Welcome to the Islands

Ginger, flowering in our front yard

Aloha! Well, we've arrived in our new home on the island of Oahu and are finally beginning to settle in. It's been nearly two weeks of continually running the various errands that are required when you move to a new place and have nothing but the two bags you checked and the two you carried with you on the airplane (and, thankfully, your two dogs...who were so enormous and heavy that they were required to be "air cargo" - making them the most expensive part of your move - and that, to your dismay, have already have caught Hawaiian fleas even though you treated them for Oregon fleas just 10 days ago as part of the quarantine requirements for your new home state - arg!).

We've figured out how to get to the grocery store and the beach (the two most important places of course), gotten ourselves a contingent of simple food to get us through the first few weeks, learned to make our way to the big city of Honolulu (about 25 minutes away, when there is no traffic), bought ourselves a car, opened new bank accounts (who knew there were no "mainland" banks on the Islands?), met our lovely neighbors and learned to pronounce the name of the street we live on and a few of the highways (for instance, the Likelike Highway is not pronounced "like - like," but "lee-kay-lee-kay," unless of course you want to be immediately identified as a haole ("how-lee"), the not so endearing term for one who lives here but is not from here. But then again, one shouldn't worry too much about mispronouncing something, if one has pasty-white Eugene, Oregon winter skin that going to give you away anyway!).

Over-all, the move went very smoothly and we are now in the process of trying to find some sort of a semi-normal routine. The dogs and all of the items we shipped arrived safely and unharmed (including my KitchenAid mixer and my computer - one reason why it took me two weeks to begin blogging again). LB began his job on Monday and he thinks he's really going to love it, and I've decided to take the month off and prepare for the freshman biology course I'll be teaching at a small private university here beginning in the middle of May (and indulge in the time off to get organized and blog and...whatever else my heart desires). The house is great and our landlord is great, and just to give you a teaser, this is where we can eat breakfast or dinner now (although don't be too jealous - wait until I tell you how much breakfast and dinner groceries cost!):

The Lanai

Ah yes, the groceries. My worst nightmare - groceries are ridiculously expensive. I knew they would be more expensive than Eugene, I just didn't know by how much. On our first trip to the Safeway chain store that is a few blocks away, we discovered that a dozen eggs cost nearly $7, milk was $4.99+ for a half-gallon (and that's with the "Safeway club card" savings), a jar of peanut butter was $8, and a small bottle of lotion was nearly $10...and that's not the foofy organic stuff we're used to eating, either (ha ha, not including the lotion). We have since run the gamut of grocery stores here and found a local, vegetarian, natural foods store called Down to Earth (and they even carry some organic and local produce and products!), which is fairly close and surprisingly, has far better prices than Safeway (and the sale prices are even better!). The farmer's markets (yes, I've already sought all of them out on the entire island) have pretty good prices and produce that is far more enticing than any of the grocery stores (most of them have very sad looking produce - poor lettuce, I want to cry for them too), and Costco is a lifesaver, where prices for 6 cans of beans in bulk nearly equals the sale price of 2 at any of the grocery stores (we signed up, and stocked up, this last weekend).

I called my mom and told her to "send lotion, send food!" and while LB was aghast when I unpacked the spices I had brought and the jar of Dagoba cocoa powder that I'd sneaked into the boxes, I'm certainly happy I have them now and don't have to pay to replace them (damn, why didn't I bring the bay leaves? And about 50 cans of beans??!)! It's definitely going to change the way I cook, because there will be no more looking for inspiration and going to get the groceries I want... something more along the lines of finding a sale and going forward from there: 3 day old bread loaf for $0.99? When a loaf of flimsy, sliced bread is normally $5.50? It's hard as a rock, but once the knives get here I could cut the crusts off...grab some free basil from the yard and tomatoes at the farmer's market for almost half-price? Panzanella! We'll just have to live without the parmesan on it until that goes on sale too. Maybe we could call it poor man's panzanella - panzanella missing all the ingredients that cost too much that week? ;)

Truly, it's beautiful here and there are many things to love (the beach is nice - and we're going snorkeling on Thursday). The weather has been rainy, actually - almost like home in Eugene. Especially this week, but apparently, we are on the rainy side of the island and it's a warm rain, which is a welcome respite from the chilly rain of Oregon (which is something I don't miss). I miss my friends, I miss the places I knew I would, but I know that this will begin to feel more and more like home as time goes on. Now, on to unpack those kitchen boxes...it's time to get cooking!

17 comments from you:

Julie said...

It all sounds like such an adventure -- like moving to a new country. Glad you and LB and the canines made it there in one piece and I'm looking forward to hearing more about life in Hawaii.

Ilva said...

so good to hear from you, i was beginning to wonder if you ever landed! it sounds soo good, especially today when we are having a grey and quite cool spring day here in Tuscany! Looking forward to see and read more about your new life! xx

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Michelle, I'm so glad to read that you are taking a bit of time off to let yourself get acclimated--that sounds like a gentle, great way to ease yourself into this new Hawaiian life!

I will be happy to send you some baggies of spices, bay leaves, etc., if you send me a list of anything you didn't bring that you're missing. (And I might even sneak some Parmesan in there. ;))

Living somewhere that far out really shows you why a local food system is so important, huh?

Dianne said...

Hi Michelle

Another adventure for you then!! I imagine that the advantages of Hawaii will outweigh the problems with shopping eventually, as you find your way around the shopping experience

Happy days


Michelle said...

Julie, Hello dear! It IS almost like moving to a new country, so far away and with all the quarantines and it's a place full of diverse cultures (which I like very much considering many of the places I have lived have not been)! Thanks for coming by - it's good to see you!

Ilva, Hi! We did! Thanks for checking up on me! It's been grey here too actually (though there is always somewhere on the island that isn't - and all of the island is within drivable distance), but I'm still jealous you live in Tuscany!!

Sally, I knew you would be proud of me ;) Yes, I think this time off will be really nice - I am going to do some work (finishing papers and such and getting ready to teach) but it's still nice to have the time to myself and to catch up on all the things I've been putting off for so long. Ha ha, thanks for the generous offer of sending me spices and parm - you're a sweetheart. Yes, the local food system is oh so important; I'm excited to explore more of it.

Diane, Yes! Always a new adventures. I'm sure I'll get used to the prices here (and probably just pay them for what I want, eventually - maybe once I have a job!!), it's just a shocker right now!! Thanks!!

Ann said...

Yay! You're back (or there)! What a lovely spot to eat breakfast! I really look forward to your cooking adventures... looks like you've already started to figure lout ways around the obstacles!

Anonymous said...

Happy new home. The snow and hail mwe got today in Eugene should make the islands all the more appealing.
Hope you enjoy the teaching.

Eugenia said...

Hang in there! You're going to have some great culinary adventures. (And others, but who cares about them ;)). When we moved to rural CT from Berkeley and realized we had to cook everything we had been used to ordering take-out, it completely changed the way I cooked and thought about food. May it help you as much as it helped me!

Michelle said...

Hi Ann! Yes, we made it. There haven't been too many adventures just yet, but I have faith that there will be once I get a bit more settled! Thanks for coming by!

Hi Ceri! Hmm, that's true! Thanks for the perspective - I'll keep that in mind! I've got a month before the teaching starts, so it will be a while, but I'll keep you updated!

Hi Eugenia! I'm glad that you don't just get to order take out anymore my dear, because then I can live vicariously through your cooking adventures in Eugene! Ha ha, and I do like the idea of all of the new adventures here once I get things figured out. Thanks for the "chin up" - I will!

Dawn said...

Hi Michelle! I'm glad that your move went okay and I'm SHOCKED by the grocery prices. I would tell you what I just paid at the Walmart for some of those items, but that would only make it worse. I had no idea it would be that bad there.

The lanai looks wonderful and I can only imagine what the beach is like. Post pics of that next!

You could always go about creating a guide book: How to Cook in Hawaii Without Going Broke! And I guess this is where baking your own bread at home becomes less of a hobby and more of a necessity.

katiez said...

I have family on the Big Island and know how outrageous food is. They really only have Costco as an option - plus their garden.
But the weather.... Perfect almost always.
Enjoy your free month!

Nerissa said...

Hmmm... Such prices? No wonder I hear that Spam is a Hawaiian favourite LOL
I really hear you about the crazy prices. My eensy little island home has face-blanching prices on several things, too! But somehow I figured a place with way more inhabitants could charge a bit less for all the shipping and handling of food.
Good luck and have fun during your "month off". I look forward to seeing what you'll be up to :)

vlb5757 said...

I am so glad that you are okay and enjoying the ocean. You know I am super jealous. I didn't realize how expensive food is there. I knew it was bad, but not THAT bad. Send up a flare if you need a care package from VA. I will be happy to shop on your behalf. It's got to be cheaper mailing stuff evening than buying things there. Hey! I hear SPAM is very popular there. lol!

Michael said...

Spam is Awesome. I had it with eggs the other day. I didn't know how many spam varieties there are. And for those of you who find spam unappealing.... Don't judge, just eat it with eggs. It's like heaven in a can.


Michelle said...

Hi Dawn! Me too! And funny you should mention it - I'm definitely going to take up bread baking here. Once I figure out the oven... I'll take some beach pictures this weekend and post them for you!

Hi Katie! Yep, Costco is a life- and wallet-saver here for sure. But you are correct - the weather is perfect this time of year. Apparently August is awful, but one out of 12 ain't bad!

Hi Nerissa! Here I am whining about the food prices - at least I can easily get to a large grocery store even if it costs me an arm and a leg once I'm there. I forget you live on a teeny island sometimes my dear. LB loves spam (see below) and is trying to convince me to love it too...I'm not convinced just yet. We're having spam trials (at least it's relatively cheap anyway!) so I'll keep you updated!

Hi Vickie! Yep, we're here and safe, and enjoying the ocean ;) You can come and visit and then you won't have to be jealous! I'll keep you in mind when I get desperate for food! And yeah, as I told Nerissa - I'm not at all convinced about Spam just yet!!

RoSco said...

E komo mai! I'm not sure if you've heard, but there are about three Whole Foods slated to open in the coming year. I'm not sure where they all are, but I know one is at Kahala Mall and another is at Ward Center. This won't necessarily be any cheaper, but should be a good choice for the floofy organic food you like and have a much larger selection than what's available at Down to Earth.

There's also a coop a couple of blocks away from Down to Earth called Kokua Market. It's smaller than Down to Earth, though.

Finally, in the Kahala Mall area there is another health food store called Umeke Market. I've never been there myself, but have heard good things.

Michelle said...

Rosco, Aloha! Thanks for all the tips - I have seen Kokua Market and will have to check out the Umeke Market next time I'm in town. Now that I'm a bit more settled, I think we're sold on Down to Earth in Kailua because it's close and I like the people there (and I've gotten over the sticker shock of food prices in HI).

I have heard about Whole Foods coming in (we used to call it "whole paycheck" when i lived in California!). I'm actually a little worried about DTE because WF is moving in two blocks away from the store in Kailua and I don't want WF to put them out of business because they are locally owned (they have mostly organic stuff too!). Thanks again!!

PS. How did the apartment turn out for you? And did you like Labyrinth (I love that movie!)?