Channeling Martha Stewart and other crazy musings from a busy woman

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Letting go again – part 2

Well, we cut the apron strings tonight with Micah. Amazingly enough, I did not cry but I feel the tears welling up as I write. Perhaps this glass of Merlot will help me.

Micah seems to have adjusted well to campus life. He made friends quickly and is getting along with his roommate. I think he realized that he’s not that far away from home when he found poke bowls and Hawaiian Sun juice at Uwajimaya (it’s like Marukai) and POG juice at Fred Meyer! And let’s not forget that he has family about 20 minutes away from campus. 

I’m amazed at how many students he already knows, but that’s to be expected when 25% of the school’s population is from Hawaii. The class of 2019 has 117 freshmen from Hawaii, a record for Pacific University. 

Getting on the plane tomorrow without Micah is going to feel so weird. I already started missing him a few days ago when I realized he was going to be fine on his own. 

I am so proud of him. He’s worked hard to get to this point and it makes me happy to see him embracing this new chapter of his life. Like any mom, I worry about a lot of things – like will he manage to get up for his 8 am class or change his sheets frequently. Or will he fall in with the party crowd (I hope not)? 

But I have to believe that he will make good decisions about his future. I think Pacific is a good fit for him and will allow him to grow and succeed. He’s leaning toward a degree in elementary education but who knows? It might be something else next month. 

It’s going to be a long plane ride home tomorrow without my “baby.” Time for another glass of wine! 

   

A Chinese mythological creature: part dragon, part dog.

  

Incoming freshmen sign the enrollment book and ring the old bell.

 

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Letting go again

In approximately 20 minutes, I’ll be leaving for the airport to board a flight to Oregon. We’re taking our youngest son Micah to college this week. You’d think this would be a walk in the park for me since I’ve already sent one son to college, but it’s not. In fact, I think it will be harder this time around.

Micah is six years younger than his brother Matt so he was basically raised as an only child for much of his life. He’s not one of those kids who shudders at the thought of hanging out with his parents. He happily goes to dinner with us, shopping with me (he has an Imelda problem) and generally likes to hang out at home.

To say I was surprised he wanted to leave the nest is putting it mildly. There was a point in his first year of high school when he wasn’t considering higher education. Thankfully, the “light” turned on for him and he graduated this past May and was accepted to many great universities. Of course, he chose Pacific University, the most expensive school with the smallest financial aid offer. But according to Micah, he didn’t go to private school like his brother so he saved us a lot of money over the years. Okay, point taken.

Unlike my husband who is thrilled to have a partially empty nest, I am not so happy. I’m really going to miss Micah. In many ways, he’s like me. You know, neat, germaphobe, particular about clothes, classic  Type A with OCD tendencies. I’m really quite sad. Mainly because the other two adults in my house are the exact opposite! 

I’m sure I’ll keep it together this week but the real challenge will be when we get home. I might have to find a hobby or get my husband to take me on more trips. Yeah, that might be the cure. More traveling sans children!

Photos coming soon! 

  

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Hello 2015!

In the days leading up to the new year, I’ve heard many people say that 2014 was less than stellar. Initially I felt the same way but after some reflection, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

We started 2014 with a 12-day cruise to Australia and New Zealand, two countries that were on my bucket list. Barry and I had such a great time “cruising” and we laughed at the fact that we were probably some of the youngest people on the ship!

I left my job soon after and started my own PR company, SUN Communications. It was great being on my own and working with a variety of clients. The flexibility also allowed me to be at home to oversee our house renovation (did I mention I LOVE my new kitchen)?

I also went back to graduate school in August. Going back to school at my age is quite an experience. Love the learning, hate the homework and I’m completely annoyed that most of people in my cohort are young enough to be my children!

In November, we took an impromptu trip to Japan as I was about to start a new job in December with the Board of Water Supply. While in Japan, we got together with long-time family friends and of course, @Melisssa808, who always manages to be in the same vacation spot as me!

Just a few weeks ago, our firstborn graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a B.S. in Kinesiology. We are so proud of his accomplishments and are hopeful he’ll find a job soon (or accepted to graduate school). Our second son is frantically working on his college apps and hopes to be somewhere on the West Coast next year.

Was 2014 a perfect year? Absolutely not. There were many “first world” problems that I didn’t anticipate but the year ended on a positive note. So bring it on, 2015. I’m ready!

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 710 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 12 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Kitchen Renovation: It’s done!

After 24 days of chaos, our kitchen renovation is finally done! While three weeks doesn’t seem long to be without a working kitchen, it was an eternity in my mind. In retrospect, the whole process was relatively smooth. No major catastrophes or delays to cause a setback. Probably the hardest thing for me was trying to work while listening to construction noise all day. And the dust. We’re still cleaning that fine, white powder that seems to be everywhere in the house.

So what did I learn from the renovation? First of all, you can have a nice kitchen on a budget and you can design it yourself. You just have to do a lot of research, watch a lot of HGTV and go to open houses in your neighborhood to get ideas. I was fortunate to have worked with Geri from Geri’s Kitchen and she helped me pick out our custom cabinets and developed the overall layout.

I did the rest of the design on my own. Over a period of two months in preparation for the renovation, I selected the granite, the backsplash, lights, sink and appliances. That’s the fun part but also overwhelming. I had a color palate in mind but you never really know if it will tie in together nicely until you see the finished kitchen. I drove around to a lot of places with a sample cabinet door and a plank of flooring in hand to help me pick out the granite and backsplash tiles. Picking lights was more difficult than I expected. I knew I wanted recessed lighting, and lots of it. I ended up selecting LED lights because they are energy-efficient and don’t generate heat. More expensive upfront but worth the savings in the long run. The pendant lighting gave me the most heartburn. Because I couldn’t afford to blow up the dropped ceiling, that limited my choices for pendants. In the end, I found onyx lights that work perfectly over the new island.

People have been asking me what are my favorite aspects of the new kitchen. I love all of it but if I had to pick a few highlights, they would be:

  • French-door refrigerator
  • Island that features a special cabinet just for my Kitchen Aid mixer (and there’s an outlet in the cabinet)
  • Pull out shelves in all the cabinets
  • Built-in trash and recycle bins

If I can offer one nugget of advice: be prepared for serious sticker shock when it comes to appliances. I had an inkling that the appliances were going to be costly but nowhere near what I had expected. It’s alarming to know that the average stainless steel refrigerator starts at about $2000 and that’s for a basic side-by-side model. I also had no idea that a slide-in range (versus a freestanding range) was so expensive! And don’t even get me started on the wine refrigerator. That appliance is hard to come by in Hawaii unless you’re willing to pay big bucks for a high-end version. I ended up ordering one online via Best Buy and they shipped it to the Iwilei store for free.

I still can’t believe I have such a beautiful kitchen. It seemed like the impossible dream for so many years (12 to be exact). Now my husband said we should sell. I told him the only way he’s getting me to leave this house is if the next one is renovation-free and has a kitchen that is as perfect as mine. I think we’ll be staying of awhile!

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D-day!

Tuesday was demolition day at the Nakamoto hale. After a hellish weekend of purging and packing, I was ready for the sledgehammers. Okay, I exaggerate. It was really three guys with power tools removing every cabinet door, then prying off the Formica countertops and scraping the linoleum off the floor. So not the stress-relieving, testosterone-induced demolition that you see on HGTV. I was a tad disappointed. In fact, I was hoping they would let me rip the first cabinet door off its hinges!

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Today, the real renovation started as the cabinets arrived. They are beautiful! One wall of cabinets has already been installed (minus the doors) and it’s beginning to look like a kitchen again. I’m drooling over the cabinets that have pull out shelves and can’t wait to organize them. Since I tossed or donated a lot of kitchen stuff, I’m making a list of things I need to buy (yay, more shopping).

The house is still a freaking mess and there’s a hole in the kitchen ceiling that makes me wonder if there are critters in the crawl space. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Another benefit of being kitchen-less?  We have very little food in the house so we may lose a few pounds!

Stay tuned for renovation updates.

 

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Home Improvement: The never ending story

In 2002, we purchased a 70’s era home in Hawaii Kai. At that time, it was definitely a buyer’s market and we got the house for a steal. To be honest, I didn’t want this house because wallpaper was used extensively in every room, the washer and dryer were located in the garage that was only accessible by a narrow staircase and the kitchen was butt ugly. Even though we got a great deal on the house, the only remodeling we were able to do was remove the wallpaper and upgrade the bathrooms.

Fast forward twelve years and the deferred maintenance has finally caught up with us. Our home improvement journey actually started at the end of 2012 when we had to replace the master bathroom “tub of death” (a Jacuzzi style monstrosity) and put in a walk-in shower. Then we asked our contractor to replace the front deck and porch railings. After that, we had the house painted and suddenly we were no longer the ugly house on the street anymore! As we admired our newly painted home, we realized that the windows needed to be replaced. And when you put in new windows, you need new window treatments so plantation shutters are now on order.

So now that the exterior of our house looks wonderful and our master bathroom is finally complete, we have one last project — the kitchen. My kitchen has been a source of embarrassment for me from day one. I enjoy cooking and baking and my kitchen is not conducive to those activities. I firmly believe it was designed by a man who never cooked a day in his life. It has laminate countertops and particle board cabinets (you know, that lovely faux wood). The floor is linoleum and the lighting is horrible. It’s ugly, outdated and most importantly, it’s not functional.

I’m excited to finally have the chance to design a new kitchen. I’m going to blog about this process because as fun as it is to shop for appliances and finishes, it’s completely overwhelming (especially if you’re on a budget). I’ve included some photos of our current kitchen so all 16 of my readers can feel my pain.

 

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In late January, my husband and I took a 12-day cruise to Australia and New Zealand. It was the trip of a lifetime and we had a wonderful time.

Some observations from our two-week adventure:

  • We survived each other 24/7 for two entire weeks! I think we’ll be okay during our retirement years.
  • Dining in Australia and New Zealand is very expensive. More than what you would spend in Hawaii. For example, a simple breakfast at a cafe in Sydney cost us $35, not including gratuity.
  • The sun down under is really hot. We had the worst sunburn of our lives while we were tooling around Sydney.
  • New Zealand is absolutely beautiful. It’s what Hawaii probably looked like before development. Most of the ports we visited reminded us of Waimea on the Big Island. Pristine coastlines and cute little towns.
  • There are lots of Chinese people living in Australia. And by the way, Chinese tourists are the rudest people on the planet. I’m not kidding. No respect for personal space. Pushing and shoving their way in a crowd is their normal. China is so not on our bucket list.

Here’s a link to our photo album. Enjoy!

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Taking charge of your health: it’s that important.

I’m a little annoyed at the big deal the media is making about Angelina Jolie’s revelation that she had a double mastectomy. For the record, there have been other celebrities that made the same choice but it didn’t generate the level of media coverage that has occurred in the last 24 hours. For what it’s worth, I applaud her courage to talk about her high risk for breast and ovarian cancer and her decision to have surgery. It may not be the right choice for every woman, but that’s my point. It’s her choice and we should respect it. I don’t understand why people who know nothing about her, and even less about breast cancer, BRAC and treatment options, find it necessary to criticize or question her decision.

I’m considered high risk for breast cancer and while it’s unlikely that I have the genetic marker, I would make that same choice if I did have it because I know I couldn’t live with those odds. In fact, I would take it to another level by not only having the double mastectomy but also opting for a complete hysterectomy.

Yes that’s drastic but let’s be honest here. I’m way past my child-bearing years and I don’t have to breastfeed anymore (small blessings). Besides, I’m not the kind of woman who defines herself by her “rack” (or lack thereof in my case) and if I suffer from any form of vanity, it’s my ridiculous fear of losing my hair even if it drives me crazy on a daily basis.

People should applaud the actress for taking charge of her health, something that all of us should be doing instead of waiting until chronic or terminal illness takes over our lives. Think about — and I’m as guilty as the next person of not doing this — if we all took better care of ourselves by eating right, exercising and educating ourselves about health and wellness, our nation might not be in the health crisis that we’re currently in.

Like Angelina, I want to be around to see my kids get married and to spoil my grandchildren so I will do what’s necessary to keep myself healthy. Life is short and I have yet to tackle my bucket list. Get your mammogram, ladies!

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Adventures in Japan

To celebrate my mom’s 75th birthday, she took all eight of her grandchildren to Japan in December (her adult kids had to pay their own way).  We started our adventure on December 20th, departing Honolulu for Tokyo on a lovely 9 hour flight (well, my flight was actually lovely since I flew first class).  Since we were such a large group (14), we had a tour guide and a chartered bus for most of our stay in Tokyo.  It was a first visit for the majority of us so it was nice to have a guide. Her name was Naoko and she was very helpful. Highlights of our trip included Tsukiji Fish Market (best fatty tuna sushi ever); Oedo Onsen; Ghibli Museum; Skytree (think Space Needle); shopping at Daiba (dollar store) in Harajuku; riding the gondola in Hakone and a boat tour of Lake Ashi; visiting with the Okano family at their temple and family home in Yokohama; and Shinyokohama Ramen Museum, also in Yokohama.

On day six, our tour guide helped us get on the bullet train to Hiroshima where we met up with another tour guide, Satoko. We visited the Hiroshima Peace Museum and Memorial.  That was a very somber experience for all of us. The next day, we went to Miyajima Island, home of the rice scooper and super friendly deer.  Too bad it rained that day.  It was bad enough being cold!  We got around the island with our umbrellas and stopped at the various shops to eat warm manju and other goodies.  That afternoon, we caught the bullet train to Osaka for the remainder of our trip.

While in Osaka, we visited the Kuromon Fish Market which is famous for oysters and fugu (balloon fish).  I did try the fugu sashimi at a sushi restaurant and was unimpressed (at least I lived to write about it).  The market also had a lot of produce vendors and the tangerines, strawberries and bananas were delicious. In my opinion, the sushi was better at Tsukiji.  We also visited the Osaka Kaiyudan (aquarium) and saw their whale shark. Impressive!

We also took a day trip to Kyoto and I was so disappointed because it rained really hard that day.  Kyoto was the one place that I wanted to see because it’s like old Japan and I wanted to see geisha.  It was truly miserable that day.  Our tour guide Yoko ended up taking us to an enclosed “mall” and open market instead but that was a bust.  The open market was very crowded because people were getting ready for the New Year.  It was so crowded that I actually had a panic attack and turned around and went against the crowd so I could get out of there!  I ended up sitting at Tully’s Coffee, sipping a tiramisu latte to wait for the rest of the family. I wish we had Tully’s in Hawaii, but I digress.

On New Year’s Day, we visited Sumiyoshi Shrine (one of three that we saw on this trip) to ask for New Year’s blessings.  Generally, you have to throw a yen into the shrine, bow twice, clap, make a wish and then bow again.  However, there were so many people at the shrine that Yoko said not to get to close because we would get hit by coins.  Seriously, people in the back (including my sons) were just flinging their coins toward the shrine.  Of all the shrines we visited, this one turned out to be the most fun.  As we made our way in, we saw people on the ground sifting through the pebbles.  Turns out that the temple paints the five power characters on the pebbles and you’re supposed to look for all five for good luck.  Of course, all of our kids (and a few adults) had to join in the fun.  There was also a street fair featuring lots of interesting food and carnival games.

No trip would be complete without shopping and we did a lot of that on this trip.  Particularly at the Daiba stores, Tokyu Hands and The Loft (not the Ann Taylor Loft).  My sister purchased every pen imaginable in Japan.  I bought things like Japanese paper gift bags, tiny gift tags, kitchen gadgets, pens (not as much as my sister) and of course, food. I think my kids and I went overboard with the weird flavored Kit Kats, Hi-Chews and Mentos.

Overall, we didn’t have any major disasters.  We did have one train incident where half the group didn’t get on the same car with us and we weren’t sure if they heard the name of our stop.  It worked out and no one got lost.  For me, the highlight was the food although I admit that I’m tired of Japanese cuisine right now.  During our layover at Narita, we ate sushi (super good for an airport restaurant) and then we ate at McDonald’s!  By the way, it tastes exactly like it does at home but they have cuter toys in their Happy Meals.

Japan was a lot of fun and I’d love to go back, but I am SO happy to be home after being away for 12 days.  I think my body and brain have finally recovered from the jet lag. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends.  Wishing all of you a prosperous 2013, filled with love, good health and happiness!

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