earning enough in a year to finance a trip to Europe. Someone else I know resold books that she picked up for a song at yard sales. Katy over at The Non-Consumer Advocate is in a master class when it comes to the resale game.
  9. Get a part-time job. I’m retired now, and have absolutely no interest in doing any part-time work, nor does Brett, but we’ve done this in the past. For example, the extra I made working as a substitute went into our savings that got us here to Hawai’i. Depending on how much time you have, or how motivated you are, a second gig can be anything from a couple of hours a week to a regular part-time position. Dedicate those earnings to your travel savings.
  10. Be creative. Pick up change off the ground. Return bottles and cans for the deposit, if you can in your state. Clip coupons and put the money saved into your travel account. Use Swagbucks and earn $$ through PayPal. There are all sorts of small ways out there to add to your travel savings. It might not seem like a lot, but it all adds up.

Just like nickel-and-dime items can drain your bank account in a hurry, what might seem like nickel-and-dime savings can also pump up your account in a hurry as well! It’s surprising how much you can save in a year toward your travel dreams once you set your mind to it!

Sunday Afternoon 2/12/2017

The view from the community pool where I swim. On Wednesday the water in the pool was warmer than the outside air.
The view from the community pool. It looks warm out there, but it wasn’t on Wednesday when I went to swim – the water in the pool was warmer than the outside air. Friday was even colder, so I didn’t go.

This past week sure started off on the wrong foot, but in the end turned out to be pretty nice. Is there any experience more miserable than food poisoning? Last Sunday evening at dinner, Brett and YaYu finished the roast beef slices from one package we had bought, and I had a couple of slices from a new package. Otherwise, everything we ate was the same. By 1:00 a.m. Monday morning I was one very sick girl. I’ve had food poisoning before, but this round was particularly nasty, and even after I stopped being sick I was still weak, dizzy and headache-y the rest of Monday, and barely able to put anything in my stomach, even a sip of tea or a cracker, until the evening. But, on Tuesday I woke up feeling more like myself again, and was able to head up to the north shore with Brett to do some gift shopping for our granddaughter, and get a frostie at Banana Joe’s. By Wednesday I was back to normal again.

YaYu got a scholarship for the China trip this summer! It’s close enough to full that Brett and I can easily cover the rest. The trip will include visits to Beijing, Xian (to see the terracotta warriors) and Shanghai. Brett, Meiling, WenYu and I have all been to Beijing but this will be the first time for YaYu, and she’ll be the first in our family to visit Xian. We are so proud of our girl!

I almost can’t believe it, but it looks like Meiling is going to be moving into her own place this summer. She’s 21, and certainly old enough and earns enough to pay for it, but it still kind of takes my breath away. She’s planning to rent a studio apartment that’s just a few blocks from the campus, and the rent is less than she’s paying now in her shared apartment. She’ll have to pay utility deposits upfront, and get a few things like some dishes and cookware (she already has a rice cooker and slow cooker though), but she’s a good saver and has a fund to cover these expenses, and she has no problems with shopping at Goodwill. The new apartment will also allow her to keep a cat, which makes her very happy.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m very much enjoying Tana French’s latest book, The Trespasser. It’s a real page turner. I’ve downloaded Life As We Knew It from the library to read next. It’s actually Young Adult fiction, about a world-wide catastrophe that occurs when the moon gets knocked out of its orbit and moves closer to earth. The book revolves around how the catastrophe affects one family and the town they live in. I used to read it annually, to help me think about how our family might manage after a major catastrophe.
  • Listening to: Lots of outside action going on this morning (mowers, blowers, weed trimmers, etc.) because the sun is out! Yeah! Inside it’s quiet – YaYu is finishing up her bowl of ramen, and Brett is reading. The laundry is sorted, so the sound of the washing machine will be starting soon.
  • Watching: Brett and I started watching Ripper Street on Nexflix this past week. It’s just the sort of show we like (murder, police, etc.). When we’re not looking at that, we’ve been watching Criminal Minds with YaYu.

    Fresh papaya for breakfast this morning - yum!
    Fresh papaya for breakfast this morning – yum!
  • Cooking/baking: I’m really looking forward to tonight’s dinner of Chinese scrambled eggs and tomatoes. Several of the girls’ classmates’ moms back in Portland used to say this was one of their children’s favorite comfort foods, and the flavor profiles are right in our family’s wheelhouse. I made a chocolate cake with white chocolate buttercream on Thursday and there’s plenty of that left yet, so no baking today.
  • Happy I accomplished last week: Brett and I had a lovely trip up to Kilauea on Tuesday and got almost all of our baby gift shopping done – we found some very cute, fun things for our baby girl and a gift for our daughter-in-law. All we have yet to buy are a couple of little summer sundresses or sunsuits in Hawaiian prints, and something small for our grandson (we’re taking him birthday shopping while we’re there for his “big” present from Grandma and Grandpa). I’m very proud of myself for getting right back in the saddle and doing my bike riding this past week after being so sick on Monday. I also got in one swim session at the pool on Wednesday, and was ready to go on Friday but it was just too cold (and rainy). I really didn’t feel much like exercising after Monday, but once I got back at it everything was OK. Brett also got our annual car maintenance taken care of this past week.
  • Looking forward to next week: We don’t really have anything on the calendar, although we may go back up to Kilauea and visit the lighthouse – we haven’t been in a while. I’m looking forward to hopefully getting in my three days of swimming. Otherwise I plan to do my regular stuff, plus read and relax. Maybe the weather will warm enough for us to go to the beach one day (haha).
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu receiving the China trip scholarship is at the top of our list, but otherwise some other good things happened as well. I had a great check-up at the dentist on Wednesday. I thought I might have a cavity, but it was just a very tiny chip on the edge of a tooth, too small to do anything about (although my tongue makes it feel like the Grand Canyon). After selling all her malasada tickets in record time, YaYu took on selling 45 candy bars as a fundraiser to help lower her costs to the Key Club convention in April on Oahu – she sold them all in three days and then sold five more! As I’ve said, she could sell a cage to a lion, but I think now she could convince it to clean the cage as well. She also tried out and was selected for the school tennis team. 🙂 We put $19.42 in the change/$1 bill jar.
  • Grateful for: I’m so very thankful for all Brett did for me when I was so sick on Sunday night and all day Monday. He took care of me and everything else around the house, as well as calling and rearranging a doctor’s appointment I had to miss, and returning the tainted roast beef.
  • Bonus question: What is your least-favorite personal non-physical attribute? I drive myself (and my family) crazy sometimes because I like things to be just so. I think I developed my perfectionism as a defense against growing up in an environment where everything seemed chaotic, and as a way to (hopefully) be noticed and rewarded. I’m getting much better as I get older about letting things go, but I’m not where I want to be yet. My perfectionism is at its worst when I write – I’m never satisfied, and have to keep reminding myself what my thesis advisor once told me: finished is better than perfect.

That’s all for this week! How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

Five Frugal Things 2/10/2017

Making sun tea . . .
Making lychee sun tea . . .

YaYu’s commented this week, “Mom, how can you pick five things? Everything we do is frugal!” I have to say it’s pretty wonderful when your teenager notices your efforts!

  1. Brett gets the blades for his razor from Harry’s.com; they’re a quality blade that costs less than the ones sold at Costco. Last month there was a problem with the shipping on his order, so he contacted them to ask where his blades were and they sent him an extra box for free.
  2. Last Saturday we had leftovers on the menu, and every single leftover was cleaned out of the refrigerator! YaYu made fried rice to use up all the little bits of vegetables that were hanging around. The most expensive food you buy is the food you throw out.
  3. Brett took the cans and bottles we had hanging out in the garage to the recycling center this week, and the refund of $2.42 went into our change/$1 bill jar.
  4. Instead of buying expensive bottled ice tea, I made a big pitcher of lychee sun tea.
  5. I checked to see if our library had some books I want to read available as eReader downloads. Not all were, but I now have several books waiting on my “later” shelf, to download for free when I’m ready.

What frugal wins did you have?

#Kauai: Banana Joe’s Fruit Stand

Banana Joe's is located on the mauka (mountain) side of the highway, just north of the Kilauea turnoff
Banana Joe’s is located on the mauka (mountain) side of the Kuhio highway, just north of the Kilauea turnoff.

My all-time favorite Kaua’i treat, without hesitation, is a banana frostie from Banana Joe’s Fruit Stand, located in Kilauea, on the north shore of the island. The frostie is made by pushing frozen, local bananas through a Champion juicer, and the result is a cool, creamy ice-cream like treat that’s pure fruit and deliciousness. Every bite tastes like Hawai’i. Pineapple frosties are also available, or you can get a combo of both pineapple and banana. Frosties made from summer fruits such as mango are available in season. Frosties come in one size, and are $4.50 each.

Banana frostie - yum!
Banana frostie – yum!
Banana Joe's offers a wide selection of Kaua'i-produced treats as well as local produce and drink.
Inside the Banana Joe’s Fruit Stand.

Besides the frosties, the stand also offers smoothies made from local fruit, and sells a variety of locally made products and drinks as well as a wide assortment of local fruit and produce. If you’re visiting the island it’s a great spot to pick up some local products to take back home.

Banana Joe himself!
Banana Joe!

The best part for me of visiting Banana Joe’s, besides the frosties, is that I get an opportunity to chat with the owner, Joe Halasey. He’s a genuinely warm,friendly guy, and we share a love of Japan, so always have plenty to talk about and catch up on.

The Chocolate Shack, located next to Banana Joe's and in front of the entrance to the Chocolate Farm Tours.
The Chocolate Shack, located next to Banana Joe’s and in front of the entrance to the Chocolate Farm Tours.

A new feature that’s popped up since our last visit is the Chocolate Shack, located right next to Banana Joe’s! We’ve known for a while about the Chocolate Farm Tours that are offered, but now you can purchase chocolate bars made from Kaua’i grown cacao, drinking chocolate and other chocolate treats right at the source. The three-hour tours are offered several times a week, and include an all-you-can-eat chocolate tasting experience at the end of the tour! WenYu and I already have plans to (finally) take one of the tours this coming summer.

Kaua'i Mini Golf and Botanical Garden is a popular attraction on the island, for both visitors and locals alike.
Kaua’i Mini Golf and Botanical Garden is a popular attraction on the island, for both visitors and locals alike.

The Banana Joe’s Fruit Stand is also located right next to the Anaina Hou Community Park, which contains the Kauai Mini Golf and Botanical Gardens, a popular Kauai attraction, along with many other things to see and do. Located in the Park is also the head of the Wai Koa Loop Trail.

Whether you live on Kaua’i, or are just visiting, you owe yourself a stop at Banana Joe’s! It’s a purely Kaua’i experience.