Archive for December, 2009

Resolutions of a Die-hard Frugalista

December 30, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon, Don't forget to look for in on New Years Eve. If the skies are clear, revelers looking up at midnight will get an eyeful of the second full moon of the month—commonly called a blue moon. The last time a blue moon appeared on New Year's Eve was in 1990, and it won't happen again until 2028.

What is a frugalista you may ask, she is one who lives a frugal lifestyle but stays stylish, healthy and is all about having fun while doing it.  She enjoys the finest things in life,  good food, drink, travel and love.  She is the eternal optimist.  The frugalista embraces life, squeezing the most from every circumstance.

Just a hint of a Rainbow

1)  Simplify life……you don’t need a lot of stuff
2)  Don’t pay for convenience…..unless it saves both time, money, and increases enjoyment, like picking your produce from the local honor market, or buying your poke and rice on the go
3)  No impulse spending, only impulse fun
4)  Take advantage of free community events….free fireworks New Years Eve from our deck overlooking Poipu Beach, with blender margaritas, made with backyard key limes and Costco Jose Cuervo
5)  Avoid the mall…when a shopping is a must, thrift stores and garage sales, and craigslist only
6)  Only buy groceries on sale, plan your meals around the sale items and keep it simple and eat fresh
7)  Plan trips to Costco or Walmart with a list and stick to it
8)   Lower utility bills….don’t waste energy, wash in cold water and line dry, whenever you can…save yourself and save the planet
9)  Hone your skills in the art of the barter and the haggle, treat it like a sport..savor the thrill
10) Increase effort in the vegetable garden….. yielding a bigger harvest, of tasty delights
11) Glean natures bounty….she has so much to offer for free
12) Waste less and recycle more….and compost religiously
13) Be satisfied and thankful for what you have and never forget to be charitable
14) Always remember to have fun….do the things you love, everyday
15) Remember frugal is smart and fun, not cheap or miserly

I love the early morning, I wake each day and savor it, with a freshly brewed cup of Kauai coffee.

I envision the new year as a glorious one filled with the rewards of peace, prosperity, health and love, for all.
Hau’oli Makahiki Hou – Happy New Year

moon over Lawai


Fruit for Free in Kauai

December 29, 2009

morning's welcome

I’ve written about fruit in Kauai before, but there is so much to be had right in my new backyard that I am inclined to write about it again.  This new place in Kalaheo had a vegetable garden already started.

garden on arrival

So I got right at it and cleaned it up.  It’s already giving me roma and yellow pear tomatoes and tons of  Hawaiian hot peppers, which is great for me because I like things spicy.

green roma tomatoes grown in red dirt

I can mix up a guacamole from  pickings in the yard, buttery green avocados, colorful little hot peppers and tiny tart key limes.

Hawaiian Hot Peppers

Deliciousness abounds.

avocado trio behind banana leaf

The banana harvest hangs from the ceiling of the deck, and serves up enough bananas for all of our needs.  These are small sized bananas but have much the same flavor and texture of the bananas I was used to in the supermarkets on the mainland.  Chris likes these best.  I prefer the custard-like sweetness of a fat apple banana, but i’ll always enjoy those that are free.

the banana harvest ripens, giving us plenty of bananas for our cereal every morning


Papayas have many uses.  They can be eaten raw and are melon like.   Papaya can be used green and cooked like a squash or a root vegetable.   The seeds are edible and can be used as a black pepper substitute and to make a wonderful papaya seed salad dressing that is very popular here.  For tough meat…..unripe papaya can be used as a meat tenderizer.  The unripe fruit also contains a latex.  The stalks can be used to make rope.  They are rich in beta carotene and vitamin C.  It seems if you have papaya you need little else.

plump, sweet, moist, giant fig

The trick with figs is letting them fully mature on the tree.  A fig picked too soon will ooze a white liquid from the stem and never ripen completely.  Remember the birds are keeping and eye on the ripening figs too.  It can be quite a contest to see who gets them first.

wax or java apple

Wax or java apples, hang from a tree just off our deck.  In my research I found the white or “pearl” wax apples bring the highest price at market.  Our’s are free.  They are of unusual flavor slightly acidic and sweet with a moist crunchy texture. It doesn’t taste like an apple, nor does it have the flavor or the density of an apple.  It’s refreshing and juicy.  To eat, the core is removed and the fruit is served uncut, in order to preserve the unique bell shape presentation.  In island cuisine, the fruit is frequently used in salads, as well in with lighty sauteed dishes.

We planted a coconut.....and we have germination

How to grow a coconut palm:

Find a coconut.  Stick it in moist soil – half buried – for a month or two and if a shoot doesn’t emerge then it is a sterile seed.  No time to waste fooling around month after month with sterile seeds.   Do it the Rene way, find one already sprouting, throw it in a pot with dirt, place on deck, water and enjoy.

A Birdie for Christmas in Kauai

December 27, 2009

sunrise reflection from our deck in Kalaheo

Our holiday celebrations began on Christmas Eve at our local golf course here in Kalaheo, our  is routine set.  We get out on the course at about 8am and walk our first nine holes.   We work up a little sweat as Kukuiolono Golf Course has hilly terrain.

sunrise from the deck

Then it’s off to home base, only a half mile away,  for cool refreshments and lunch before heading off for the Salt Pond for a swim and leisurely sunbathe.

our hawaiian cottage

After were rested up we return to golf and finish out our 18 holes.  As a Christmas treat we rented a golf cart for the last nine.  I like to tee off from the mens tees on the first par 3 and try to make it over the great gully, usually I just lose a ball.  Today was different.  My drive landed just about 18 inches from the pin.  I didn’t choke and got my birdie.

tabi's for Christmas, The "Hawaiian Angler Felt Sole Tabi" is a traditionally shaped Japanese fishing shoe . It has a split toe and flexible sock-like instep and ankle sections. These will keep me safe when scrambling on the rocks and reefs.

Christmas gifts fun and practical

Our island Christmas was wonderfully memorable.  We kept it simple.  Fun and practical gifts, favorite foods and beautiful sunrises.  Phone calls to and from loved ones topped off the day.

Totally Tricked Out Hawaiian Base Station On The Cheap

December 24, 2009

sunset view from back deck

I arrived at the new base station on Sunday and by Wednesday I’m sitting pretty.  The new place is small but really comfortable.  The interior is at least 3 times larger than our last place and the deck, carport, laundry room and storage areas add even more space.

our indoor dining area

I filled the place up quickly, in a frugal island style.  Total cost for tricking this place out was $230.  I did my usual garage sale  and Craigslist thing.    The previous tenants left us dishes, cleaning supplies, 2 outdoor tables and several chairs, cleaning supplies, some spices, rice vinegar and soy sauce, paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, garbage bags, (all big box from Costco) dishes, pots, pans, glasses, coffee pot, blender, an iron, jumper cables, curtains, sheets, blankets,  towels and some other things too. So much stuff it’s too numerous to list…I gave them $50.00 for what ever they weren’t going to ship.  This was a great deal, a win-win situation, it saved lots of time and effort.  Helpful hint, find a rental where the previous tenants are moving off island.  They even left an old surf board, I’m using it as an island decor bulletin board, tacks pop right in.  This is a great place to display pictures, no need to put nail hole in the walls of the rental.

kitchen with a view

I bought a fine working tv from the real estate agent,  a 27 inch for $25 and she delivered.   Our bed is two twin mattresses, topped with a king mattress, all immaculately clean  It’s not a real bed but pretty cozy, and when we pull out the twins, we have beds for guests.  We didn’t need to rent a truck, we duct taped the king mattress to the top of the Acura, frugal and fun.   The people we bought the twin mattresses from, delivered.  I kept their email address because they offered trucking services when needed, mahalo, Marie.  I don’t think I’ll have a need but, who knows.  

I found another interesting place called Hawaiian Island Liquidators they liquidate hotel furnishings.I happened upon them when they were in the process of moving, they have lots of free stuff and and are really discounting things.  Yesterday they had free outdoor tables and wooden boxes.  I was tempted by the free stuff but I did not take it because.  I have enough, sometimes less is more.  I got a little carried away and paid $30.00 for our dining table and $20.00 total for 3 rattan chairs with cushions, and a $30.00 rattan sofa.  The total cost for the bed was $65…i could have got mattresses for free but when you find something so clean, it’s hard to be cheap.   Clean and comfortable is more important than just price.

great windows and a surf board in our kitchen

outdoor dining area

I think I did well, living in frugal comfort on the enchanting island of Kauai.

Oh Christmas Tree, Free Christmas Tree……

December 23, 2009

My frugal ways force creativity.  Especially at Christmas time.

our hawaiian christmas tree

How to make a banana leaf Christmas tree

After a backyard trek to harvest banana leaves.

Trim them to size, being careful of the sap, it’s sticky and stains.

Then cut the stems to length for your container.

Fold the leaves in half along the stem, dull side in.

Bind the stems with tape, any kind will do.

Hold the stems in the container while you fill in around it with stones to hold it straight.

Fill container with water, to make heavy, stable and to keep the leaves fresh.

Tear the banana leaves along their horizontal lines, about an inch wide, moving up the leaf and fanning them out at the same time.

Garland with shell leis, 50 cents each.

Pick plumeria from the yard, letting the poisonous sap dry before scotch taping them to the branches.

Use 99 cent package of stick on bows for a bit of sparkle.

Enjoy the free tree with it’s $2.00 adornments.

Wave watching and Sunrises are Always Free Activities in Kauai

December 19, 2009

crystal blue calm seas

Surfers and surf watchers all over Hawaii were revved up for epic waves, that were said to biggest in 40 years. Lifeguards warn

people to avoid entering the ocean in high-surf areas and to not turn their backs on waves while on the shoreline or while
standing on rocky coastlines.

surfs up at donkey beach

The monster waves, which tend to hit every 10 to 15 years,  were powered by two storms north by northwest of Hawaii.  We missed the first round of really large waves in the north.   Local reports say another round of monster waves are coming.

big splash

Maybe this time will be ready to ride the coast in the north in search of these enormous waves.  We have seen some really large ones but alas no 50 footers.  It’s reported that the record waves should arrive again on Christmas day.  I guess we have plans for Christmas.

sunrise from Hanapepe

misty morning sunrise

fish at salt pond

pictures of fish taken while wading at salt pond

Costco Membership….after incentives…..FREE

December 16, 2009

I am usually not so enthused with the big box stores.  I find I go in and spend too much money on things I really don’t need.  The locals tell me this is the place to shop in Kauai, Costco.

road to Poipu

I’m told they have the absolute best gas prices on the island.  Reported to be up to 50 cents cheaper per gallon than other places.  We need to buy premium for the Acura and the price per gallon was reported on the internet at $3.15 per gallon versus $3.62 at the local gas stations in Kalaheo.  We’re filling up about once per week, so we can plan our fill ups and shopping forays for the same trip.

Here goes….I  joined Costco.

I waited until I found a deal that gave me the membership for free and here it is:

This offer from Working Advantage members–not available in stores:

• With every Membership Certificate you order, you will receive coupons worth more than $50, including a FREE rotisserie chicken, FREE photo processing, a FREE Kirkland Signature 2 lb. bag of coffee FREE Kirkland Signature 48 pk AA batteries–and more! (more includes more coupons)

• Includes free household card!

• Shipping is FREE

• Plus receive a FREE $5 Costco Cash Card with each Membership Certificate purchased thru 12/21!

Learning to Accept Aloha

December 15, 2009

In the almost 2 months that I have spent here in Kauai I’ve heard a lot of talk on television, radio and printed advertising regarding, the aloha spirit and living aloha.  It is supposedly a way of life practiced by the local people.  In the Hawaiian language, aloha, means  affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy.  As well as the common use of hello and goodbye.

Living Aloha for Christmas

This spirit has surrounded me in almost every interaction with the people here.  Most friendly and smiling.  No one seems in a great hurry.  I experience patience on congested roadways, no horns honking, no aggressive driving, people are obliging to let others pull into traffic.  During the purchase of the Acura, the seller became my friend, so honest and accommodating.  She exudes this spirit of aloha, and she is still operating as my Hawaiian guardian angel.

Living Aloha

Yesterday was a very fortunate day for me.  The Acura’s alternator stopped charging our battery and left us stranded at the Salt Pond.  We lifted the hood, assessed the situation and then I walked toward some people on the beach and asked if anyone had jumper cables.  A young woman with 2 small children turned to them and said, ” pack up your things kids we’re going to help these people get their car started”.  She packed them up, and drove to our car and pulled out the cables.  We were on our way in less than 10 minutes.  We tried to give her a few dollars in appreciation her kindness but she would not accept.  Mahalo,  Salt Pond angel.

aloha...surfs up

We were off and running,  just a few miles from home, with the battery discharging all the way.  It started to rain and there wasn’t even enough juice to raise the power windows or use the wipers without out stalling.    After a few moments of stress but we could see the Kalaheo traffic light ahead.  Just then, the car died.  It was raining lightly.   Chris and I jumped out and pushed the car off of the road way.   There was a small safe area to place it,  a little miracle because there are no shoulders to speak of on this highway.  Then to our great surprise the person behind us pulled up to help, he was a nice young man in a dark colored truck.  He attached a tow rope and pulled us to a repair station just up ahead.  I couldn’t express my gratitude enough.  He too would not accept any money for his kindness.  I guess it’s a New York thing thinking it is necessary to give anyone who helps you a few dollars.

These kind people saved us so much money and time, a mere thank you didn’t seem quite enough to show our appreciation.

Our next encounter was with the mechanic at the Shell station.  He immediately assessed our car.  His partner called about the part we needed.  The part would be flown in from Honolulu and we were just a little stroll from home base.

A wonderful day.   Living Aloha……..

No car until Wednesday….for me , it’s like I have no legs…..but I’m still smiling and I’m grateful.

Up date::::A new alternator was found in Lihue, so I got my legs back a day early….hooray!!!  I’d highly recommend The Shell Station Auto Repair, Kalaheo for prompt and expert service.  I would not recommend the Sears auto service center that took my money and told me there was nothing wrong with my alternator, and sent me out on the road in danger of breaking down.

Moving on Up

December 11, 2009

We're Moving On Up

Before arriving on Kauai I found our first housing arrangement on Craigslist.  It was a simple process.  I posted an ad of what I was looking for, people responded.  I googled their names and their locations.  Made contacts, saw pictures and made a decision.  The day I arrived here my accommodations were ready at Aloha Estates at Kalaheo Plantation.  We rented from James Hargraves, stained glass artist, inn keeper, and ukulele player.  The dwelling is a 1920’s plantation house, architecturally charming, and seemingly well planned to take advantage of the local trade winds.  Our room was pitched to us as a studio but in reality is more of a room with a kitchenette in a closet, with a full bath, plenty of hot water, and no kitchen sink.  Requiring washing dishes in the bathroom and cooking with a rice cooker and hot plate.  We shared a small screen lanai with our neighbors, that had a small glass top table and chairs.

We spent most of our time out and about so the size of our rental was not a great factor for the 2 months we’ve been here.  When I made the rental agreement, I fully expected to stay here for 6 months, but I did make a month to month stipulation with the landlord in case either of us were not completely satisfied with the arrangement.  During our time here we did all of our living in the king sized bed, it was dining room, home theater and recreation area.

Home Sweet Home

Now it’s time to move on.  James was a wonderful host, our neighbors were quiet and friendly.  We were comfortable enough  and the price was great.  We love the location.  I think Kalaheo is the best place to stay on the entire island,  less rain than the north and east, close safe beaches , close golf, and midway between the resorts of the north shore and the canyons of Waimea.   Close to the art in Hanapepe, snorkeling, fancy golf and coastal hiking in Poipu, and the quaint charms of Koloa.  Oh and I forgot to mention tsunami safe.  James has rooms and apartments of many sizes available.  I highly recommend this place for frugal travel.  Please check out this trip advisor link for my review:

The Plantation House at Aloha Estates

If anyone has further questions don’t hesitate to contact me.

More pictures of the yard, fruit and flowers can be found throughout my blog.

Is it even possible to have too much free guacamole?????

December 7, 2009

So Many Avocados, So Little Time

Avocados keep falling from the tree…tons of them, well I exaggerate, approximately 7 per day.   Then they ripen at lightening speed.  We are using them instead of butter, eating them on every sandwich, putting them in salads and slathering spicy guacamole on everything.   I’m even making my own california roll sushi.  I might start making skin cream and hair treatment, then I could market the stuff.   Two people cannot eat 7 avocados per day.

Avocado Grounded

These are wonderfully creamy sweet avocados they work well with both the local lemons and limes.  The good news is this cultivar’s flesh is  slow to turn brown.  I make all kinds of guacamole.  Sometimes simple with just lemon juice, salt and garlic.  Sometimes with chopped onion, lime, salt and cilantro.  Sometimes with hot chilies and lime.  Sometimes with cumin, salt and rice vinegar.  I found this great spicy salt called Tony Charhere’s Orignal Creole Seasoning which makes a damn good “yakamolay” (word coined by friend Kandiss) with just a little lemon.

When God Gives You Lemons and Avocados...Make Guacamole!

I love avocados, I never thought I could say I had too many.  Too bad they just don’t keep and it is illegal to mail fresh produce to the mainland.   Doing some research I found it is difficult it is to process and keep avocado oil.  Too bad mainlanders I cannot share.