This Week’s Menu: It’s Shopping Week! (thank goodness)

YaYu loves to make (and eat) egg drop soup!

Shopping week! Thank goodness too – other than having several protein choices on hand, we are out of almost everything else needed to make a meal. I actually had a little trouble coming up with what to have for dinner tonight because there is no produce left in the house – we finished all of that up over the weekend and yesterday. For some reason we forgot to buy more zucchini at the farmers’ market last week, so tonight it’s just spaghetti with marinara and meatballs, and bread for YaYu and Brett. Does marinara count as a vegetable?

The egg foo yung, pad thai and Chinese three-color salad will use up our monthly Costco roast chicken. I also will be using some of it to make chicken salad for sandwiches, or in my case, to eat with tomatoes. I add diced celery, sliced green onion, and slivered almonds to my chicken salad, and blend with a curry mayonnaise. YaYu likes the almonds left out, and blended with sriracha mayonnaise. To each his own.

Asian dishes still seem to be dominating this week’s menu:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Spaghetti with meatballs; garlic bread (just meatballs and sauce for me)
  • Wednesday: Mabo dofu; steamed rice; cucumbers (no rice for me)
  • Thursday: Egg drop soup; egg foo yung; steamed rice (no rice for me)
  • Friday: Leftovers (track finals)
  • Saturday: Pad Thai with chicken; cucumber salad (not sure what I’ll have)
  • Sunday: Chinese three-color salad (hiyashi chuka) with chicken (salad toppings only for me)
  • Monday: Grilled fish tacos with mango salsa; yellow rice (no rice or tortillas for me)

Besides picking up mung bean sprouts at the farmers’ market, we’ll also need cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and a jalapeño pepper, as well as bananas and papayas. Mangoes are showing up at the market now, but they’re still too expensive. We have a bag of frozen mango chunks that I can use to make Friday night’s salsa.

WenYu will be home before our next Big Shop, so some of her favorites (i.e. manapua) are on the list this month. If it’s not on the list, we don’t buy it.

Fingers are crossed that we come in under budget with our monthly big shop!

Let’s Go Somewhere

Brett and I are in the beginning stages of planning for next year’s BIG Mystery Adventure,™ even though our departure date is months away, more than a year really. Right now we’re primarily in saving mode, as well as losing-weight-and-getting-in-shape mode, but we’ve got a basic itinerary in place, and I’ve begun the research process, which of course has me in my happy place. As always, my ultimate goal will be to put a solid foundation in place for our trip without choreographing every minute we’re on the road, all while staying within our budget.

The steps the planning is taking are the ones we’ve honed over the years:

  1. Where do we want to go? You might think it’s easy to pick a travel destination, but not always. There are lots of places Brett and I want to visit, in the U.S. and all over the world, and we have our family in Japan that we want to see (fairly) regularly. So, we usually start with a list of places to go, talk about them, both pros and cons, and then whittle down the list until we have a destination. Sometimes we can agree and decide quickly, other times it takes us a while longer. Then, once we know where we want to go, and when, we can start figuring out how much we need to save. We always come up with a Plan B too.
  2. How much will it cost to get there (and back)? The next step is to start figuring out how much it will cost us to get to our destination. Even if a trip is more than a year away, I start checking out airfares to get a general idea of what I can expect in the way of prices. I also spend a bit of time reviewing airlines to make sure they have a good reputation for service and safety. Right now there’s just about no amount of savings that would get me to book with United (which I’ve always tried to avoid anyway). If possible, we always try to add an additional amount to our budget to upgrade seats.
  3. How much will it cost to stay there? At the same time I’m looking at transportation, I start thinking about lodging. Do we want to stay in a hotel? A B&B? An Airbnb or VRBO rental? Where we’ll stay will depend on how long we’ll be at a particular location, or whether we’ll be moving around. It usually costs much less to stay at a vacation rental than paying for a hotel room every night, but sometimes the hotel amenities and location can make it worth it to pay more. The New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo was more affordable, and in a better location for us than a Tokyo Airbnb, and a stay at the El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon had been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, so that’s where I booked for our trip there last year. The El Tovar cost more than other lodging there, but was worth every penny for the location and the amenities. I love looking through Airbnb though, imagining what it would be like to stay in the different homes.
  4. How much will it cost to eat while we’re there? This is one of the most difficult parts of planning, at least when it comes to figuring out our budget. Will we be able to prepare some meals on our own or will we need to have all of them prepared for us? Are there menus we can check ahead of time? Restaurants and dishes we might want to try while we’re at our destination are included in this part of the planning, and help us eventually come up with a reasonable daily amount for meals.
  5. What do we want to do while we’re there? This is an area of the planning where Brett and I work together. We have different interests, but plan together what to do while we’re someplace. Are there unique or special activities at our destination (like our mule ride at the Grand Canyon)? Are there must-see sights or museums? Are there activities we might want to do on our own or will we do everything together? Are there tours we might want to take? Do we need to make plans for our “down time” or does it look like we will head to our lodging every evening and fall right into bed? We read guidebooks, travelogues and blogs, and eventually come up with a list of things we might want to see and do while we’re at our destination (as well as what they might cost, if anything).
  6. How will we get around at our destination? All things considered, this part of the planning is fairly easy, but still needs to be figured out for the budget. Will we need a rental car? For how long? The Costco Travel site has car rental prices a fairly long way into the future so that I can get an idea of how much we will need to set aside for that expense. For some places, Japan for example, we have to get ourselves from the airport to our lodging by train or bus, but will otherwise be walking or using public transportation, and those expenses need to be considered as well. There are loads of sites now where you can find out exactly how much public transportation will cost, no matter where you’re going (or if there even is any public transportation).

Also, I always try to remember to:

  • Stay flexible, and adjust plans as necessary. Our first choice isn’t always the best choice, and we don’t have to see or try to do everything.
  • Read and find out as much as I can about our destination. Knowledge is power.
  • Keep looking for ways to save while we’re there.
  • Figure out exactly what we will need. This includes luggage, clothing and shoes, camera, and electronics, as well as whether or not we’ll need travel insurance, how we’ll access funds while we’re on the road, and how we’ll communicate with other family members.

Planning travel can be exciting, but also can feel overwhelming at times. I know though that eventually everything falls into place, and a good foundation, along with knowledge about our destination and a sense of adventure, means we’re going to have a terrific trip!

Sunday Afternoon 4/23/2017

It was overcast when we arrived, but still lovely – this is one of the views from our balcony.

Brett and I enjoyed a wonderful, romantic getaway yesterday, at a little hotel right down the hill from our house. The hotel was lovely, dinner was fabulous, and the views were sublime. More details will be coming up later this week!

The view while we had coffee on the balcony this morning

This past week we had to once again deal with someone who knows nothing about adoption and what it means. We submitted the paperwork for YaYu’s China visa earlier in the week – it was easy, but in YaYu’s case, because she was a Chinese citizen until age five she has to put her former Chinese name on the form and submit the Chinese passport she was given for immigration to the U.S. (YaYu immediately became a U.S. citizen when we arrived back on U.S. soil). Again, no problem – we’ve had to do this each time we’ve applied for a Chinese visa for the girls. The Chinese passport clearly states her birth date as does her U.S. passport. Two days after we sent off the application, Brett got a call from the travel agent who is handling the visas: “We need copies of your and your wife’s passports. And a copy of your daughter’s birth certificate. China has a new policy this year.” Um, no they don’t – we have read all the regulations, especially for minors – the birth certificate and parents’ passports are required for children 16 and younger, but YaYu is 17. But, we scanned them and sent them off. Brett said after he hung up that the next thing would be the agent calling and asking for YaYu’s adoption paperwork, and sure enough, a couple of hours later we got another call from the agent telling us that we needed to submit all of YaYu’s adoption paperwork. I took the phone and informed the agent that no, we did NOT have to submit that paperwork, that our three adopted daughters have gone to China on more than five occasions and we have never needed to submit adoption paperwork. “Oh, it’s a new regulation.” No, it’s not – you just don’t get adoption. YaYu got a Chinese visa two years ago – check her passport – and she did not have to submit adoption paperwork. China knows all about adoption. “Oh. I see, she did already get a visa. Sorry.” I wanted to reach through the phone and grab this woman by the throat and tell her that’s what adoption is all about – it’s done. We don’t have to “prove” to anyone anymore that YaYu is our daughter. YaYu has a valid U.S. passport, the same last name as us, etc. – that’s all you need to know. We had to go through something similar back in Portland, when we applied to renew Meiling’s and WenYu’s passports. According to the clerk that handled their applications, their previous U.S. passports were apparently not proof of their citizenship like they are for everyone else; we had to re-submit their certificates of citizenship. If they had been white and adopted (or not), no problem, no questions asked. Asian and adopted? Please prove again that they’re really citizens. Grrrrrr.

On a more upbeat note, my clothes have been feeling much looser lately, so this last week I tried on several pairs of the size small pants that I have been holding on to for the past 3+ years and I got most of them on, more easily than I imagined in some cases. They’re still tight, but the fact that I could pull them up and button them is a BIG deal and I’m more motivated than ever be able to wear them again.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m still reading My Year of Meats. Such a good book – I’m glad I decided to reread it. I’ve been reading while I ride my bike every day all this past week – why I didn’t think of this earlier I don’t know.
  • Listening to: The wind was howling this morning down at the beach, the remnant of a big storm that passed over us last night, but there’s only a light breeze up here at our house, and it’s very quiet. There are still baby chicks peeping out in the yard, songbirds are singing, and the washing machine is already going.
  • Watching: Brett and I finished Season 1 of This is Us last week, and are already excited about next season. We’re going to start a three-part documentary on Netflix tonight: Five Came Back, about the movie makers and producers, including John Huston, Frank Capra and William Wilder, who filmed World War II, often at great danger to themselves. Up on deck after that is Escape To the Country, about country homes in England. We’ve heard a lot about it and it sounds like something we’ll enjoy. For our Friday night movie we watched Hidden Figures, which was excellent.
  • Cooking/baking: Brett and I had the complementary continental breakfast at our hotel this morning – I had fruit, and Brett enjoyed yogurt, granola, and a pastry. YaYu won’t get home from Oahu until this evening, but Asian week continues with a late dinner of Chinese scrambled eggs and tomatoes. We bought some beautiful tomatoes at the market this past week, so we’re looking forward to it: Chinese comfort food!
  • Happy I accomplished last week: Brett and I finished up the itinerary for next year’s BIG Mystery Adventure™, and I’ve been working on a basic idea of prices, so we’re starting to get an idea of how much we have to save, which is what we’ll be focusing on for the next several months. I earned the second goal on Swagbucks every day this past week which will add at least an additional 150 bucks to add to my bonus total for the month. The last Japan Giveaway prize was sent off on Friday morning. I did all of my daily bike rides (and increased the tension this past week, so it’s a little harder) except for yesterday evening, but Brett and I took a 30 minute walk on the beach path at dusk yesterday. I drank all of my daily glasses of water and then some, and studied Portuguese every day.
  • Looking forward to next week: It’s not especially exciting, but Brett and I will be doing our big monthly Costco shop on Thursday, and will go to Big Save on Wednesday. We usually do the shop on a Wednesday, but Costco’s sale prices begin on Thursday this month so we swapped the days. I’m going to take another small loaf of the raisin bread we brought home from Japan out of the freezer later today, and will have a toasted slice with a little butter, along with some fruit, tomorrow morning for breakfast. The bread is so good, and it’s my one carb indulgence.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu is having a great time at her convention, which makes me happy because she worked so hard to get herself there. She had her last track meet last week, and although she didn’t make the finals (they’ll be held this coming Friday) she had a good solid season, and improved from last year. She also did very well at tennis, especially since it was her first time to ever play the game. We put $8.00 into the change/$1 bill jar.
  • Grateful for: A few months ago Brett took over the chore of washing the evening dishes. I have been feeling very thankful lately that he does this now. The job never took me very long, and yet it was the chore that dragged on me the most. I had no idea that such a little change would make such a big difference to me, but sometimes it really is the little things.

    The Helms bakery truck – the big wooden drawers in back were filled with donuts, cookies and fresh-baked breads and rolls. A big glazed or jelly-filled donut was just five cents.

  • Bonus question: What catches your eye at a bakery? It really depends on what time of day I go. I love lemon pie or lemon tarts, so that’s always the first thing I look for if I’m at a bakery in the afternoon. In the morning I prefer something like a scone (cranberry-orange is my favorite) or a fruit-filled danish, or anything not too sweet. One thing I don’t really care for with bakery items is chocolate. Not sure why, because I like chocolate, but it just doesn’t appeal to me as much as something with fruit. I also love a good donut, especially a raspberry jelly-filled one. I’m pretty particular though – I grew up eating the absolute best glazed and jelly-filled donuts ever, from the Helms bakery, whose truck came to our street once a week, and were also parked behind the school one other day. Krispy Kreme doesn’t even come close. Unfortunately, bakeries aren’t really happening for me these days – can’t have the carbs. Sad!

That’s a wrap for this week. How was your week? What did you accomplish, and what are you looking forward to? What good things happened for you?

Five Frugal Things 4/21/2017

It was another frugal week here at Casa Aloha:

  1. We used some of our Hawaiian Airlines mileage stockpile this last week to book WenYu’s ticket from Honolulu to Kaua’i in May. Total out-of-pocket cost for her flight: $5.60 (the taxes).
  2. As usual, we washed only three loads of clothes this week, and hung many of them out in the sun to dry. We wash in cold water, except for the white load when we use the ‘Eco-warm’ setting (our towels are white, so they’re in this load).
  3. YaYu needed a long dress for one event at the Key Club convention this weekend, and the dress code is fairly strict. She spent several hours looking online for something both appropriate and affordable, but ended up buying a simple black dress and ‘gold’ necklace at Ross this past weekend for just $10.88! A friend will loan her a pair of shoes to complete her outfit.
  4. Brett and I have decided that rather than ordering off the regular dinner menu at the restaurant tomorrow evening, we’ll order three or four small plates instead and share those – less money, fewer calories.
  5. We were very close to having a no-spend week: Other than our trip to the farmers’ market (money already set aside), the only other spending was for the tax on WenYu’s flight, and $8.80 to send YaYu’s Chinese visa application over to Oahu via FedEx. Necessities only!

What frugal wins did you have this past week?

We Have a Winner! Japan Giveaway #3

The randomly chosen winner (I used Random.Org) of the Ultimate KitKat Tasting Experience is Vivian – congratulations!! Coincidently, she was also the only one to correctly guess my favorite KitKat flavor: rum raisin (matcha is my second favorite, followed by raspberry). 

Top Row: Shinshu Apple, Japanese Strawberry, Dark Chocolate, Rum Raisin, Okinawan Sweet Potato

Middle Row: Matcha (green tea), Wasabi, Cherry Blossom-Green Tea, Sake, Roasted Tea

Bottom Row: Strawberry Cheesecake, Melon, Raspberry

I want to thank everyone once again so much for all the lovely and informative comments I received during the past three weeks, and for so enthusiastically supporting the giveaways. I was amazed by the response to all three Giveaways: there were over 50 entries for the bird cookies, 71 for the kitchen set, and this last one had 84 entries – that’s a lot for my little blog. I have said it before and I’ll say it again; I have the best readers!

This Week’s Menu: A Short(er) Week

Oyakodon

Well, a week still has seven days, but this is going to be a shorter week for me, cooking-wise. YaYu has her penultimate track meet of the season on Thursday, and then she leaves on Friday afternoon for the big Key Club leadership convention on Oahu. Our Friday night dinner, meatball subs, is super easy to prepare, and on Saturday evening Brett and I are taking our local anniversary staycation, and will be having dinner out that night (the restaurant is just a short walk from our hotel). So, there won’t be as many meals to prepare. Most meals require stovetop cooking, but if it gets hot again I’ll have YaYu step in and do some of the cooking.

We’re also getting close to our monthly Costco big shop next week. We’re in better shape than we usually are at this point in the month with what we have on hand. I’m not quite sure how or why that happened, but I still have a pretty full freezer and pantry to shop from when it comes to meal planning.

Every dish on the menu this week, at least when YaYu is home, is Asian – or as I like to call it, Asian-y – which will make her happy. I’ve got Thai, Japanese, and Chinese cuisines represented. Brett asked me the other day though if we could please have less Asian food once YaYu goes off to college! He likes Asian food, all kinds, and all the dishes I’m preparing this week, but said he’d prefer other things (I try, honest!). Hopefully the meatball sub on Friday evening and dinner out on Saturday will help break things up for him.

  • Tuesday (this evening): Tofu & broccoli in spicy peanut sauce; steamed rice (no rice for me)
  • Wednesday: Oyakodon; cucumber salad (no rice for me)
  • Thursday: Leftovers (track meet)
  • Friday: Meatball subs (just meatballs and sauce for me); a salad for Brett
  • Saturday: Anniversary dinner at Sam’s Ocean View
  • Sunday evening: Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs; steamed rice; cucumbers (no rice for me)
  • Monday: Noodles with pork sauce; sautéed bok choy (no noodles for me)

We’ll just need cucumbers, tomatoes and bok choy this week from the farmers’ market. I bought broccoli last week, and may buy more if I see it again, and we’ll also be picking up more papayas and bananas as well.

Build a Better Staycation

Staycation (noun, informal): a vacation spent in one’s home country or state rather than abroad, or one spent at home, possibly involving day trips to local attractions.

For many, just the word staycation sounds dull, dull, dull. While I personally wouldn’t put a vacation in your home country in the staycation category, I also believe that staycations can be anything but dull. When a week at a tropical resort or a cross-country road trip or a visit overseas is unaffordable, there are still plenty of ways to make a staying close to home something more than lawn chairs in the backyard.

There are basically three ways to staycation:

  1. Stay at home.
  2. Stay someplace in your community, overnight or even for a couple of days if possible.
  3. Visit/stay somewhere within your state, or within a day’s driving distance of your house.

None of the above is any worse or better than the others, and how you choose to staycation will depend on your budget or what’s available locally.

It’s still a staycation if you and your family or spouse or whoever get in the car and drive over to someplace different in the state or even in the next state over. All those camping trips we took in Oregon for so many years count as staycations. We loaded up our car, headed south for four hours, and for very little money our family was in a new and different environment, with different things to see, do and eat. Every one of those trips was a welcome respite from our usual routine. Same for the Thanksgiving weekends we sometimes spent out on the Oregon coast at family friendly lodges, or at a friend’s beach house. Even Brett and my overnight stays at fancy hotels that we sometimes did for our anniversaries counted as staycations.

One of our favorite staycation memories involved a Portland B&B that Brett and I visited for a quick getaway when our son was in high school. It was affordable, but close enough that we could get home quickly if our son needed anything. The room Brett and I reserved was lovely, and had a working fireplace. The owner brought us a compressed log, and told us it would burn out in a couple of hours or less. So, we lit what we thought would be a short, cozy little fire but the log would not go out. We spent most of the night wide awake, watching shadows from the flames flicker and dance across the ceiling of our room. We got a lovely surprise in the morning though when we went down for breakfast: our favorite antique dealer in Japan just happened to be visiting Portland and just happened to be staying at the same B&B, so along with an amazing breakfast we got to have a lovely catch-up and chat with him. All our bad feelings about the ever-burning log were (almost) erased.

If you can’t get away or travel for a vacation, there are lots of ways to make even a vacation at home special, fun and even memorable. Here are some ideas for building a better staycation, from Real Simple magazine:

  • Tune out the outside world: Stop the paper, the mail, don’t read email, and don’t check the news. In fact, turn off your computer and put it away if you can. Turn off the ringer on your phone, and pick one time each day to check your calls. Don’t return calls from anyone but family. Hide all the alarm clocks. Be on vacation.
  • Have someone else do it: Order out or go out for dinner every evening, even if it’s just for burgers or pizza. If you’re the family cook, tell the family you’re on vacation for the week, and make sure there are easy options for everyone to grab for breakfast and lunch, or have other family members do the cooking and clean-up. Hire someone to come in for a day and clean your house. Set up childcare or overnight swaps with friends or neighbors so that adults get some “alone time” (they watch your kids while you’re on vacation, you watch theirs later).
  • Create a vacation mood: This can be as simple as putting out Dollar Store tea lights in your backyard in the evening during the summer, or playing “vacation” music, maybe from a different country or culture, or a different style of music than you typically listen to (i.e. beach or country music). Throw away your usual schedule – do things when you feel like it, including getting up in the morning.
  • Have fun: Create your own film festival during your time off. Set up a tent in the backyard and camp, or at least let your kids camp for the week. Go on a reading binge. Make one day “Games Day” with your kids, or have a Bathing Suits Only Day in the summer – water balloons or super soakers, anyone? Visit somewhere different in your town every day: amusement or water parks, museums, bakeries, local tours, etc. Try out geocaching.
  • Relax: Give yourself or your spouse a “spa day,” with an aromatherapy soak in your tub, and hydrate yourself all day with cool water flavored with lemon, orange or cucumber. Hire a massage therapist that makes house calls. Create a yoga retreat in your living room one day.
  • Enjoy some luxury hotel amenities: Have someone else deliver you breakfast in bed – you can rotate this service among family members – make sure there’s a flower on the tray. If it’s not too hot, pamper yourself with a plush cotton terry robe. You can buy it new for your staycation, and enjoy it for the rest of year, or even years later. Same for indulging in some high thread-count sheets and pillowcases. Buy some expensive chocolates, and have someone else treat you to “turndown service” (another thing that could be rotated among family members.”

A staycation can be far more than just staying home for a week, even if all you can afford to do is stay home. Just because you can’t hop on a plane, or take a road trip, a vacation at home can be a wonderful, relaxing and memorable experience.

Brett and I will be taking a quick Kaua’i staycation this coming weekend to celebrate our anniversary (which was last month, right after we got home from Japan). We’re looking forward to having some local “down time,” and being able to take advantage of our hotel’s location and amenities, even if it’s just for one night. We’ll also be trying out the restaurant a couple of doors down the highway for the first time, and enjoying its delicious offerings and ocean views.

Sunday Afternoon 4/16/2017

Aren’t these Easter eggs gorgeous? They’re blown eggs covered in Japanese washi paper!

To those of my readers that observe the holiday, I hope you are having a happy and glorious Easter!

I have been sleeping better this week, Brett’s been waking me up every morning (although I did sleep in later on Friday morning), and yesterday I got up before 9:00 on my own. I still think it’s going to take another week or so for things to really get back to normal, but at least things are moving in the right direction, sleep-wise. What a royal pain though.

Nothing but blue skies . . . and heat and humidity

Although today’s weather is sort of cool, it’s been quite hot and humid here all week and has felt more like summer than spring. While I love the sunshine and warm temperatures, I’ve never adjusted to the humidity here. A few of the farmers and some shoppers were commenting on Wednesday, as we waited for the market to open, that with temperatures this hot right now we can probably expect a long, hot (and possibly miserable) summer this year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t happen, but I’m not feeling very optimistic at this point.

I wrote in Friday’s Five Frugal Things post that we had found a better deal on a graphing calculator with Amazon, and cancelled the first order. Well, there turned out to be problems with the second order as well – after two days I checked on it to see what was happening and Amazon hadn’t even charged us for the calculator, let alone shipped it, even though their website claimed it was in stock. This is the first time we have ever had an issue with Amazon, so I was feeling quite angry and discouraged and wondered if the calculator was something we could even find on the island. But, I found it in stock at our local Walmart at the same low price, placed the order and it was ready for pick-up the same day! I never thought I would be happy with Walmart, but here we are.

Don’t forget to keep entering Japan Giveaway #3, for the KitKat tasting experience! The giveaway is open through Wednesday.

Anyway, this afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished The Burglar’s Guide To the City – a very interesting and enjoyable read – and just downloaded My Year of Meats, by Ruth Ozeki. I read and enjoyed it when it first came out in 1998, but it was mentioned again somewhere a week ago or so, and I decided to reread it.
  • Listening to: Little chicks peeping away outside! It’s like all the neighborhood hens had eggs hatch at the same time.
  • Watching: Brett and I are still watching This Is Us – such a good show! It does an exceptional job of tackling adoption issues (like usually there aren’t any), and especially trans-racial adoption. On Friday night we watched Cool Runnings as it was YaYu’s turn to pick the movie and it’s one of her favorites, about the Jamaican bobsled team. I finished the Band of Brothers series (and now have the book on hold at the library), watched the whole Ken Burns National Parks series and have started watching The War, about WWII, at night while I earn Swagbucks.
  • Cooking/baking: It’s Sunday, so that means eggs for dinner! If all the girls were all home we’d have had Eggs a la Goldenrod for breakfast, which was our traditional Easter breakfast, but it was just Brett and I this morning because YaYu attended a sleepover last night – we had our usual oatmeal and yogurt and fruit. Tonight we’re having a zucchini frittata, and fruit. Still no baking: we have plenty of the snacks yet to go that we brought back from Japan.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We’re almost ready to send YaYu’s visa application for her summer trip to China. We have applied for a Chinese visa for either us or the girls five different times now, and each time it’s been different! Brett and I roughed out some more details for our Big Mystery Adventure™ this past week – we’re still a l-o-n-g way from finalizing anything, and are still in major saving mode, but it’s nice to be putting things down on paper and seeing things start to gel. There’s still lots of work to do, but what we got done was pretty exciting! Even though it was very uncomfortable at times because of the weather, I got in all of my daily bike rides (three times a day, for five miles each time), and Brett got in his daily one-hour walk. I also drank all of my water every day and did my 10 minutes of Portuguese study (this past week I learned vocabulary for measurement, both distance and weight, and prepositions).
  • Looking forward to next week: YaYu heads over to Oahu on Friday evening for her big Key Club convention, and on Saturday Brett and I are going on our overnight anniversary getaway! Otherwise it’s a pretty normal week – I’m still hoping we can get to the beach, but YaYu’s schedule has been brutal!
  • Thinking of good things that happened: I’m very happy that we were able to find YaYu a calculator locally, and at a good price. I have been so happy with the response to my Japan Giveaways! I had fun coming up with them, and fun finding items while we were in Japan. I truly mean it when I say I wish I could give something to everyone that entered/enters. My friend Denise sent YaYu two beautiful formal dresses that had belonged to her daughter – one dress fits her perfectly, so she is set for prom (the other would require alterations, so we’re going to try to find someone else who can use it). We put $6.48 into our change/$1 bill jar this week.
  • Grateful for: I am frankly very thankful right now that we are not at war, although it seems to be on the horizon with us dropping big bombs in Afghanistan, playing chicken with North Korea (which threatens South Korea and Japan), and troops in the pipeline for Syria and Somalia. We’re a military family, and we know what going to war means, and it frankly makes me sick to see or hear about pundits and others on TV cheering for or getting excited about bombs and war. It also makes me sick and angry that the current occupant of the White House is still taking golfing trips most weekends down in Florida while all of this is brewing.
  • Bonus question: What’s your favorite thing to have for breakfast? I don’t think I’ve met a breakfast I didn’t like, whether eaten in a restaurant or at home (well, except for ‘restaurant’ pancakes when I was little – they were too sweet and I hated them and the whipped butter that came with them). Breakfast really is my favorite meal of the day. When I lived in San Diego in the early 1970s, there used to be a restaurant in the Mission Bay area that made a sort of Eggs Benedict dish, with an amazing cheese sauce replacing the hollandaise sauce . . . and the cheese sauce contained loads of crab meat. It still is the best breakfast dish I’ve ever had. I doubt the restaurant is even still around, and I don’t even remember the name, but I remember those eggs. Eggs Benedict, in almost any permutation, from classic to made with smoked salmon to other additions is my favorite breakfast. If I see it on a breakfast menu, that’s what I’m having for breakfast in spite of all the carbs and fat!

That’s it for this week! Hope you all had a wonderful week and are looking forward to the one coming up!