Posts Tagged ‘frugal’

Frugal travels, Costa Rica

October 10, 2015

Dear Readers, I am in the planning stage of my next frugal adventure.  I am planning a month long excursion  on a comfortable shoe string in Costa Rica.   I am working on my itinerary, now.  If you have any suggestions on any not to miss destinations, please share.  Happy travels, from Rene, the happy adventurous, travel frugalista.


Don’t Stay in a Hotel/Motel by the Interstate, use VRBO

June 6, 2012

Why pay more for a musty room.  A place where you are lulled to sleep by the sounds of the interstate,  where you awaken to a special treat of fake OJ, stale cereal, powdered eggs, and stand in line to gain your bounty.   You could rent a place on VRBO or a similar site and have a whole house instead of a road side trap.   With listings like this  you can have a whole house, with cooking both cooking and laundry, a home-like feeling and complete privacy.  Get 5 rooms instead of one, sleep 6 or more for the same price or less.   This is a smart way to travel, frugal, comfortable and fun.    Check out some reviews of local hotels on

Time to start posting again

May 30, 2012

I’ve been so busy since the birth of my new grand-daughter and my focus has been far away from both travel and blogs.

sweet baby june

Over the past months l have traveled.  I went to Portland, OR.   It was frugal because we stayed with family.  There are two important rules when staying with family while traveling, don’t stay too long and always rent a car.

The trip was too short for my liking we only stayed for a week.  It was gloomy almost every day and we experienced a rare Portland snow.  The city had many choices for food and brew and we enjoyed both.

The city of Portland was much like many other cities and really not the kind of vacation adventure I enjoy.  The highlight of our trip was family and we spent as much time as possible with them as Mount Hood stood in the distance on constant vigil.

the family

We had the best time when exploring rural Oregon.  Now that’s an adventure.  We explored along the Columbia River and found ethereal forests draped in green fern and moss.    Waterfalls gushed from mountain crevasses filling our ears with a deafening roar and anointed us with an enlivening mist.

We also drove through a mountain pass and took a ride down the coast.  Rough waters carved the coast line, crashing waves and tempting tidal pools abound.

The following photographs of the Oregon coast are courtesy of

There was also a treacherous ride in a snow storm through the pass on our return to Portland, driving a rented Crown Victoria.  I can’t believe they don’t use road salt in Oregon.  Their cars don’t rust,  but if there is snow and ice you just might better not go out.

Some day we’ll return for and explore more of what the real Oregon has to offer.

All New (to me) Hawaiian Wardrobe, and a little something more.

October 15, 2010


October in Kauai


I arrived on the beautiful Garden Island on Wednesday, October 6th.  While still shaking off the jet lag I was off to the garage sales by Saturday.  A very small carry-on is a gift in 3 ways, light to carry, arrives with you to your destination and makes it a necessity to buy new clothes.  As a frugalista I find garage sale shopping for specific items like a sporting challenge.  To win in this event, the first step is the plan of action.  I scour Craigslist and The Garden Island News classified online the day before the event.  I make a list breaking down the sales by town.  Starting with Kekaha and moving onto Lihue.


The ocean view from our new digs in Kalaheo


Live in Kalaheo so I usually only shop the west, south and east.  The north shore excursions are a special occasion that I usually plan with another activity.   I usually end my “garage sailing ” excursion in Lihue, as a conservation measure.  I get my gas at Costco, do my Wal-Mart stop, and pick up some fresh produce at the Kauai Community College Farmers Market all in the same trip.




I list the number and street address under each town category along with the time that the sale opens.  The earliest garage sales usually open here at 7am.  I scour the listing of items in the ads to see which early sales may have the items I need and plan to attack them first.  I also note next to the address if there are specific directions to the location in the ad. Then I peruse the list to see that I know the location of all the sales. If not, I google the addresses and make notes regarding their location.


petal soft


My daughter tells me I can just put them all into the GPS and  the GPS would map us the best route.  I believe for me that would be time prohibitive, as it take me forever to type things into it.  I like to just cut and paste.   Hey, is there an app for that?


contrasts for the senses


This was my first outing of the season so this time I opted not to head too far west, as there were only 2 sales in Kekaha and none in Waimea.   The initial approach was made in Hanapepe.


hot hot hot only one per pot


Hanapepe is a quaint artsy working class town that’ s just a little rough around the edges.  I find it a photographic treasure trove, but poor pickings for garage sales today.


just a taste of Hanapepe


The next stop was Eleele, residential working class community that loves their dogs.  Found the pot of gold in Eleele.


my new friend Kala


Two wonderful garage sales with like new clothing in just the right sizes for me and lots of wonderful maternity wear for my daughter.  I was able to purchase 4 complete island style professional outfits, comfy soft jammie pants, 2 tank tops for golf, a stylish and  cotton comfortable orange and white dress, 3 ball caps, 1 aloha shirt for Chris, a 50 ct of golf tees,  a few maternity frocks for my daughter, Erin, all for under $30.00.


woman's best friend


Next stop home to Kalaheo.   Two sales here and a quick check in home, then on the road again.  Kalaheo is rural to residential, upscale to working class, with houses carved into and perched on the hills to take advantage  of extraordinary views.  Breezy, green and beautiful Kalaheo is my favorite place to stay on all of the island.


slender trees arc in the wind near my Kalaheo home


Today we’ll skip Koloa, Poipu and Lawai, but make a quick stop at a moving sale in Omao.  I made a small purchase at a big sale 3 bars of dove soap, 7 candles, and a tiki salt shaker for $3.50.  I think there is mainly just one road in Omao with just a few offshoots.  This is hilly ranch land with mountain, valley and pacific ocean views.  The livestock seems to like it.


eggplant gleam in the sun


Last stop today for the sales is Puhi, working class and a comfortable commute to the big city of Lihue.  Puhi is also home to Kauai’s only college.  We found many nice baby items here.  Many people in this community are having keiki (pronounced “kay-key”) is the Hawaiian word for “baby” or “child”, literally meaning “the little one”.




Here in Kauai, so many are growing keiki.


tropical mixer


Everyone loves keiki, their mothers and the mothers to be.  There seems to be no better place to grow and give birth to them.  I am so glad my own daughter gets to experience her pregnancy here in this wonderful island place bathed in love and the spirit of aloha.


blue skies in paradise


The Gatherers

March 20, 2010

The Gatherer

Gathering of food is a frugal endeavor.  I gather fruit.  If I was more knowledgable I would gather other foods as well.  I need a local mentor to take me under their wing and show me the way.  Any volunteers out there?

This morning the tide was low exposing pools for the sea to give up it's offerings.

A low tide exposing rock, perfect for collecting limu and 'opihi.

When I questioned the gatherers I was told they were hunting for limu, the Hawaiian word for algae or seaweed and ‘opihi. They are Hawaiian limpets with a dome-shaped shell.  They suck down and hold onto the rocks tightly so they can deflect pounding waves powerful enough to sweep an unwary collector out to sea.

The tide was low but the waves were never really far away.

I took the risk and scrambled along the rocks to gather photos of what life can be found between the rocks now exposed. This is the place to find limu.

‘Opihi are a prized delicacy in the islands, and collecting enough for a meal can be a dangerous task.  Sure footing, a good grip, a sharp knife and vigilance with a constant eye on the waves are essential while gathering ‘opihi.

She gathers limu and 'opihi.

‘Opihi are eaten both raw or cooked.  I had some trouble finding out how to cook them as most are eaten raw and many right on the spot.  When the locals congregate at the beach they park in a line of pickup trucks wheels in the sand, tail gates tipped down toward the ocean, canopies set  for shade,  ready for fun, food and social activities.  Kind of a combo tailgate party/luau.  The men often go out into the water with snorkels and spears, while the women chat and children frolic in the water.  After they leave I often find piles of ‘opihi shells scattered about gleaming with mother of pearl, remnants of what seems a delicious good time.

Urchin lunches on limu.

I have never collected my own limu but I do eat seaweed both the nori for my sushi and this stuff called ocean salad that we pick up at the grocery store.  We eat the bright green ocean salad with rice, I don’t know if that’s proper way, but it sure is good. We also eat some ahi poke that has seaweed in it and like it very much.  And most of the Furikake (japanese rice seasoning) we use contains seaweed as well.  I read some articles about it that say it’s chock full or iron, and antioxidants and some believe it has extraordinary health benefits.  The following links have more information about seaweed for those who just need to know more.

Tire tracks in the sand.



More limu and fish too.

This blog segment contains frugal and free things to do when travelling to Kauai.  The location was near Salt Pond County Park by the Port Allen Airfield.

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

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.

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.

The Orchid Story

November 24, 2009

backyard orchid purple

A short walk out my back door yields a multitude of orchid varieties.

unusual yellow orchids on tree

Orchids are one of the largest and most varied plants in the world, with over 25,000 species known. Most are  found in the tropics.  Many are epiphytes or plants growing on trees or other plants using them as a host.

orchid fucshia and orange

Orchids come in all shapes, sizes textures and colors. So many types of orchids are growing right here in Kalaheo.  They are tucked into cevices and little hiding places all over the yard. I’m collecting photos for painting reference.

beautiful orchid

They are exotic and beautiful.  Part of living and travelling frugally is finding enjoyment in all of the free things to behold.  Both our world and Kauai are filled with abundant everyday treasures, all we need do is open our eyes.

white orchid trio