This Week’s Menu: Happy Consequences

Chocolate Covered Katie’s creamy red pepper alfredo sauce

Along with the dietary changes we’ve made in the past year have come some happy consequences, above and beyond what we were expecting.

Brett suffered from a persistent cough the past several years, more annoying than anything problematic. He talked with his doctors about it over the years, but all felt it was a side effect of one of the medications he took, and they recommended he take over-the-counter allergy medication to relieve the cough as much as possible. Along with cough drops the OTC medication helped somewhat, but the cough still lingered. However, when we removed dairy (mostly ice cream and cheese) from our diet for YaYu, who is lactose intolerant, Brett’s cough disappeared along with several other problems he was experiencing. It turns out he was allergic to milk! Not once in all these years was that ever considered as a possible cause for his cough. He still eats a small amount of cheese, but only a couple of times a week, and that’s it for dairy these days. What a happy consequence it was to finally solve the riddle of the cough, and all because of a simple change to diet.

At the end of last year I developed a fairly severe case of GERD (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease). It came on quickly, and got so bad that it was waking me up at night. My doctor prescribed medication, but at the same time also told me to ditch the carbs/starches as I was also complaining about my weight gain – even though I exercised, and measured all my portions, no matter what I did I still added pounds each month. Even after starting the medication, I still suffered from the GERD each night when the medication wore off. But, within a week or two of no longer eating starches, the acid reflux disappeared completely, even at night, and even on the occasional day when I forgot to take the medication – a happy consequence of no longer eating starches. I see the doctor next month and am going to ask if I can wean myself off the medication I’m still taking. Fingers are crossed!

The girls want to make pasta on Thursday which gives me an excuse to make the red pepper alfredo sauce (I always make double so I get leftovers). They’ve also agreed to help cook other dishes so that I don’t have to stand over the hot stove. I do the prep, and they do the hot stuff – works for me!

  • Tuesday (this evening): Vegetable (cauliflower, potato, carrot & onion) curry; steamed rice (just curry for me)
  • Wednesday: Beef tacos; yellow rice (no tortillas or rice for me)
  • Thursday: Homemade pasta with creamy red pepper alfredo sauce; lightly steamed broccoli; garlic bread (no pasta 😦 or bread for me)
  • Friday: Grilled chicken & apple sausages; roasted mixed vegetables; couscous (which I’m skipping)
  • Saturday: Leftovers or YOYO
  • Sunday: Caprese skillet eggs; steamed artichoke; toast (no toast for me)
  • Monday: Pork & pepper stir fry; steamed rice (I’m skipping the rice)

This week at the farmers’ market we’ll be getting more cucumbers, lots of fresh tomatoes (for the  Caprese skillet eggs), papayas, zucchini and onions. We also need more limes as it’s mojito and gin & tonic season once again, and I’d like to get some fresh mangoes if I can find some affordable ones.

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My (Sort Of) Travel Bucket List

Reader Nancy asked in the comments the other day where I had published my travel bucket list because she couldn’t find it, and I answered that I had never actually published one in the blog. Why? Because it’s always changing! There are a few places and trips that have remained constant, but places that I was eager to see two or three years ago have been bumped by other spots, or just don’t seem quite as interesting any more as other places.

But, Nancy’s comment has inspired me to try and come up with a list. I ended up dividing it into three sections: Dream Trips, Places I Very Much Want To See, and Places I’d Like To Visit But Won’t Feel Badly If I Don’t Get To. I guess I could also add a section on places I don’t want to go, but if it’s not on any of the other lists you can pretty much figure it’s not someplace I’m as eager to visit (but of course would go if I won a free trip or something).

Japan, of course, is in a category all its own and doesn’t need to be on any list.

So here goes:

#1 – Dream Trips:

  • India
  • Botswana (one of the national parks)
  • The Western U.S. National Park Loop

    The Blue City of Chefchaouen, Morocco.

#2 – Places I Very Much Want To Visit:

  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Florence, Sienna, the Amalfi Coast and the Cinque Terre, Italy
  • Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Paris and Normandy, France
  • Toledo and Barcelona, Spain
  • Athens, Greece
  • Switzerland (pretty much all of it)
  • Vienna and Salzburg, Austria
  • Prague, The Czech Republic
  • Scandanavia (pretty much all of it)
  • England (pretty much all of it)
  • Edinburgh and the Highlands, Scotland
  • Ireland (all of it)
  • Marrakesh and Chefchaouen (the blue city), Morocco
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • New Zealand
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  • Alaska, up to Anchorage by ferry via the Inland Passage

#3 –  Places I’d Like To Visit But Won’t Feel Badly If I Don’t:

  • Germany
  • Iceland (I’m probably the only person in the world who isn’t itching to go here)
  • Rome and Venice, Italy
  • Croatia
  • Vietnam

As you can see, the middle list is pretty long – there’s lots I want to see! There’s nothing really out of the way or exotic about any of these places on my lists, but I love visiting cities and museums and such so that’s what fills the lists. Some places, like Hong Kong or Beijing, are not on the list because we’ve been before, and some places Brett isn’t very much interested in (although he has his own list) but we pretty much agree on most places we’d like to visit some day. And, I’m sure there are some places I’ve just forgotten to put on the list.

I’m fairly sure there’s no way we’re going to get to see all of these places, but once we get our last little bird launched out of the nest Brett and I are going to try and see as much as we can for as long as we can, as well as trying to get over to Japan every year for a few months to spend time with our grandchildren.

And yes, our BIG Mystery Adventure™ can be found tucked in among all these places!

Sunday Afternoon 5/28/2017

Summer break is finally here – yeah!

Boy, did this month fly by!

YaYu is officially a senior – her last day of this school year was Friday. She has a busy year coming up though, and lots on her plate academically. The high school has a partnership with the local community college, and she can take courses for free, so instead of taking AP Calculus and AP English, she will be taking those courses through the college and receiving college credit (and saving us $$$ on the testing fees). It will also officially be Brett’s and my last year of full-time parenting. Other than a six-month break between sending our son off to college and Meiling’s arrival into our family, we’ve been raising children for 40 years. We’re (finally) ready for an empty nest!

I mentioned in the comments to my “Clues” post this past week that I am no longer studying Portuguese. I am still using Memrise, but a few weeks ago started learning another language that we can use on our BIG Mystery Adventure™ (yes, another possible clue). I enjoyed learning Portuguese – it was a challenge without being too challenging, and I plan to go back to it some day. The new language is the same level of difficulty for me, maybe a little bit more. I wish I could learn two languages at once, but I am not that person – one is enough for now.

Rick Best, age 53, was a city employee, a 23-year Army veteran, and father to three teenage sons and a pre-teen daughter. He was on his way home from work when he was killed.

I was horrified by the news from Portland on Friday about the murder on the TriMet streetcar of two good Samaritans, who, along with a third man, came to the defense of two Muslim teens who were being harangued and verbally abused by a white supremacist who then turned on the men and stabbed them. These heroes did the right thing for the right reason, and paid for it with their lives (the third man, Micah Fletcher, age 21, a student a Portland State University was also stabbed, and remains in the hospital with critical injuries). I weep not only for these men and their families, but for my country, and the coarseness and violence that is becoming more open and prevalent these days.

Taliesin Namkai-Meche, age 23, graduated from Reed College in 2016 with a degree in Economics, and was interning in Portland.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished My Name Is Lucy Barton, and because I was waiting for other library holds to become available I downloaded American Heiress, by Jeffrey Toobin, about the Patty Hearst kidnapping in 1974. It was pre-Internet, pre-Twitter, etc. back then but I remember being completely involved in the news of what had happened and how it played out. We were glued to our TVs every evening to catch the latest updates on the nightly news, and the day the house burned in L.A. the event broke into regular programming. It was heady stuff for those times. Anyway, the book is very readable and I’ve learned several new things.
  • Listening to: I was awakened early by the sound of weed trimmers in the neighborhood, and they haven’t let up. It seems as if everyone is working on their lawn this mornings. After several overcast and rainy days which always make lawns and other plants grow like crazy it’s lovely today, so I can understand why everyone is out working. Inside it’s nice and quiet though – Brett is out on a hike, and the girls are working in their room.
  • Watching: We’re still working our way through Better Call Saul and loving it. We are intrigued with the shows premise, always asking ourselves, “when and how does Jimmy McGill turn into Saul Goodman?” The show is well written, and the actor playing Jimmy/Saul is excellent, and fun to watch. I’m almost done with watching all the available Househunters and need to find something other show that I can watch while I do Swagbucks at night. Brett and I watched an older film that I wanted to see again, Road to Perdition, with Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, and an otherwise all-star cast, on Friday evening. I thought Brett had seen it before, but it was new to him.
  • Cooking/baking: Brett is making Scotch eggs again for our dinner tonight, and we’ll have those along with some fresh fruit (and everyone but me will get toast as well). I was going to bake a pan of brownies later this afternoon but WenYu made some a couple of days ago so no baking today. Breakfast was the usual ‘you’re on your own.’
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: There wasn’t a whole lot that needed accomplishing last week, so mainly it was just been the basic stuff getting done around here. It’s been hard to keep up with all my daily bike rides because of the heat, but I have gotten the evening rides in, and the daytime rides when it’s been cool enough because of rain and such. I’ve substituted stretching and yoga inside, under a fan, when I don’t get out on the bike. I have kept up with my daily allotment of water, and with my language study. Brett has walked every day this past week, some days in between rain storms – he’s up to around five miles per day! I made at least my small goal every day with Swagbucks – it’s important to reach that goal in order to earn bonus points at the end of the month.
  • Looking forward to next week: It’s a small thing, but I have one last half loaf left of the wonderful raisin bread we brought home from Japan, and I’m going to get a slice out of the freezer tomorrow morning and have it for my breakfast – it’s my one carb indulgence. Brett and I are hoping to get to the beach at least one day this week, but otherwise our calendar is pretty empty.
  • Reporting gains and losses: I lost two more pounds this month, bringing my total weight loss so far this year to 20 pounds. I still have more to go, but am very happy with my progress so far. I will be satisfied from here on out with a monthly loss of one or two pounds, but know it’s going to be slow(er) going from now on. We put $630.58 into our travel savings this month – our total is now $3114.92. We’re actually a little ahead of where we need to be in order to make our goal of $7000 for the year, which makes me very happy.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: WenYu was hired at a local restaurant as a busser (which she says she prefers to server), both lunch and dinner shifts, so she should do pretty well this summer, income-wise, as it’s a popular, busy place. On top of her salary she gets a percentage of tips from each of the servers. My daughter-in-law sent us three videos of the grandchildren this last week – they always make Brett and I very happy. Our grandson is reading English now, and our granddaughter is growing so fast – she’s pulling herself up to stand. YaYu’s phone gave up the ghost at the beginning of this past week – not a good thing as she depends her phone to keep up with her many activities. She has often told us she wants a new, better phone for her graduation present next year, so we asked her if she would be OK getting her present early. She said yes, and we gave her the amount we had budgeted for her gift ($300, same as her two sisters), and she paid the balance for the phone of her dreams. It arrived from T-Mobile in just three days 🙂 and she is a happy girl although she is still waiting on the case and screen protector from Amazon. All we have left to do now for her graduation will be to buy a whole stack of lei, but family members will provide some of the funds for those.
  • Grateful for: Both my mother and grandmother were incredibly frugal women. Growing up, I did not appreciate many of the frugal choices they made, or understand why they made those choices. but these days I’m very thankful that many of their frugal ways somehow got implanted into me. I’m following in their footsteps and using many of their techniques both large and small.
  • Bonus question: What’s the worst job you ever had? What was the best? I don’t think I ever had a bad job, although I did have some bad employers who could make my life miserable from time to time. The worst was the publisher at the small newspaper I worked at as a receptionist – she was demanding, autocratic, and loved to find humiliating things for me to do just because she could. Everyone else at the paper was lovely and I enjoyed working with them, so the job wasn’t a total write-off. Another awful job was working as a teacher’s assistant for one of our local school’s kindergarten teachers. She was an awful teacher (I would have pulled my child from her classroom) and it was very hard to work with her. One day, out of nowhere, she filed a complaint against me with the principal saying I had lied on my employment application. The principal had to come and speak with me about it – he was humiliated, because it wasn’t true – but I left after that, and I learned the teacher was not offered a position at the school the following year. My best jobs were those teaching beginning ESL – I had wonderful students, from all over the world, and was constantly awed and humbled by their efforts to make a life in the U.S. and learn English (I still thank my lucky stars every day that English is my native language and that I didn’t have to learn it). It’s a cliché that teachers learn as much from their students as their students learn from them, but in my case it was absolutely true. They still inspire me.

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

Five Frugal Things 5/26/2017

  1. We drank lots of sun tea, and filled our Brita pitcher over and over and over for filtered water. I was curious to know how much we save by making homemade iced sun tea so I priced it out: a big glass is just three cents.
  2. We cooked every meal at home, and had no food waste except for a small bit of fresh basil, which went brown overnight and had to be tossed.
  3. It’s been raining almost every night for the past couple of months, unlike in February and March when it stayed pretty dry, so we turned off the automatic sprinklers in our yard (our lease requires us to keep the lawn watered). Our water bill dropped an amazing $57 last month, and the lawn looks terrific.
  4. Other than a trip to Costco for gas and our weekly trip to the farmers’ market (money already set aside for both) we had another no spend week.
  5. We put $21.33 in our change/$1 bill jar in the past two weeks: $6.13 change from our big shop; $5.50 left over from trips to the farmers’ market, $7.12 left over after paying our annual car registration, and $2.58 from recycling bottles and cans. Small amounts, but they all add up!

What frugal things did you do this week?

#Kauai: Nani Pua (Part II)

This second part might more acurately be called Nani Hihiu Pua (beautiful wildflowers) because it features some of the abundant and beautiful wildflowers on Kauai that are often overlooked, but that I see frequently on my walks. Some of these plants and flower are poisonous, or have barbs and needles that can hurt, so care should be taken around them.

First is Lantana, that may be familiar to many because it grows in sunny locales all around the world. Near the ocean its growth is stunted by the tradewinds, rarely stretching greater than the height of a primrose (about 4 inches/10 cm). On upper slopes it becomes an impenetrable thicket, up to 6 feet (1.8 m) tall. It also produces small green, unripe berries [which] are poisonous and contain the toxin lantadene.  Ripened berries are black, and although people have eaten them (and lived), I’d leave them for the birds.

Lantana blossoms

Lantana (Lanatana camara)

Predominant along the shores is the lovely purple Beach Morning Glory, whereas its delicate little cousin is widely distributed all over the island.

Another common wildflower along the coastline is Beach Naupaka, the “half flower.” These are tree flowers, and the trees vary in height according to how sheltered they are—low, ground hugging rhododendron-like near the surf; reaching 15–20 feet upland. Although they are usually salt tolerant, white skeletons appear here and there at the surf’s edge. When they are in full bloom in early spring their fragrance is somewhat like maile, but when the first blossoms appear one practically has to kiss them to smell them.

Beach Naupaka, "half flower"

Beach Naupaka (Scaevola sericea)

Among the flowering trees, the Hau, also known as Beach Hibiscus, is most widely distributed (i.e., invasive). In the mountains, it grows just so high and then yields to its own weight, often vining along the ground and attempting to rise again occasionally. For this reason it fairly well blocks trails, and passage is only possible by constant pruning, such as the “tree tunnel” through Kealia Kai to Donkeys Beach. Most people recognize the yellow blossoms right away, but after they’ve had sex (been pollinated), they blush and fall to the ground.

The Sensitive Plant (or Shameplant) folds up its leaves when touched. However, that’s not its only defense. See the little barbs, jutting out in opposing directions along the stems? You’ll have to armor up if you wish to pluck them from your yard because they mean business. Nonetheless, their pink puffball blossoms are delightful.

Sensitive Plant or Mimosa with pink blossom

Sensitive Plant (Mimosa Pudica)

Speaking of barbs, check out the Pāpipi (literally cattle fence, or pānini maoli, ‘indigenous cactus’ in Hawaiian). The cactus presumably came originally from Mexico, and is now naturalized in warm climates throughout the world. In spite of its pretty flowers it is listed as a threat to our local ecosystem. The cactus are prevalent on the drier west side of Kauai, and quite rare on the wet east side.

Prickly Pear or pāpipi, pānini maoli

Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica)

Yet another immigrant species is the Mexican Prickly Poppy, lovely to see but not to touch. This specimen grows in the fence row that separates Kealia Kai from the path that goes by the coast on the north end, and I saw it for the first time about a month ago.

Mexican Prickly Poppy (Argemone mexicana)

Finally, this little flower, Mamane, is everywhere (and you might not want it to be) – it appears to love our red dirt. It follows all the prickly things because it features another reason to not touch—it’s poisonous. Only the palila (Hawiian honeycreeper) and one moth are immune to the toxicity, and the palila in particular is dependent on Mamane. Although this plant is in the pea family, it can grow in to a hardy tree when uninhibited by shore breezes and salt spray.

Mamane or Mamani, a toxic little flower that looks like butterflies, but smells like creosote

Mamane (Sophora chrysophylla)

As with so many beautiful things Hawaiian, this plant has multiple defenses. Mamane most notably smells like creosote, so best to enjoy the beautiful bounty in the wild, and leave it be.

This Week’s Menu: No Leftovers

Scotch eggs – we make our own breakfast sausage with ground pork and Penzey’s sausage seasoning. Ours also don’t have the crispy coating on the outside (although it looks delicious) because the eggs are baked vs. fried.

I had forgotten just how much of a difference one extra person can make when it comes to having leftovers. Like, there are none. Everything I prepare has been completely consumed at mealtime. I’ve had to separate out ‘leftovers’ for YaYu’s lunch ahead of sitting down to eat, but thankfully this is the last week of school for the year. Still, not having abundant leftovers means that our monthly food supplies are most likely going to dwindle faster than usual.

On the plus side though, I’m very happy that the girls (and Brett) eat everything I prepare, with no complaint. YaYu continues to be a bit of a picky eater, but as long as she can add her hot sauces or dried red chilis she’s usually good to go.

It continues to be very warm here, so I’m trying to prepare things in a way that heats up the kitchen the least. Most things on the menu this week will be grilled (huli huli chicken is back on the menu!), but I’ll break out the slow cooker for the risotto, Brett will make the Scotch eggs on Sunday and I’m going to let the girls prepare pork noodles on Monday because it requires working at the stove. It’s one of their favorite dishes though, so they said they’ll be happy to cook that evening.

  • Tuesday (this evening): Slow cooker risotto with asparagus and chicken; steamed artichokes (asparagus and chicken only for me)
  • Wednesday: Asian turkey burgers with sesame mayonnaise; sweet & sour cole slaw (no bun for me)
  • Thursday: Huli huli chicken; steamed rice; grilled asparagus
  • Friday: Grilled teriyaki chicken meatballs, fresh pineapple, and green pepper kabobs; steamed rice (no rice for me)
  • Saturday: Leftovers (if there are any lol); otherwise it’s YOYO (You’re On Your Own)
  • Sunday: Scotch eggs; fruit; toast (I’m skipping the toast)
  • Monday: Pork noodles; cucumber salad (just pork sauce and salad for me)

We’ll need cucumbers, bok choy, papayas and bananas from the farmers’ market this week, but otherwise we have everything on hand for meals – we bought asparagus, artichokes, cabbage, pineapple, and loads of peppers from Costco last week. We’re also planning to pick up some mint and limes at the market – it’s mojito weather!

We will probably have to go back to Costco next week for more eggs, and peanut butter. We have been going through the eggs we bought at a quick pace, and there was no peanut butter when we shopped last time. It’s still a favorite snack and gets used fairly frequently in recipes.

A Few More Clues

Here’s a picture of somewhere we’re not going!

A friend asked me the other day if I could give her even some small clues about where Brett and I will be going on our BIG Mystery Adventure™ next year and what we’ll be doing. After some thought, and talking with Brett, here are the clues I gave her:

  • 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 a bit more than $7000, which is our savings goal for this year. We haven’t set a firm goal for next year but will again be saving all we can before departing. We have also set one other savings-oriented goal, but it’s a secret for now.

And, here are three clues that I’ve already dropped 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.

I actually can’t wait to share the details, but won’t until spring of next year, which is when we plan to start making the actual reservations for our journey. Still, we’re only looking at around 15 months out until we’ll be on our way, and if the past is predictive that will be on us faster than we can imagine.

Any guesses?

Sunday Afternoon 5/21/2017

The view from my beach chair on Saturday

This weekend is all about the beach. We spent a couple of hours there yesterday – blue skies, light breeze, warm water and beautiful views – perfect! WenYu and I spent a nice amount of time in the water while we were there, jumping through and diving under the waves and swimming. Today is just as lovely as yesterday, so as soon as this is posted we’re heading back down the hill for another couple of hours, maybe longer. Both Brett and I really look like tourists right now though – I’m pale as a ghost, and Brett has tan lines around his neck and on his arms from wearing a t-shirt when he walks every day. We also carry a ton of stuff with us when we go: umbrella, chairs, towels, beach mat, and a big bag of drinks and snacks.

Another view from my chair

I had an absolutely wonderful, perfect day last Sunday – Brett and YaYu took care of absolutely everything, all day long, and Brett made Scotch eggs (hard-cooked eggs coated in sausage and cooked) for our dinner – they were amazing! They were so good in fact that we plan to have them again next weekend, and will put them into regular rotation on the menu. Anyway, Brett and YaYu knocked my joint birthday-Mother’s Day celebration out of the park!

And, WenYu is home! I am in my happy place getting to see and talk with her every day. She’ll be hitting the pavement tomorrow though to see if she can find a job. I don’t have any doubts that she’ll find something soon – she has restaurant (wait staff) experience, good recommendations, and interviews well.

Anyway, this afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I’m nearly half-way through My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, and greatly enjoying it. It was rated one of the best books of 2016, and I can see why – it’s beautifully written.
  • Listening to: It’s been very quiet here so far today, with nothing going on outside in the neighborhood other than lots of birds are singing. The chickens aren’t even making any noise today. I can hear the girls chatting and laughing back in their room, but Brett is out on his daily walk so it’s quiet out here in the front of the house. We did the laundry yesterday afternoon, so that isn’t spoiling the quiet today either.
  • Watching: Brett and I watched the most recent episodes of Midsomer Murders, and are now watching Better Call Saul – we loved the character on Breaking Bad, and the show is great. I finished up all the Great British Bake Off Masterclass episodes, so WenYu and I are now watching old episodes of Househunters on Hulu. Why and how any of these couples managed to get and stay married almost puts this show into the mystery genre as well – nobody likes the same thing, and they bicker quite a bit. Brett and I watched Manchester By the Sea on Friday evening (free via Amazon Prime) – such a beautiful, bittersweet film. I saw it on the plane on the way over to Japan and was happy to watch it again, but Brett hadn’t seen it before.
  • Cooking/baking:  It was everyone for themselves this morning when it came to breakfast: ramen with bok choy and ham for the girls, oatmeal for Brett and I had my usual yogurt with berries along with a sprinkle of Anahola Granola. I’m fixing Chinese stir-fried tomatoes and eggs for dinner tonight – WenYu has never had them, and we all think she will love this egg dish. Everyone but me will have steamed rice, and we’ll all enjoy some crisp, cool cucumbers to go with our eggs. No baking today – I made an orange bundt cake yesterday evening, after it had cooled off.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I’m glad we got our food shopping done for the next month (six weeks actually this time) – we had run out of so much. Our big shops are always a  chore, but so nice to have a full fridge, pantry and freezer again. I made my Swagbucks small goal every day this week, and the large goal twice even though Swagbucks has raised that to a nearly-impossible amount. I have pretty much had to give up my afternoon bike ride because of the heat, and the morning ride on a couple of days as well – it’s just too humid, and I know if I push myself to do it there’s a good chance I will end up stopping riding all together (which is what has happened in the past). But, if I skipped a ride I added a bit more time in the evening, drank my eight glasses of water a day and then some, and did my language study every day.
  • Looking forward to this week: Friday is YaYu’s last day of school for this year, and she will finally get to stand down for a while – it’s been an intense year. No more school lunches, wacky schedules, etc. for us as well for a couple of months – yeah! Otherwise, there’s nothing on the calendar for us – our time is our own. Maybe we’ll get to go to the beach again!

    YaYu’s sports letter with yearly pins

  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu lettered in four sports this past year (cross country, swimming, track & field and tennis) and this past week not only was awarded the pins for her letter, but also earned an official windbreaker from the school. WenYu brought home a few of the KitKats we sent to her (in limited flavors), so I’ve been once again enjoying a single KitKat with a cup of coffee after dinner – yum! Although it’s been hot and humid, for the most part we’ve had absolutely gorgeous weather this past week, and other than for one short period in the middle of the week the trade winds have consistently been  blowing.
  • Grateful for: My daughter-in-law has been sending regular videos and photos of our grandson and granddaughter, and this week I got to watch them play together (adorable!) and see our granddaughter just about take off crawling – she’s almost there. I am so thankful for all the photos and the little films, for my daughter-in-law sending them and for the technology that makes them possible.

    Enjoying each other’s company

  • Bonus question: If you were told you could keep just one of your possessions, what would you choose? After some discussion, both Brett and I agreed we would keep our cell phones – we can talk with, message and email each other, our children, and friends; take and keep photos; surf the Internet; manage our money; play games; keep blogging; and take care of lots of other tasks on these little devices as long as we continue to pay our phone bill every month. Before smartphones were around though my choice would have been the coffeemaker. “I get up in the morning because I know there will be coffee” was my motto for a long time.

And that’s what’s been going on at Casa Aloha. How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

Five Frugal Things: 5/19/2017

  1. Instead of paying to park when we picked up WenYu at the airport on Tuesday evening, Brett dropped YaYu and me off at the terminal, and then waited in the cell phone lot until WenYu was off the plane and had her luggage. Savings = $5.00.
  2. Brett and I limited ourselves to just two items when we got together with Renee and friends last Saturday for lunch at Street Burger. I ordered a bacon-blue cheese burger, which I split with Brett, and he ordered the Texas Poutine (otherwise known as fancy chili fries). We drank water instead of ordering beverages off the menu, and our bill came to just $24. Brett brought home over half of the poutine as well as the fries that came with my burger, and those leftovers provided dinner for him and YaYu that evening, and lunch again for Brett the next day.
  3. The big roast chickens from Costco, at $4.99 each, are the best deal around. We bought two of them this month: one is in the fridge and is being used for meals this week, and Brett stripped the meat off the second one, which went into the freezer for meals in the future. We’ll get seven main dishes and lots of chicken salad for sandwiches from the two chickens for less than $10.
  4. We cut back our weekly farmers’ market budget from $20 to $15, because we’ve discovered that we can still get an awful lot of beautiful produce for that amount. Also, now that the heat and humidity are with us again produce has the potential to spoil faster, and we don’t like to keep any more than a week’s worth of produce on hand, even if it’s in the fridge.
  5. We received word this week that YaYu’s round-trip flight to and from the Honolulu airport in June for her trip to China will be covered by the organization sponsoring the tour, a savings of $160 (or 15,000 frequent flyer miles, which is how we were going to purchase the tickets). YaYu and one other girl from Kaua’i are the only two students not already living on Oahu, and the organization did not think it was right that they had to pay more than others in the group to make the trip.

What frugal wins did you have this week?

95% Paradise

Someone asked me the other day if there was anything I didn’t like about living on Kaua’i. Didn’t I miss all the shopping opportunities I’d find elsewhere, not just for clothing and such, but places likeWhole Foods and Trader Joe’s? Didn’t I miss all the restaurants, coffee places, etc. that I’d enjoyed back in Portland?

The answer was no, I didn’t miss those things (well, I do miss Trader Joe’s still, but just a little). Our move here has been a very positive experience for us, and we’ve adjusted well to island life. Kaua’i is home.

But surely, my friend asked, there must be something that bugs you?

I couldn’t think of anything on the spot, but after some reflection came up with two things that make my life here just a tiny bit less than ideal:

  • After three years here I am no closer to adapting to the humidity than I was when we arrived. My skin loves it, but the rest of my body doesn’t, and I dislike the way I feel overall when the humidity climbs, which along with feeling like a wet, sticky mess sometime includes occasional  headaches. I know air conditioning would take care of it, but we don’t feel like putting an air conditioner into a rental property, or paying the electric bill that would result from running it. I’ve developed some tricks for staying cool(er) and more comfortable, but overall I still really dislike the humidity.
  • I’m often frustrated that we have to get in our car to go anywhere around here. Compared to Portland ,where it was very walkable, it’s not so easy here. There are few sidewalks, and unless we wanted to live in what’s a tsunami-warning zone (we don’t), houses are typically located far enough from the commercial areas to make walking an unpleasant chore, not counting the heat and humidity. Just walking up to the main road from our house can turn into an adventure, with cars speeding close by. Brett and I had dreamed of living somewhere after retirement where we could walk to our favorite coffee shop every day, but that’s just not possible here. I’m very grateful for the beach path, even though we have to get in our car to get to it, and I have to admit it’s nice to be in the car at times with the air-conditioning.

And that’s all I could come up with. I also don’t care for the big toads here, but am willing to put up with their occasional appearance in our yard in exchange for living in a place that has no snakes.

So no, life on Kaua’i isn’t perfect, but it’s practically perfect for me!