This Week’s Menu: So Far, So Good

builtburgerLet me start out by saying that I feel terrific! I can’t believe how much better I feel without starches/carbs in my diet. Seriously, I had no idea the change would be this dramatic, and happen so quickly.

At the end of last year I developed Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and ended up on medication; I have a gastro endoscopy scheduled for next week. The medication made a difference, but I still was suffering at night, once it started to wear off, and the pain often woke me up and kept me up at night. But, while I’m still taking the medication, the nighttime symptoms have completely disappeared! I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep every night since I dropped the carbs (by the way, I have no symptoms for anything more serious than GERD, and the doctor doesn’t think it’s anything more than a condition of aging, but ordered the endoscopy just to make sure).

The best part for me though is that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I’ve been fine going without rice, or bread, or any other starch. Who knew? I think this is a diet adjustment I will have no problems following.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening: All natural beef Polish sausages; sauerkraut; steamed green beans; onion rings (none for me)
  • Wednesday: Mabo nasu made with tofu; steamed rice; sautéed bok choy
  • Thursday: Chicken, pineapple and green pepper skewers with pineapple-mandarin sauce; steamed rice (the recipe calls for fish, but I’m substituting chicken. Also, no rice for me)
  • Friday: Grilled hamburgers; onion rings (no bun or onion rings for me; I’ll have tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots)
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Snacks for dinner: deviled eggs; deli roast beef; cheese & crackers, fresh vegetable tray; fruit (no crackers for me)
  • Monday: Spaghetti with marinara; grilled Italian sausages; sautéed greens; garlic bread (no pasta or bread for me)

There turns out to be more beef than usual for us this week, but that’s temporary. We’ll need to pick up cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, and bok choy and other greens at the farmers’ market this week. Otherwise everything is in the pantry, fridge or freezer.

Not Who We Are

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“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” – Emma Lazarus

On Mondays, I usually write about something related to travel, my favorite subject. Right now that seems like rather a quaint idea, in light of the thousands of people who were caught up in the executive order banning travel from seven Muslim countries in the middle east. I had hoped that this blog could remain free of politics, and going forward I hope I don’t feel the need to write about things like this again. But I cannot stay silent.

The travel ban is still in place, and although federal judges have ordered a stay on the ban in several areas some with visas or green cards are still not being allowed in or being detained. Hundreds of lawyers have volunteered their time to assist the detainees, and other judges have ordered that lawyers have access to those with permanent resident status. Customs officials in some locations however have refused to obey the judges’ orders. Tens of thousands of citizens spontaneously gathered at airports all over the country to protest the ban, and protests are continuing.

Here are just a few examples of how the travel ban affected people trying to enter the United States, although its effects were more far-reaching and devastating than the few examples can provide:

  • A Syrian man, a permanent resident with a green card, was not allowed to re-enter the United States. He is the sole caregiver for his father, who remains in the U.S.
  • A 77-year old grandmother, from Iraq, who has not seen her family here for over four years, was locked up, detained upon her arrival at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport. and sent back to Iraq.
  • An Iranian woman, who has held a green card for the past five years, and had her citizenship interview scheduled in two weeks, was denied entry into the country.
  • Legal permanent residents, returning home after funerals, vacations and study abroad were stopped and questioned about their religion, their views of Donald Trump and denied entry.
  • Interpreters who risked their lives to serve with the U.S. Army in Iraq, and who were promised safe travel to the U.S. were stranded at airports in Iraq; one was held in handcuffs for over 17 hours. Others’ family members were denied entry to reunite with their husbands and fathers.
  • Two of the persons held for hours at O’Hare airport were an 18-month old and a newborn. Both are U.S. citizens.

Does the ban make us safer? Not one of the 9/11 hijackers came from any of the countries that were banned, nor did the Orlando shooter or the San Bernadino shooters. No American has ever been killed by anyone from any of the banned countries. I sure don’t feel any safer because of the ban. In fact, it makes me feel a whole lot less safe than I ever have.

The ban is a disgrace. It is shameful. It is hateful and cruel. It is illegal. It is evil.

I’m still reeling from this action. I did not serve, nor my husband, nor our parents and ancestors to see this happen in our country. I will close with a quote from Dan Rather, written on Saturday:

I still remain optimistic that the vast majority of American people will recoil and speak out at this unwise policy. But whether we like it or not, as the detentions and impediments already springing up make all too real, this is the stated de facto policy of the United States today. Every day that it goes on, every day the chaos, confusion and heartbreak deepens, America loses more pieces of its soul and standing in the world.

Sunday Afternoon 1/29/2017

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Stormy days ahead . . .

Shocked. Horrified. Ashamed. Those are just the tip of the emotions I’ve felt over what’s come from the new administration this past week, especially the immigration ban which began on Friday evening. If you know anything about history (and I do), this is how things started out in Germany in 1933, although it’s happening much more quickly here and now. I am not being hyperbolic.

I said I would never discuss politics on this blog, but this is not who we are. If you care about not seeing our democracy lessoned or destroyed, the ideals of our country shattered, I urge you to to stay alert, and not let yourself be overwhelmed by the waves of change and outrage that seem to be appearing every day. Resistance will mean everything if we want to stay true to who and what we are as Americans, and what we believe our country stands for.

On a more personal note, there has been trouble brewing over my mom’s will and the small amount left in her estate. The will is extremely clear about the division of any remaining funds in the estate, but my siblings have decided it’s “unfair.” There have already been some heated exchanges, with them threatening lawyers and courts, etc. One lawyer has already told them the will is valid and must be followed as it is, and any changes have to come from an agreement between us, but I’m not biting. I have documents that expressly refute what’s being claimed – I don’t think they figured I’d held on to them. I’ve been estranged from my siblings for several years, and have been biting my tongue not to say, “Well, maybe you should have said and done things a bit differently in the past.” Maybe I will once this is all over.

It turned out YaYu didn’t swim at yesterday’s final meet, although she went to support her teammates and Brett once again served as a timer. Yesterday was the conference finals, and only the top three swimmers in each event are allowed to participate. YaYu is not the slowest swimmer on her team, but she’s definitely not in the top three. It was also the last day for the team’s three coaches who are all retiring. YaYu brought each of them a lei to say thank you, and we will all miss them greatly next year. They were all terrific, both as coaches and people, and focused on team-building and technique first – very Hawaiian – rather than winning. The team has still won the county championship for as long as anyone can remember.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I started a new book yesterday, The Girl Before, by J.P. Delaney. I had to put down Truevine because I could no longer deal with the author’s convoluted writing – she would start on one topic, but introduce a name or something else and then veer off for pages on that, with the same thing happening again and again, like branches on a tree, before finally returning to what she had started off with. Reading even a few pages had my head spinning because I never knew where I was going. I can deal with it when I’m reading fiction, but not non-fiction. Anyway, the new book is a mystery, my favorite genre, so the story should stay pretty tight.
  • Listening to: There’s a very strong wind blowing from the northwest this morning, making lots of noise as is blows through the trees and bushes. It’s loud enough I can hear it over the sound of the washer and dryer. The sun is still shining though and the wind is keeping things cool, for now anyway. It also not keeping several roosters from screaming their heads off. I would miss the chickens if we ever left Kaua’i, but not the roosters! They’re beautiful to look at, but otherwise a pain.
  • Watching: Brett and I are having trouble finding a new show to settle into. Everything we’ve looked at recently hasn’t grabbed us. Any and all suggestions are welcome! I had intended to watch Victoria last Sunday, but when the time came I couldn’t get myself excited enough to turn it on. We watched a lovely movie on Friday evening, from Japan: Our Little Sister, and last night we watched Downfall, about the last days of Nazi Germany. It seemed appropriate somehow.
  • Cooking/baking: I never got those brownies baked last week, so I’m doing that this afternoon. Dinner tonight is omelets filled with sautéed greens and bacon, and Brett and YaYu will have sourdough bread to go with theirs, while I’ll have an apple.
  • Happy I accomplished last week: We did all our grocery shopping for the month and came in under budget, but barely. We really were out of a lot of things, and still have to buy coffee beans from Costco. Not my accomplishment, but Brett did one of our bi-annual exterior house washes this past week (required in our lease, but the landlord gives us the supplies). It’s an all-day job, but the salt and dust that have accumulated over the past six months are gone and the house and windows look great! He also got our taxes done and sent off – we will be receiving a nice refund this year! I did all my daily bike rides (70+ miles, 2590+ calories burned), drank at least eight glasses of water a day, and studied Japanese and Portuguese every day. Japanese is till impossible, but Portuguese is starting to make a little bit of sense.
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m going to try swimming again – the community pool is close by, and my doctor suggested a second form of exercise on top of the bike riding. Swimming won’t aggravate the bursitis in my hip. I would have started last week except for injuring myself (and I’m still a bit sore). Otherwise, I am so ready for a new month to begin – don’t know how much more of this one I can take, but am also very afraid what’s coming will be worse.
  • Thinking of good things that happened:  There was an especially good variety of produce at the farmers’ market this past week, including broccoli AND cauliflower, something we almost never see here. I made a big pot of Weight Watcher’s Zero Point Soup yesterday – I substituted broccoli for the green beans and also added some cauliflower. Meiling is taking a metalsmithing class this term, and this week made two absolutely beautiful pieces of art. WenYu sent us the amazingly beautiful video story she created for her anthropology/writing class on the subject of home. It was so wonderful to see these talents blossoming in the girls and to be able to share in their work. We put $30.04 in the change/$1 bill jar this week.
  • Grateful for: I am feeling very thankful that I held on to documents sent by my Mom many years ago. I don’t think my siblings kept theirs, or have assumed I didn’t, and they have been trying to gaslight me about facts and figures. One thing I learned when I earned my certificate in Conflict Management years ago is don’t argue from emotion, argue from the facts.

    Boot camp photo
    Boot camp photo
  • Bonus Question: Did you serve in the military? Yes, both Brett and I served in the U.S. Navy. Brett served for 22 years with a speciality in radar and avionics, and achieved the rank of E-8 (Senior Chief Petty Officer). I served 18 months, as a training device specialist (i.e. flight trainers) and made it to E-4 (Petty Officer Third Class). I met Brett when he was my instructor for two weeks, but after I finished my six months of training I was sent to another duty station nearly 500 miles away. Brett drove down almost every weekend to visit. I was given the option of staying or leaving the navy when I became pregnant with our son. I asked for a transfer to be stationed with Brett, but was turned down, and learned there was a real likelihood we might never be stationed together. So, I chose to be discharged (honorable). Both sides of my family have served in the United States military since the Revolutionary War. What is happening now is against everything we served for.

That’s what’s been happening here at Casa Aloha. How was your week? What good things happened for you?

Five Frugal Things 1/27/2017

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Malasadas

Here are some frugal things that happened at Casa Aloha this past week:

  1. We had to pay $45 for YaYu to attend this year’s swim banquet, but team members can sell $10 tickets for malasadas (Hawaiian-style donuts) and earn back $5 for every ticket they sell. Malasadas are hugely popular here so the tickets will go quickly, and besides, YaYu could sell a cage to a lion.
  2. Brett and I gave YaYu a small television for her birthday – it’s this year’s AND next year’s present (she is fine with that). We were going to connect our basic cable to her room, but she was able to connect to both our Netflix and Amazon Instant Video accounts through our old Wii console, and says she doesn’t need cable. Savings = $30.
  3. Rather than pay TurboTax an additional $30 to import our information from last year, Brett just put it all in himself this year.
  4. After last Friday evening’s swim team spaghetti dinner there were lots of leftovers, and the girls brought home two packages of Costco cookies as well as a big, unopened Caesar salad from Costco (cost = $12.99), which Brett and YaYu enjoyed over a couple of days!
  5. I needed fresh pineapple for our kabobs on Wednesday evening, was dreading having to buy a package of cut and sliced pineapple at Costco. Cost: $12.99 (although there’s way more than one meal’s worth in the package). But, as I walked by the Hawaii-grown pineapples in the produce section, I noticed they smelled good – a sign that there were ripe pineapples around (usually they’re somewhat green and have no smell). I looked around and found one perfectly ripe pineapple, and one that was almost ripe. Total cost for two fresh pineapples: $5.98.

What frugal wins did you have this past week?

Collections: Hashioki

My hashioki, waiting to be cleaned and individually wrapped before our move to Hawai'i.
Not the best picture, but these are all my hashioki, waiting to be cleaned and individually wrapped for our move to Hawai’i.

I began collecting hashioki (chopstick rests) on our first tour in Japan, in 1980. My friend Kris collected them, and got me started, and also gave me a very good piece of advice: Only collect ones that have blue in them. Otherwise, you will be overwhelmed.

I currently have well over 300 different hashioki in my collection. Most were purchased during our two tours in Japan, but some were gifts and others were found at stores here in the U.S. All of them have some blue in them somewhere. Back when I started collecting, hashioki were very affordable, usually less than a dollar, and rarely more than $2.50. These days one hashioki can be $5.00 or more, so I rarely buy them, even on visits to Japan.

There is no way to describe the variety that can be found in this one small piece of Japanese tableware. If you can think of an animal, real or imagined, there’s probably a hashioki of it. I have whales, octopi, fish, clams, and other sea creatures as well as cats, dogs, and other animals. I have all manner of vegetables, various types of transportation, dishes, books, musical instruments, people, toys . . . anything you can imagine can be found in hashioki. Most of mine are ceramic, but I also have some made from glass, wood and even from paper. My hashioki run the gamut from whimsical to elegant, with everything inbetween.

Currently my collection is in a box in the garage, with each hashioki individually wrapped in tissue paper. Other than putting some out in a basket or such, I have no way to display them, but they would quickly grow very dusty and they’re difficult to keep clean. I’ve seen them displayed in wooden printer’s type cases before, and heard of someone who had a something like a flat file cabinet where each drawer could be pulled out and the hashioki examined, but I currently don’t have the space for either.

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(from Pinterest)

In spite of having so many, I do have a favorite. I have all of the ones in the above picture, but the simple black pillow with the blue and white wave design in the middle makes me the happiest of all my hashioki. It’s so very Japanese, in design, color and execution.

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(from Pinterest)

And, although I’m not really adding to my collection any more, I would buy the set above in heartbeat. They all picture charming little chidori (plovers) in different designs. Chidori are one of my favorite Japanese motifs of all time, representing longevity and endurance.

You can check out my hashioki page on Pinterest if you’re interested in seeing more – I have over 50% of the ones pictures in my collection.

This Week’s Menu: And Yet Another Challenge

Pork lau lau
Pork lau lau

When I saw my doctor last week for my annual check-up, one of the things we discussed was my weight. In spite of exercise, careful monitoring of what and how much I eat and so forth, I continue to gain weight. My labs are all good, there are no metabolic issues other than I’m an aging female, so he directed me to give up all carbs to see if I can’t turn things around.

Yup. No carbs. That was the only thing he believes will make a difference at this stage of my life.

So, besides eliminating all dairy from YaYu’s diet, I also have to remove all carbs from mine, or keep them as low as possible. The doctor does not want me on a high meat, high fat diet either (like Atkins); rather, I’m to have more fruits and vegetables, and some lean protein, but nothing with added sugar, and no refined starches. I can still enjoy a small drink of wine on Friday and Saturday evenings. But that’s it. Not being able to eat lettuce is going to make things difficult as well as I can’t add in more salad to fill me up.

Next week Brett and I will be doing our monthly Costco Big Shop, and we’re currently going over our list, eliminating some items, and adding others. It is going to be a very interesting (and I believe difficult) month or two while we adjust to the new dietary realities around here.

So, with all that “on my plate” now, here’s what I’ve come up with for next week’s menu:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Slow cooker kalua pork (which didn’t get made last week); rice; cucumber salad (no rice for me, and we’ll pick up a small container of mac salad for Brett at Pono Market)
  • Wednesday: Chicken meatball, pineapple and green pepper kabobs; vegetable lo mein
  • Thursday: Slow cooker chicken with rice soup; bread (I’ll make the soup with regular rice versus brown rice, and will take out my portion before the rice is added as it cooks quickly; no bread for me)
  • Friday: Leftovers (final swim team spaghetti dinner for YaYu)
  • Saturday: Roast chicken; mashed potatoes & gravy; green beans; greens (no potatoes and gravy for me)
  • Sunday: Omelets with sautéed greens & bacon; bread; fruit (no bread for me)
  • Monday: Lau lau (fish, chicken and/or pork wrapped and steamed in ti and taro leaves); rice; coleslaw; fruit (no rice for me)

We’ll be stocking up on veggies at the market, definitely cucumbers and greens, but I hope we can also find broccoli. I also want to buy papayas, to have for breakfast.

Looks like times are going to get even more interesting!

#Kaua’i: Winter Hike

Hiking in winter is occasionally just like summer, but more often than not it’s wetter and muddier all across the Garden Island. Because Sleeping Giant (Nounou) is nearby and has three trails, I most often hike there (although it appears that I rarely blog about it). The eastside trail, from the Wailua House Lots, is the steepest, but undulating along the west slope from the southside is the Kuamo‘o (‘backbone’)-Nounou (‘throwing’) trail, the longest trek of the three. My favorite approach however is from the west trailhead, principally because it is usually the driest.

At the end of Lokelani (‘red rose’) Road, there is a cash only/honor fruit stand at the west trailhead, just in case you didn’t pack enough of the right kind of snacks, or you just happen to see something you’ve been craving. The winter selection is slim, but even when fruit is plentiful, don’t be surprised if all you find is a half a dozen limes.

Fruit Stand
Fruit Stand

Off Kamalu Road, the west trailhead follows a grassy lane which yields abruptly to a lattice of Eucalyptus roots crisscrossing the trail as it gets steeper. One other prominent feature of winter hikes is vog (volcanic smog), which blows in from the Big Island, and sometimes blankets Kaua’i for a week or more.  If you often have difficulty breathing, either do not hike on vog days, or plan to take plenty of breaks.

Then, just beyond the quarter-mile marker, the lattice transitions to strawberry guava.

Crisscrossed root of Eucalyptus trees in red dirt lane.
WenYu hikes up through the eucalyptus lattice . . .
Strawberry Guava Lattice
. . . and through the strawberry guava lattice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little beyond the strawberry guava lattice is a fork in the trail. Be nice instead of taking the shortcut to the left, and help prevent erosion by veering right, up to the four-way intersection with the Kuamo‘o-Nounou Trail. Straight ahead, it’s two miles to Kuamo‘o Road, often through muck and mire, and mosquitoes, and the broad pathway to the right ends about 2oo yards down mountain at the western edge of the Nounou Forest Reserve. The latter course is an interesting diversion that offers a magnificent view up the continuation of the west trail through a tall grove of Cook Pines.

Skyward
Skyward
Shards of Light
Shards of light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately, the upper trail was dry, but not too dry. When it’s too dry, you can easily lose your footing because a fine dust settles over the clay and can be like walking on marbles, invisible marbles. Luck was with us on this hike, as evidenced by this four-leaf clover near the three-quarter mile marker.

Four-Leaf Clover at Center
A four-leaf clover can be seen almost directly in the center

Lichens form on the bark of both living and fallen trees, and are more noticeable in winter when much of the greenery surrounding them is missing. Because lichens fatten up by storing water in winter, they are a treasured food source for many of the fowl and field mice with whom you share the trail.

Lichen on a fallen branch
Lichen on a fallen branch

So after hiking through this and that, around a few bends, and doubling on many switchbacks, you will pass by the intersection with the Wailua House Lots trail on your left, and about three switchbacks later you will arrive at a picnic shelter. Just east of the picnic shelter is a narrow bench or love seat with a scenic view through a break in the trees. Sit a spell, have lunch if you brought it, or just talk story with other hikers who happen by every few minutes.

Still Dry beyond the One Mile Marker
Still dry beyond the 0ne-mile marker – WenYu stops to catch her breath
Lookout at the Picnic Shelter
Lookout at the picnic shelter – vog blocks the view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus ends the state sanctioned hike. That is, the trail is only maintained up to a point about 25 yards beyond the picnic shelter. While the views are stunning, hiking past the “End of Trail” sign, which someone has recently twisted 90 degrees away from hikers, is strictly at your own risk.

View Just Before End of Trail
View just before end of trail
NOTICE: End of Trail
NOTICE: End of Trail!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up ahead the trail runs a few yards along a narrow spine, scarcely wide enough for two people to pass, then continues ever steeper over a widening course to an 8-10 foot near vertical climb to the path along the summit. Going left at this juncture leads either to a hollowed out cave or up onto the “face” of the Sleeping Giant. Use extreme caution if there is any wind at all over the top because a light breeze becomes a shearing wind up there and there is no path, only rough stones, some of them loose, and a 500-foot drop to the east.

I visited the cave on this hike simply because I was tired. Nonetheless, a trip to the cave is always refreshing both for its shade and the venturi effect. NOTE: Field mice also enjoy the cave, although there were none up there the day of our hike.

11giant_seyewestportal
West portal of the “Giant’s Eye”
View from the East Lanai
V0g-less view of Kapa‘a from the east lanai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the junction above the little rock climb, the trail continues south up to the true summit at 1,280 feet above sea level ~ give or take. There you’ll find a concrete slab that served as the base of an abandoned warning beacon for the disused grass landing strip up the Wailua Valley (which is behind me in this photo).

Warning Beacon at True Summit
Warning Beacon at True Summit

 Your return trip to the trailhead may take nearly as long as the climb, not only because of variable terrain, but because you may find some of the views you missed as captivating as anything you saw on the way up. My personal favorite of the day was seeing Wai‘ale‘ale, like a floating dragon between the vog and clouds to the west.

Wai'ale'ale Amidst the Vog
Wai‘ale‘ale amidst the vog

Sunday Afternoon 1/22/2017

Ready to go to the airport . . .
Ready to go to the airport . . . sob!

I’m feeling a bit blue today – WenYu left to go back school yesterday morning, and the house once again seems so empty without her. I keep reminding myself that she’ll be back again in less than four months, and in the meantime I will be going to Japan with Brett and YaYu and meeting my new granddaughter! I can’t wait to also spend time with my grandson again, and with my son and daughter-in-law. I know the time we’re on that trip will fly by.

I am so excited to meet this little girl!
I am so excited to meet this little girl!

Have you ever had a fight with yourself and lost? Last Wednesday evening, as I was getting dressed for bed, I caught my foot on my pants as I was stepping out of them and tripped, falling sideways into the door. As my right arm hit the door handle, it popped back and I punched myself in the rib. The punch was so hard and so painful that I literally fell to my knees, gasping for breath. I have broken bones before, and know the pain feels different, and this pain felt just like a fracture. I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled on Thursday at noon for my annual cholesterol check, and while I was there he checked out my ribs thoroughly because it was not out the range of possibility that I could have broken one. However, the only result of the punch turned out to be a bruised rib. Four days later it’s still quite sore and painful, and some movement remains difficult. It’s going to take a while to heal. In the meantime though I think I’m going to start sitting down when I either take off or put on my pants!

This coming week will be the final swim meet of the season, and then YaYu segues right into track and field. While I enjoy watching YaYu swim, the end of the season always comes as somewhat of a relief as there is no more big load of beach towels to wash every week, and I no longer have to prepare garlic bread for the team every week!

This week I am:

  • Reading: I’m reading Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South again – I had set it aside last year when books from the library became available. It’s an interesting story, but the author tends to ramble a bit (in my opinion) before she gets to her point or comes back to it.
  • Listening to: It’s another blustery day here today so the wind is blowing quite briskly through the trees. It’s not raining though like it was yesterday so several people in the neighborhood are out doing yard work and I can hear several weed trimmers going at it. The laundry is already started – I’m so glad we’re able to go back to doing all just once a week.
  • Watching: WenYu and I finally gave up on American Horror Story: Hotel (Season 5) – we just couldn’t get into the story, and both realized we had little interest in how the story was going to unfold. Brett and I started watching The OA, which is OK, but we’re shopping around again for something else. I plan to watch another episode of Victoria tonight.
  • Cooking/baking: We’ll be having breakfast for dinner tonight with scrambled eggs, bacon, English muffins and fruit. I’m going to make a pan of brownies this afternoon so there’s something sweet for Brett and YaYu.
  • Happy I accomplished last week: In spite of my stupid accident, I managed to get in most of my daily bike rides – having a recumbent bike really helps. I also completed all of my language study goals for the week, and drank at least eight glasses of water every day. Otherwise it’s been a pretty low-key week with not a whole lot going on.
  • Looking forward to this week: Brett and I will be doing our big monthly Costco shop on Wednesday, and I’m excited to see if we can stay under our budget as well as we did this past month. YaYu’s final swim meet of the season is on Saturday. Her disability makes swimming a more difficult endeavor for her than most, but she is a fighter, and doesn’t quit. Her race times all season have improved from last year. And of course, Brett and I are hoping we can get to the beach, at least one.

    It was a cool, stormy day for a protest, but lots showed up. This is about 1/4 of the total.
    It was a cool, often wet, stormy day for a protest, but over 1,000 showed up with their signs, pretty good for a rainy, blustery day.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: There was a well-attended “Women’s Sign Protest” on Kaua’i on Saturday. There really isn’t any place to march on our little island, so participants gathered at the airport intersection with their signs instead. My cholesterol and other test numbers were very good again this year. I’m also very proud that we have been able to use what we have on hand to prepare meals, and did not have to go shopping except to buy bread for the spaghetti dinner (and some eggs). This is one of my major goals this year, to get our food spending down, and so far this we’ve been successful (although we’re not always going to have leftover ham and turkey to use like we did this month). YaYu had a great meet yesterday, and bested all her times by several seconds.
  • Thankful for: I am truly thankful that I did not break my rib the other evening because it sure felt like I did. The pain after I hit myself was just as intense as that when I fractured bones before. As sore as I still am, I know a cracked or broken rib would have been far, far worse to deal with. I’m also thankful that the injury is improving – every morning I wake up in a little less pain.
  • Bonus question: If you received a surprise windfall of $500, and were told you had to spend it (no saving or bill paying allowed), what would you buy? In the past, I could have easily come up with a list of things I wanted, but these days I think I’d rather spend it on a special experience. $500 would cover a full spa day (massage, facial and pedicure), and dinner with Brett in the evening. Brett and I could also take a Kaua’i mini staycation: a night away at one of the resorts with dinner and breakfast out. Or, we could take a helicopter ride around the island. There are other things we can do here, but whatever we choose I would want to spend the money on the island. I wonder if I it would count though if I spent the money on groceries, and then put $500 of our grocery money into savings ;-).

That’s what’s going on here. How was your week? What good things happened for you?

Five Frugal Things 1/20/2017

Pouring Water Into Glass On Blue BackgroundHere are some frugal wins that happened this past week at Casa Aloha:

  1. We had to go to Costco again to buy bread for this week’s swim team spaghetti dinner (we volunteered to provide the garlic bread every week), and only bought the bread and some eggs rather than tap into next months food budget. That’s two times we’ve managed this!
  2. We ate at home all week, and shopped our pantry, fridge and freezer – all meals and desserts were made from what we already had on hand, including YaYu’s birthday dinner and cake.
  3. WenYu wanted a new bikini for her birthday, but wasn’t happy about having to pay the “paradise tax” (i.e. higher cost) of buying one here. So, we decided to give her cash and she will buy herself a suit when she gets back to Massachusetts. She’ll be able to get that and another piece of clothing for less than the price of a suit here.
  4. Other than coffee, free, filtered tap water was the main beverage choice for all of us. We refilled our 10-cup Brita pitcher at least five times a day all week.
  5. I earned another $15 in Amazon Credit from Swagbucks this week. I’ve earned $40 total so far this year.

How did you do this week?

A Different Look for The Occasional Nomads

Yes, we’re still The Occasional Nomads, but with a new look!

I felt like I needed a change this week, so I’m trying out a different design for the blog. I’m going to give it a few days and see how I like it, and how readers like it.

I’m not sure yet how I feel about the blog’s name being downsized in the upper left corner, but I do like the new picture (taken in Kyoto) and the themes of the blog being highlighted on the splash photo. It’s different without being too different.

Let me know what you think! The design change was free, so I’m not out anything for trying it out, and easily can go back to what I had before.