Friday, November 17, 2017

Five Things Making Me Happy Today 11/17

It's a misty-raining kind of morning here, and I'm currently cozied up inside with a cup of coffee feeling snug, so here are five things making me extra happy today:
  1. I did my Thanksgiving grocery shopping, yeah! I've been so busy here lately, that I was woefully behind in making up my Thanksgiving menu and shopping list. Yesterday I finally sat down and went through this week's grocery circulars to see who was offering what turkey deals, and ending up getting my nice 18 pounder for just 47 cents a pound once I met the store's $20 purchase requirement. And even better, I got to the $20 requirement by only buying items that were on sale, so it was a win/win all around.

  2. I worked a tide pool shift at this beautiful cove and enjoyed the most gorgeous sunset at the end of my shift. Plus enjoyed seeing harbor seals, dolphins, and this rarely sighted giant key hole limpet that had wandered into our tidepools overnight.

  3. I went on two hikes with a new group this week, and not only were the hikes wonderful,  so were the people, most of whom were energetic retirees. This group not only hikes together twice a week, but also do kayaking and biking excursions around S. Orange County, and I am so very pleased to have found them!

  4. Yesterday I was outside wearing a big straw hat when my three year old granddaughter called to FaceTime me, and when she saw me in the hat she asked, "Where's your horse, Nana?" I died. 

  5. And finally, today is my dad's 81st birthday, and when I called him to say 'Happy Birthday' he was already out and about doing one of the things he most enjoys in his adopted home state of Texas - shooting his old black powder musket at a firing range. I am forever thankful I for the things he taught me over my lifetime, that being to never give up, and never stop doing. I'm so happy to still have him in my life, in spite of the things we don't necessarily see eye to eye on (like guns). Love you Dad!

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Home Office Make Over (Mine!)

After a second Pottery Barn delivery attempt - the first attempt included a damaged desk - my new home office furniture finally arrived in proper form. And then a few days later, my new shaggy red rug and yummy white leather and chrome office chair, so I thought I'd share the before and after's here just as I did with my hubby's home office a little earlier in the month.

Here is the before of my home office, as it appeared at our July move-in:

So, so many things wrong with this picture! Old, stained carpeting, rickety single paned windows that let in all of the heat from the afternoon sun, ancient curtains, non-functioning mini blinds, heavy, dark old oak desk built into the space formerly (properly!) a closet, non working clock, dirty brass door handle, non functioning outlets.

So, so unattractive!
We literally took this space down to the plywood and drywall, ripping every single element out, including the not-to-bad ceiling fan, and replacing with new.

Here is what it looks like now, in it's shared functionality as both my home office, and a secondary guest bedroom for, primarily my visiting granddaughter:

I love that my new Pottery Barn desk fits perfectly into the recessed window area, allowing me to see the views outside rather than just the dark wood recess of the former closet-built in desk. The new dual pane windows keep out most of the heat, assisted by the pretty new shutters we had put in on all of our front-facing windows.

Matching bookcase - both it and my desk are painted glossy white.
The bookcase holds, well, books! I'm already envisioning my granddaughter laying on the fluffy red rug happily reading or coloring, while I work on my computer.

I once again have a closet, which I so appreciate. My office closet primarily holds the items pertaining to many of my indoor hobbies - Spanish studies, music studies, photography equipment, and scrapbooking materials.

A closet once again!

I love this sign, with it's inspiring message.

Here are close ups of the new desk and desk chair, taken from each vendor's site:

This desk has really terrific dimensions.
It's long but narrow at just 19" deep, so it easily fit through my doorway.
The bottom drawers on either side are file drawers. 

This chair received terrific reviews, assembled in a snap,
and is very, very comfortable.

For now, the interior decorating is done, and I'm so enjoying being able to simply enjoy our home!

Plans And Goals For Today
Read 4% of Alexander Hamilton
Sweep floors
Walk four miles
Bake chocolate cake for evening event
Attend potluck wine tasting event

Friday, November 10, 2017

Retirement Relocation Update: Four Months

Life's A Beach, Part II

I had another little case of the blues last week as we came out from under being under three and a half solid months of remodeling, and I realized it was clear sailing ahead. Meaning this was all now for real, with no more distractions.

After a couple of days of feeling a bit unsettled, I went for a long walk. During the walk I took in the sheer beauty of where we now lived, and felt and appreciated the moderate weather living so close to the coast delivered. I think I realized during that walk that I'd been spending so much time indoors overseeing our various remodeling projects, I'd slowly lost touch with the basic reasons we'd made this move - to be closer to our glorious California coastline here in Orange County.

What really got me out of my funk was getting back into a pattern of spending significant time out and away from the house. Over this past week we've hiked three beautiful coastal trails, done some exploring, dined outside at a variety of new restaurants, attended several interesting events and lectures, and best of all, actually started bumping into people we know as we get out and about, and our activities start to overlap.

So it's really been a wonderful week!

Here's an outline of how my week went:

Sunday: Played hooky and spent the entire day hiking and dining in nearby San Clemente. My husband I walked the San Clemente beach trail, taking a detour out to the end of the pier to watch seals. We enjoyed sitting outside afterward enjoying lunch at Ellie's Table. On our way back home we stopped off at a new-to-us park in Dana Point and discovered a funicular to the beach at the end of our walk there. A wonderful day!

Monday: Spent the day inside cleaning. Not such a wonderful day! And a reminder that I need regular doses of outside time to feel my absolute best.

Tuesday: Worked a morning shift at the Ocean Institute, enjoying gorgeous weather, plus got paired with a newer retiree volunteer that had lived in the area just a couple of years longer than me. She was newly retired and we enjoyed talking about the challenges of making the work to retirement transition, exchanging emails at the end of our time together so that we could connect for a walk and lunch later in the month.

Wednesday: A girlfriend came by to visit, and I took her hiking along the gorgeous Dana Headlands trail on an absolutely gorgeous day. We enjoyed lunch afterward at a cafe in town before she headed for home.

Thursday: We had the quintessential Coastal Day. My husband and I hiked a five mile route that took us up from the Harbor over to Strands Beach and back along the bluffs. We came home to shower and clean up, then drove to Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach for lunch at Andrea (I had a TravelZoo deal). Afterward we returned home for a few hours before heading out to listen to a lecture from a marine biologist at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, the amazing organization charged with rescuing seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales along our Orange County coastline. It was so inspiring! We came home so excited to have learned of this organization, which overlays with our Ocean Institute volunteer duties, and my tidepool docent volunteer duties (we get seals and sea lions visiting us at both).

Friday: Today I have an interesting class about our First Amendment at my Lifelong Learning program, followed by lunch out with my husband (he's attending also). We have a landscaper coming out to look over our backyard and provide suggestions on how it might be re-done, including a significant expansion of our ocean-viewing balcony, and we end our day meeting up with two new couples we met via our Ocean Institute volunteering for dinner and music.

We have plans over the weekend to go kayaking and biking, in addition to an evening event with our wine society (always fun!).

It now feels like the flywheel is turning (as my husband would say) and that we've now been here long enough, and gotten involved in enough things that our life has filled up with a mix of interesting people and activities. It feels like I am finally beyond the sense of everything being new (in a slightly uncomfortable way), and I'm now beginning to fall absolutely in love with the complete change in lifestyle this move has brought. To be able to immerse ourselves in the coast and the ocean, and everything that brings along with it is simple beyond anything I might have ever dreamed. This is increasingly feeling like 'our town' and 'our coast' as we traverse between San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel and Laguna Beach. Going 'Inland' is now something we sort of dread, because the pocket of beauty and relative tranquility we exist in is truly special.

Goals And Plans For Today
Meet with landscaper
Attend class
Have lunch out
Dust house
Clean Master Bath shower
Meet friends for dinner and concert

Monday, November 6, 2017

Things I'm Thankful For Q&A

Today I'm joining in with some other bloggers via The Blended Blog to answer 15 questions about Things I'm Thankful For. And what a perfect time of year to do so with Thanksgiving just a couple of short weeks away. My heart is always full going into November as I reflect on my life, and this exercise complemented it beautifully, so I hope you enjoy.

The Blended Blog Asks:

1. A New Friend? Having just moved to our new area four months ago, I have several new friendships that are still in their fledgling stages - first coffee get together, first walk together, first dinner get together. I went through this transition before, when I retired in 2011 and needed to find new daytime friends to pal around with instead of my workplace friendships, so I know that it might take up to a year for current acquaintances to formulate into friendships.

2. Something Shiny? My gorgeous new white leather and shiny chrome office chair, newly ordered and soon to be here!

3. Something Unexpected? Stumbling upon a funicular to the beach yesterday, while on an exploratory hike around nearby Dana Point. Apparently the only funicular in Orange County, and it's not only fun, it's totally free!

4. Something Ordinary? My morning cup of coffee, the first thing I pickup when I awaken, and which I linger over for a good two hours while I chat with my husband, quietly read, or watch the sun come up over the hills.

5. A Person You've Known For A Long Time? A married couple, really, because I can't split one from the whole, and whom we have known since my husband and I first started dating (they were his friends first). We were married in their backyard, moved to their neighborhood so we could be close when we relocated back to Southern California from San Francisco in the 1980's, and who we continue to remain close to in spite of now living about two hours apart. We've camped, hiked, biked, dined, celebrated, mourned, walked, museum and concert attended, RV'd, and backpacked together ever since, getting together at least six times each year, more now that they are newly retired. In fact, they are stopping by for lunch this Friday on their way to see their grandchildren in San Diego.

6. Somewhere You Go Every Day? Our upstairs balcony to check out the ocean and sky, which changes mood and color not just by the day, but by the hour.

7. Someone Who's Taught You Something? My father. He taught me to never slow down, because in his own words, 'You can slow down when you're dead!'

I love you Dad! And at soon-to-be 81 years, you are definitely the farthest from slowing down of anyone I know!

8. A Far-Away Place? Several: 1) Metro-DC where my youngest daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter are currently residing, 2) New Zealand because it's the most beautiful place I've ever been, and 3) Paris because it's the most enchanting city I've ever visited.

9. Something That's Saving Your Life Right Now? Long walks. Or hikes, or bike rides, or kayaking excursions. Pretty much anything that gets me into the outdoors and creates an elevated and extended cardio experience, resulting in a complete clearing out of the ongoing clutter in my brain. There is nothing better for bringing me back to a space of complete contentedness.

10. Someone You See Every Day? My wonderful and loving husband, who I continue to appreciate more with each year that goes by. He has my back, he loves me even when I'm far from lovable, and he thinks I'm more beautiful today than when we first met. Oh, and he also does dishes and bathrooms! :-)

11. Something You Enjoy Doing? Decorating my home, and entertaining in it as often as possible! At least once a month we try and schedule a dinner party with one to three other couples here at the house. I generally cook and prepare everything myself, and thoroughly enjoy the process of determining the menu, setting the table, selecting the music, and having my husband select and set out the wines for the evening.

We just had one here on Saturday night, and the glow from the energy generated by having wonderful people and conversation in my home lasts for days.

12. Someone Female? My newly-three year old granddaughter. I love her to the moon and back, and my heart literally sings every time I hear her voice, see her little face via FaceTime, or hold her soft and precious little being in my arms when we're together in person. I didn't know you could love a little being not technically your own child so, so much.

13. A Special Place? Mammoth Lakes, California. I've been snow skiing there since I was 14 years old, and hiking there as well for the last 10 years. It's a sacred place to me regardless of the season, and the place where I feel closest to what I perceive as my higher power.

14. Someone Male? Can I mention my husband twice? For a long time I would have said my dad was the most influential person in my life, but now that I'm a bit older and wiser, I see his little flaws and frailties a smidge more clearly, and my husband's strength of character a lot more clearly. While not perfect, my husband is perfect for me.

15. Something Warm? The beautiful hand knitted socks I'm currently wearing on my feet. Made by my oldest daughter, they are little works of art, and I know they come from a place of love each time she gives me a pair.

All done! And I loved this exercise so, so much -thank you ladies for letting me play along!

Care to share a few of your own thoughts on Things You Are Thankful For? Please do play along and leave a comment below!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Another Remodeling Project Completed, But I Am So Over This!

I embarked on my first home improvement project at the ripe old age of 12, when I convinced my parents to take me to the paint store, and then dragged my bedroom dresser out into our backyard in order to repaint it in bright green and white.

I also vividly remember visiting my Nana over the years while growing up and checking to see what had been changed in her home when we arrived, because almost always she would have moved or redecorated something since I'd last been there.

So clearly it's in my DNA.

However, I'm thinking I need a bit of a break in that I'm no longer 12. Or 20. Or even 40. I'm newly 55, and right now I'm just tired!

But first, let me start off by saying that I am so appreciative that we have been able to get our new home fixed up so quickly, I truly, truly, truly am. But, I am also so done with having contractors in our home, and I'm thinking I/we need a break for sure. We just finished an absolutely beautiful cabinetry project in my husband's home office, but our wonderful contractors were here for three days running, one day longer than expected, and didn't finish up until 7:00 PM last night, Friday evening. Because of the unexpected job run over, I had to cancel all of my Friday plans, plus Friday is generally the night of the week when we relax outside and open a nice bottle of wine, and I make a nicer than usual dinner. Instead, we hid out in our upstairs guest bedroom to drink our wine, and ordered in pizza.

But enough with the whining, and onto our recent results! Here is the before of my hubby's office, 1980's-era floral border and all:

And here is what it looks like now after being re-painted, re-floored, re-windowed, re-shuttered and re-ceiling fanned along with the rest of the house back in September, then having new creamy, espresso-accented cabinetry installed this past week:

I love, love, love that my sweet hubby's 'stuff' will now
all be hidden away behind cabinet doors.

I love this built in credenza, and am thinking we will look
for a nice sculpture of some sort to put on top.

The cabinetry is beautifully made, and will hopefully
serve my husband well for years to come.

My husband loves crown molding, so he's very happy he can now
 look up and see some whenever he sits down at his desk!
We are both extremely pleased with how it turned out, and I will say this job was a whole lot easier with regard to small detail decision making, in that it's pretty much the same installation we had done in our old home this past Spring:

The office in our prior home, which my hubby was only
 able to enjoy for a few weeks before we put the house up for sale!

The only change between the first and second office builds is the credenza, which is twice as high in our new build due to the windows being higher up on the wall.

We still have a few small decor items to pick up to finish off our current projects, but those I much enjoy shopping for in that they don't create big messes in the process. For now at least, the big contracting messes are on hold until I get my remodeling mojo back.

At which point there is a linen closet in need of re-facing, and two bathrooms in need of re-tiling that are calling my name!

Plans And Goals For Today
- Run four miles
- Prep meal for dinner party tonight
- Dust house, including floors
- Attend final tidepool training session
- Entertain!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

October 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.

October was a good month overall! I got lots of granddaughter time, we settled even further into our new home, we became increasingly connected with our new community, and we finally found time to start branching out and exploring new activities and restaurants. 

(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. First non-family entertaining event, a dinner party for our book club that included these Chipotle chicken kebobs with cilantro lime dipping sauce, this Southwest black bean and corn salad and this delicious Trader Joe's ready-made pumpkin cheesecake (I cheated and bought dessert because I ran out of time!).
  2. Cleared out 70 emails ( yep, even in retirement!), plus packed and prepped house for our trip tomorrow.
  3. Flew to Metro-DC to visit our granddaughter, arriving after her bedtime, boo hoo.
  4. Speaking of 'boo's' had a marvelous day with our girl visiting Burke Nursery Farm & Pumpkin Patch, taking their spooky hay wagon ride not once, but two times (our girl is so brave! 😊 ) 

  5. Our girl went to preschool today, so we snagged same day tickets to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC,
    followed by lunch with some visiting friends at one of Jose Andres' DC restaurants, Oyamel, where we enjoyed great food, but, unfortunately not great service.
  6. Took our girl to two more play parks, plus another pumpkin farm, because a tired-out toddler is a happy toddler!
  7. Apple picking at Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia,

    plus a little wine tasting for the adults at adjacent Bluemont Winery. 

  8. UU services in Mount Vernon which included lunch and a seminar on working to improve race relations, an unplanned, impossible-to-resist stop for new toys, then we watched our girl for the evening while mom and dad enjoyed a night out on the town in DC.
  9. Our girl again went to preschool, so we sat around all day and read on a rainy Autumn day.
  10. Took our girl to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD and had a BLAST!
  11. Our girl is 3 years old!!!
  12. Flew home, talking about our girl during the entire flight (😊), did grocery shopping, enjoyed wine in our backyard, then fell into bed exhausted at the ripe ole hour of 7:30 PM!
  13. Unpacked, did laundry, repacked, then left for a weekend couples retreat, nicely nearby at least.
  14. Wonderful day listening and learning about all things pertaining to couplehood.
  15. Home just in time to prepare slow cook pork ribs for an at-home dinner date with our oldest daughter, who sweetly brought cupcakes to celebrate my birthday, which occurred earlier this month while we were visiting the East Coast.
  16. Had custom roller shades installed on our view facing windows,
    Now you see them . . .
    . . . now you don't!
    then a very robust discussion with our non-fiction book club about this month's read,  The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria.
  17. Early morning four mile race walk with hubby, lunch with my monthly ladies group, then a rockin' Halloween celebration with our fellow Ocean Institute volunteers .

  18. Gym and grocery shopping in the AM, then, woo hoo, a VIP reception at a yacht club to kick off the 2017/2018 season of the Dana Point Philharmonic - our season tickets were a modest $60, but if that gets us a VIP invite we'll take it!
    I don't think I really realized how many boats are moored here!
  19. New hairdo!

  20. Spanish class in the AM, then an afternoon shift at the Ocean Institute, where I discovered this enormous guy near one of our sailing ships.
  21. A pain-free four mile run in the morning, then I cooked myself silly getting ready for a dinner party we were hosting in the evening, including this brag-worthy lemon tart!

  22. A gorgeous coastal fall afternoon spent shadowing a docent at several Laguna and Newport Beach tidepools, which including some actual docent work myself, as my instructor gently handed over the ropes about midway through . . . scary!
  23. Puttered around the house sweeping, doing laundry and going through files, then off to a tidepool volunteer appreciation event in this gorgeous backyard on a balmy fall evening.
  24. Attended a class on Chinese Culture via my Lifelong Learning program, then an Oktoberfest event that involved pairing traditional German food with a variety of wines.
  25. Spent the morning practicing how to put together our new inflatable kayak - success!
    - then  a stimulating lecture at Soka University titled 'Journalism Under Fire.'
  26. We took our kayak over to Dana Point Harbor, and yeah, it didn't sink!
  27. So, so tired and no clue why!
  28. A very foggy morning, late morning walk under blue skies, and then a Fall Harvest Festival at our UU congregation, featuring chili, baked potatoes and three kinds of corn muffins.
  29. Hiked the San Clemente Beach Trail with my girlfriend Mary under cloudy skies,
    followed by a farewell lunch (she's moving to Singapore!) at the fun and casual Ellie's Table , then a relaxing rest of the day at home before getting cleaned up for date night with my hubby at Tortilla Republic in Laguna Beach, including, yum, Passion Chipotle Sangria!
  30. New bed delivery for our second master bedroom, meaning we are officially open for overnight guests!
    Lots of decorating still needs to be done, including sheets!
  31. Second class on Chinese Culture at our Lifelong Learning program, a docent shift at one of our local tidepools where I discovered and happily watched a two spotted octopus for hours, then a Happy Halloween to the paltry two kiddos that came by the house!
    The little slice of paradise where I volunteer!
Make it a great day wherever you are!