Moving Over To Instagram!

Hello Blog Readers!

You've likely noticed that the pace of my postings here have been diminishing little by little over the last few months. I'm pretty sure that it's the result of feeling increasingly content now that we've fulfilled our dream of living closer to the coast. The beach life is real, folks, and it permeates every aspect of our day in the best possible way.

Anyhow, already I digress. As a started to say above, I am really loving life these days, and am finding that maintaining this blog is simply no longer the providing the satisfaction it did back when I started it. I actually think that my reason for starting up with blogging again was the result of my yearning to make a major retirement life change. And now that I/we've made it, I'm not sure that I have a whole lot more to contribute to the blogging world.

I would, however, miss all of the wonderful people I've interacted with here, so I'm not going quietly into the night. Instead, I'll be continuing to communicate about my retirement life, including some pretty terrific trips we have coming up, via my Instagram account at WestCoastTamara. (And you don't need to have an Instagram account to view me, by the way. You can simply click and view what I've been up to without one. An Instagram account is only needed to comment. At this point anyway!)

I look forward to continue to follow along on my favorite blogs, which are listed here via my Blog Roll, and to continue the dialogue about all things retirement on Instagram.

And be sure to make it a great day wherever you are!

February In A Sentence A Day

Greetings! February turned out to be an amazing month full of interesting performances, lectures, and restaurant dine outs. Plus I managed to hit 37 days of being sugar free (I had just one slip, and I'm now down 7 pounds since initiating this change on January 21.).

February In A Sentence A Month

1.  A very productive morning scheduling estimates for 1) Roofer (need some shingles replaced as a result of balcony project), 2) Rain gutter cleaning, and 3) House painting, plus got the house ready to welcome overnight guests Ed and Susan, which upon their arrival then transitioned into Happy Hour here at the house, followed by a lovely dinner out together at Vine Wine Country Bistro in San Clemente, meaning another check mark off of our Top 75 Restaurants In O.C. list.

My wine-country-casual ensemble for our evening out.

2.  Woke up to pouring rain, so we scrapped our plans to go hiking and out to breakfast with our friends, and instead stayed in and talked and talked over a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs and fruit salad . . . not bad for last minute I have to say!

3.  Spiritual services in the morning, then home for a quick lunch before heading to Segerstrom Performing Arts Center for a wonderful performance by the Pacific Symphony featuring concert master and violinist extraordinaire Dennis Kim, then a return trip home for a quick dinner for heading out yet again to our monthly spiritual discussion group.

4.  Woke up to rain, so spent a guilt free morning in my office catching up on the myriad of things always needing my attention, then attended Spanish Class before returning home to a lovely batch of White Bean soup that I'd started in the AM in my crockpot.

5.  Walked the Salt Creek trail to beach and back, then a shift at the cultural center I volunteer for, where it rained buckets!

6.  A visit to the Irvine Art Museum to see some beautiful California coastal paintings . . .

. . . then to dinner at new-to-us Paul Martin's American Grill, where I went bonkers over my Raspberry Martini.

7.  Took friends Nikki and Dennis hiking along the Aliso Summit trail, then enjoyed lunch together at Plumeria Cafe . . . views to die for in that the rain had left snow covered caps to the east, and clear blue ocean and skies to our right.

8.  It literally and figuratively rained buckets all day so I went absolutely nowhere!

9.  The sun broke out just in time for visiting friends, Todd and Shannan, so we hiked them all over Dana Point, including stops for lunch at Pain Du Monde and coffee at The Coffee Importer, then to our favorite San Clemente brewery, Left Coast, before returning back home to enjoy wine, dinner and a lovely sunset together before they departed for home.

Hello sun, we've missed you!

10.  Morning spiritual services, then lots of shopping on the way home . . . seems having hubby with me as an incentive is the only way I'll set foot in a retail store these days!

11.  Hilly hike along the ridges above San Juan Capistrano with hubby, followed by coffee together at Starbucks afterward, a favorite Monday routine . . . the hikes may vary, but the coffee is a constant!

12.  Morning hike to Salt Creek Beach and back, then off to volunteer at the cultural center, where I always enjoy chatting with the center's generally happy visitors, then a meetup with hubby at what may now be our go-to Mexican restaurant, we liked is so much, San Clemente's La Siesta.

Our delicious margaritas were a sign of good things to come, and the restaurant did not disappoint!

13.  Morning hike, then to Huntington Beach for dinner, where my oldest daughter's boyfriend knocked our socks off with roasted sweet potato fries dipped into a yummy cumin aioli, plus homemade mushroom pizza, both from the amazing Eat Delicious cookbook.

14.  Lovely and romantic Valentine's Day enjoying opera with rising star Liv Redpath at Casa Romantica in San Clemente.

15.  Morning hike at the harbor, then yet another romantic night out with hubby, beginning with Happy Hour at Watermans Harbor, then to Casa Romantica for Members Night, where we enjoyed beautiful sunset views along with a acoustical guitar performance from this talented young singer and songwriter, Kristofer Winrich of Dream Brother Music (click here for a sample of his music).

16.  Saturday morning hike at the beach, then off to a dinner of Spanish tapas at the truly incredible Vaca, owned by Season 13 runner up Top Chef Amar Santana, followed by a fantastic Pops Concert - Kenny G. backed by the entire Pacific Symphony . . . what a night!

From the Vaca website . . . 
. . . and from my camera in the concert hall lobby before the show.

17.  Sunday morning spiritual services, then off to a training shift at the marine institute I volunteer with . . . I'm moving indoors to the Gift Shop after enjoying the brisk outdoor position I've held for since moving here . . . then back home to enjoy a Sunday night dinner of slow cooked baby back ribs, baked sweet potato and roasted asparagus, yum.

18.  So cold today for Southern California ,even while brilliantly sunny, so I spent most of the day inside doing chores, though I did duck outside with a blanket to read for a bit on our balcony because the ocean was a such a glorious blue I couldn't resist.

19.  Cold but gorgeous hike to the beach and back with my Tuesday group, yardwork here at the house afterward, which involved clearing off the last of the wall-covering vines in preparation for getting the house painted this spring, then off to attend a talk by living legend female activist Gloria Steinem at The Bowers Museum, followed by dinner out with my fellow attendees at Chapter One, both in Santa Ana (after talking them down from going to Norm's Restaurant . . . um, sorry, but just no!).

Ms. Steinem applauding the audience for being a part of the ongoing changes we all wish to see occur.

20.  Interesting lecture on the history of immigration policy in the USA at our Lifelong Learning group, then a delicious lunch at Clay Oven Indian Cuisine with our Gastronomers Group - might have overdone it a bit with the impossible-to-resist garlic naan!

21.  Grocery shopping, then to Pacific Sales to investigate new dishwashers for our kitchen, a request from my husband, the head dishwasher around here, and therefore one I am happy to support!

22.  Fun training session at the gift shop I'm shifting over to as a volunteer, then we put on a little ritz and headed to a dinner event featuring the winemaker from Coppola Wines (yes, that Coppola family!).

23.  A mad day of cooking and prepping for a dinner party left me pretty wiped out by the time our guests arrived . . . could it be that a professional chef is in our dinner party future???

And this was just dessert!

24.  A gorgeous day here, so we rode our bicycles to Huntington Beach, checking in on our older daughters cats along the way since they were away for the weekend skiing.

The ferry trip across Newport Bay is one of our favorite parts of this ride.

25.  Four mile walk in the AM, then errands than home to tear down the last (really!) of the vines on our brick wall in preparation for getting the exterior of the house painted.

26.  Beautiful hike in Aliso Woods Regional Park with my Tuesday group, all of us agreeing that we've never experienced so much lush green as we have this very-wet winter.

27.  A 10+ day . . . spent the morning hiking above and into Laguna Beach with my Wednesday group, then a return trip to town in the evening to have a date night with hubby at K'ya Bistro.

28.  Worked my first on-my-own gift shop shift, and had a blast chatting with customers, many of whom were tourists, about the wonderful marine institution the shop is a part of.


And so sped by February. Really looking forward to next month, in that we'll be traveling to two new-to-us countries, Cambodia and Vietnam. Not looking forward to the long flight, but am otherwise very excited to experience the history and beauty of both places. 

January In A Sentence A Day

January turned out to be a terrific, and terrifically productive month, largely due to being gone for a good chunk of the month, and due to experiencing amazingly consistent energy upon our return due to making a long-overdue decision to give up processed sugar. 

January In A Sentence A Month

1.  Started off the day watching the Rose Parade on our new 65" TV (how sad that a float broke down and prevented the last few from being seen 🙁) while enjoying a New Years day brunch of blueberry pancakes, eggs and bacon, then a lovely five mile walk along the beach before returning home and plunking ourselves down to watch movies the rest of the day . . . possibly enjoying our new TV just a bit too much!

2.  Booked a 33-day cruise around S. America(!) for early 2020, then off to our spiritual congregation's newly purchased building to assist with some move-in projects, plus lots of grocery shopping at Aldi's on the way home . . . I don't necessarily love everything Aldi's carries, but appreciate the great prices on those things I do.

So excited to visit all of these places!

3.  Morning dermatology appointment to get a squamous skin cancer lesion removed, spent the afternoon in the backyard reading and gazing out at the ocean under gloriously sunny skies, then my first time helping to bring and serve dinner to a homeless shelter in Laguna Beach that our spiritual congregation commits to one day a month - what a humbling experience.

4.  Morning workout at the gym, then home to pack and get our travel trailer hooked up and ready for our annual trip to attend the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

5.  Headed out early in order to get our travel trailer parked at the RV park in time to attend our first movie of the trip, Egypt's Yomeddin, a moving film about a leper colony, followed by set up, Happy Hour and dinner back at the RV park with our best friends, and fellow Film Festival attendees, David and Fran.

6.  Walked to our films today, @ 4 miles round trip, Austria’s The Interpreter, and Israel’s Redemption, then Chianti and pizza afterward at always-delicious Bill’s Pizza, discussing what we liked (and didn’t!) about both films with our friends.

7.  Morning hike up to the top of Lykken trail, a sack lunch in line while waiting to see Japan’s The Shoplifters (a disappointing 'eh' in my opinion, in spite of being a Best Foreign Picture nominee for this year's Oscar awards) dinner back at our travel trailer, then back in line yet again in order to see Denmark’s nail-biting thriller, The Guilty.

8.  Morning hike up Lykken trail, then off to see what turned out to be our favorite film of the festival, Lebanon's outstanding, Oscar-nominated Capernaum, followed by dinner back at our trailer, before heading out again to see Spain's charming Champions, about a group of disabled basketball players.

I know this is a long shot for an Oscar, given powerhouse Roma, also nominated,
but it is so worthy of receiving one!

9.  Took the day off from the Film Festival and headed to Sunnylands Estate for an almost-private tour (just 7 people permitted at a time) of the inside of this ah-maz-ing estate where seven U.S. Presidents have visited and stayed . . .

. . . then to Shield's Date Farm for luscious date shakes and Medjool date sampling, then topped off the day by enjoying dinner and a show at the cozy Purple Room Supper Club.

10.  Headed out by foot to see Ethiopia's beautiful movie, Fig Tree, coffee and a split sandwich afterward at our favorite Palm Springs coffee house, Koffi, a fun afternoon shopping our way through downtown Palm Springs, including a stop for yummy blackberry mimosas, a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum, dinner at Mexican food fav Las Casuelas, then the weekly Thursday night Village Fest along Palm Canyon, whew!

The day's purchases included this hat and blouse,
both of which I couldn't wait to wear, literally!

11.  Morning hike up Lykken trail where we finally spotted a whole bunch of big horn sheep after just missing them earlier in the week,

then off to see our last films of the trip, the charming Swedish biopic Becoming Astrid (though I hated that they made the actress remove her blouse for no good reason . . . #timesup!) and the incredibly compelling Afghanistan war film, Jirga, which dealt with forgiveness in a manner most of us would never, ever have the courage to do!

12.  Headed home from Palm Springs, then spent remainder of the day cleaning our travel trailer, unpacking, doing laundry, and making a mini-grocery run, in that we leave again in just a few days.

13.  Attended first services at our spiritual congregation's new permanent home - so exciting! - then home to meet my girlfriend Mary, visiting from her temporary home in Singapore, taking her walking and shopping in San Clemente, then to dinner in always-beautiful Laguna Beach.

14.  Watched an episode of Mari Kondo on Netflix and was so inspired I finally got around to decluttering my office of an embarrassing accumulation of paperwork.

15.  Up at 4:00 am to catch out early morning flight to DC, being extra nice to TSA as we went through security (third week of no paycheck due to gov't shutdown), then a fun evening playing with our two granddaughters once we arrived.

16.  Immersed ourselves in granddaughter fun, including some very chilly outdoor snow fun!

17.  Spent time attempting to help organize a preponderance of books and toys scattered throughout the house for my daughter . . . felt a bit like the little Dutch boy that stuck his fingers in the dyke, even as the water spilled out elsewhere!

18.  At long last, enjoyed 'hotel night' with our four year old granddaughter, which she thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed . . . the first of many, many more wonderful grandparent/grandchild experiences to come we hope!

19.  Lot's of playtime fun with 'our girls' once back home to their place from hotel night - chase, hide n' go seek, tag, stickers, coloring, and book reading, phew!

20.  Attended services at the Metro DC branch of our spiritual congregation, then finally managed to find time to stop by a movie theater in order to watch Bohemian Rhapsody where I, literally never stopped moving my feet . . . loooooooooved it!

21.  Flew home from Metro DC, always sad to say goodbye to everyone, but did enjoy dinner at our oldest daughter's in Huntington Beach once we landed back at LAX . . . her boyfriend is such a wonderful cook!

22.  Goodbye sugar . . . resolved to give it one more big try, and see if I could finally cut processed sugar out of my life in order to see if other aspects of my life might improve, primarily my energy.

23.  Day One of mp sugar was hard people - an addiction to sugar is said to be akin to an addiction to cocaine - so I kept myself busy/distracted by meeting up with one of my hiking groups for a five mile hike along some early-spring-green hills above Ladera Ranch.

24.  Woke up amazed at how solid my energy was yesterday - benefits of removing the processed sugar from my life already being realized - and caught up on my book club readings (Faulkner's The Sound And The Fury, and the uber-intersting non-fiction Sapiens, before heading out to work a shift at the cultural center I volunteer for.

25.  Morning hike with hubby, home for a bit to do chores, then off to first meet friends for Happy Hour at Waterman's Harbor, then to Anaheim to meet up with our oldest daughter and her sweetie for craft beer tasting at Bottle Logic Brewing . . . my brown porter with cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper was amazing!

26.  Morning hike along the beach with my Saturday walking group on a gorgeously warm day, home to re-landscape a small planter in our front yard that just had a tree removed, then in to clean up and head out with hubby to Laguna Beach for a quick dinner at Urth Caffee, followed by seeing the play Driving Miss Daisy, starting Michael Learned.

27.  Morning services at our spiritual congregation, then home to prepare for our quarterly book club meeting to discuss The Sound And The Fury, where we started off outside in order to enjoy wine and a gorgeous sunset, then headed indoors for a southern-themed dinner and book discussion - fried chicken, baked sweet potatoes, and a shaved Brussels sprout salad, plus homemade pecan pie (but none for me!).

28.  Morning hike with hubby, Spanish class in the afternoon, then home to start our next quarterly book club read, Tolstoy's War and Peace (it's not hard, truly, just long!), plus made an amazing quinoa, chicken and roasted sweet potato casserole for dinner from new-to-me magazine Eating Well . . . both hubby and I were blown away by how delicious it was.

29.  Morning six mile hike with my Tuesday hiking group, then home to clean up and get photos taken for our Cambodia and Vietnam visas, which I then returned home and spent two full hours applying for online before finally finishing . . . the upload features for photos we needed to submit was cumbersome for both to say the least!

30.  Enjoyed a very challenging 8 mile hike with my Wednesday hiking group, which included 2,300 feet of gain in the first two miles . . . while I avoided the worst of the spills our group experienced on the way down due to how rocky and steep the trail was, I did 'take a knee,' at one point due to briefly taking my eyes off the trail.

31.  My Thursday morning hike got cancelled due to pending rain, a bit of a relief after yesterday's long hike, so I enjoyed time in my office working on some upcoming trip details, before leaving for an afternoon shift at the cultural center where I volunteer, followed by a quick dinner back at home before heading out again to attend a Mozart concert . . . the later is more hubby's thing than mine, but I do always end up enjoying the music more than I expect to.

Bonus: I finished the month with ten straight days of being processed sugar free, and feat I've never been able to accomplish up until now. The difference in my energy level, and also my appetite, has been astounding. I'm also down four pounds already, which is making me very, very happy. By removing processed sugar, I've stopped bouncing into the kitchen all afternoon for pick-me-up after pick-me-up. Instead, I'm able to wait for dinner, and then to eat sensibly once I there. Wow, just wow is about all I can say at this point, though I will do a comprehensive write up once I get a full month of sugar sobriety under my belt.


My Word For 2019

I'm not sure when I first heard of selecting a word to define my new year, but I do know that I did so for the first time in 2016. I chose the word 'Seek' for that year, in an effort to push past some of the issues I was having in dealing with peri-menopause; primarily fatigue and a bit of anxiety. Having a single word to hold up in front of me as I moved through the year was tremendously helpful, and I ended the year having visited something like 15 new countries and six new states.

My word for 2017 was 'Renew,' which I wrote about here on my blog. Little did I know when I wrote that post that the year would end with a complete renewal of our lifestyle, moving from our prior inland Orange County location to an ocean viewing home just two miles from the coast.

So I'm now a proponent of selecting a defining word for each new year even as I forgot to do so in 2018 due to being so distracted by the various home remodeling projects we were involved in for much of the year. However, with all of that now nicely in the past, I'm ready to pick up and again move forward, starting with my word for 2019, which is 'Refine.'

When I paused to give thought to a word for this new year, the word 'Refine' came immediately to mind. I was actually curious at first as to why this was the first word that popped into my brain, but as I gave it thought it became pretty clear that it was the perfect word for me in 2019. In 2017 we made a massive lifestyle change. In 2018 we worked to settle into that new lifestyle. And in 2019, I'm ready to fine tune our new lifestyle in a manner that continues to move me forward.

As many wonderful new opportunities that have come our way since relocating, my body continues to remind me that time is passing, and I need to nurture it in a manner different from how I tended to it in the past. meaning that Cardio, cardio, and nothing but cardio is no longer good enough.

So in 2019 my focus will be on refining what I already have in place, in an effort to elevate my quality of life throughout the year. And I'm going to do so by selecting a series of goals to focus on for the year. Each goal is meant to build on an element that is already present in my life, but that is in need of further refinement.

My 2019 Refinement Goals

  1. Work to limit refined sugar to just one time per week.
  2. Practice twice daily meditation of five - ten minutes per session.
  3. Commit to twice a week strength training when here at home (i.e., not traveling).
  4. Attend yoga once a week when here at home (i.e., not traveling).
  5. Practice Spanish a minimum of 15 minutes 5x a week in preparation for a series of trips in 2020 in Spanish-speaking countries.
  6. Practice kindness, both toward my fellow humans and this beautiful planet we live on.
  7. Lose 15 pounds as a gift to myself. 
  8. Read one book per month for pleasure, in addition to my monthly and quarterly Book Club reads.
  9. Plan a mother-daughter event with each of my two daughters, in order to deepen our ongoing adult child/mother relationships.
  10. Enjoy the ocean in some capacity every day when here at home, the sole reason, after all, that we chose to relocate here in 2017.
My plan is to post a monthly update on how I'm doing on each of these goals, and to share how forward progress or accomplishment of each has added to the quality of my life.


I invite you to join me in sharing both your goals, and your progress or accomplishments here. I'd love to cheer you all on as well!

December In A Sentence A Day

December was a wonderful month overall, most especially because we not only finished our year long outdoor remodeling project, but because we were able to spend oodles and oodles of time with family and friends, enjoying all that makes this festive month so lovely.

December In A Sentence A Month

1.  Morning walk with my Saturday group on a gorgeous, sunny morning, set up and decorated our Christmas tree below, then off to the most wonderful holiday concert, A Feast of Lights, put on by students and alumni of Saddleback College, then a quick drop-in to catch my gal pal Eileen's a capella group performance in San Clemente before heading to dinner at Pizza Port.

2.  A terrific production of The Importance of Being Earnest at UCI with our Lifelong Learning group, which included post and pre-performance discussions with the stage crew and actors, then a quick dinner of leftovers before welcoming fellow spiritual congregational members into our home for a discussion group we'll be hosting throughout 2019.

3.  Morning beach walk with hubby, then a holiday party celebrating volunteers at the cultural center I'm a new volunteer with . . . such a beautiful place!

4.  Morning hike with my Tuesday group in Aliso Woods Regional Park, an appointment with our realtor to get her updated market assessment of our home post-renovation (significantly more than what we spent, yeah!), then, bam!, the onset of intense tendinitis pain in my right leg, which rendered me pretty much useless for the remainder of the day.

5.  Insane tendinitis pain the entire day, relieved only when I remembered the leftover pain pills I'd hung onto after last February's episode with calcific tendinitis . . . this getting older stuff is not for sissies!

6.  More rain than we've seen in a good long time, plus with the pain in my leg somewhat subsided, I made a long overdue appointment with my doctor to try and figure out what in the heck is going on, then a quick training session at the cultural center in order to learn how to use the credit card machine in the gift shop, before returning home and making a super-easy oven mushroom risotto for dinner - not as good as the not-so-super-easy risotto I make when entertaining, but a more than acceptable alternative when it's just hubby and me.

7.  We passed, we passed, we passed . . . the city inspector gave the final sign off on our backyard trellis and balcony project, which we celebrated on our balcony by raising a glass . . . or two(! ). . . then off to the harbor to attend a Christmas Boat Parade celebration at the marine institute we volunteer for.

8.  A five mile soft beach sand walk, the only activity I'm currently cleared to do by my doctor, a few hours reading out on our new balcony and gazing at the ocean, then a night of holiday big band jazz at Saddleback College . . . what a show!

9.  Morning spiritual services, then off to meet our family for a fun afternoon and evening - an early dinner at the always delicious El Farlito, then CSUF's spectacular Deck The Halls concert and symphony event, a walk through our favorite holiday lit-neighborhood afterward, then dessert at the home of dear and longtime friends . . . whew!

10.  I so wanted this to be a stay at home day after our busy weekend, but not to be, as hubby and I did a five mile beach walk, enjoying lattes at Ellie's Table afterward, plus I attended Spanish class, and had my annual mammogram.

11.  Learned I have another squamous skin cancer growth (localized, no worries!) that needs removal, no big surprise after spending pretty much my entire childhood outdoors and under the sun without benefit of sunscreen.

12.  Gym workout, including, yeah, weight training, the weekly grocery shopping and errand running, then home to get pretty for a members night holiday event at seaside Casa Romantica . . .  so lovely!

The view of San Clemente pier from beautiful Casa Romantica.

13.  Early wake up to make 60 mini-corn muffins, a brief visit by our HVAC installer to show me how to change the air filter (yep, felt like a real dunce afterward!), a volunteer shift at the cultural center, then off to a holiday potluck dinner with our lifelong learning group in order to plan our monthly dine-outs for 2019.

14.  Beach walk and breakfast in San Clemente with my gal pal Sherri, included delicious avocado toast afterward at Catarina's Cafe, then home to make a raspberry custard trifle for a weekend event, plus baked a second batch of lavender shortbread cookies for yet another weekend event, plus laundry, then hubby and I agreed we were simply too exhausted to head out yet again to use already-purchased tickets to see this amazing young woman, Jackie Evancho - our bad, and lesson learned . . . too much of anything, even fun times, is not good!

15.  Morning hike with my Saturday group, then off to attend a holiday dinner and beer tasting event at my oldest daughter's, bringing along the raspberry trifle I made yesterday, and with much energy hubby and I ended up being the life of the party in spite of being the oldest ones there . . . the beer helped!

16.  So tired after last night, but sucked it up and prepped all morning for my annual Cookie Exchange event, and was so, so pleased that all my gal pals were willing to travel south to our new home in order to attend!

17.  Picked up the needlepoint project I made my oldest daughter for Christmas from the framing shop . . . I love how it turned out!

18.  It poured rain, so unusual here that it's always exciting, but also meaning that my tide pool shift was cancelled, so I stayed home to enjoy it!

19.  A busy day stopping in at lots of different grocery stores in order to take advantage of all the Christmas food sales, and came home with bulging bags, but within budget, hooray!

20.  Super tired (it's been a busy month!), so I hung out and read this book for most of the day.

21.  Lunch and shopping in Laguna Beach with my gal pal, Wendy, then Happy Hour overlooking the harbor with a group of friends that all volunteer with us at the marine institute . . . it was a wonderful day!

22.  Attended an event that will definitely become an annual holiday 'do' - met a group at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, then walked a total of five miles to and around Balboa Island to watch the boat parade (though the festively lit houses were just as awesome!), enjoying both dinner at Picante Martin's and dessert at Baking Betty's along the way.

23.  Treated ourselves to a new 65" TV, then spent the night watching movies on it, plus discovered this awesome Netflix crackling fireplace 'movie,' which sounds just like the real thing but cheaper . . . our fireplace is set up with gas and a faux set of logs, and it's pricey to use as a result!

Honestly, it looks and sounds just like the real thing,
plus in S. California we really don't need the additional heat!

24.  Our Christmas Eve plans go blown out of the water when one family member came down sick, and the other two (my oldest daughter and her sweetie) got stuck in traffic on their way home from a skiing weekend, so hubby and I enjoyed an unexpectedly quiet night at home eating dinner and watching It's A Wonderful Life together alone instead . . . not gonna lie, it was kind of nice!

25.  Merry Christmas . . . family, sun, sand and a great meal . . . our hearts are full!

26.  A glorious day of staying in my P.J.s and doing pretty much nothing, a long running day-after-Christmas tradition!

27.  Morning gym workout, a shift working in the gift shop of one of the places I volunteer for, then a night in our old neighborhood celebrating my girlfriend's 60th birthday . . . the photo below definitely captures how much fun we all had!

28.  Met my hiking group for a gorgeous seven mile hike to Aliso Hill Summit, with incredible ocean views the entire way and back, my first time hiking it, but most definitely not my last (see below!).

29.  So excited about yesterday's hike, I went right out and did it again with my husband, adding in a lunch stop afterward at a new cafe, Plumeria, that we both thoroughly enjoyed.

30.  Hosted my oldest daughter and niece, plus their sweeties and roommates, for breakfast at the house, followed by kayaking and lunch at the harbor . . . we had such a wonderful time with them all!

31.  A lovely late morning walk along the beach, then back home to clean up and enjoy a quiet but romantic New Year's Eve at home with hubby enjoying good wine, good steak, and each other's company.