Thursday, September 21, 2017

10 Things On My Autumn Bucket List!

Greetings, and welcome to 10 Things On My Autumn Bucket List!

I know, I know, only 10 things? Well, I'm learning that 20 Things may be a teeny weeny bit too much of a good thing in that our life here in gorgeous coastal Orange County is rapidly picking up speed. So this season I'm playing it safe and going with just 10 items!

And P.S. - Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post to see what other wonderful bloggers are joining in on this challenge. In addition to getting lots of wonderful ideas on how to add a little something-something to your upcoming autumn, a few of the participants are from Down Under, meaning their lists are season reversed, which should be veeery interesting!

10 Things On My Autumn Bucket List 
  1. Celebrate my granddaughter's 3rd birthday!
  2. Roast hotdogs and marshmallows with granddaughter.
  3. Attend an Octoberfest event
  4. Attend a Halloween event.
  5. Make three new soups.
  6. Cook or bake something with pumpkin in it.
  7. Finish reading Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton
  8. Listen to Hamilton soundtrack. (Sensing a theme here? Yep, we have tickets to see Hamilton in November!)
  9. Run the Dana Point Turkey Trot.
  10. Take a family photo on Thanksgiving Day.
I think I have a good chance of getting all of my items checked off this time around in that our move is done, and our house is about done . . . wish me luck!

What's on your Autumn Bucket List? Please share below!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Summer Bucket List - Final Report

Welcome to my final report on how I did with my 20 Things Summer Bucket List. It was interesting trying to work on this list in the midst of relocating, remodeling and vacationing!

Final Update for 20 Things On My Summer Bucket List
  1. Read by the poolYes! Completed previously here
  2. Bike to the beach for breakfast. Fail! Honestly, I couldn't possibly count how many times we walked, hiked and ran to the beach for a meal this summer, but getting there via a bike just didn't happen.  
  3. Watch a sunsetYes! Completed previously here. 
  4. Attend a concert-in-the-parkYes! Completed previously here.
  5. Read three fluff-books. Yes! Completed previously here.
  6. Make sun tea. Yes! Completed previously here. 
  7. Blow bubbles with my granddaughter. Yes! Completed previously here. 
  8. See fireworks. Yes! We have tickets to a concert and fireworks extravaganza that will occur this weekend.
  9. Have a picnic at the beach. Yes! We joined a Meet Up group and went hiking along the beach, followed by a potluck dinner around a bonfire.
  10. See a summer blockbusterYes! Completed previously here.
  11. Make three new summer cocktails. Fail!
  12. Make three new summer saladsYes! Completed previously here and here.
  13. Make three new BBQ recipesYes! Completed previously here and here.
  14. Make real-fruit popsiclesYes! Completed previously here 
  15. Lose five pounds. Yes! As a result of all of the physical labor involved in our backpack, plus in working on our home remodel, I've lost 10 pounds since the start of summer. It feels great, and my clothes are fitting so. much. better. 
  16. Buy three new sundresses. Fail! 
  17. Get a pedicure (my first, would you believe?!?). Fail!
  18. Volunteer for a beach-oriented organizationYes! Completed previously here
  19. Go backpackingYes! Completed previously here.
  20. Visit one new Farmers MarketYes! Completed previously here.
Even though I didn't get every single bucket list item marked off, I did manage to complete 16 out of the 20, so I'm very, very pleased. In hindsight, I can see the immense value in spending the time creating this list took. It kept me focused on summer activities I can see would have been very easy to let slide otherwise.

Be sure to come back tomorrow to see our round up of Autumn Bucket List items, and consider joining along with your very own list!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Settling In Successes

We've been in our new home for two and a half months now, and I am amazed at how much our lives have changed for the better in our beautiful new coastal location.

I well remember this post I did in July, where I described some of our settling in challenges as feeling a bit like being in mini-mourning over the loss of familiarity we were feeling in our new home and community. This case of relocation 'blues' only lasted a couple of weeks, but regardless they were very disconcerting in that we'd just effected a life-altering change that would have been very difficult . . . and costly! . . .  to reverse should we determine that a mistake had been made.

The solution seemed to be to simply keep pushing onward and upward, meaning we continued to expend effort exploring our new community and looking for ways to both connect with other people, as well as get involved in activities and organizations that were meaningful to us. We also made a specific effort to meet all of our new neighbors so that we could wave as they drove by us on their way out of our cul de sac, and say 'Hi' in person as they walked by our home each day.

And I think these were exactly the right things to do in that just some six weeks later from my original post about this topic we now feel very connected both to our new neighborhood and our new community.

So connected in fact, our calendar is rapidly crowding up with events and activities and we are almost at capacity from both a time and energy standpoint. And while new friendships are still in their fledgling stages, there are quite a few of them occurring and I know from experience that in another six to nine months they will bloom into real, hopefully lasting, friendships.

The lesson here, were someone to ask, is that you really have to work at making new connections. It seems odd to describe building a new meaningful life as work, but really, that is what it is initially. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, risk a bit of rejection if you don't quite fit in, or conversely, a bit of disappointment if they or it doesn't quite measure up to snuff. And find the wherewithal to keep searching and trying things out until you find that ones that fit.

I'm so happy we've made, and continue to make these efforts however, it that it feels like our lives here are continuing to get richer and richer. We found several volunteer efforts, one of which is focused on education visitors about the wonders of all things pertaining to the ocean, and one of which seeks to help those in need by providing a hot meal each day. Both are rapidly multiplying into many different areas and opportunities we didn't foresee at the time we volunteered for what we thought would be singular duties. Nope! They have both delivered spades of things in return, and of course the new people that go along with.

Just in the last two days, as I've checked my email, my snail mail, and the various online and social media sites I'm involved in, the following ideas and things have come my way-

  • Participate in a statewide beach clean up day, specifically at the beach just two miles down the road from our new home.
  • A repeating Friday night group hike, potluck dinner and campfire at another beach that is within a 15 minute drive.
  • A lecture on our California coastline, free to volunteers (that's us!) at the ocean institute we're involved in.
  • A training opportunity to become an interpretive volunteer at one of our local ocean tidepools.
  • A weekly group hike down to the beach at the trail literally down the street from our home, followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant.
All of these activities have gone onto my/our calendars, and my days are now showing multiple activities occurring almost every day. I so love being active, and I also love socializing, so these all fit me to a 'T.' Add in visits from 'old' friends, new friends and family, plus the ever expanding social invites, and life feels amazing currently. I'm feeling unbelievably thankful that we made this move, even as it was the most terrifying and stressful event we've undergone in our lives thus far.

Plans and Goals for Today
- Monitor completion of new windows installation.
- Finish organizing master bedroom closets.
- Bake brownies for tonight's potluck dinner on the beach.
- Paint the stacks of baseboard, stair risers and quarter round currently stacked in the garage, so that it is all ready for Monday's flooring installation kick off.
- Identify documents to be taken to tomorrow's free community document shredding event.
- Post newly emptied metal file cabinet on Craiglist's free items site.
- Finalize new sliding closet doors order with vendor.

Friday, September 8, 2017

September Goals

I'm updating this post daily, so be sure to check back and see how our whole house cosmetic re-do is going!

Fellow blogger, Juhli, over at A Boomer Girl's Guide inspired me with a recent post about setting monthly goals. Since September is going to be both stressful and significant with regard to finishing up a total cosmetic makeover of our new home, I thought I'd go ahead and make my own list of goals so that I can then return here and check off in order to assure myself that, yes, progress is being made.

September Goals
  • Demolish all existing flooring other than newly tiled bathrooms/laundry room.  Done!
  • Paint entire interior of home, including a complete transformation of this 1980's era oak stair railing into a fresh and modern 2017 version.  Done!

  • Install new interior door handles. Done!
  • Install remaining new dual pane windows. Done!
  • Install new hardwood flooring. In Process!
  • Install new entry and dining room lighting fixtures.
  • Install new shutters and mounted shades.
  • Install new cabinet handles.
  • Install new bathroom wall fixtures.
  • Install new dimmer switches and GFI outlets.
  • Replace all existing wall outlets and switches with new in light almond.
  • Replace florescent light in laundry room with canned lighting.
  • Hand pictures and mirrors throughout house.
  • Arrange for disposal/pickup of all home decor items no longer wanted.
I'll be back as the month progresses!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Five Things Making Me Happy Today 9/7

It's been a while since I posted one of these, so here are five things making me happy today:

  1. We returned home from our recent trip to discover our neighbors had replaced their previously very loud swimming pool motor with a new one labeled as being 'Very Quiet'. And it is! So quiet I wondered if their motor had broken while we were away. Such a nice surprise to come home to!
  2. Sitting outside in our backyard for a bit pretty much every afternoon, just prior to my going in to start on dinner. After 25 years of being surrounded by tall stone walls, plus backing up to an increasingly busy street, the joy our backyard delivers, with it's lovely canyon and ocean-in-the-distance views, is wonderful.
  3. Speaking of our backyard, in the last week we were gifted with a roadrunner preening himself on our back gate, and a hawk sitting and calling out into the wild. So wonderful to enjoy these little glimpses of nature on a daily basis.
  4. Our demolition is done, and from now on it will be up, up, and upward. I think our home is going to be absolutely gorgeous when the last contractor packs up and goes home!
  5. Our wonderful contractors, many of whom we've worked with for years, and who have collectively helped to keep the lid on what could be an almost unbearably stressful process otherwise. 

Your turn! What's making you happy today? Please share below.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Let The Remodel Begin!

I am so looking forward to the month of September, even as I'm dreading the work and chaos that will ensue initially, as we move toward completion of a total refresh of our new home here in coastal Orange County.

I shared previously that we underwent installation of new Pex piping the very first week we moved in, which resulted in lots of this initially:

Oy vey.

The piping company did do a very good job in repairing it all, including retexturing, and along the way we also had them replace every existing faucet in the house, a mixture of various very out-of-date fixtures.

So we've gone from this:

To this:

And we had the uber-old and ugly ceiling fans in our three upstairs rooms replaced, going from this:

To this clean and fresh update:

Next up is tearing out the horrible existing flooring, followed by new paint.

Here is what we are currently living with:

And what we are moving toward instead:

I'm looking forward to a whole slew of before and after photos in the weeks ahead, assuming we survive the upcoming demolition that is!

Friday, September 1, 2017

August 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.

August was the month that finally felt like 'Hello Summer!' We balanced our never ending home remodeling to-do list with equal doses of fun in the sun. We hiked, backpacked and ran to and at the beach, we attended concerts in the park, enjoyed dining al fresco almost daily, slept under the stars, awoke to the sound of waves crashing, experienced the solar eclipse event, heard elk bugle and a mountain lion roar (!!!), BBQ'd, wine tasted, and simply immersed ourselves in the still new-to-us fabulousness of living near the coast.

So if my sentences appear to be a bit more upbeat this month, it's not your imagination!

(And 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 August In A Sentence A Day inspiration!)
  1. Backpack training hike #3 (eight miles, 22 pounds), followed by a loooong nap, then dinner at Ivory in Laguna Beach before enjoying Pageant of the Masters, a longtime summer tradition.
    Those be real people up there!
  2. Woke up to ants in the kitchen, eek, and quickly called our pest control service, after which I left the house and shopped till I dropped - groceries, more home decor items, and lots of ant killer spray to use while we await our pest control service.
  3. Long, tiring day helping watching my electrician friend install ten new lighting fixtures, three new ceiling fans, remove oodles of useless wiring for a now-dead security system, remove more useless wire for an also-dead outdoor lighting system, and re-position several outlets away from three soon-to-be installed replacement sliding glass doors.
  4. Sleepless night due to a helicopter loudly circling above our neighborhood for two hours in the middle of the night, a highly unusual event that literally blew-up our Facebook neighborhood page, then five hours of volunteer training at the Dana Point Ocean Institute followed by an evening in the park trying to stay awake enjoying a No Doubt tribute band.
    It's Gwen Stefani!
    OK, maybe not, but she did sound pretty darn close.
  5. Ran around the harbor in the AM with my running club, bought massive peaches at the Dana Point Farmers Market, then joined friends for a truly unforgettable Burmese meal at the wonderful Irawaddy.
    One of the best items we ordered was this divine Tea Leaf Salad.
    Unlike anything we've ever eaten before.
  6. Fun potluck after Sunday services, with my contribution being another sinful Ina Garten recipe, this amazing Sour Cream Coffee Cake.
  7. Bribed a friend with lunch to pretty please come over and patch a couple of small drywall holes before getting our new glass sliders installed, plus met with our designer to create a new office for hubby that will look an awful lot like the one we had installed just before selling our prior house.
    The office hubby barely got to use. 
    So happy we are making this a priority in the new house!
  8. Moved six boxes of packed dishes and glassware into garage to await upcoming replacement of flooring, and couldn't believe I really had that much stuff stored in my dining room hutch!

    Hello, my name is Tamara and I have a dishware problem!
  9. Glorious morning run, then onto my second orientation at the Ocean Institute on a gorgeous summer day.
  10. Backpack training hike #4 at Carlsbad State Beach, eight miles with 24 pounds in packs, followed by breakfast at Daily News Cafe.
  11. Morning run, then off to a yoga retreat in Ojai with my oldest daughter.
  12. Yoga, it does a body good!
    My daughter demonstrating the perfect post-yoga activity.
  13. Started the day early with meditation, then enjoyed a lovely hike with my daughter before packing up and leaving for home.
  14. The first set of replacement windows started going in, and when we opened our new casement window in the ocean-facing upstairs guest bedroom it was instant paradise as a strong ocean breeze immediately came flowing in.
  15. A lovely lunch with my UU ladies group, then home to await the delivery of new living room furniture, which eventually arrived just before midnight, grrr.
    New wood flooring sample in lower right corner . . . can't wait!
  16. Eight mile training hike, stopping halfway at the beach for lunch, then home to check out how things were progressing on tile installation in our, blech,  previously carpeted bathrooms.
    So glad to see this carpeting go bye-bye!
  17. Long day hanging around the house to be available for the million little decisions any home upgrade requires (where to stop tile, where to place baseboards, what to do with closet organizers, what to do with closet doors), plus a big design decision to attempt to emulate this sample staircase:
  18. Met with our window treatment guy for a second time in order to measure for shades, instead of shutters, for all of our view-facing windows, a much better option for preserving our view without sacrificing privacy.
  19. Morning race walk, then spent the rest of the day getting ready for your upcoming two week backpacking/wine tasting/hiking/RV'ing trip, yeah!
  20. Departed home bright and early at 4:30 AM to get a head start on our 470 mile drive to Point Reyes National Seashore, oof!
    Last scenic few miles of a very long day of driving.
  21. Solar eclipse fail in that the skies were too overcast to really see anything, then off onto day one of our four day backpack through Point Reyes National Seashore.
  22. So many animal sightings as we hiked - whale, weasel, coyote, quail, rabbit, deer, seal, hawks, turkey vultures and osprey.
  23. A VERY memorable warning growl from a just out-of-sight mountain lion when we accidentally lingered near where it was apparently guarding or ingesting the body of the weasel head we briefly stopped to look at along the trail.
  24. An absolutely gorgeous hike out of the park, then lunch back at our RV's, followed by looong hot showers.
  25. Point Reyes Lighthouse, elephant seals and French Marin Cheese, yum!
  26. The sights and sounds of Tule elk, males loudly bugling, as we hiked to Tomales Point in the northern end of the park.
  27. Fascinating discussion with our newly arrived wildlife naturalist RV site neighbor about how Tule elk came to be resettled in Point Reyes, and then onward to Petaluma for the next leg of our trip.
  28. Funnest wine tasting experience ever at Williamson Wines in Healdsburg!
  29. To Cline Cellars in Sonoma for more wine tasting, followed by a gluttony of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cheese, jam and sauce tasting (hello bacon jam!), then dinner at Mustards Grill in Napa that ended with this amazing dessert - Mile High Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie.
  30. Nerve wracking drive towing our travel trailer over San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, then south along scenic Highway 1 to our last stop in Pescadero/Santa Cruz.
  31. Immersed ourselves in elephant seal biology at beautiful Ano Nuevo State Park, and let's just say that being an alpha male elephant seal may not be all it's cracked up to be!

And so went the month of August! We are still RV'ing with our friends, with just a couple more days to go before we return home and embark on an almost solid, non-stop month of remodeling, so be sure to check back on October 1 to see our new and improved abode!