This Week’s Menu: If I Only Knew

The thrill is gone (actually, my stomach would hate me if I had some of this).

I’m not sure if this has anything to do with menu planning, but here goes . . .

I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, keeping my weight down was all about appearance, but in the last couple of decades weight control has been less about being thin and more about feeling good. When I’m carrying around too much extra weight I don’t feel good. When I’m overweight my joints ache, the bursitis in my hip flares up something fierce, and I just generally feel sluggish and out of sorts.

Over the years I have counted calories and counted points in an effort to shed pounds. I’ve followed the Atkins plan, eaten a lot of grapefruit, and tried the Scarsdale plan and Jenny Craig meals without any noticeable results. Nothing lasted for very long, and any weight I lost quickly reappeared when I went “off plan.” I was obsessed with food and eating, always trying to find the “right” formula,.

And yet here I am now losing weight at a rate of around two pounds a month, and I’m not even trying. After all these years, why now? I gave up carbs/starches early in the year because of a stomach issue (GERD) and a rapid weight gain (three to five pounds per month no matter what or how little I ate). I expected to lose a few pounds at first, but the continued steady weight loss has been an unexpected but welcome side effect. I have no idea how long it will last.

Losing weight, or wanting to lose weight, is a curious thing. It’s also a very personal thing, unique to each individual, and what works for one person doesn’t for the next. My weight has been a frustrating struggle for most of my life. but in this past year it seems I have finally made peace with my body, both inside and out.

OK, back to menu planning . . .

This week for dinner we’re having:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Grilled chicken thighs; broccoli-raisin salad; bread (the salad has been requested again. Also, no bread for me)
  • Wednesday: Turkey divan casserole (turkey, cheese and broccoli for me)
  • Thursday: Hot turkey sandwiches; stuffing; steamed broccoli (I won’t be having bread, but I will have 1/4 cup of stuffing because I have to)
  • Friday: Leftovers for Brett and me (team spaghetti dinner for YaYu)
  • Saturday: Slow cooker honey-sriracha chicken wings; steamed rice; Japanese cucumber salad (I’m skipping the rice, and hoping the wings aren’t too spicy)
  • Sunday: Breakfast for dinner: scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, fruit (no toast for me)
  • Monday: Slow-cooker beef & broccoli; steamed rice (no rice for me)

We’ll be needing cucumbers, bok choy, papayas and bananas at the farmers’ market. We’ve gotten broccoli at the market the past couple of weeks, but we can’t count on it so are going to buy a big bag of the florets at Costco tomorrow.

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Travelin’ Shoes

Cute shoes which turned out to be very uncomfortable for extended walking.

One thing that both Brett and I learned on our trip to Japan this past spring is that the shoes you travel with can truly make or break the experience.

Both of us took along shoes we thought would be comfortable but in fact were not, and we and our feet were miserable the entire time.

Shoe purchases for our Big Mystery Adventure™ have become a  priority here at Casa Aloha, and the focus will be 1) comfort and 2) durability.

Both Brett and I have “difficult” feet. Brett’s feet are flat and wide. Mine are wide (although not as wide as before bunion surgery in 2013) and I have very high arches. I also have very little to no padding on the balls of my feet, so without a soft, cushioned footbed my feet can start to hurt quite quickly. I also prefer a shoe I can easily slip in and out of, especially when we’re visiting Japan.

My very comfortable Finn Comfort clogs

I purchased my first pair of travel shoes last week, a spendy pair of Finn Comfort clogs. They get very high ratings for comfort, especially  when you’re on your feet for a long time. They’re not the prettiest shoes out there, but after wearing them around the house for three days I can honestly report that they are super comfortable and have great arch support. I think they will prove worth the expense.

Clark’s desert boots

Brett gets his first new pair(s) of shoes next month beginning with a new pair of running shoes. We’re getting them now because they will probably need to be replaced before we go – running is not only hard on shoes but they also stand a very good chance of being permanently stained by Kauai’s red dirt. He also plans to get a pair of Clark’s desert boots and/or a pair of Merrell slip-ons next month (hasn’t made a decision yet).

Both of us want a pair of Allbirds wool shoes, loungers for Brett and the women’s charcoal gray runners for me. This brand also gets rave reviews, and we think they will be both comfortable, lightweight and accommodate our wide feet.

Allbirds charcoal gray women’s runners

Allbirds mens lounger (Brett doesn’t want this color though)

Finally, we both will be needing walking sandals. Brett is looking at Keens, but I’ve got my heart set on a pair of Kenkoh massage sandals from Japan. I’m currently wearing a cheap knockoff pair, but my feet love them and I’d love some real Kenkohs even more. I’m also seriously wanting another pair of Mephisto’s Helen sandals. I wore out a previous pair I owned, but they are wonderfully comfortable and have great arch support.

Mephisto’s Helen sandal

Kenkoh massage sandals

All these shoes are going to cost us $$$. We’ve fiddled the budget to add some each month for travel shoes, and will start adding them pair by pair when we can. A concern, besides cost, is that all of them put together hopefully won’t weigh too much, but we think we’ve erred on the side of light versus heavy when it comes to our choices.

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Sunday Afternoon 9/17/2017

 

Both Brett and I are looking forward to the start of the new Ken Burns’ documentary tonight on Vietnam. We think it will be excellent, and present both the good and bad of that time as a cohesive whole. Brett did not serve in Vietnam, although he was in the navy and knew many who did serve. He started working for Black & Decker as a draftsman right out of high school in 1968, and joined the Army National Guard (like Dan Quayle) to avoid being drafted. However, he became very ill during his service (almost died) and was medically discharged from the Guard. But lo and behold, someone on his local draft board thought he should still be eligible, and one Monday in early 1970 he received his draft notice ordering him to report the following Monday. He had been a helicopter door gunner in the reserves, and when they told him he could possibly serve overseas he knew they didn’t mean Germany (and door gunners in Vietnam had a very poor rate of survival). So, on Tuesday he called the local navy recruiter and on Thursday he was at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center reporting for boot camp. He was only going to stay in the navy for one enlistment, but ended up liking his job and decided to make it a career. He spent the Vietnam years on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean. For my part, I remember the demonstrations, the craziness of 1968, and all the arguments with my parents about the war. It was a sad, bitter but defining time in our nation’s history, and in my opinion, everyone lost.

I think summer may be trying to turn into fall here. Although the days are still very warm, the mornings have been cool, and I’ve found myself snuggling into the comforter on a few days to keep warm. Most evenings are cooler as well. Wednesdays have become known as Hell Day around here though – for the last several weeks they’ve all been the most unbearably hot day of all, with zero air moving and horrible humidity that lasts well into the night.

Also, there is a great giveaway going on over at Don’t Read This; It’s Boring which includes lots of fun things that would make great stocking stuffers, or can be used or eaten now (I’m talking about chocolate!).

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, by Fuschia Dunlop, came off of hold this week and I’ve been enjoying it immensely. She includes recipes in the book! Stephen King’s It became available two days later, so now I’m reading about Chinese food during the day, and a creepy, scary clown at night.
  • Listening to: There are lots of birds singing outside this morning, and lots of baby chicks peeping too. It’s a lovely, cool, breezy morning and it’s wonderful hearing the palm trees rustling again. Inside it’s quiet . . . for now.
  • Watching: In the hour before Vietnam we’ll be watching another episode of Bletchley Circle – PBS Hawai’i is showing it again, and it’s a terrific show. We finished all the available episodes of Catastrophe and started a new season of Ripper Street. We wish some of our other favorite shows (Broadchurch, Happy Valley, etc.) would also have new seasons up for streaming. For a long time we didn’t watch any TV, but these days Brett and I are enjoying watching in the evenings, and catching up on shows we missed in the past. I’ve been binge watching The Mindy Project at night while I work on Swagbucks – fun show!
  • Cooking/baking: There’s still a little bit left of the chocolate cake I made last week, so it will be a few days more before I bake something else. Brett’s making Scotch eggs for our dinner tonight. He and YaYu will have toast with theirs, and we’ll all share a big bowl of cut watermelon.

    Our overcast day at the beach was still lovely

  • Happy I accomplished this week: Even though it was overcast and looked like it would rain at any moment, Brett and I enjoyed our one afternoon at the beach on Thursday. Usually we read, but we chatted the whole time we were there which was fun. I drank my daily 64 ounces of water (and more) every day, did my language study, and rode my bike five days out of seven. YaYu let me help her with one of her college essays and actually accepted some of my suggestions! Brett and I both signed up for credit check and identity monitoring through USAA this week. We’ve always been careful, but feel a need to take some further precautions to protect our credit/money following the Equifax hack.
  • Looking forward to next week: I almost can’t believe it’s time again for our monthly Big Shop. Our shopping list seems quite short this month compared to others. Fingers are crossed that we make it to the beach another couple of times.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu ran a good race yesterday morning, and her time was a new personal record. The girls’ team from her school came in first. I was happy to get paid for my jury duty, although receiving the check brought back some unpleasant memories. But, I heard from someone on the island this week who knows the case well, and they thanked me for my vote to acquit, so that made me feel better.

    Two youngsters bringing their four-day old baby home from the hospital. Brett was taking advantage of the navy’s rule allowing beards, and I have a very fat post-pregnancy face (and can’t believe how much I look like my dad)!

  • Grateful for: Thirty-nine years ago this coming week, our wonderful son was born. What a joy he has been, and I am so proud and thankful to be the mom of such a kind and generous man, husband, father, brother, son and friend. He is smart, a good provider, very, very funny and witty, and is living his dream. My only regret is that we don’t get to see him or his family more.
  • Bonus question: What do you enjoy most about blogging? What do you like the least? Easily, the best part of blogging is the personal connections I’ve made, both online and in real life. I absolutely love the feedback, and the give-and-take, I get from my readers (I’ve only had one negative commenter, who ended up getting herself banned). I’ve also had the good fortune to meet several readers and their spouses in person, and have formed lasting friendships with them. Another upside to blogging is that I enjoy writing and expressing myself. Our son once told me that people blog because they love the sound of their own voice, which is true, but I’ve always enjoyed writing and this gives me an outlet (sorry though Mr. Burdine, there is no “great American novel” in me). The downside of maintaining a blog is that I have to come up with things to write about! Sometimes the muse is with me and I have lots of ideas and things to say, but other times it’s a real struggle to find a topic that interests me and that I think might interest readers. This year in particular has been a challenge at times because I gave myself a goal at the beginning of the year of posting five times a week. Other downsides? I can’t think of any.

That’s a wrap for this week! Hope everyone reading had a lovely week, and have another good one coming up!

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Five Frugal Things 9/15/2017

  1. I received a check for $227.52 for my jury duty (daily pay plus round-trip mileage). It went straight into our travel savings. We are on track to add nearly $1400 to our savings this month!
  2. Rather than ordering a new cap and gown for her graduation next year, YaYu will reuse WenYu’s from two years ago, and only order the stole and tassel, saving $28. She will also wear the white dress and shoes WenYu wore at her graduation. No one sees the dress, and YaYu will change right after the ceremony to go to her grad night celebration.
  3. We paid early for YaYu’s grad night event and saved $25 off the regular price.
  4. I ordered another $25 Amazon gift card “on sale” for 2200 Swagbucks versus 2500. I bought one last month as well, so that’s 600 Swagbucks to put toward other things (like Southwest Airlines gift cards).
  5. We put $12.76 into the change/$1 bill jar: $3.00 left over from the farmers’ market, and $9.76 change back from the cable bill.

What frugal wins did you have this week?

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#Kauai: Beach Gear

I can never get enough of this view.

Going to the beach – it’s what you do in Hawai’i. Whether you were born and raised here, are a transplant, or just visiting, going to the beach is how most people spend their free time. And why not? The beaches here are gorgeous, with clear blue water topped with just as blue skies, warm, inviting water, wonderful cooling breezes, large expanses of sand where you can relax, and a horizon view without compare.

As an inveterate people water though, I’ve been fascinated by what people bring with them to the beach, or in some cases, don’t bring.

Some people come with nothing more than a towel (and some don’t even bring that – they just sit in the sand). Others step it up a bit and bring along a towel and a chair, maybe a book. And of course surfers bring their boards, but they’re not up on the beach all that much. They come to the beach to surf, not sunbathe, so you rarely catch them and their boards up on the sand.

Our beach set-up: chairs, umbrella, towels and big cooler bag. Mine is the chair fully in the shade.

Brett and I always joke that we look like tourists when we arrive at the beach: we’ve each got our arms full with two chairs, beach towels, a beach mat for Brett to lay out on, an umbrella, and a big insulated bag with drinks and snacks. We also bring our phones and Kindles, loads of SPF70 sunscreen, and if the girls are along we may bring the boogie board or one of our tube floats. I absolutely have to have the umbrella – I don’t tan, and my fair skin can not be out in the direct sunlight for more than a few moments. We usually see a few other umbrellas up and down the beach, but there aren’t as many as you might expect.

Joy’s well-used chaise longue at Anini Beach.

My good friend Joy and her husband Les live up on the north shore, and within walking distance of Anini Beach. Anini has a shallower stretch of sand than Kealia Beach, where we usually go, and has trees where Les can hang a hammock. They also sometimes pitch a tent to protect themselves from the wind. Joy doesn’t mess around when it comes to her beach chair – she keeps it simple with a lightweight folding chaise longue so she can stretch out and relax. As the water at Anini is inside a protected reef, Joy and Les also keep a kayak in the back of their truck, and often bring that down to the beach so they can paddle around and check out the sea life, which often includes giant sea turtles.

Les gets the hammock set up – Anini has trees near the beach that make this work.

Locals often kick it up several notches when they go to the beach. They don’t just drop by for a couple of hours, they set up housekeeping! Cars are parked at the very end of the parking area, or even right on the beach, so they can tailgate. Especially on the weekends you can often see several large 10′ x 10′ shade canopies set up in a row on the beach, covering folding tables with cookers, coolers, chairs and other accoutrement needed for a long day’s stay where extended families and friends gather. When the sun goes down, the tents go down as well and bonfires are lit. It’s very impressive!

Locals gather for a bonfire and tailgate party on the beach in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

I’ve heard a few times of people’s things being stolen at the beach, especially when they leave their gear on the sand and head down into the water, but I’ve personally never seen it happen, or even seen strangers go near someone else’s stuff. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I haven’t seen it here. I know cars get broken into, but that’s when people leave expensive items or luggage in full view in their cars, marking them immediately at tourists. A little care goes a long way.

I sometimes wonder if anyone has ever done an anthropological study of what people bring with them to the beach here. I personally find it fascinating, how some can do with so little and others bring so much. It just goes to show there’s no “right way” or “cool way” to do the beach in Hawai’i. It’s there for anyone to enjoy, however they want.

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This Week’s Menu: Cucumber Salads

Cucumber & Dill Salad – I love the look of red onion with the cucumbers.

If you’ve been reading our weekly menus for a while, you’ve probably noticed that cucumbers show up A LOT, either on their own or in salads. Not only are they one of our favorite vegetables, but the cucumbers we buy at the farmers’ market are unlike any we’ve eaten elsewhere. They’re always sweet (you can eat the peel), crispy, and very, very delicious. We usually buy at least three cucumbers every week at the market, and they’re available year-round.

Sometimes all I do is cut them up and we have them plain with dinner, but other times I’ll make them into a salad. The easiest salad to pull together is one we call Japanese Cucumber Salad. Sliced cucumbers are tossed with thinly sliced onion, rice vinegar, a little dark sesame oil, salt, pepper and allowed to marinate for at least a half hour before eating.

Japanese cucumbers are the variety most often found at the farmers’ market.

Another favorite salad along this theme is this one from Mavis at 100 Dollars A Month: Cucumber and Dill Salad. This is another easy salad to whip up before dinner and goes well with savory foods, grilled chicken or sausage. There’s usually none of this left over, but I made it once when our son was visiting and his comment was that I had ruined a perfectly good bowl of cucumbers with the addition of the dill (not his favorite flavor). Wilted Cucumber Salad is another favorite, and has a tangy sweet & sour taste, but it needs to be prepared earlier in the day if we’re going to have it with our dinner because the pickles not only need to wilt but have time to chill. These cucumbers basically become pickles, and besides eating them as a salad, we also like to tuck them into sandwiches. I actually use the recipe from Molly Katzen’s Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook, but the one I’ve linked to is very close (and without the dill).

One salad we’re not eating these days is cucumbers mixed with sour cream, a little vinegar and salt & pepper. It’s one of my all-time favorites, but with Brett allergic to dairy, and YaYu lactose intolerant, sour cream doesn’t come into the house any more.

Anyway, here’s what we’re having this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Grilled cheeseburgers; onion rings (sadly no roll or onion rings for me)
  • Wednesday: Grilled chicken & vegetable kabobs; pilaf (I’m skipping the pilaf)
  • Thursday: Asian-flavored pulled pork sandwiches; cucumbers (no sandwich roll for me)
  • Friday: Leftovers for Brett and me (YaYu will be at the team spaghetti dinner, carbing up)
  • Saturday: Grilled Polish sausages; roasted cabbage; cucumber & dill salad
  • Sunday: Scotch eggs; fruit; toast for Brett & YaYu
  • Monday: Noodles with pork sauce; cucumbers (zoodles for me)

Cucumbers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and ginger are the only ‘must buys’ at the farmers’ market this week; otherwise, we’ll buy whatever looks good!

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Even More Clues!

We are not going to Iceland.

Back in May, I posted the following clues about our upcoming Big Mystery Adventure™, which will be beginning in less than a year (!!):

  • We will be leaving right after we take YaYu to college in 2018. Depending on what school she ends up attending, that could be in either August or September.
  • We will be taking at least four plane flights after we leave YaYu.
  • The trip will cost more than $7000, which is our travel  savings goal for this year. We haven’t set a firm goal for next year but will be saving all we can before departing.

There are other clues from previous posts in the blog:

  • We will be needing large suitcases versus traveling with carry-on only.
  • We will be transitioning seasons.
  • The word BIG is in the name.

But it’s time for a few more clues:

  • We’ll be traveling for more than a couple of months.
  • We’ll be bringing our passports.
  • We’ll be visiting family.
  • Our lodging will primarily be Airbnb rentals.
  • We’re taking one organized tour.
  • We’re taking one scheduled railway excursion.
  • Don’t forget the word BIG!

We still can’t reserve flights or lodgings until we know where and when YaYu will be going to college, but it’s looking more and more like we’ll be beginning our adventure in late August of next year. The itinerary is pretty much solid now – we just may need to wiggle some dates once we know when the journey will begin.

I’m ready to reveal all now, but Brett wants to hold back and make sure a couple of things are firmly in place first, so I will bow to his wishes and stick with our plan to tell all after the first of the year.

In the meantime, any guesses?

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Sunday Afternoon 9/10/2017

The Eagle Creek fire burns out of control outside of the town of Cascade Locks on the Columbia River.

Out of control fires. Hurricanes. Major earthquakes. It seems like the earth is very, very angry right now, and I keep wondering, what’s going to happen next? Although our eyes are currently on Irma as she churns her way up Florida, and our thoughts and prayers with everyone hunkered down there, the fires in the Columbia Gorge, just outside of Portland, have been the most painful to follow this past week. We spent many happy times in the Gorge, visiting the many waterfalls, hiking, taking in the glorious views, dining at the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge (which was thankfully spared), so to see the pictures of what much of it looks like now has hit us hard. It’s even more difficult to comprehend because all the destruction was caused by the completely thoughtless, careless actions of one teenage boy, who thought it would be fun to light firecrackers and throw them down into the (dry) forest off the trail.

A hiking trail through a formerly lush wooded area of the Columbia Gorge. When the rains start later in the fall, massive landslides are expected.

We’ve had a fairly nice week here though with mostly cooler temperatures, although last Wednesday was as hot as ever. Kaua’i has been having much warmer weather this year than in the past, and a much drier summer. There haven’t been any temperature records broken, but more consecutive days at the high temperatures which is why it feels hotter than previous summers.

We seem to back into the swing of things here as we get into the school year, although we are already seeing YaYu’s hand stretched out for things required for graduation and such. We just paid for her senior pictures (flat rate for everyone) and we have her grad night celebration fee coming up soon as well. We’ve also had to buy her cross country team shirt, and there have been a few more things. I complain about it all, but it really is much, much less than we had to pay for all of this back in Portland. Meiling and WenYu are settling in for their school years as well. Meiling has moved into her new apartment, and WenYu and her roommate got a nice, big room this year versus the cozy one they had last year (no lake view though). WenYu got a job working part-time at the dining hall in her dormitory. Finally, my son and family moved into a new condo at the end of last month – they wanted to live closer to our grandson’s school (he just started first grade at an international school), and this location is also next to a big park so he can get outside more. The condo is a bit bigger than their last one, and has a traditional tatami room! They’re still unpacking and getting settled, and both Brett and I looking forward to seeing pictures when they’re done.

Somebody loves her new house (and she’s a climber!)

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Mother Daughter Me: A Memoir mid-week, but had nothing on my hold list come available so I am rereading Your Keys, Our House by Michael and Debbie Campbell, the Senior Nomads. There’s so much good information in this book, and I’m already picking up things I missed the first time. Michael and Debbie, by the way, just began a 10-week internship with AirBNB in San Francisco!
  • Listening to: I’m enjoying another quiet morning here at Casa Aloha. There’s a lovely breeze outside, and lots of birds making noise – thankfully none are chickens. The weekly laundry will be starting soon though, and there will go the quiet..
  • Watching: Tonight Brett and I will be watching the last episode of Endeavour – such a great series – but otherwise we watched Wolf Hall on Amazon about Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. The Tudor period has never been all that interesting to me, but the show was superb. Is there anything Damien Lewis is in that isn’t top quality? We just started watching the series Catastrophe on Amazon and are enjoying it so far. I binge watched Master of None on Netflix, starring Asiz Anasi, and loved every episode and wish there were more!
  • Cooking/baking: We’re having one of our favorites tonight: Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs, along with steamed rice for Brett and YaYu and cucumbers for all of us. I baked a triple chocolate bunds cake this morning by request.

    We had the beach to ourselves on Tuesday . . .

  • Happy I accomplished this week: Brett and I fulfilled our goal of going to the beach twice – both times were delightful and a nice break from the heat. Brett took the car in for its semi-annual service, so that’s done until next year. I did my language study every day, made my daily water intake goal every day (and then some), and rode my exercise bike five miles every day except Wednesday (it was just too hot, even in the evening). I Can’t wait to get back to riding more, but it’s just going to have to cool down some before that happens.

    . . . and on Thursday (the ocean was much rougher that day).

  • Looking forward to next week: There’s nothing on the calendar for us so we’re hoping to get back to the beach another couple of times. It’s so relaxing there, and with the summer tourists gone we practically have the whole place to ourselves.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu retook her ACT test yesterday morning and feels like she did a little better. She was miserably sick when she took the test last spring (running a fever, couldn’t concentrate, came home and went to bed for two full days, etc.) so fingers are crossed for a better score this time. Getting that first Southwest gift card was a big accomplishment, and will help with travel expenses when we begin the Big Mystery Adventure.™ My goal is to earn at least three more before the end of next summer.

    Fire creeps down the slope behind the Multnomah Falls Lodge. A whole crew sucessfully worked to save the Lodge from burning.

  • Grateful for: Firefghters and search and rescue crews did a fantastic job in Oregon of getting people living in the fire zone evacuated, and keeping homes and other landmarks, like the historic Multnomah Falls Lodge, safe from burning. It’s going to take a while for the Gorge to heal, but I’m so very thankful no lives or homes were lost.
  • Bonus question: Have you ever been through a hurricane? Yes! We lived in Key West in the late 1980s, and were there for Floyd in 1987, a Category 1 storm. Brett was one of the hurricane readiness coordinators for NAS Key West, and helped prepared the evacuation shelters, among other jobs. Thankfully we didn’t end up needing to evacuate, but it was still a frightening experience to go through, so I can only imagine how terrifying a Category 4 storm is, and the damage it has caused. We went through two Category 3 typhoons in Japan. Japan’s forecasting for the storms was nothing short of amazing. If they said the storm would arrive at 9:04, it arrived at 9:04, on the nose. I remember one of the storms literally stripping all the leaves from the trees, among other damage it caused, and then seeing the trees budding out again and the cherry blossoms blooming a second time in the summer – very weird. The most difficult part of the storms to go through for me was the sound of the howling wind – it was relentless, like banshees shrieking, whether it was Floyd or one of the typhoons in Japan. We also experienced two tornados when we were stationed at NAS Memphis. Again, very scary, but thankfully no damage to where we lived (there was damage nearby though). I am praying and thinking all good thoughts for everyone in Florida as Irma passes through.

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

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Five Frugal Things 9/8/2017

  1. I earned 822 bonus points last month from Swagbucks, close to another $10. I make sure I at least get the first goal every day, the second goal if I can, and do other small tasks every day that will increase my bonus at the end of each month.
  2. I redeemed some of my Swagbucks stash for a $250 Southwest Airlines gift card, which will go towards Big Mystery Adventure™ travel expenses.
  3. YaYu took leftovers for her lunch every day this week.
  4. We drank lots of filtered water and sun tea, found creative ways to use odds and ends in the refrigerator and pantry,  combined trips to save gas (and bought gas at Costco, the lowest price on the island), didn’t throw away any food and ate all the leftovers, dried most of our laundry outside, and did all sorts of other small but important things that help us save.
  5. We put $5.87 into the change/$1 bill jar this week: $3.00 left over from the farmers’ market, and $2.87 from recycling.

What frugal wins did you have this week?

#Kaua’i: Kaua’i Mini Golf

Set inside a beautiful botanical garden on Kaua’i north shore, inside the Anaina Hou Community Park, is the challenging but fun 18-hole Kaua’i Mini-Golf Course. Playing a round there can also be a learning experience because as you play you move through not only different types of garden areas, but also different eras of Hawaiian and Kaua’i history.

There were many cool and shady areas throughout the course . . .

. . . and the landscaping was gorgeous.

On the last Sunday of each month the course is free for kamaaina (locals), so in late July Brett, WenYu, YaYu and headed headed north to Kilauea to check it out. I was a bit skeptical about the whole thing, but ended up having a very fun time. Because the course is inside a botanical park, it was a cool way to spend an other wise HOT afternoon. This free day was the long-time policy of the course’s creator as a way of giving back to the community, and the current owners have honored the founder’s wishes that Kamaaina Day continue each month (he passed away a few years ago). Visitors to the island are also allowed to play on the last Sunday, but are asked to wait until spots open up between kamaaina groups.

Brett prepares to tee off – that’s a sand trap on top of the bridge in front, and there’s a hole off to the left that can put the ball into the water underneath.

Another hole that looks easy but wasn’t.

One of the many beautiful water traps – three of the four of us had to retrieve our balls from this pond.

The course looks deceptively simple at first, but it’s actually quite challenging. There are no spinning windmills or dinosaurs to drive your ball through, but besides the lush landscaping there are loads of sand traps and water features. Nets are provided at many holes so that you can retrieve your ball from the water traps (the balls float). We gave up counting after a while how many times our balls went into the water, but took our extra strokes and played on.

Signs detailing aspects of Hawaiian history are placed throughout the course.

One of the many signs with botanical information.

One of the best features in the park are the signs informing guests about the different plants found throughout the course, and there are also signs at several holes about different parts of Hawaiian history, beginning with the earliest arrivals to the islands. We’re those people who stop to read the signs, so we learned a lot!

The snack bar double as the beginning and ending point for the course.

There is a terrific snack bar at the end of the course, and food is cooked to order. The girls proclaimed the loco moco they ordered and shared to be the best on the island.

The waterfall at the 18th hole

YaYu gets ready to tee off at the 18th hole – she was a skilled golfer

Brett sinks his last putt at the 18th hole – he had the lowest score of the day.

Brett and YaYu turned out to be skilled mini-golf players; Wen Yu and I, not so much. But we all agreed it was worth the trip north, and a fun activity we would recommend to any visitor to the island. The Anaina Hou Park, where the course is located, is also home to the Wai’koa Loop Trail, Banana Joe’s market (and those very tasty banana frosties), and the Kaua’i chocolate tour.

Cost for playing the course is $18.50 for adults, $15 for 11-17 year olds, $11 for 5-10 year old. Under four years is free. Seniors, military and Hawaii residents receive a discount with ID, and Kaua’i residents can play for free on the last Sunday of the month.

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