Syria Today – Part II My Family (well, half of it)


Syrians tend to have large families. Not so much today as in the past, but to give you a brief idea, I had eight aunts and uncles on BOTH my mom and dad’s side. As a result, I have a total of 35 first cousins! In my immediate family, there’s my oldest sister, Sana, then my brother, Yousef (whom we call Zouzou – like zoo-zoe (rhymes with “toe”)), then my sister Julia, and finally, my twin sister, Noel, and myself. (Are you still reading?)  I also have 13 nieces and nephews and 19 great-nieces and great-nephews. Just saying.

My older siblings were born and raised in Syria. My twin and I were born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. My oldest sister, Sana, came here when I was young. Zouzou and Julia stayed in Syria by choice. Up until the war, they had very good lives and were happy to be there. Even during the war, even though things were difficult, they decided to stay. Now that the war is all but over, they have both told me they don’t intend to leave Syria ever. If you didn’t have a chance to read about my first few days in Syria, you can read about them here: Syria Today.

My brother has four children. Shadi (the “a” is like “android” – “shad-dee”) is the oldest. His wife, Rihab, is from Habnimra, a larger town about 15 minutes away. Their children are Yousef (Zouzou – named after his grandfather), Jouri (like “bonjour” – “jouree”), and Laith (pronounced “Lais – rhymes with “face”). Don’t ask.

Shadi owns a mini-mart, which surprisingly, has EVERYTHING, literally anything you could possibly want. I think it’s magic. He also chauffeurs people around in his recently acquired Peugeot. Shadi is a hard worker and loves his family. In that way, he takes after his dad. Rihab is a blast! SOOOOO funny!!! She totally cracks me up, although, seriously, I can’t even print some of our funny conversations. Just trust me. I was having serious hair angst before a baptism reception, and she gave me an expert blowout. Also, I always ask her for advice when I’m in Syria.

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A Peugeot in Homs. NOT Shadi’s Peugeot, which is far nicer!

Their son, Zouzou, spent the summer working part-time in his dad’s store. He rides around the village on a motorbike (like everyone else).  He’s very smart and is looking to study engineering at university. He’s a senior in high school this year. Jouri is sweet and smart. She writes fables for fun! I wish I had copied the story she read to me so I could tell it to you. I’ll ask her to screenshot it and send it to me. Laith is a blast!

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Laith. Super smart, super sweet.

He’s super smart and nine years old. He’s a real ham and loves to ride around in his new bike.

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Jouri and her selfie-stick.

Shereen is next. She lives in Hab Nimra. She married Rihab’s brother, Wassim. Wassim is great! He’s one of my favorite people ever! He’s a tile setter and a builder. I’m gonna do a whole entire post on Wassim and his work because it’s so awesome. I told him he should move here, he’d be a millionaire his work is so good! Shereen and I talk and talk and talk. Even when I’m here in the States, we’ll be on video chat for an hour at a time.

Their kids are Gibran (named after the famous Lebanese poet, Khalil Gibran), Jilanar (which is the what they call the pomegranate blossoms), and Jawad, whose nickname is Jado. Gibran is 11, Jilanar (Nara) is 8, and Jado is 4.

We like to go on hikes together. And walkabouts in general. In Syria, people ask each other if they’d like to go “a mishwar,” which means go for a walk.

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Living on the edge.

Going for a walk together is definitely a popular activity. Shereen’s kids and Laith took me to the “Ain” (sort of rhymes with “fine”) in my village. This is a natural spring that’s been protected. We climbed the rocks. Even Jado!

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Chillin’ on the ledge.

He’s a tough guy! We watched the frogs, and looked at all the plants, and closed our eyes and stood together in silence for an entire minute, listening to the sound of the wind in the trees and the bird calls. It was a magic moment!

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Relaxing after work.

Danny and Muhanned are my brother’s youngest kids and they are twins! Muhanned got married last year and he and his wife, Sara, have a new baby daughter, Massa (which means “diamond”). She is the cutest. Here, see for yourself. I’m so happy for Muhanned. He’s very happy and his wife is lovely and smart and a great cook and mother. And Massa is, well, you see. She’s a treasure.

Danny is still single! Waiting for the perfect girl. He can sing “Bye, Bye Blackbird” all the way through. I taught it to him in 2010 and he still remembers it. He’s learned a lot of English since then and he practiced with me during my trip. He makes me laugh but he’s also really smart. He sings in church and has a beautiful voice. He has a lot of friends – everyone loves Danny. He and his friends often stay up until 4 or 5 a.m. talking and laughing, drinking yerba mate and smoking the argheli.

My brother is retired now. He still works every day. He’s super smart (I know I keep saying that, but my family is smart!). He is a family man. Absolutely the definition of family man. He has dedicated his life to his family and loves them and they all love him. His wife, Nadia is an amazing cook! She takes care of me like a mom when I stay with them. She did my laundry, cooked my favorite foods, and when I didn’t feel well, made me special foods and made sure I was comfy. I call her “Nadooshy” as a nickname, and also, Mama Nadia. We also talk and talk and talk when we’re together. She’s very clever and knows how to do all sorts of things really well. Oh and also, she alters all her clothes to fit perfectly and look stylish.

Whew! Well, that’s my brother’s family. I’m at over 1,000 words and I haven’t told you about my sister’s family yet. You can read all about Julia and her family here: Syria Today – Part III My Family (the other half of it). If you have any questions about what you’re reading, just let me know. There’s a place at the bottom of the page for comments and questions. You don’t have to register to leave a message. Minshoofkoom ba’adaan! (See you later!)

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Syria Today


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A view of my village, Amar Al Hosn.

Ahla wa sahla a Souriya. Most days, I sit down to write, and words pour out of me like water. As I sit here writing this, my thoughts are so jumbled, it’s hard to even know where to start.

Maybe I should start by saying, “ahla wa sahla a Souriya” which means “welcome to Syria.” Maybe I should start with “nishkar Allah”, which means “thank God.” I’m not entirely sure how many times I’ve said “nishkar Allah” since I’ve been here. I’ve been thinking, “thank God I’m here, thank God I made it, thank God I still have a country and family to come home to.” Nishkar Allah.

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My sister-in-law, Nadia, my brother, Zouzou, my niece’s husband, Wassim, and his son, Jado.

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My great-niece and great-nephews; Jado, Nara, Laith, and Gibran.

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My nephew’s wife, Rihab, my nephew, Shadi, and my niece, Shereen.

As I approached the village last Saturday night, I started crying tears of relief and joy. Maybe mostly relief, truth be told. For eight years, I wondered and worried if I’d ever see my family again. I saw terrible things happen to people on the news, and lay awake at night, praying to God they wouldn’t happen to my brother or sister, their children, or grandchildren. And finally, I was here, rounding the corner, turning onto the street where my brother lives.

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The view from my sister’s house. My brother’s house is behind those trees in the middle. I know everyone who lives in those houses.

My driver said, “don’t cry, be happy. You’re here! Your family will be upset if they see you crying.” I got out of the car and saw my sister-in-law, Nadia, first. We started hugging and kissing and I started sobbing. Sorry folks. Full-on wrenching sobs.

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Rihab and Shereen, hanging out.

First Nadia, then my niece, Shereen, my nephew, Shadi, and his wife, Rihab, my nephew, Danny, and finally, my brother, Zouzou. I tried so hard not to cry too much, especially all over my brother. He’s not super fond of overwrought emotion. When I finally stopped crying, I explained how relieved I felt. Oh, thank God, nishkar Allah, I finally made it.

That last five days have been filled with laughter, music, good food, and talking, talking, talking. If there’s one thing our people are good at (there are many things), it’s talking. The cool thing is though, we’re also really good at just sitting around together, not-talking, too. But ok, seriously, we’ve mostly been talking. We talk about everything. My brother has a veritable zoo now – a rooster, chickens, baby chicks, two geese, and a duck. Also, more traditionally, a dog. He has a large garden filled with fruits and vegetables. Then, there’s the weather. It’s been unusually cool and cloudy. This is the reason why it’s been a bad year for fruit. There has been much conversation about the bad fruit year. It’s disappointing in general, because the figs and grapes are shriveling on the trees and vines, but it’s specifically bad for the olives because that is the big money crop. There will be olives to press for olive oil this year, but no olives for eating.

Another popular topic is “who is coming to the village and when are they arriving?” It goes something like this:

“Look, they’re cleaning Zakhour’s house.”

“Yeah, he’s arriving tomorrow.”

“Is his wife coming with him? How about the kids?”

“His wife is with him, I heard the two younger kids are too, but his oldest is coming next week.”

“Really? Hey, did I hear he’s getting married?”

“Yeah, he took a girl (took means “chose”) from Zweitini (a nearby village).”

“Oh yeah, min bayt meen?” (“from who’s house?” which means from whose family.)

“Min bayt Azar (the family name). You know Ibn Moussa (that’s “Moussa’s son”)?

“Ibn Moussa? Yeah, I went to school with his wife.”

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(I just read this conversation to my sister and she said, “ibn Moussa? From Zweitini? Meen ibn Moussa min Zweitini?” and I’m laughing my ass off! So, I explained to her I’m just making up names to give you all an example of our conversations.) Seriously though, this type of conversation is repeated over and over throughout Syria, every day. For real, Syria is a place you can go where “everybody knows your name.”

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A close-up, cuz she’s so darn, stinkin’ cute!

In addition to all these lively conversations, there’s “mut-tea” (yerba mate), tea, and coffee to drink; fruit, nuts, and seeds to snack on; and of course, cigarettes and argheeli (hookah) to smoke. When my brother told me he stopped smoking after his angioplasty last year, I told him, “bravo alaik (good for you)!” I just asked my sister-in-law about his surgery and she said so many men have had heart problems since the war. “It’s the stress,” I said. “Taba-aan.” (of course), she replied.

Lunch. French fries are everywhere!

Life is basically, pretty normal here now. Some things are worse, some things are better, and some have stayed the same. What’s worse? People are scared. I started to write, “more” scared, but then I realized that doesn’t work. Why not? Because it implies people were somewhat scared before the war, and then their fear level increased. This is inaccurate.

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Jouri and her selfie-stick.

Before the war, there was no fear level. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. People didn’t worry about their personal safety before the war. In the village, the worry is pretty much gone. It went away about three years ago when the fighters holed up in the nearby castle (yes, I wrote “castle”) were defeated by the army. I would say that for our village and the surrounding area, it marked the point where life began to return to normal.

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Hanging with my great-nieces and nephews; Jado, Jouri, and Laith.

These days, children go down to the school yard every evening (called the “naadi”) and play with each other. Kids as young as four or five all the way through high school hang out there from about 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Kids go by themselves in groups and are unsupervised. People also feel free to travel from village to village in the dark now. This is a return to normalcy. Nishkar Allah.

Next up: My family. You can read all about my brother’s family here: Syria Today – Part II My Family (well, half of it) and my sister’s family here: Syria Today – Part III My Family (the other half of it).

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Syria: Ten things you can do right now to stop the bombs and stop the war.


Our government always brags about our democracy. How a government should do the “will of the people.” Let’s show the whole world that We, the People, have the power to stop our government from waging war. We’ve destroyed Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, but Syria is still standing. Enough is enough. No more senseless war.

I read an article today that said only the far right is against a war in Syria. I don’t believe this is true. I believe a majority of Americans are against bombing Syria, against regime change, and against going to war. So, here’s a list of ten things you can do right now to stop the bombs and stop the war:

  1. Call the White House. Tell them, “No more senseless war. No more bombs. No more regime change. Leave Syria alone!
  2. Call your representatives. Tell them the same.
  3. Write to your local newspaper. Tell them the same.
  4. Discuss the issue with your family and friends. Share on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Encourage them to speak out against going to war.
  5. Attend a rally on Saturday. Invite your friends and family to attend. They are happening all over the country. Look here to find one near you. https://www.springaction2018.org
  6. Call your local newspaper. Ask them why they’re not reporting on the issue. Ask them why they’re not more critical of official government reports. Ask them why they print headlines assigning guilt, when the articles contain no evidence.
  7. Think critically about what you read and hear about Syria. Is the source biased? Why are they biased? Is what’s presented as fact actually fact? Do the conclusions drawn make sense?
  8. Stay informed. Seek out different news sources and consider the issue from different perspectives. Be wary of news articles that try to tell you what to think. Look for articles that inform with facts and information.
  9. If you pray, pray.
  10. Don’t let up on the pressure. Keep at it until our voices are heard. Oh and one more thing….

Let this be the beginning. Find the issues that matter to you and learn about them. Stay engaged. Instead of frantically responding to each crisis as they come along, let’s start preventing them. This is our future and the future of our children. This is OUR country. OUR government. OUR money. It’s time for our government to carry out the will of We, the People.

 

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Media Analysis: Still, no facts, no evidence, no proof. No justification for war.


Syria ‘chemical attack’: France’s President Macron ‘has proof,’ reports the BBC. But what does the article actually say?

Let’s take a look:

“President Emmanuel Macron says he has ‘proof’”. Saying you have proof is not proof.

“…he would decide ‘in due course’ whether to respond with air strikes.” Respond to what? You have shown no proof.

Meanwhile, President Trump is “canvassing support for strikes from the leaders of France and the UK.” In other words, he is trying to convince leaders of France and UK to participate in strikes. Doesn’t seem like Macron needs much canvassing.

Also, meanwhile, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress, “I believe there was a chemical attack and we are looking for the actual evidence.” Secretary Mattis, I don’t care about what you BELIEVE. Without actual EVIDENCE, your beliefs are meaningless.

Macron, who insists, “we have proof that last week chemical weapons, at least chlorine, were used by the regime of Bashar al-Assad,” DID NOT GIVE THE SOURCE OF HIS INFORMATION. White helmets? Rebel leaders? Rebels calling themselves ‘activists’? Casper the Friendly Ghost? NAME YOUR SOURCE President Macron (or sit down and shut up).

Macron justified his position by saying, “Regimes that think they can do everything they want, including the worst things that violate international law, cannot be allowed to act.”

Ah, finally we agree. But here’s the thing, President Macron. YOURS is the regime that will be violating international law if you bomb Syria without verifiable evidence of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. And authorization from the U.N. Security Council.

Here’s the rule: The law of war prohibits force unless force has been approved by the U.N. Security Council or unless a country has been attacked and is acting in self-defense.

Standing up and saying, “they did it, they did it. I know that they did it,” isn’t proof of anything (except perhaps, that you have no proof). If you did have any actual evidence, you could make it public and take it to the U.N. Security Council to get their thumbs up. That way, when you drop your bombs and kill the innocent civilians you surely will kill, you can justify your actions with FACTS. And EVIDENCE. And then, you won’t be violating international law. Something you clearly oppose. So, let’s hear it, President Macron. Give us the facts, show us the evidence. We’re waiting.

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No facts. No war.


I have taken a long break from writing about Syria. Mostly because of my health, but also because the situation improved so much there when the U.S. government and its allies stopped trying to overthrow the Syrian government. Well, apparently they’re not finished trying to destroy Syria yet. So I wrote this letter to the editor of the Oregonian. Please read it. Please share it. And please, if you are a U.S. citizen, call the White House, your elected officials and your local papers, and tell them, “no facts, no war.”

Our government is poised to take us to war. Why? Alleged chemical weapons attacks. After reviewing dozens of media reports about chemical weapons use in Syria, including President Obama’s red line and President Trump’s bombing of Khan Sheikhoun, I have found that every single article talks about “alleged” attacks that the U.S. government “believes” occurred that they “blamed” the Syrian government for. Today’s situation is much the same. The article, “Syria war: What we know about Douma ‘chemical attack’”, published April 10, 2018 by the BBC, uses the words “allege” four times, and “believe” and “suspected” twice each. No evidence is presented, and reports about what happened come only from rebels or rebel organizations. In 2013, UN experts confirmed use of sarin in Syria, but reported, “fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved.” Ultimately, they did not find the Syrian government responsible. In 2011, UN investigator Carla del Ponte said there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that REBELS had used sarin in Khan al Assal. The same team found no evidence against the Syrian government. Should we go to war over allegations and accusations? There were no weapons of mass destruction and yet we destroyed Iraq. In Syria, we are defending an organization called the Army of Islam. Is this how we want our tax dollars spent? Is this our foreign policy? War, no matter what. Please call your congressional representatives. Tell them, “no facts, no war.”

 

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Hiking Crescent Beach at Ecola State Park


ecola park map

About nine miles south of the Highway 26/ US 101 junction, you’ll find Ecola State Park at the north end of Cannon Beach. Within the park there are several hikes and beach areas. Last summer I had the good fortune to hike to Crescent Beach and enjoy what turned out to be a gorgeous summer day.

The hike itself is pretty low-key. It’s 3.6 miles round-trip, in and out, so that’s less than two miles each way. A series of 20170828_142235switchbacks lead you down with many different views of the beach below. At the end of the hike there’s a long switchback staircase that takes you to the beach.

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A forest right next to the ocean.

You’ll find the trailhead just to the left of the bathrooms near the Ecola Point parking lot. Version 2There’s a series of steps at the beginning of the hike, making way into a beautiful forest. You’ll see spruce, alder, ferns, huckleberry, elderberry, salal, and lush native ground cover.

You won’t walk very far until you come to a service road that leads you to Ecola Park Road. That’s the road you took to get into the park. fullsizeoutput_2e4After walking next to the road a short distance, you’ll drop down onto the trail again. There may be elk or deer in the woods, so you may want to walk quietly and keep an eye out.

Almost immediately, you’ll get a view of the ocean. I remember thinking, “gosh, I thought the hike would be longer than this!” Then, I realized that even though the beach looked close, it was still pretty far away because of all the switchbacks. fullsizeoutput_2e8In the end, it was a lovely little hike. Version 2

I like to trail run, but most of this hike wasn’t runner friendly. It’s steep enough, often enough, that running would be dangerous. Still, you get a decent workout. Especially on the way back up!

All along the trail, you’ll see stands of old and second growth trees. You’ll hear birdsong. I’m not exactly sure what’s moving around in the brush, but I’m thinking maybe frogs and newts? I did catch a glimpse of a garter snake.

 

The beach itself is absolutely stunning. As it’s name implies, the beach is crescent shaped. There are some caves over to the right as you face the ocean. If you’re feeling brave, you can climb some of the rock formations too, but be careful! You should especially pay attention to high and low tide. You could be dangerously trapped in the inlets of the caves if you get caught by the high tide.

Version 2There are tide pools worth checking out. I’ve heard that you can actually walk to the beach at Ecola Point in low tide, and from there all the way to Indian Head beach, but that’s definitely impossible at high tide. If you’re not absolutely sure, I wouldn’t even try it.fullsizeoutput_2ee

If you head south on the beach, you can walk all the way into town. Cannon Beach is worth checking out while you’re in the area. It’s pretty touristy, but the beach is family-friendly and there are some terrific restaurants, shops, and galleries there. Keep in mind that walking into town would add some serious distance to your day!

A hardy crew from New Zealand carried umbrellas all the way down to the beach and back again, but boy, oh boy, what a great little setup!

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The Oregon coast is often cool and cloudy in the summer, but this day was quite warm, and in fact, it was too hot to comfortably lay in the sun. Luckily, there was a big ole rock formation with a little bit of shade beneath it. This was the perfect spot to sit and eat lunch, read a book, and indulge in a snooze-a-thon. I had some pretty interesting views, just laying there on my beach towel. Up, down, and all around.

My sweet little spot:

 

That’s me, practicing my napping selfies. That’s one of about forty pictures. Also, it’s seriously cropped so I don’t look like a pinup girl! Do I look like I’m sleeping?

Later that afternoon, before heading back up the trail, I found a little trickle of ice cold waterfall and some native Indian Paintbrush. When you’re hiking or walking around Oregon, it’s always a good idea to look carefully all around you. You never know what you might see.

 

Ocean views:

 

Any amount of time spent at Ecola State Park, anywhere in the park, is time well spent. Crescent Beach isn’t the easiest part of the park to get to, but it’s well worth the effort.

 

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Saving money by cooking on vacation.


I’m something of a planner. I plan things in my head all the time. Dinner party menus. Building a greenhouse. Yoga sequences. I guess I would say that enjoy making plans.

So, it should come as no surprise to find out that, as planned, the first thing I did in Hawaii was go to the grocery store. After all, it’s on the way to the hotel. We arrived at 10:45 am, and check-in wasn’t until 3 pm, and I love getting myself set up for vacation right from the get go. It’s worth it to me to sacrifice the first few hours so I’m free to enjoy the rest of the vacation.

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I realize many people may be unwilling to spend their vacation cooking in their hotel room, but Honolulu is expensive, especially Waikiki. But we love Waikiki because you can walk everywhere here.

We’ve never rented a car, except for a taxi to and from the airport. We travel almost everywhere on foot, and occasionally take a bus. Keep in mind, we’re so lazy, we’ve never even tried to see other parts of Oahu. Even when I went to Manoa Falls and Diamond Head, I rented a bike.

fullsizeoutput_2b9But when you stay primarily in Waikiki, eating out can be really expensive. There are more affordable restaurants outside of the tourist areas, but even so, cooking in your room can save a lot of money.

There are other advantages too:

  • Eat whenever you feel like it.
  • No waiting for a table.
  • No waiting while your food is prepared.
  • Never leave the beach early to beat the dinner crowd.

All that translates to more time at the beach! There are some challenges to cooking in-room, however. Keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t forget important basics like cooking oil, butter, salt, pepper, and other seasonings.
  • Look for reasonably priced items large enough to last through your stay, without buying way more than you can use.
  • Scope out your cooking situation beforehand. Every “kitchenette” is different.

Vini and I are staying at the Ewa Hotel (pronounced “Ava”). My first impression of the hotel was of the overwhelmingly friendliness and helpfulness of the staff. I called Evan at the front desk twice from the grocery store to ask about the kitchenette. Each time he told me not to hesitate to call with other questions!

Here are some things to ask:

  • How big is the fridge?
  • How many burners are there? Is there an oven?
  • How about a rice cooker? (There often is in Hawaii).
  • Is there a microwave? A toaster?
  • What kinds of pots and pans are there?

20180101_181400We had a mini fridge, two burners, a toaster, a coffee machine, and a microwave. Additionally, there was one pot, one pan, two “ginsu” knives, a small cutting board, and a spatula. Pretty barebones.

This is our cute little kitchenette. Toaster and microwave on top, two burners to the left, and a drainboard/sink on the right. There’s a mini-fridge down below.

I was skeptical, but I’m turning out some great meals in this kitchen!

 

 

So here’s what I bought.

L – Chicken broth, onion and garlic, lemons and limes, walnuts, eggs, rice noodles, short grain rice, Bailey’s and Bogle Essential Red. R -green tea, earl grey, kona coffee, butter, umeboshi, yams, pineapple. On the top shelf are also cooking oil, rice vinegar, yuzukosho (Thank you Kurumi!), low-sodium soy sauce, and mirin,
Also: L – Poke, sushi grade salmon, pork, and beef, olives, ginger, oranges, shanghai choi, cabbage, and lettuce. R – Mayo, avocado, coleslaw mix (I like cabbage), yakisoba noodles, mustard, ham, chevre, and cheddar cheese.
On the top shelf are two pineapples, cooking oil, rice vinegar, yuzukosho (Thank you Kurumi!), mirin, low-sodium soy sauce, wasabe powder, whole wheat bread, and Stella d’Artois.

The ham, bread, eggs, cheese, olives, nuts, and lettuce to make:

  • Ham and cheese omelets with toast
  • Ham sandwiches
  • Cheese platters
  • Salads

Mostly though, I focused on Asian foods that could create a variety of meals. Why Asian? Well, of course, it’s delicious. It’s also fast and healthy. And one more thing – it’s affordable and abundant at the grocery stores in Hawaii! Here are some of the meals I can make:

  • Stir-fry with yakisoba noodles and tofu
  • Rice bowl with stir-fried beef and yams
  • Stir-fry pork with cabbage, carrots, and sprouts
  • Rice bowl with salmon sashimi, avocado slices, and stir-fried carrots with burdock
  • Nabe
  • Rice bowl with poke and stir-fried veggies
  • Fried rice with ham and veggies

I can also make pickled vegetables with the cabbage, cucumbers, and salt. I have umeboshi, and I can make vinegared carrots and cucumbers as well.

Slice the cucumbers as thin as possible. A challenge with my ginsu knife! Add a liberal amount of salt. Stir it in and let the cucumbers sit. Stir and lightly smash a bit a few times, let sit some more. In the end, you can discard the salty liquid and give ’em a quick rinse if you like. Then eat as is or season to taste with soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, furikake, umeboshi (in any combination), or anything else you like.

I also bought a variety of fruit including two pineapples, two papayas, two mangoes, four oranges, and four bananas. So, yep. Fruit, fruit, fruit!

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So, what’s the tab for a week’s worth of food in Honolulu? Around $200. Not including alcohol. I don’t drink much anymore, but we got one small bottle of sake and one bottle of wine to share. For Vini, we also bought Bailey’s for his coffee and a short case of Stella d’Artois. All that liquor ran another $65.

That’s a lot more than I’d spend on groceries in Portland for a week, but remember, I had to buy staples and pantry items like oil, butter, mustard, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, soy sauce, mirin, etc. The thing is, dinner for two in Waikiki can easily run $100 a night, and if you consider breakfast and lunch as well, you’d probably average $160 – $200 a day per person! So really, the savings are considerable.

Here’s a gallery of meal photos for further inspiration.

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