Saturday, December 30, 2017

Getting Ready for New Year's Dinner

Curtis, Lori, DT, & Brent came by this morning to help finish the clean up of the dining room and living room to get ready for the New Year's dinner. I had already moved all the boxes; we only needed to pack up the books & move them to the middle bedroom for temporary storage and a bunch of cleaning. Later I bought a new table cloth to cover the old one.
The new tablecloth with an ohia lehua design.

When they arrived, I had Lori open her Christmas presents before we got to work. I saw the light banner on the Hammacher Schlemmer website first, then the ghost drone; I got both because I know she likes both holidays. Curtis suggested taking it to a park to practice.
The ghost drone. It was originally $100, but I got it for only $15! They must have had a lot of them left over.

After we looked at the presents, we started the clean-up. I taught Brent how to use the steam cleaner; he did the carpet in the family room & the dining room. We were done with everything in about an hour & needed to wait for another hour to pick up Bick & Ron; Bick made lunch for us since we were cleaning and packing. While we were waiting we decided to put up the light banner here since the New Year's dinner will be here. It turned out to need a little more than hanging; the window needed cleaning. We attached the control box with duct tape; it stayed up for about 10 minutes. We couldn't find other hardware to put it back up.
Brent cleaning the outside of the window.

Bick brought over Vietnamese-style braised catfish, Thai red rice, and laulau. I was busy feeding Dad, so I only have a photo of the leftovers.
L: laulau, R: red rice with braised catfish.

I gave Bick & Ron a ride back to their place, then I went to Don Quijote to pick up food for the New Year's dinner. I also picked up batteries for the remote control for the light banner and cup hooks to hang the banner. I worked on securely putting up the banner and control box. It looked like it needed a couple more points to hang from so I also added a couple zipties, which I always have with me since I keep them in my suitcase. (Perhaps that is why TSA keeps searching my luggage!) There are 13 messages, like Happy Birthday, Let It Snow, and Happy Halloween. It also has 11 icons like snowflakes, pumpkins, and stars. It can be used year round!
The banner lights up the living room.
The letters scroll across the banner; "Holidays" is too long to be seen completely on the banner.

Happy Birthday to Bria!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Fitbit Blaze

Yesterday at lunch, Curtis gave me the last part of my Christmas present: a Fitbit Blaze. I was so tired when I got back from the Kwanzaa with Bick & Ron, I just unwrapped it and went to bed. But I kept waking up because of the pain in my knee. About 3 in the morning I decided to be productive and set up the Fitbit. It is similar to the Samsung Health app that came installed on my phone. The differences are that the Fitbit is constantly recording my movements as long as it is on my wrist; the phone can't count my steps while it is being charged. The phone says I had 316 steps today; the Fitbit 2102 steps. The Fitbit also automatically records my sleep stages; though right now it is telling me I have no Sleep Stages, it just gives me a total time spent sleeping. I have to manually enter my amount of sleep on the phone. Like the phone, the Fitbit can tell me what my heart rate is, however, it is constantly recording, not just when I put my finger on the phone sensor. Recording of calories, water intake, & weight is about the same. I am looking forward to testing it out over the next month or so; stay tuned for my review at the end of January.
Curtis got the one with the large wristband for me because his has a small wristband; we're trading wristbands tomorrow.

A little after lunch I noticed that I had gotten a text from the USPS that said that Lori's gift had arrived about an hour earlier and was dropped off "at the front door." I did not hear the postal carrier arrive at all & found the boxes at the garage door. I wasn't expecting them for a few days; Hammacher Schlemmer always surprises me with how quickly they deliver, they're faster than Amazon. Photos of exactly what I got for her will be posted later.

Later in the day UPS arrived with another package; I had not ordered anything else. It turns out it was a package from Kasondra; she was helping Sam during the 1st week of the O'ahu Seabird Aid program & had also stayed with us. Kasondra, like Sam, is also a cat lover as well as bird lover. She had told me about the sci-fi novel, The Man in the High Castle; I will be reading it after the New Year begins and things settle down a little. Mahalo, Kasondra!

A couple days ago I noticed that the rinse water in the dryer was about half of the wash water level. I called Sears for service; the technician was here this afternoon. Did you know that some washers do not fill the same amount of water on the wash cycle as they do on the rinse cycle? I did not. Apparently the GE washer that Mom bought only fills up 1/3 on the rinse cycle. Unless I use the fabric softener Power Rinse cycle; then it will fill up to the same level as the wash cycle. I think for very dirty laundry I will use the Power Rinse cycle.

Happy Birthday to Jesse, Lynne, Eric, Sarah, & Ava!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Lunch with Curtis, et al

So normally Curtis and I go out to breakfast on Tuesday morning. But this week Bick & Ron are visiting so we decided to invite them. But they had things to do on Tuesday, so we decided to do it on Wednesday morning. But then Curtis had something come up in the morning, so we did lunch today. Lori & Jenny joined us and we met Bick & Ron at the Kona Grill at the International Market Place.
L to R: Jenny, Lori, & Curtis headed to Kona Grill.
L to R: Bick, Lori, Curtis, & Jenny.
My out-of-focus Churrasco Beef Satay Bento Box; they were out of the Sweet Chili-Glazed Salmon.
Lori & Jenny had the Shrimp Tempura Bento Box. (Photo by Jenny)
Curtis had the Big Kahuna Cheeseburger without the bun. (Photo by Curtis)
Bick had the Sebastian Roll. Apparently it is named after the crab in The Little Mermaid. (Photo by Bick)
Ron had the Avocado Chicken Club Sandwich. (Photo by Ron)

On the way out we saw Mrs. Vea and Donna who were just starting their lunch at Kona Grill. On the day after Christmas Donna's house was broken into, some identification cards were stolen. They have filed fraud reports. Apparently louvers on the other side of their house were removed and someone crawled in to their house while they were out in the mid-morning. I forwarded the information to the Neighborhood Security Watch group.

On the way out we also saw a Tesla electric car charging station that is in the parking garage at the International Market Place. But there were no cars hooked up.

We went to see where Bick & Ron are staying. Ron showed us an old photo that he found in the condo. It looks like it was taken from Puowaina (Punchbowl) sometime in the 1940's or 1950's. We can find the Ala Wai Canal, Kalakaua Avenue, and McKinley High School; we're not sure what that dome is near the center of the photo.
We're pretty sure this was taken from the lookout at Puowaina. (Photographer unknown)
As we left, we could see Puowaina as we were driving down Ala Wai Boulevard.

This morning I did a batch of laundry. I checked out the plants. I trimmed out all the old parts from Mom's orchid yesterday; it looks pretty good!

Here are the miniature anthuriums.

Later I met Bick & Ron to go to the Hilton Hawaiian Village to help their friend Delores with a Kwanzaa information table. I told Delores how I would go to Kwanzaa with Eleta and how she would do 1 principle a month throughout the year to help remember them. Eleta has been sending me photos of the candles in the kinara each night of Kwanzaa.
L to R: Delores & Bick, organizing the table.
Habari gani? Ujima! (Photo by Eleta)
This is from yesterday. Habari gani? Kujichagulia! (Photo by Eleta)

After Delores was done, we were going to go to dinner at Roy's Waikiki; I had coupons for $10 off! But the wait was about an hour. Bick wanted to go to Marukame Udon; we got there and it looked like there wait was way longer than an hour. We ended up at Siam Square.
We were so hungry by the time we got there, I almost didn't get any photos. This is the Tom Yum (Spicy Sour Soup).
Yum Woon Sen (Cellophane Noodle Salad).
Pad Met Mamuong (Cashew Stir-Fry).

Happy Birthday to Jennifer!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The rain woke me up early this morning when it was still dark. And then again when I needed to get up and give Xander his insulin. It poured several more times through out the day. I was wondering whether Bick & Ron were going to Punchbowl. We talked, Punchbowl was out, Costco was in.
Raining buckets this afternoon.
Driving in the rain.

I needed a couple things from Costco; Curtis usually does those purchases but because I was there with Bick & Ron I picked them up. I also picked up a couple things that weren't on the list; like the muffins and crackers. I cut the muffins in quarters, freeze them in small batches, then defrost them a few at a time for Dad to eat with his ice cream. I'm trying the crackers to see if they might be a good snack to keep around when David visits.

We went to Liliha Bakery for lunch. Ron had been telling Bick about it since he 1st went there with Mom almost exactly a year ago. Both Bick & Ron had the Chicken Karaage and I had the Saimin with Teriyaki Chicken Sticks. It was pouring when we left Liliha Bakery.

What's left of Bick's Chicken Karaage.
What's left of my Saimin. I also had this last year when we had lunch with Mom.

On the way back from Liliha Bakery we passed by the bus stop at Ala Moana Park that collapsed in October when a tree fell on it.

We passed through many areas where the water along the roadside was deep due to poor drainage or plugged storm drains. We checked out the Ala Wai Canal from the condo. Like many established communities, wetlands have been channelized & drained, streams have been used for storm water runoff, & many have been channelized or put in culverts; it is no different here. In this area, much of the water ends up in the Ala Wai Canal; whenever there is a lot of rain there is a concern that it will overflow its banks. Today was no different.
The Ala Wai Canal with Palolo Stream coming in at the center of the photo.

I had actually started out the day by mailing off a package for David. When he got home he was going to send his dad a couple bottles of beer for his beer bottle collection but realized as he was packing that they only had carry-ons so they couldn't take 4 bottles of beer with them. So I packed them in a medium flat rate Priority mailing box. David went online and paid for the postage & printed the mailing label; I just needed to top it off with some coffee & drop it off at the post office. By the time the rain let up a little, it was late enough that I was able to go to the US post office nearest to me & found out if the box can fit in our mailbox we can just mail it from the house. Winner!
Beers wrapped in bubble wrap with individual candy packets providing cushioning between the bottles.

By the way, here's the information on what I got for Curtis for Christmas. It's the Jetsetter Scratch Your Travels United States map. On the note I attached to his present, I told Curtis it was only part of his gift. He asked if the second part was the coin to scratch the states off with! (It's actually a frame to display it in.) They also have maps for Canada, Europe, and the World. I got a US map for me also.
This is what the map looks like before you start scratching things off.
This is my map; I've scratched off Hawai'i. I should have only scratched off the islands I have been to; I need to scratch off 13 more states for now.

My friend Eleta texted me this photo with, "Habari gani?" I texted her back, "Umoja!" Today is the first day of Kwanzaa. Habari gani is the greeting which means, "What is the news?" The response is the principle of the day, which is Unity for this 1st day of Kwanzaa.
Umoja. (Photo by Eleta)

On the news tonight the weather report showed what's been happening. It's predicted to continue through the early morning.
(Screen shot from Hawaii News Now)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Mele Kalikimaka!

We went to Aunty Judy's house for Christmas dinner and Dad went with us! The food was great, everyone brought something; we brought Fluffy Dinner Rolls and Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. We had a great time; Dad stayed downstairs in Aunty Judy's hideaway, watching his favorite TV shows and visiting with people who came downstairs. Upstairs we played 5 Second Rule and other games.

David & Sarah left today about midday. We did the last coffee bracket this morning; we started it the first morning they were here, comparing 10% Kona, 100% Kona, 100% Ka'u, & 100% Maui Moka coffee. Since we only had 2 coffee makers, and they were only here 5 days, we did a bracketed comparison rather than a head to head comparison. I prepped the 2 coffee makers each morning without telling them what I was brewing. The coffee they liked the best was the 100% Maui Moka. When you come to visit, and you would like to do this, you need to be here with us for at least 4 mornings.

Sam sent presents to me and the kitties. We all loved our presents! She was looking for fabric with wedge-tailed shearwaters but couldn't find any. So the bag has American goldfinches on it; they are the state bird of both New Jersey (where Sam is from) and Washington (where I was living).

Chibi attacking the kitty toy.
Shiro's turn with the toy.

After David & Sarah left I started a batch of Whole Wheat Fluffy Dinner Rolls & Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. It turns out I can make both in a little over 4 hours since they both have at least one rise/resting period of at least 30 minutes. One of the things I did that helps speed things up is I marked the cutting board I use for cutting the dinner rolls.

This morning I texted holiday greetings to a bunch of friends and family. I started getting responses, some included photos.
From Tomiko, snow at Aunty Florence's house. (Photo by Aunty Florence)
The Ikaika 'Ohana. (Photo by Suzanne)
Bruddah Ace.

Mary Ellen also sent some photos of their Christmas eve activities
Kai working on his gingerbread man. (Photo by Mary Ellen)
The finished product. (Photo by Mary Ellen)
Kathy working on her gingerbread people. (Photo by Mary Ellen)
Amelia making a gingerbread skeleton. (Photo by Mary Ellen)

After we got back from dinner, I opened up the rest of the gifts. I am seeing a trend in these gifts; do they think I like cats or something???
From the Ikaika 'ohana; notice the size of those red peppers!
The bag and box from Lori.
The contents.
From Jenny.
From DT, Brent, & Shaun.

Happy Birthday to Lorna, Alvin, & Doug!