Five Frugal Things 6/9/2017

I roasted a mixture of vegetables in order to use up odds and ends in the fridge.

  1. I earned 1,038 bonus Swagbucks last month! I was very, very surprised (and pleased) that I did so well because that’s an additional $10 in Amazon credit on top of the other points I earned last month.
  2. A couple of months ago I submitted records of the past two years of my student loan payments to Wellesley’s financial aid office, and they adjusted WenYu’s aid award by several hundred dollars, reducing the balance she has to pay.
  3. We cooked every meal at home, used up leftovers and other odds and ends of produce so there was no food waste, and drank lots of filtered water and sun tea.
  4. We put $23.06 into our change/$1 bill jar. $15.56 was the change from another trip to Costco, and $7.50 was left from our farmers’ market shop.
  5. We suffered a frugal fail this week: We had to make a second return trip to Costco for more things that we had run out of, although we still managed to leave the store with just three items (peanut butter, nuts, and fruit). This is the second time we’ve run out of things, most likely from poor planning on my part when I made last month’s shopping list. Fingers are crossed now that we don’t have to step foot in Costco or Big Save until our regular big shop toward the end of the month.

Hopefully none of you had any spending fails this week!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

#Kaua’i: Hamura’s Saimin

Hamura’s Saimin – in business since 1951

WenYu and YaYu are both huge noodle afficionadas, so it made perfect sense that Hamura’s Saimin would be their choice of where to go to celebrate the end of their respective school years last week.

A small bowl of Hamura’s regular saimin is very filling!

Hamura’s Saimin is an institution on Kaua’i, and has been around as long as most people can remember. Aiko and Charlie Hamura began selling bowls of noodles from their car in 1951, and the restaurant they eventually opened is still family owned and operated. Every day locals and visitors alike head to the humble restaurant, located on a back street in Lihue, and often line up to wait for a spot at the big winding counter in order to enjoy a bowl of homemade noodles and wontons topped with meat, kamaboko (Japanese fish cake) and vegetables.

There were seats available when this picture was taken, but there’s often a wait for a place at the counter.

Originally developed in Hawai’i during its plantation days, saimin is a Hawaiian version of ramen, with Chinese, Japanese and Filipino influences. It is considered a traditional state food in Hawai’i.

Hamura’s is old school, and proud of it. Noodles and wontons are made fresh from scratch every morning, then cooked and served in bowls of fragrant broth. The small restaurant has won many awards over the years, including an “American Classic” award from the James Beard Foundation in 2006. In spite of it all, their noodles remain affordable: $6.75 for a small bowl of regular saimin, $7.00 for medium, and $7.75 for large. Specialty bowls are only slightly more.

Our girls eat their saimin Chinese style: Chopsticks in one hand for the noodles, and the soup spoon in the other for sipping the broth.

Hamura’s also offers an incredible homemade lilikoi (passionfruit) chiffon pie for dessert, the perfect finish after a bowl of saimin. It’s sold by the slice, but sometimes whole pies are available for sale.

Hamura’s light and fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth homemade lilikoi chiffon pie

If you want a taste of traditional Hawai’i, Hamura’s is the real deal. Hamura’s Saimin is located at 2956 Kress Street in Lihue. It’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 12:00 a.m. on weekends. Payment is cash only.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

This Week’s Menu: Will That Be a Table for Two or Three?

Black pepper chicken thighs with mangoes, rum and cashews (photo credit: NY Times)

With YaYu over in Oahu this week it’s just Brett, WenYu and me holding down the fort here at dinner – except for the nights when WenYu is working. YaYu will be home on Friday evening, so we’ll be back at full strength for three nights until she leaves for China next week and then I’ll be working around WenYu’s schedule again.

It’s making meal planning a bit of a challenge, but on the plus side it means there should be lots of leftovers once again for lunches and such. I also have the chance to fix or try dishes that YaYu doesn’t particularly care for, like chicken adobo with bok choy (I thought she liked it, but she let me know last month it was not a particular favorite. WenYu, on the other hand has been asking me to fix it). The black pepper chicken thigh recipe came across in my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago and is right in our wheelhouse when it comes to flavors. I’m trying it while YaYi is gone though because she doesn’t care for cashews. If the rest of us like the dish though I’ll make it again after she’s home, but let her take out her cashews.

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

We’ll need to pick up a couple of fresh mangoes this week at the farmers’ market, along cucumbers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, sweet onions, green onions, papaya and bananas. We need mung bean sprouts as well, but will stop by Big Save to get those – they spoil quickly and I won’t be cooking with them until Sunday. We may also need to buy the sweet onions there as well if we don’t see them at the market.

SaveSave

A Dozen Inspirational Travel Quotes

Why do we travel? Writers and thinkers, from Mark Twain to the Dalai Lama to Proust to the anonymous, have passed along some very good advice, inspiration and food for thought over the years:

Some are born to head out to the open sea and sail for distant ports, while others are content to stay and work the harbor – both are equally important. Just don’t stay tied to the dock.

Letting go of prejudices and rigid points of view and accepting that others can have equally plausible and valid ways of believing and doing things is not a burden nor a chore, but freedom.

Our own backgrounds and experiences are only a very small piece of the story.

There are memories to be made, even if you don’t need a passport to make them. Travel is the chance to try something new, to experience a different way of doing things.

A great truth for everything in life.

And, the journey to where you’re going is just as important as the destination.

There’s no such thing as minimalism when it comes to memories.

Travel without regrets. Allow yourself to experience the unexpected, to do something different, to step out of your comfort zone.

There’s no finish line for having new experiences or making memories.

Even if you go back to the same place you went the year before, you can always find something new to discover and explore.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from traveling is that my way isn’t the only valid way.

Me too.

An open mind and heart are the best things you can take along on your journey.

Which of these is your favorite? Do you have another favorite travel quote?

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sunday Afternoon 6/4/2017

Summer and hot weather means mojitos – we make ours with agave syrup (hence the light brown color)

Summer vacation! Other than WenYu going to work almost every day (and sometimes to different jobs on the same day) it’s been nice not to have to dance to our usual crazy schedule. It’s been hot, hot, hot though and we’re thinking that this summer is going to be a doozy when it comes to the weather.

YaYu leaves later this afternoon for a week on Oahu, to attend the orientation for her upcoming trip to China which is coming up in just a couple of weeks. She will be staying with a family in Honolulu whose daughter will be also be going on the trip. The students will all be learning some basic Mandarin (YaYu could probably teach the class), learning more about their trip and the places they’re going, and will each make a presentation on some aspect of Chinese culture. YaYu is presenting on Chinese folktales – she created an amazing pop-up book as her visual aid.

At the beginning of the year I signed up for a Hawaiian Airlines credit card. I’m a Hawaiian Miles member, and the offer I signed up for was “spend $1000 in the first 90 days and receive 50,000 bonus miles” which we accomplished on our trip to Japan in March (and have paid in full). When I checked my account in early May though there were no miles awarded. I called and was told, “no you had to spend $2000.” When I informed them that was not the offer I signed up under, I was told they would look into it and I would hear back in ten days. Nope. I called again on May 28 and was told I had been given a case number, but that they were “still looking into it.” I wrote the bank a letter this week and enclosed a copy of their cardmember agreement where it clearly states “spend $1000 and receive 50,000 miles.” A copy of the letter also went to Hawaiian Airlines customer service. It’s all very frustrating, but hopefully the letter will do the trick. Brett and I have received numerous solicitations over the years for a Hawaiian card, and every single one has been “spend $1000 and receive 50,000 miles.” Shoot, even their offer to those not already enrolled in Hawaiian Miles is “spend $1000 and receive 35,000 miles.” Once again, fingers are crossed, but I absolutely HATE dealing with stuff like this.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst has turned out to be a pretty terrific read, a real page-turner even though lots is stuff I already knew and still remember. The story is very well-written and the details fascinating, especially when he digs into the personalities, and the culture (counter and otherwise) of the time. I’m very glad I downloaded it, even though it wasn’t what I initially wanted to read.
  • Watching: Brett and I started watching Fargo this week on Hulu – wow! SO good. We are purposefully pacing ourselves even though we want to binge watch so that it lasts for a while. We’re still going through withdrawal from Better Call Saul and wish it wasn’t go to be so long until new episodes become available. I’m watching Top Chef while I work on Swagbucks at night – lots of drama!
  • Listening to: Brett is out for his daily walk – it’s cooler than usual, and has been raining off and on, but he’s on his way home now because YaYu has to go into work. The girls are chatting back in their room, but the washing machine is going so that YaYu will have clean clothes in time to pack. WenYu is lamenting that she has to go into work – she thought she had the day off from both jobs.

    Blondies from Cook’s Illustrated

  • Cooking/baking: Really looking forward to fixing the Caprese-style eggs for dinner tonight – we haven’t had them in a while, and they’re one of our favorite dishes. I think I might make some blondies later this afternoon too (also known as ‘haole brownies’ here) so that Brett and WenYu have a little something sweet to enjoy. It’s cool enough to bake today.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We really haven’t had much lately that has to be accomplished other than our regular chores and duties – I guess it’s one of the rewards of being retired. I managed to get in at least one bike ride a day, but accomplished two on most days and even got in three on one day. It just was too hot and humid though for the most part, but I keep at it. Brett has gotten in his daily walk every day. I also drank all my glasses of water every day and did my language study too. I am beginning to get the hang of it so it’s becoming more enjoyable.
  • Looking forward to next week: Once again there’s nothing on the calendar (another benefit of being retired) – what we do or don’t do will be up to us. YaYu won’t be around, WenYu will be busy working her two jobs, so Brett and I would really like to get back to the beach, but it’s supposed to rain for several days so we’ll see. The cooler weather that’s supposed to happen will be much appreciated.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: When YaYu went to pick up her prize for winning the essay contest, she not only got a check for $100 but a whole (reusable) shopping bag of goodies including a stainless steel thermos in a carrying case, a book, a framed copy of her essay and a ukulele worth $50. She gave me the framed essay, and is going to give WenYu the ukulele for Christmas. I think it’s just a half-good thing that my pants are starting to fall off because I haven’t lost enough weight to fit into the smaller sized ones except for one pair.
  • Grateful for: Brett and I are very thankful that such a wonderful family in Honolulu volunteered to host YaYu this week – we’ve been communicating with them for several weeks, and they are looking forward to adding our girl to their family for a few days. We know she will be safe, and well looked after.
  • Bonus question: Have you ever gone to any of your school reunions? I haven’t, and have no desire to go to one. My situation is somewhat different in that I grew up in a small-ish city, and went to school with the same people from kindergarten through my junior year of high school. In my senior year my dad was transferred and I ended up graduating from a different high school. I don’t know anyone from the high school I attended in my senior year, but via Facebook I have been back in touch with several former classmates from my hometown, and re-integrated with my class to a degree, but have found I’m not all that interested in getting together with most of them again. I communicate with some via email and Facebook, but really don’t want to go beyond that. What surprised me the most when I reconnected with my class is that while I remember names, I don’t remember anything else about them at all, and there are even a few names I don’t recall! I’m sure the reverse is true as well – just as many people don’t remember me.

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

Five Frugal Things 6/2/2017

  1. We signed up for the free trial for HBO on Amazon and watched movies that we’d otherwise have to pay to rent, then cancelled the subscription before we were charged.
  2. I made the first goal on Swagbucks every day in May, and will earn at least 300 bonus Swagbucks plus the daily lower goal bonus (I made the second goal on a few days too). I’m banking the Swagbucks I’m earning now – they will be turned into Amazon gift cards later and used to beef up our Christmas budget.
  3. WenYu picked up a second job as a part-time server at the restaurant where she worked last summer. The shifts there complement the ones at her other job, and provide big tips. She has enough in her savings to cover expenses this coming year, but wants to get a head start for the following year.
  4. We heard that we might possibly be able to get a better rate on our car insurance with another company, so we requested a quote. At first it looked to be lower than what we are paying now, but we did a  comparison with our current insurance, and discovered it was actually more per month with less coverage and higher deductibles than we have now. So, we’re sticking with our current insurance. We’ll still keep checking once a year though to make sure we are getting the best deal.
  5. We put $13.09 into the change/$1 bill jar: $8.09 in change from a trip to Costco last weekend, and $5.00 leftover from the farmers’ market.

What frugal wins did you have this week?

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Three Years: The Bad, The Good & The Sublime

It doesn’t get any better than palm trees and rainbows.

This month marks the beginning of our fourth year on Kaua’i. It’s almost a cliché to say it, but it both seems like it was only yesterday that we were scrambling back in Portland to sell our house and make our move, while at the same time feeling like we’ve been here for far longer than three years.

Has it been perfect? No, because nothing ever is. Still the good and the sublime far outweigh the bad we’ve experienced since our move.

Beautiful but annoying

Here’s how things look after three years on Kauai:

The Bad:

  • Humidity: As I wrote just a short time ago, I’m not sure I will ever adjust. When it’s bad, I’m miserable.
  • Bugs: Hawai’i is Bug Central. We do pretty well inside our house keeping the critters out, but they are still always with us: mosquitos, centipedes, giant cockroaches, ants, spiders and other small flying things.
  • Dust: Keeping up with the dust here is a daily struggle.
  • Chickens/roosters: They’ve grown on me in some ways (some of the roosters are positively gorgeous) and they eat lots of bugs, but they have torn up everything we’ve planted in the yard, and can be incredibly loud and annoying at times. I guess I just wish there were fewer of them.
  • Frogs: There are poisonous toads (bufo) here and they give me the willies. Thankfully they only come out at night when I’m safely inside, and they too eat bugs. Still, they’re a giant ick factor for me.
  • It’s expensive: We prepared ourselves for the higher cost of living here, and are managing fine, but food, housing, airline flights, etc. are still more here than elsewhere – prices can still be a shock at times.

    One of our favorite farmers at the Kapaa market – we stop by her stand every week

The Good:

  • Farmers’ markets: The abundance of fresh, locally grown, affordable produce has meant we are eating more fruits and vegetables than in the past, and paying less for them.
  • Hawaiian-style: We absolutely love the Hawaiian spin on things, especially the way food is prepared using or substituting local ingredients.
  • It’s casual: Every day is casual Friday here. Really, no one cares what you wear, or what your nails look like, or what kind of purse you’re carrying. No one cares about your car either.
  • Our girls’ experiences: None of our girls wanted to move here, and although Meiling returned back to the mainland shortly after we arrived, WenYu now says moving here was the best thing to happen for her, and YaYu concurs. They have thrived here on the island. All three consider Kaua’i home now.
  • No snakes: It took me almost a year to accept that there are no snakes, poisonous or otherwise, on this tropical island; in the whole state actually. Yeah for no snakes!
  • The expense: While this is one of the not-so-good things about living here, it’s also helped us hone our frugal skills much more than we might have otherwise.
  • Manageability: Although there aren’t loads of stores or shopping opportunities like in other places, and we’ll never get a Trader Joe’s, we have everything we need here, and it’s easy to get to them. The island is just the right size (for us).

    My all-time favorite island view

The Sublime:

  • The slow pace: The slower way of life here suits us perfectly. Everything gets done, but there’s little to no sense of underlying urgency. Feeling stressed is a rare thing these days.
  • The green: There’s a reason Kaua’i is called ‘The Garden Island’ – it’s beautiful, lush and green all year round.
  • The weather: This was the main reason for our move here, and we have not been disappointed. Yes, it rains and can get very humid, but most of the time it is warm, sunny and the trade winds keep it comfortable.
  • The ocean: I love that I can see the ocean every day, and experience its wonders, from crashing waves to spectacular vistas with colors transitioning from clear turquoise to deep, dark blue. And, there are seals, dolphins, big turtles and leaping whales to observe. There is nothing more invigorating than an hour or so under the umbrella at the beach, even if I don’t make it into the water.
  • The moon and the stars: There aren’t words to describe how beautiful the night sky is here. Because there’s no ambient light to dull the view, stars literally blanket the sky. The full moon here shines like a spotlight.
  • Sunrise, sunset: One word: breathtaking. Almost every day.
  • Diversity: Hawai’i is well-known for its population diversity – it’s a daily fact of life here – but we also experience other types of diversity as well. Even a small island like Kaua’i has multiple micro-climates, so a trip to the north shore or the west side of the island means different foliage and temperatures than we have here on the east side. The local culture is also different depending on which part of the island you’re on.
  • The aloha spirit: There is a genuine friendliness here that I’ve never experienced elsewhere in the U.S. Aloha means sharing, living in the present, caring for others and the land, and enjoying life and feeling joy, and we experience these things every day in our interactions with others (even though most locals still think we’re tourists).

Here’s to three wonderful years – lucky we live Hawai’i!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

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.

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?