Is everything a dollar?!

Despite seeing signs all over the store stating that everything is a dollar, I walked over to my friend and asked, “Is everything really a dollar? You’re sure?”

It was my first time at Dollar Tree and I couldn’t contain my amazement—a store where literally every item was just one dollar?! This was definitely going to be an experience I couldn’t get back home. In Hawaii, the closest thing to Dollar Tree was probably Price Busters, which closed down a couple of years ago. But even there, most items were priced well over $1.

I began walking up and down each aisle, observing the inventory while taking note of items I might actually buy (Bounty paper towels) and things I’d probably steer clear of (no-brand face wash that was made in China). Then, just after the toy aisle, right before the office supplies, I spotted them: books! Real, new, hardcover and paperback books! (A note to those who don’t know me very well: I own a Kindle and a Nook, but I can’t rid myself of my book addiction. There is nothing in the world that can replace the feel of pages between my fingers while I’m reading a good book. The same goes for magazines—I’ve never been able to get through a digital edition.)

I had to be sure the books were real and fully intact. I picked one up randomly, quickly flipping through the pages to make sure none were missing. Then I stepped back to look at the area as a whole. These books weren’t one-offs, a random bunch of unwanted reads. No; in fact, they were organized—young adult, fiction, cookbooks, etc.—and there were multiple copies of most, like you’d find in Barnes & Noble. I excitedly began picking out the ones I was going to buy. I found my friend a few aisles down and requested price confirmation again. Holding the books up, I asked, “Are THESE a dollar?” She looked at me, slightly weary, replying, “Yes … I’m pretty sure everything is a dollar.”

Long story short, we shopped, we paid, and I confirmed: Everything at Dollar Tree does, in fact, cost a dollar. Actually, let me clarify: Most items are $1, but some are even less. There are also 2 for $1 deals, as well as some $0.89 goodies, like candy bars.


I’m still fascinated by the concept—and I’m not the only one. Several others have written about the many wonders of dollar stores, including what it’s like to live off of dollar store food, things you should and shouldn’t buy there, and how to get things for free from dollar stores by using coupons. I don’t think I’ll start doing extreme couponing or buying all of my groceries there, but I’ll definitely go back. I mean, why not? Every book I got is selling for more than $10 each on Amazon. As you can see in the photo above, $10 can go much further at Dollar Tree.

It’s All About Mother Nature

Being born and raised in Hawaii, there are a lot of things I took for granted. The list is especially long because I was conveniently located in downtown Honolulu, but here are a few of the biggies:

  • The beaches. Specifically, beaches next to the ocean. I found an article about sandy beaches in Colorado that are “pure paradise,” but if you’re from Hawaii and you look at the photos of said beaches—which are next to lakes—there’s a good chance you’ll feel nothing but pure depression.
  • The food. I don’t cook very often—OK… I actually don’t cook at all—so living down the street from Liliha Bakery was like being in heaven. And, just about anything and everything else I craved was no more than a ten-minute drive away. Even if I went to a fast food joint, I could count on everything tasting fairly decent. This brings me to the next thing on my list…
  • The water. Everyone knows the tap water in Hawaii is among the cleanest around, so I certainly didn’t expect to find the same quality of water in Colorado. However, I also didn’t expect to learn that the water here may be unsafe for drinking because it contains abnormal amounts of a chemical found in Teflon and Scotchgard. I should’ve known something was up, though, because I purchased fountain drinks from three different places here and they ALL tasted funky. Needless to say, both Koa and I are now strictly bottled-water drinkers. (Can you believe I have a dog who drinks SmartWater?!)

Today, as we walked to the dog park in 32-degree weather, I thought about these things. I looked down at the dirty, slushy snow beneath our feet and wondered why I left the warm beaches, the delicious and diverse food, and the drinkable water. But then, I looked up. I looked up and saw what I think was the first real photo-worthy thing I’ve seen since I got here. I saw how beautiful a barren tree looked with the bright blue sky in the background and I remembered one of the big reasons I came here: To experience mother nature as I’ve never done before. I want to play in the snow, climb up the mountains, and yes, swim in the lakes.


There are things I miss, but there are so many new things I’ll be able to experience. Now that the snowstorm is over, it’s time to get out and start doing just that.

The Meaning of Dog Friendly

In addition to the low cost of living and the change of scenery, another reason I chose Colorado as my next home is because it’s known as being very dog friendly. In fact, ranked Colorado Springs #3 on its “2015’s Best and Worst Cities for Pet Lovers” list. Honolulu came in 70 spots later. As far as I can tell, there are indeed lots of dog friendly places to go here: restaurants, hotels, parks, hikes and even random dog friendly attractions, such as the Ghost Town Wild West museum. Most apartment buildings and homes for rent are also pet friendly.

This brings me to the conclusion that pet friendly means exactly that: pets (presumably dogs) are allowed in many more places here than they are in other cities. That’s it—nothing more, nothing less. Here are some specific lessons I’ve learned:

  • Just because a place is dog friendly does not mean the dogs themselves—or their owners—are friendly. It is unwise to allow your dog to greet (a.k.a. sniff) other dogs unless their owners are clearly OK with it. In Hawaii, most people want their dog to meet yours; few pull their pets back. Here, it’s the opposite.
  • Though dog parks may be abundant, it doesn’t mean they’re safe. Thanks to a couple of locals I’ve spoken with, I now know that Palmer Dog Park is OK, but it’s best to avoid Bear Creek Dog Park, since “dogs get bit by rattlesnakes there all the time.” There’s even a Rattlesnake Avoidance Clinic sponsored by a local dog trainer—for $60, they’ll teach you how to keep your dog safe from rattlers while on the trails of Colorado.
  • Hypothermia in dogs is very real and sounds incredibly scary—especially since I’ve seen Koa shiver when we were outdoors. The best way to prevent it is to “avoid extreme cold for extended periods,” but he has shivered after only a few minutes. I guess the cold may be too much for my Hawaiian pooch.
  • Your dogs’ paws should be “winter proofed.” After seeing Koa excessively lick his paw following a walk in the snow, I did a quick Google search and Cesar Milan taught me that salt and deicers can be toxic to man’s best friend. Feeling like a terrible pet parent, I cleaned Koa’s paws then went out and spent $50 on boots that he hates but will be forced to wear.


This brings me to my final lesson:

  • Dog friendly definitely does not equal wallet friendly. After spending $134 on food, treats and yes, those dang boots, I can safely say that dog goods cost just as much here as it did in Hawaii.

Well, at least I know my spoiled little mutt is happy and safe.



Shoveling Away

In the past few days I haven’t seen much of the outside world, with the exception of a quick Walmart run for dog treats and a stop at Culver’s for a butterburger and frozen custard. (To all the Hawaii natives: Culver’s is a chain that serves delicious, made-to-order burgers between buns that are apparently cooked in butter. And the best part? No calories! Wink, wink.)

I think being cooped up is prolonging my jet lag. I’m still sleeping at 2 a.m. and waking up around 10 a.m. It’s not helping my appetite, either—for some reason, I don’t feel hungry and have to remind myself to eat. Back home, if I was stuck inside all day, I’d take Koa for a walk or run just to get out. Unfortunately, he’s still in the “do my business and run back into the house” mode; I can’t get him to stay out in the snow for more than five minutes.


So, when my friend told me she was going outside to get the snow off and away from her car, I said I’d help her. After being indoors for several days and not really engaging in any physical activity, I figured I could use some exercise—even if shoveling snow in the freezing cold wouldn’t exactly be my activity of choice. But after about an hour of talking story, scooping and scraping, the ice and snow were off her car and the driveway was cleared. And you know what? It wasn’t that hard.


I don’t understand women who refuse to do it, insisting their fathers or husbands do it for them. True, people have dropped dead doing this winter chore (as with any physical activity, older or out-of-shape people should be cautious…), but I agree with Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist. We need to close up the snow-shoveling gender gap, people! If this snow newbie from Hawaii can shovel a driveway full of snow, anyone can. So to all the healthy, able-bodied, non-pregnant women out there in this white winter: Get a grip, get out, and grab a damn shovel!