Friday, October 20, 2017

Autumn Bucket List - Update #1

Welcome to Update #1 of how I'm doing on my 10 Things Autumn Bucket List!

So already I am feeling much better about limiting my Autumn Bucket List to just 10 items. Not only are they much easier to keep track of and schedule, it has taken a bit of the pressure off that I self-created when making my prior seasonal lists much longer. I may find myself revved right back up come winter, but for now the size of my Autumn list feels positively perfect!

And just like the last time, I'm linking up with a group of other terrific bloggers to share Autumn Bucket List updates from those of us in the northern hemisphere, plus Spring Bucket Lists from the gals Down Under, so be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to see who else is participating, and to visit their blogs for additional change-of-season inspiration.

Progress Report #1 for 10 Things On My Autumn Bucket List
  1. Celebrate my granddaughter's 3rd birthday! Yes! We celebrated by taking her to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, where we had an absolutely fabulous time together. She loved everything about the aquarium, from the touch tank filled with touchable sea jellies, to the dolphin training show, to the scuba divers cleaning the enormous tide pool tank - and yes, following the scuba divers around the tank provided enormous entertainment!

  2. Roast marshmallows with granddaughter. Yes! She loved, loved, loved roasting them, but the eating of them not so much. Turns out she prefers her marshmallows straight from the package!

    Once I cleaned off the charred outer layer, she was game to give a nibble!
  3. Attend a Halloween event. Yes! We attended an event at our beloved Ocean Institute, and had a really terrific time. We ended up at a table with two other couples near our age, and had so much fun that at the end of the evening we all exchanged emails and agreed to meet up again at a nearby restaurant that hosts live music on the weekends. Score!
  4. Attend an Octoberfest event. In Process. We have tickets to an event that will be occurring next week.
  5. Make three new soups. In Process. I made this Lemony Chicken And Rice Soup with a few alterations. Firstly, I left out the egg yolks, which substantially reduced the calories in this otherwise calorie-light soup. As a result, I think it's better suited for nights when you are looking for a light meal, or as a lunchtime soup, which is what I ended up doing after first attempting to serve it for dinner - My spouse ended up hungrily devouring some peanut butter on crackers a little bit later in the evening! I also kept the rice separate from the soup, adding it to each bowl separately, so as not to have the rice absorb all the soup's liquid. The soup really was delicious in spite of all of my above disclaimers; absolutely chock full of flavor!
    From official website.
  6. Cook or bake something with pumpkin in it. Pending. 
  7. Finish reading Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton. In Process. Slogging my way through this very long book, slowly but surely! I'm currently at 20%, with five weeks still to go before we attend the actual live performance in Los Angeles next month.
  8. Listen to Hamilton soundtrack. In Process. I have it loaded onto my computer, and I've been reading through the song lyrics one by one, keeping pace with my reading of the above book. I'll start playing the music this week throughout the house now that the last of the contractors has departed.
  9. Run the Dana Point Turkey Trot. In Process. Everyone has registered, oftentimes a much harder process than the actual event! 
  10. Take a family photo on Thanksgiving Day.  Pending.

My count indicates that so far I have three of my 10 items completed, five more in process, and just two still pending. I think it's looking good for 100% completion this time around, so be sure to check back on November 21 for my next Autumn Bucket List Update!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Five Things Making Me Happy Today 10/19

Fall is here, and I for one am loving every moment of our slightly cooler temperatures, the only real thing that signals seasonal changes here in Southern California. Of course, we do still have our occasional heat waves, but they pass on through pretty quickly at this time of year.

So here are five things making me happy today:
  1. I recently discovered that my convection microwave really does 'bake!' I was initially skeptical when told about the microwave's dual function during our realtor's tour of the house, but this weekend I finally got around to using it to bake some sweet potatoes while my 'real' oven was occupied, and darn'd if it didn't work just like a regular convection oven. Meaning, I was able to wrap my sweet potatoes in tin foil as I normally would, though I admit I stood nervously watching for several minutes to make sure the microwave didn't burst into flames! I'm so excited to have the usage of a second oven for those few times a year when I need it!
    The microwave up top bakes, it really, really bakes!
  2. While FaceTiming with our granddaughter recently she called my husband and I her friends, which is toddler speak, I think, for letting us know we are part of her inner circle of safe people. Or, maybe she thinks of us as friends because we have so much fun playing together. Either way, I'll take it!
  3. My older daughter dropped by over the weekend just to hang out together, and we had a lovely time. She and I have had our share of difficult years, so to have her want to come by for no real reason other then to spend time with us is something I continue to cherish. 
  4. Our backyard, which continues to bring us joy on so many levels. Toward the end of our older daughter's recent visit we hung out on the balcony watching the sun slowly set over the ocean, and this morning we enjoyed watching a roadrunner sitting atop our wrought iron fence fluffing his or her feathers while we ate breakfast at our kitchen table. 
  5. This photo a member of my Facebook neighborhood group recently posted of our gorgeous S. Orange County shoreline, perfectly capturing the little slice of paradise I am now privileged to call home.
What's making you happy today? Please share!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Autumntime Q&A

Playing a little catch up here, in that we were traveling when these posts first went up on October 2nd, but better late than never!

Today I'm joining in with some other bloggers via The Blended Blog to answer 20 questions about my Fall likes and loves. As always, please feel free to add your two cents worth in the comments section below!

The Blended Blog Asks:
  1. Favorite Fall Sweet Treat? Pumpkin pie with scads and scads of whipped cream!
  2. Red, Yellow or Green Apples? Green please! Don't ask me why, but I always choose green over red (or yellow!) given a choice.
  3. Favorite Fall Sport to Play? So this one has me a bit puzzled in that I live in California, where we don't generally select our sports by the season in that we have year round outdoor weather, so I'm going to revise the question to Favorite Fall Sport to Watch instead, and that would be football!
  4. Best Drink For Fall? Icy cold, fresh apple cider!
  5. Favorite Fall Activity? Apple picking! We enjoy visiting the charming towns of either Oak Glen or Julian here in S. California, where we can pick apples, drink apple cider, and eat apple pie to our hearts' content!
  6. Must Have Fall Purchase? New boots!
  7. Pumpkins: Pick you own or store bought? Store bought, usually from Trader Joe's, unless my granddaughter is involved. In that case, for sure pick our own!
  8. Pumpkins: Real or fake? Real, please!
  9. Favorite Halloween Costume? None! I hate, hate, hate dressing up for Halloween, and if I absolutely have to, will try to tweak my 'normal' dress in order to squeak by!
  10. College Football or NFL? College! We love and follow UCLA (Go Bruins!) and Notre Dame (Go Irish!)
  11. Fall or Halloween Decor? Halloween minimally, Fall not at all. I'll do a little decorating for the holidays, but pretty much never for the changing of seasons. 
  12. Raking Leaves Or No Leaves To Rake? We have one tree, but our gardening service cleans up after it, so no leaves to rake!
  13. Favorite Soup? Potato Broccoli!
  14. Favorite Fall Candle Scent? Spiced Apple!
  15. Love Or Hate Pumpkin Spice? Love!!!
  16. Short Booties Or Tall Boots? Hmm, I own lots of both, but have to go with Tall if forced to choose. Something about them feels a tad bit sexier than Shorties!
  17. Favorite Halloween Candy? Reeses Peanut Butter Cups! (Which means I never, ever buy them to give out, because I'd likely eat them all before hand!)
  18. PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte): Yes or No? To be honest, they're a wee bit to sweet for me, so I'll have to go with No.
  19. Hayride or Corn Maze? In that I live in S. California I've never even seen a corn maze (though it sounds fun!), so I'll have to go with Hayride, of which I've done three already this Fall, all with my cutie pie granddaughter.
  20. Favorite Fall TV Show? Boy, did I have to think about this one, because we don't have cable and very rarely watch TV, but then I finally remembered that we love watching Modern Family!
Thank you ladies for letting me play along!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Home At Last

Well, sort of. We arrived home yesterday afternoon after an absolutely smooth flight (yeah!) and so enjoyed walking into our now-remodeled home with everything in its place rather than in moving boxes. I am dying to get to work on all kinds of things, but we still have a quick weekend getaway that begins today before I'm really and truly Home at Last for the foreseeable future.

Since retiring six years ago, my husband and I have spent roughly half our time traveling. We've done it by every mean and mode imaginable; from backpacking to RV'ing to hoteling to cruising. Plus many, many stays with family, particularly the family of our delectable granddaughter. It's all been absolutely wonderful, and I wouldn't change or take back a single, solitary trip. (Curious where we've been exactly? You can click here to see if so, plus see where we're headed next.)

We'd travel to the ends of the earth to be with this cutie!

However, I'm now beginning to think that a significant chunk of our incessant traveling may have been the result of living in a home and area that didn't allow for year round outside activities. Instead, our prior home in north Orange County was perfectly placed for working and for raising our daughters. My job was within two miles, my husbands initially within same, but as his career took off, his commute slowly moved northward into Los Angeles county, an untenable drive from anywhere else in the county but the quadrant we lived in. Our community had both a robust business economy and outstanding schools, and so our town continued to grow and grow and grow over the 25 years we lived there, meaning the street behind our home got busier and busier with traffic. By the end of our stay there, we rarely went into our noisy backyard, instead eventually building a front yard patio to satisfy our outdoor space needs.

Which worked wonderfully for about a week after returning home from each trip, after which my need for outdoor space began all over again, and off we'd go to another adventure.

In 2016 we traveled over 200 days in total, which included visiting 15 countries in and among everything else, and we ended the year feeling utterly and completely exhausted. Which is when we decided to cut back a little on traveling, and instead get our then-home remodeled to incorporate everything we'd not yet done, primarily a home office for my husband, wood flooring throughout most of the house, and a low/no maintenance backyard.

Once done, we loved, loved, loved the end results. Sadly, it didn't do a darn thing to change our home's very noisy backyard. Or the hot summer heat. Or the thirty minute drive to the ocean.

In no way do I regret the time, energy or financial resources we devoted to remodeling our prior home. Firstly, I enjoyed it, and learned a tremendous amount that I then applied here in our new home. Secondly, I don't think I could have summoned the energy and courage to make the move to the coast had I not made every effort to make my prior home as pretty and functional as possible in order to see if it would quell my itch. And thirdly, it made our prior home a piece of cake to sell in spite of it's very-noisy location once we decided to go to market. By the time we entered escrow just a week after listing our home, we had nine solid offers in hand, all for at, or slightly over, our asking.

So what a surprise realize that after just three and a half months of living here, I have had no urge to travel!

Which is not to say that we haven't traveled since arriving, because we have. It's just that I haven't been dying to get away as was the case in our former home. I feel more like I'm being pulled away from where I really want to be, which is a wonderful, new-to-me feeling. I am absolutely in love with everything about our new community. I love that we can see the ocean from the top of our hill, I love that we can see it from our backyard, particularly from our backyard balcony, I love the cool temperatures, I love the wildlife that visits our canyon-facing backyard regularly, I love that we can be at the beach in three minutes by car, or about 45 minutes by foot. I love that we never, ever have to worry about beach traffic anymore because our direct access street to the beach is not the one the tourists use (shhh!).  I love that there are non-stop activities year round at the three amazing beach towns we live adjacent to - San Clemente, Dana Point and Laguna Beach. I love that I see surfers out and about every day, or at least with their surfboards strapped to their cars. I love the utter silence of our new hilltop neighborhood even while we are just a few minutes drive to stores, theaters and restaurants. And I love that people here seem just a little more relaxed, possibly because of the constant soothing presence of the ocean.

So, for the first time since retiring I am happy to be home. And while we do have a lot of travel already on the calendar for 2018, it's nowhere close to what we've done in years past. And we're also no longer planning any travel during the summer, which was when we'd normal go north to escape our Southern California heat. Summer is now the best time of year to be home because it never gets that hot this close to the coast, and because it's the time of year that the fun really never seems to stop.

I honestly don't think I've ever felt this content. It is a wonderful, if strange feeling, and I can only hope it lasts . . . because I'm pretty sure my poor exhausted spouse will be done with me if it doesn't!

Our little slice of coastal paradise.

Plans and Goals For Today
- Unpack, do laundry, repack
- Vacuum and dust mop new floors
- Do Alexander Hamilton reading
- Racewalk three miles
- Leave for weekend trip by 2:00 PM

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Time Out For Granddaughter

Sorry for the silence over here, but we are having a wonderful time with our family and granddaughter in Metro-DC, and our little pumpkin will not let Nana out of her sight.

Which is equal combinations of wonderful and exhausting!

So much fun in just a week though, as we've visited several Smithsonian museums, done a little wine tasting, dined out and about, picked apples, visited pumpkin patches and gone down about a hundred gazillion slides.

We'll rest when we're back in California!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September In A Sentence A Day

Greetings! Today, and each month going forward, I'm joining in with some other fab bloggers to share how we spent our month in just one sentence per day.

Turns out that the theme for September was refresh, as we returned from our August vacation and launched into a massive cosmetic refresh of our home. From flooring to recessed light baffles, every single solitary old, dated item was removed and replaced. And even though we utilized tradespeople for the bulk of the work, we were heavily involved in clearing each day's workspace, monitoring the work to ensure our overall vision was being adhered to, and running back and forth to Home Depot and a multitude of furniture and lighting stores to move the entire project along to completion. 

(P.S. - Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to see who else is participating,
and to visit their blogs for additional September In A Sentence A Day inspiration!)

  1. Crammed in everything we could the last day of our RV'ing trip: Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a hike in redwood-filled Butano State Park, warm artichoke bread from Arcangelil Deli, and cold beers at Highway 1 Brewing Company.
  2. Long, hot drive home, including an unexpected detour around the La Tuna wildfire , so finally reaching home in our coastal-cool town felt wonderful!
  3. Dug in and started prepping for a solid month of remodeling, which meant moving everything we could manually lift into the garage.
  4. Continued our small item move out, plus took down old shutters, old alarm system wiring, old mini blind hardware, picture hooks, assorted screws and other oddball items, then fell into bed in exhaustion.
  5. Flooring demolition kicked off, the start of a noisy and messy day!
  6. More demolition, plus a visit by our termite company to ensure we were termite free under all that removed flooring which, yeah, we were!
  7. Day one of six total days our painters will be here, so hubby and I fled the house and did scads of shopping, including picking up this oiled bronze lighting fixture which I think will give just the right amount of drama to our entry way.
  8. I am absolutely loving the carefully researched new color we chose for our walls, Accessible Beige by Sherwin Williams.
  9. Volunteered along with hubby at the fun and picturesque Tall Ships Festival in Dana Point Harbor
    then ate dinner outside in our backyard enjoying this beautiful sunset over the ocean.
  10. At at-home Sunday spent mostly outside weeding on a gorgeous 75 degree summer day which is exactly why we moved here!
  11. And still more painting, with the crew growing from three men to four as my painter grew nervous he might not finish the job by our agreed upon completion date.
  12. Spent the entire day changing out our door handles from worn brass knobs to shiny brushed nickel handles, and learned to use a power drill in the process, yeah me!
  13. A rare construction-free day because, the painting is finally done!, so I spent it as I 'normally' would - went to the gym, grocery shopped, did laundry, and tidied up where I could here at home.
  14. New windows installation kicked off today, so I escaped the house for a walk to the beach for lunch with my visiting girlfriend, Mary,
    then hubby and I enjoyed dinner on our upstairs balcony gazing out at the ocean . . . still can't believe we live here!
  15. Completion of windows installation, pest control re-service as we continue to fight ants, then onward to hike the San Clemente river trail and enjoy dinner on the beach afterward with a Meet Up group, during which we encountered this enchanting scene:
  16. Exhausting, but fulfilling day: early morning run around the harbor with my club, then over to Salt Creek Beach to participate in Coastal Clean Up Day,
    then home to paint hundreds and hundreds of feet of baseboard, quarter round and stair case risers in preparation for my flooring people's Monday arrival.
  17. A rare sleeping in day - pure luxury - then off to Sunday services, followed by a wonderful performance of Beethoven's 5th Symphony by the Pacific Symphony, then dinner with my daughter and her significant other at Irawaddy Taste of Burma, yum!
  18. So excited to see our new flooring start to go down, then a terrific book discussion with my UU group at this ocean-adjacent home in Laguna Beach where the views almost derailed our discussion.
  19. More flooring installation, a wonderful four mile run (no leg pain!) a monthly ladies lunch group, then off to attend Tidepool Interpretive Docent Training at the Ocean Institute.
  20. More flooring installation, more running, my weekly menu planning and grocery shopping, then a very fun and satisfying afternoon placing furniture, paintings and decor items throughout my now completed downstairs.
  21. Tidepool docent training at breathtaking Treasure Island Cove in Laguna Beach, then an evening lecture at the Ocean Institute about the history along our California coastline that included a surprise special guest - renowned marine life artist and sculpture Robert Wyland of Wyland Galleries.
  22. Wood flooring completion, hooray, then a repeat of last Friday's beach hike and potluck dinner with bonfire, and which involved lots of wine and laughter, lasting until the beach's 10:00 PM curfew.
  23. A busy Saturday which started with coffee in our 'new' living room, then onto four hours of volunteer training at the Ocean Institute, followed by a mad dash home to prep some food for our potluck contribution at the always-fun Concert Under the Stars. (P.S. Bonus sighting of your's truly dancing at 1:27 minutes into video below.)
  24. Another busy day as we attended services at our UU congregation, then headed out to a Western-themed event with the Orange County Wine Society.
  25. Our new shutters arrived and got hung in our living room, dining room, and bedrooms, putting an end to several long weeks of quite literally living in a fishbowl!
  26. Our new entry and dining room lighting fixtures got installed, and they are sooo pretty,
    plus I worked a volunteer shift at the Ocean Institute, then hiked the Salt Creek beach trail with a Meet Up group, followed by $2 pizza slices and beer back at our starting point.
  27. Kept our electrician and handyman busy all day with a long list of small projects (we are getting near the end of our once-very-long list of To Do's!!!).
  28. New mirrored sliding closet doors installed, yeah, my new office furniture returned due to mismatched finishes, boo!
  29. My electrician returned to swap out the florescent lights in our laundry room for recessed lighting and swap out dozens of old electrical outlets and switches for new, and attended a Spanish conversation group where I got complimented on my accent (thank you online Spanish tutors!).
  30. Attended an almost seven hour training session on marine ecology at the Ocean Institute, which wiped us out even as we learned tons, then spent the remainder of the day relaxing at home.
    Enjoying the sunset from our rear yard balcony.
    The pool is the neighbors' not ours!
It feels so great to be done with September! We can now, at long last, relax and simply enjoy our lovely, refreshed, new-to-us coastal retirement home.

Well, just as soon as we return from visiting our granddaughter that is. She turns three shortly, and we are headed her way soon to make sure we are there to celebrate her big day.

Make it a great day wherever you are!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

House Remodel Reveal!

After weeks and weeks of living in the most homely home you could imagine, after weeks and weeks of dust and disruption, after weeks and weeks of living out of boxes, or going without while other boxes remained packed away in the garage, we are finally in the home stretch, and the majority of our home remodel is now complete.

It feels soooo good!

Here are some of the Before photos, to give you an idea of what we were dealing with when we took possession. What you can't see in the photos is how stained the carpeting was, how damaged the wood floors were, and how old and rickety every item in the home was - old, single pane windows, 1980's builder grade lighting, cabinets and fixtures, and mismatched lights, light switches and outlets, and an ancient, unsightly security system that ran wiring and old plastic receivers throughout the house:

And here is what it looks like now:

We still have some odds and ends to finish up, but the majority of the work is done. We are loving our 'new' home, and are looking forward to finally being able to turn the majority of our attention to something else. Like our family, who will be flying off to see in the next few days.

Make it a great day wherever you are!

Plans and Goals for Today
- Unpack dining room items.
- Unpack curio cabinet items.
- Do laundry.
- Plan out our upsocming trip details.
- Book airport shuttle.
- Final dusting/cleaning of wood floors
- Make carne asada for dinner
- Attend couples meeting.
- Stop at Sprouts afterward (Double sales day Wednesday)