Friday, July 21, 2017

Progress Report #1 - 20 Things On My Summer Bucket List

Welcome to Progress Report #1 of how I'm doing on my 20 Things Summer Bucket List! And let me just say that I am so, so happy to finally be able to turn my attention away from moving and instead toward checking fun items off my summer bucket list. Summer-at-the-beach bucket list I might add, because . . .  I now live just two miles from the ocean! 

And just like the last time, I'm linking up with a group of other terrific bloggers to share Summer Bucket List updates, so be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to see who else is participating, and to visit their blogs for additional summer inspiration.

Progress Report #1 for 20 Things On My Summer Bucket List
  1. Read by the pool. Pending.
  2. Bike to the beach for breakfast. Pending.
  3. Watch a sunset. Yes! OK, I admit it was a bit sneaky adding this one in in that we are literally across the street from a park where we can view lovely sunsets nightly. However, we do need to make an effort to remember to do so, so I'm giving myself points for that. Plus, we just purchased an annual pass for a beach right down the road from our new home, and we plan to visit very regularly as a result, catching even more sunsets in the days ahead.
  4. Attend a concert-in-the-park. Pending.
  5. Read three fluff-books. In Process. I checked our three fluff books from the library yesterday, two cozy mysteries and one current best seller, and I look forward to reporting back on all three in my next update. I will say already, however, I forgot how much fun it is to read an easy-peasy book vs a more meaty one you actually have to work at!
  6. Make sun tea. Yes! I have made several batches in fact, and it is so much milder and tasty than buying it pre-made from the store, or making it from instant. I drop 7 teabags into a half gallon pitcher of water, cover it with plastic wrap to keep out any visitors (!) and leave it out in the sun for somewhere between four and six hours. This batch, shown below, is Mango Black Tea. So good!
  7. Blow bubbles with my granddaughter. Yes! I made bubbles from dish soap and water, and used the handle of a pair of scissors as my bubble blower. My granddaughter absolutely loved chasing them down and popping them, and we spent many happy hours engaged during our week together in late June.
    This cutey-patooty looooves chasing after bubbles!
  8. See fireworks. Pending.
  9. Have a picnic at the beach. Pending.
  10. See a summer blockbuster. Pending.
  11. Make three new summer cocktails. Pending.
  12. Make three new summer salads. In Process. I pulled out my trusty America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook a couple of weeks ago, and made this fabulous Asian Spinach and Shrimp Salad. We ate it outside, and it was absolutely perfect for a balmy summer evening.
  13. Make three new BBQ recipes. In Process. We had our oldest daughter over for dinner right after moving in, and after a quick search through, again, my America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook, I decided on Grilled Beef Kebabs with Chili-Lime Rice. The marinade was awesome, and I ended up with about half of it still in the marinating bag after removing the sirloin steak tips for skewering, so I froze it for re-usage at a later date. This recipe was stellar, and we all absolutely loved it. (All ATK recipes are behind a paywall, and this time I couldn't find a free link online, so sorry! Just drop me a note via the Contact Form in upper right of this blog, however, and I'll happily send it. :-)

  14. Make real-fruit popsicles. Yes! I made Lavender-Blueberry Popsicles from this recipe, and they were delicious! I had lavender on hand from a trip we had taken up the West Coast some time ago, plus blueberries were on sale this week at Sprouts Market, so I knew I had to make them the moment I saw the recipe title. The 'hardest' part if you will, (because they were really very easy to make!) was the 25 minutes it took to make the lavender infused simple syrup. Once they froze and I had a taste though, I was sold. They have a lovely soft lavender taste among the more pronounced blueberry. I'm thinking these would definitely qualify as artisan popsicles, and I would proudly serve them to any of my friends. 
    My popsicle ingredients and tools ready to go.
    After making the simple syrup, you simply add it to your fresh blueberries and process.
    My cute popsicle molds, purchased at Bed Bath & Beyond for $4 each (I had a 20% off coupon).
    The finished product - absolutely delicious!
  15. Lose five pounds. In Process. I lost the first five pounds as part of my Spring Bucket List of Items, primarily due to the stress of the move - I pretty much stop eating when highly stressed. I attribute this next pound that has been lost to the physical labor required to unpack about a gazillion moving boxes! Nicely, however, with our backpacking training underway, the next four should come off as easily/quickly as long as I mind my sugar consumption and continue to eat 'real' food. I can definitely feel the loss of the six pounds already, however, whenever I slip on skinny jeans or shorts - they both fit and look so much better!
  16. Buy three new sundresses. In Process. I popped into my first boutique yesterday, Blue-Eyed Girl, and saw this adorable wrap dress, but admit I was thrown a bit by it's $169 price tag so I left it on the rack and walked out of the store empty handed. I'm thinking TJ Maxx is likely going to be a better place for these, but I need to get crackin' as summer is already 1/3 over!
  17. Get a pedicure (my first, would you believe?!?).Pending.
  18. Volunteer for a beach-oriented organization. In Process. I recently stopped in at the Ocean Institute of Dana Point, and completed an online volunteer application. Next step will be to hear back from the volunteer coordinator about when I might attend their volunteer orientation sessions. Have to say the location of this organization can't be beat; smack dab alongside the Pacific Ocean in Dana Point Harbor; and I love that much of their work is with student groups. 
  19. Go backpacking. In Process. We've pulled the necessary permits for a three night/four day backpack along the N. California coastline in August, and we started our official training yesterday, carrying 18 pounds in our backpacks each for six miles. We'll add weight at a rate of two to four pounds per hike till we reach our respective load maximums (@ 28 pounds for me, 40 pounds for hubby).
  20. Visit three different Farmers Markets. Pending.
My count indicates that so far I have four of my 20 items completed, seven more in process, and nine still pending. Now that our move is behind us for the most part, I am looking forward to diving fully into summer for the next two months, so be sure to check back on August 21 for my next Summer Bucket List Update!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Home Projects Update, Plus One Room Completed!

What a week!

Having one's home re-piped is a most unpleasant experience, in particular because there is nothing to 'see' once completed. It's an internal update, compared to almost every other home upgrade or improvement we'll be undertaking, so it's the least exciting to me. However, it's also the most important thing we can do to ensure our home is inhabitable for years to come.

We also had our sprinkler system 'tuned up' and a new sprinkler timer installed. It appears that about 1/3 of the sprinkler system wasn't working properly, with some of the sprinkler heads missing entirely. Everything is now functioning at 100%, and I am even in possession of a remote for our new watering system which will enable me to test various lines while walking around our property.

And I'm not sure what the prior gardener here did exactly, but it surely didn't appear to be gardening! In addition to the mess of a watering system (which while not necessarily responsible for maintaining it, a gardener worth his or her salt would have at least tested it on occasion) the yard was an overgrown, underweeded mess when we arrived. I researched gardeners on Yelp, and located a great one. They started the week we moved in, and are working through our front and back yards a section at a time, getting things all cleaned up. They have about one more week of heavy pruning to go, after which they should be able to return to 'normal' weekly service.

Inside of the home this week's projects included all new fixtures for our six bathroom sinks and three shower/bath combos, plus a new kitchen faucet. Replacement of fixtures was offered by our re-piping company for a very nominal fee, so we jumped. And we even slipped in installation of new medicine cabinets at no installation cost, since the old ones had to be removed during the re-piping. I can't tell you how good it feels to have something clean and new in every bathroom, in that they are all floored in, can you believe, carpet. The reflooring project won't occur until mid-August in that we need to have three new sliding doors installed first, and they don't go in until the beginning of August.

Little by little!

And happily, we ordered new furniture for our family room and it was delivered last night. So we now have two areas of relative prettiness in the house; first the kitchen, and now the adjoining family room. I love our new sofa, which will seat four people easily. Including the new comfy chairs, we'll now be able to seat six people there, which will be terrific for casual entertaining.

Enjoy my non-professional photos of our new family room!

The artwork over the sofa is massive, but looks fairly small here, so trust me when I say
our new sofa is very large!

We love how the family room opens up to the kitchen. (I know, I know, need to
remove those curtains over the bay window!)
Plans And Goals For Today
Sixty minute cardio workout at the gym
Shower and be ready to leave here by 11:00 AM
- Take some small returns to Home Depot
- Pick up mail from our old house
- Purchase OC Parks Annual Pass, only $50 since my hubby is 62, qualifying for Senior rate. This pass is good at the beach parking lot just down the road from our new home, plus several other close by beach and hiking canyon parks. In that our close by beach parking lot is also where we'll park for summer concerts-in-the park running all summer, I predict we are going to get a lot of use from it!
- Pick up baby gift at Carters
- Attend an open house for friends holding a small baby shower for their new grandson
- Stop by my sister-in-laws to say 'Hi.'
- Dinner out in Downtown Fullerton
- Attend a Scotch and Boubon tasting afterward, one of our UU Auction Items purchased this past February. I'm the Designated Driver for the event (required for all participants), and Mike is the official taster.

Should be a fun, busy Saturday!

 What are you up to this weekend? I'd love to hear!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Project Retirement Relocation - Completed!

I'm going to say straight away that while we are absolutely delighted with our new home and it's wonderful coastal location, we never. ever. ever. want to move again!

I cannot emphasize enough just how stressful the process of simultaneously selling and buying turned out to be. There were so many points where things could have gone south. - Would our home appraise at a price point sufficient for our buyers to obtain their financing? Would they successfully close the sale of their current home in order to obtain the financing to purchase our home? Would they change their minds at some point, possibly during the inspection process. And speaking of inspections, would the home we were hoping to buy reveal things during the inspection that would cause us to question our decision? Would we fit into our new neighborhood? Would we like it here???

As the wise Buddha once said, relax cricket, all things will reveal themselves in time. Meaning that step by step my husband and I worked through each step of the process, although I must admit that wine helped on a few particularly stressful days!

We closed on both the sale of our current home, and the purchase of our new home at the beginning of last week, and underwent the actual move this past Wednesday and Thursday. It was a rough couple of days I have to say. Not only the total, temporary disruption of our lives, but the challenge of finding a new place for our belongings. Our many, many, many belongings. Holy moly, as much as I regularly purged, we still had a whole bunch of stuff.

We are now evoking the rule as we unpack that if we don't love it and have a place for it, the item is going straight to our growing Goodwill pile!

But now that we are over the grueling task of facing a mountain of boxes, we've been able to create zones of tranquility already in the new home, and that has been wonderful.

Starting with my spacious new kitchen!

Curtains will come down once new windows and new shutters are installed in a few weeks.
I have to say that after adjusting to the majority of my storage now being in pull out drawers vs overhead cabinets, I am loving my new kitchen. The enormous center island is absolutely fantastic. There is room for multiple people to be working, and the end is actually an eating area for two people, once we purchase a couple of counter-height chairs. I also love that it opens directly to the family room, making it a joy to cook in that I can easily talk with my husband, or whoever is over visiting.

I also am loving that the ground floor master bedroom opens directly onto the backyard and its spacious views. It is lovely to see our beautiful coastal canyon each morning when I wake up.

And we've already entertained in our backyard, having our oldest daughter over yesterday for a BBQ. The backyard instantly draws people in we are discovering, ourselves and our daughter included. And it was sooo comfortable at about 72 degrees with a wonderful coastal breeze. And also why we ultimately decided on this particular house - we can make the  house whatever we wish in time, but these views and cool coastal temps are forever.

The list of To-do's on the house is long, starting with re-piping, but I can visualize how it's all going to look in a few months, and we are really excited to get started. Which is good, because our re-piping kicks off today, and it's going to be a bit of a bumpy week as a result!

Plans And Goals For Today
- Stay out of plumbers way!
- Sixty minutes of cardio, plus arms strength training at the gym.
- Unpack upstairs linen closet
- Start unpacking my office, and if possible, try and ascertain how I visualize it being set up so that I can order new office furniture.
- Return to the furniture store we visited yesterday in order to place an order for new family room furniture.
- Visit Home Goods and Cost Plus to try and locate a small buffet for dining room.
- Stop by property management company to drop off form to paint house pearl gray and white.
- Contact Goodwill to pick up a few pieces of furniture that don't work in this house.
- Take a load of smaller items to our locale Goodwill drop off center.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Five Things Making Me Happy Today 7/4

  1. We closed escrow on both houses!!! We are now the happy owners of just one home in coastal south Orange County, and our move from our now prior home to there begins tomorrow morning. So. Excited.
  2. Our surrounding neighbors gave us a lovely sendoff over the weekend, which left us with nothing but love and happy thoughts about the 25 years we've spent in this house, the place where we raised our daughters, made so many friends along the way, graduated from college (me), and concluded our respective careers. 
  3. Fireworks! We should be able to view fireworks tonight from our new home without having to go anywhere. There are three possible viewing spots; our backyard balcony, the open green space directly across from the front of our home, and another open green space just a short block up the hill. We are excited to see exactly how many displays are viewable so we can plan for future 4th of July parties. (There are something like ten different city and community firework displays in the area according to our neighbors.)
  4. Our oldest daughter arrives into LAX this afternoon from a weekend vacation in Panama, where she surely got impacted by the massive power outage that struck Central America on Saturday. We are relieved to know that she is now in the air per her flight itinerary, and will soon be home.
  5. That we live in an imperfect and tumultuous, but still wonderful country. Happy 4th of July to the United States of America!

What things are making you happy today? Please share with us here!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

June 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 June was transition, as we continued to work on turning our dream of living near the coast into actual reality. The beginning of the month was loaded with stress, but it tapered off as the month progressed and things fell into place. And our much needed dose of granddaughter time was just the wonderful anecdote we needed in order to return home recharged and ready to take on our actual move come July!

(And P.S. - Check out my Blog Roll on the side, plus be sure return on July 6 and scroll to the bottom of this post to see who else is participating in June In A Sentence A Day.)

June In A Sentence A Day
  1. Researched every single remaining possible home option available in our price range in our target city and sent the very long list to our realtor so that she could schedule showings.
  2. Accepted an offer on our home here in the morning, then spent the remainder of the day viewing lots and lots of view homes in Dana Point and Laguna Niguel before finding 'the one' and, fingers crossed, submitting an offer.
  3. Volunteered at a commercial wine competition organized by our wine society and took this booty home afterward as our 'thank you.'
  4. We got the house, we got the house!
  5. Made phone call after phone call to begin the process of shifting our lives from Brea to Laguna Niguel, then spent the evening with our book club discussing the first half of Wuthering Heights.
  6. Early morning geology and home inspection appointment at the new home, which generated a lot of stress when we began receiving more information about our potential new home than we probably cared to know(!).
  7. Another appointment at the new house, this time to meet our flooring guy and take measurements, after which we walked to the beach via Salt Creek Trail to check out our new stomping grounds.
  8. Had our current home termite inspected (we passed!), reviewed the completed home inspection report on our new home, then made a rapid call to our agent to better understand just what we were getting ourselves into!
  9. Got on the scale and realized I'd lost almost five pounds in the last two weeks from the stress of it all . . . I completely lose my appetite when stressed!
  10. Decided to hold an impromptu party to drink all the open bottles of wine we brought home from the wine competition, so I messaged the neighbors, baked brownies and lemon squares, and fired up the front yard patio firepit in anticipation of a fun evening, which it definitely was!
  11. Attended our UU congregation where we said another sad goodbye before heading to Costa Mesa to attend the Pacific Symphony and enjoy dinner afterward at Seasons 52 with our wonderful friends Ellie and Jim.
  12. Went for a long walk while our current home was being appraised for our buyer's loan, fingers crossed!
  13. Exhausting but productive day meeting with our new insurance agent, flooring vendor #2, repiping vendor #2, window replacement vendor #1, and a gardener, all at the new house.
  14. Got my hair done, always relaxing in that I load up on the salon's copies of People magazine during the two and a half hour process . . . my stylist is very good (see photo from the 16th of June, below :-), but a wee bit slow!
  15. Enjoyed a super fun lunch out with my girlfriend Mary, learning afterward that the appraisal came in spot on on our house, meaning our buyers were one step closer to closing, hooray!
  16. Escaped the house here for a long hike while buyers had their inspection done, then partied hard in the evening to celebrate my girlfriend Faith's retirement.
  17. A seven mile hike in mid-90's heat, which never does my body good . . . I wilt in heat!
  18. Took my father to see our new house and walk Salt Creek trail to the beach and back, then enjoyed a Father's Day lunch at the lovely Cedar Creek Inn in San Juan Capistrano.
  19. Cut my basil plant back, and made homemade pesto with the bounty.
  20. Long, hilly hike with my girlfriend Mary, the last we'll do together until after our move.
  21. Flew to Metro DC to visit our granddaughter . . . yeah!
  22. Had a picnic lunch on the front lawn with our granddaughter, an instant hit along with the homemade bubbles I made using dish soap and water, plus the handle of a pair of scissors as the bubble blower - Nana points for creativity!
  23. Repeat of yesterday, because, yes, both front lawn picnics and bubble blowing continued to enthrall, then watched our granddaughter overnight for the first time ever, gulp!
  24. The parent-free evening went great . . . after an evening of play with Baba and Nana, she literally rolled over in bed and went to sleep after three songs!
  25. Drove an hour to Fort McHenry National Historic Park in order to purchase a lifetime Golden Age National Park Pass now that my husband has finally reached the qualifying age of 62 - the best $10 we've ever spent!!!
  26. Visited historic Fredericksburg, Virginia and learned about one of the Civil Wars bloodiest battles, which left us both quietly contemplative for a good long while afterward.
  27. Said goodbye to our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter and flew back to California, boo hoo!
  28. Started setting aside the items we wanted to take to the new house ahead of the movers, plus took delivery of a new set of pots and pans suitable for cooking on an induction cooktop, new-to-me technology.
  29. Closed on our new coastal home!
  30. Took our travel trailer over to the new home to make sure it fit into the garage (it did!), trimmed some overgrown foliage to open up our stunning view even more, met several of our neighbors, then walked down the hill to dinner in Dana Point before driving back to our current home, which doesn't really feel like home anymore! 
Our buyers close here right after the weekend, which should make for a most memorable 4th of July if everything goes as planned. I'm thinking my July In A Sentence A Day is going to be chock full of coastal fun, so be sure to check back on August 1. 

Or better yet, join us with your own July In A Sentence A Day!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Project Retirement Relocation - We Are In The Home Stretch!

I've decided that one way to keep myself calm under what will surely be a most stressful process is to track our progress each week in order to assure ourselves that, yes, we really are achieving forward momentum!

We spent the last week in Metro DC visiting our daugher, son-in-law and granddaughter, and it was such a nice break from the relocation stress! We spent lots of time talking, cooking and eating together. We took a day trip to historic Fredericksburg and learned about one of the Civil War's bloodiest battles. And of course, we immersed ourselves in the delight that is our granddaughter. We had picnics under a tree on their front yard which she absolutely loooved and asked to have repeated every single day. We made homemade bubbles out of dish soap and water, using the handle of a pair of scissors as our bubble blowing wand (it worked great!), which she then loved chasing down and popping. We waddled like penguins all over the house multiple times a day, which always sent her into peals of laughter. And we went to a coffee shop that had a little play area several times during our visit, which she thought was very, very grown up.

Oh how I already miss this precious little person!

In relocation news, a lot of balls got caught this week, leaving only a few more to go:

  • All contingencies regarding appraisals (our buyers) and inspections (both us and them) were removed, leaving only the financing piece for the buyers of our home. (No financing on our side, as we are rolling our equity here, and supplementing the remainder with cash).
  • Insurance policies completed for our new property.
  • Movers scheduled.
  • Utilities scheduled to be transferred from us (here) and to us (new property).
  • Post office notified of address change.
  • Pots and pans ordered for induction stovetop at new property. Only one of my current pans works for induction cooking, and I'll give the remainder, all good quality Calphalon, to my oldest daughter.
  • Cancelled our summer RV reservations in nearby Newport Beach since we'll be living by the coast full time, and will no longer need to 'visit.'
  • Discontinued numerous autopays we had set up for our spiritual organizations, our gardener, our utilities, and our gym.
  • Did a room by room grid of where I'll want the furniture placed by the movers in the new house.
  • Finalized orders for re-piping, new dual pane windows, and new hardwood flooring. The work will being on July 10, and likely go on until mid-September. 
  • Dropped off approval forms at our new HOA management company for the new windows, plus for a new outside paint color. Currently new house is painted light blue with white trim, which we want to change to pearl gray with white trim, similar to how our current home is painted. I just love me a gray and white house!

Lots of projects still to come once these are done - new lighting throughout the house, new paint, replace ceiling fans, add custom shutters, update all light switches to LED-compatible dimmers, get all grout in bathrooms cleaned, painted and sealed, and have another custom office build done for my husband.

Speaking of home offices, I've been looking at this set from Hayneedle for my new office, in that I'm losing the built ins I use here at our current house. I thought it would look great on our new mid-tone hardwood floors, along with a colorful rug. I would probably order two bookcases, plus the desk-hutch combo, and a matching file cabinet that could double as an end table for the trundle bed I'll be sharing my office with.

Plans and Goals for tomorrow
- Finish unpacking
- Make a menu for the week and go grocery shopping.
- Sixty minutes of cardio, plus weight strengthening at the gym.
- Start a list of the items we'll be taking with us to the new home ahead of our movers
- Read two chapters in book club selection, Wuthering Heights.
- Sixty minutes of Spanish review.
- Sweep and dust
- Rake and weed

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

20 Things On My Summer Bucket List

Greetings, and welcome to 20 Things On My Summer Bucket List! This is my second list, and I think I learned from my first one, 20 Things On My Spring Bucket List, that I need to keep things just a tad simpler going forward, because, well, sometimes life happens!

We are in the home stretch of attempting to transition from our current home to a home by the beach, which will make a lot of the items on my summer bucket list super convenient to accomplish . . . wish us continued luck that we can actually pull this off!
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 summer, a few of the participants are from Down Under, meaning their lists are season reversed, which should be veeery interesting!

20 Things On My Summer Bucket List 
  1. Read by the pool.
  2. Bike to the beach for breakfast.
  3. Watch a sunset.
  4. Attend a concert-in-the-park.
  5. Read three fluff-books (I generally lean toward slightly meatier material :-).
  6. Make sun tea.
  7. Blow bubbles with my granddaughter.
  8. See fireworks. 
  9. Have a picnic at the beach.
  10. See a summer blockbuster.
  11. Make three new summer cocktails.
  12. Make three new summer salads.
  13. Make three new BBQ recipes.
  14. Make real-fruit popsicles.
  15. Lose five pounds.
  16. Buy three new sundresses.
  17. Get a pedicure (my first, would you believe?!?).
  18. Volunteer for a beach-oriented organization.
  19. Go backpacking.
  20. Visit three different Farmers Markets.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Project Retirement Relocation - Weeks #4 & #5

I've decided that one way to keep myself calm under what will surely be a most stressful process is to track our progress each week in order to assure ourselves that, yes, we really are achieving forward momentum!

This was a doozy of a couple of weeks, with a lot of unexpected stress (thank you home inspectors!), but also with a lot getting accomplished:
  • Researched, interviewed and selected an A+ Better Business Bureau moving company to pack and relocate us.
  • Contacted an insurance agent in our new area and got three new policies (auto/home/earthquake) quoted and ready to go. The home will go up slightly, but the auto will go down in an equal increment, and the earthquake is much, much less expensive at our new address, which was great news.
  • Contacted a pest control service for our new home. In that we back up to a wilderness area, we expect pests to be a bit more of an ongoing issue than at where we currently live.
  • Received the inspection report back on our new home, which was frightfully detailed . . . and long.
  • Had our home termite inspection here, which came back completely clear, hooray.
  • Determined order of home improvements, which we plan/hope to begin just a few days after we move in; re-piping first, then new windows, then new floor coverings, then new paint. 
  • Shortened our upcoming trip to visit our granddaughter from two weeks to one week, so we'll return a few days before our close of escrows on both properties. We'd originally planned to leave our daughter's home and go traveling for a week, so the net time with our beloved granddaughter is actually the same in spite of the shortened trip.
  • Located a well rated handyman via, and will surely have a long list of to-do's to provide upon his first service visit.
  • Contacted a sprinkler repair company to assess repair needs, which turned out to not be too bad at all.
  • Met with my landscaper to see what he might envision doing to our backyard and he had some great ideas, the very best being to drastically enlarge our second story backyard balcony, which has unobstructed views of the ocean. Loved this idea so much that we moved it way up in the queue of things we'll be doing to the house.

There was progress on fun relocation items as well, which really do help balance out the above to-dos or stresses:
    • Completed and returned applications for the lifelong learning program at our new location, so we can hit the ground running the moment we arrive.
    • Added summer concerts-in-the park for our three immediate communities (Laguna Niguel / Dana Point / San Juan Capistrano) to our calendar. So excited to attend these without heat concerns this summer. :-)
    • Added local Farmers Market dates to our calendar for these same three communities.
    • Visited the nearby Ocean Institute in Dana Point to learn about volunteer opportunities. Such a wonderful organization!
    • Added summer Concerts In The Green at the nearby Festival of the Arts in Laguna Beach to our calendar as well, one of our favorite summertime events that was too far away to visit more than one time per summer. Now we can easily go weekly, if not more often.
    • Visited the library and learned about the various book clubs going on in the area.
    • Visited a tennis club, where yours truly will probably become a member after we settle in and get the first wave of upgrades completed.
    • Met our immediate neighbors on both sides and learned our new neighborhood is very friendly, and very, very quiet. They both saw fit to mention this, so we took it as both a promise and a warning, ha! (We're quiet too, so no problem on this front. :-)
    Just two weeks to go and we will, hopefully, be in our new home!

    Thursday, June 15, 2017

    Final Report - 20 Things On My Spring Bucket List

    Oh my goodness what a month! So, so distracted by first working to list and sell our current home, then searching for and buying a new-to-us home in coastal Orange County. And it definitely shows with regard to how many items I left undone on my Spring Bucket List. But, I am not deterred, and I am looking very much forward to posting my Summer Bucket List on the first day of summer, June 21.

    The good news is that we are definitely approaching the home stretch, and I should be back to normal in just another couple of weeks. We are scheduled to close both escrows in early July, and so far everything is going smoothly. Fingers crossed it remains that way for just a couple of more weeks.

    So onward to my Final Spring Bucket list update . . . be prepared to be underwhelmed!

    Final Report for 20 Things On My Spring Bucket List
    1. Make a batch of low-sugar jam with spring berries. Yes! Completed previously here.
    2. Grill spring artichokes. Yes! Completed previously here.
    3. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner outside at least once. Yes! Completed previously here.
    4. Make three new cocktails. No! I blame this on the relocation endeavor.
    5. Make three new BBQ dinners. No! I also blame this on the reloaction endeavor.
    6. Try three new restaurants. Two out of three, so almost! I reviewed new restaurant #1 here and new restaurant #2 here. Once we launched ourselves into home searching, our meals out deteriorated into quick lunch grabs from Subway and Corner Bakery.
    7. Take a family picture during our vacation in Kiawah Island. Yes! Completed previously here.
    8. Make three lunch dates with girlfriends. Almost! I I reviewed lunch out with girlfriend #1 here and met girlfriend #2, Mary at the same restaurant today, Mendocino Farm, because we likewise wanted to talk without interruption for as long as we wished. And I did have a lunch date with girlfriend #3, Barri, scheduled, but I had to cancel last minute in order to spend the day looking at houses due to selling ours so fast. Nicely, this did all happen on the day we found 'the one' so my girlfriend Barri came over for celebratory wine instead.
    9. Join a yoga studio . . . and go! Yes! Completed previously here.
    10. Strength train two times each week. No! I also blame this on the reloction endeavor.
    11. Take six bike spinning classes. Almost! I managed to get in two before getting swept up in relocation activities.
    12. Bicycle at the beach. No! We've been at the beach multiple times a week house hunting, and we did walk to the beach one afternoon, but no, no biking. Once we move in, however, we are planning to ride our bikes weekly to the nearby Dana Point Farmers Market, so again, I will get this one marked off, just not quite in time for my Spring challenge.
    13. Kayak. No! Again, I have to blame this on being completely distracted by our pending move. Once we are relocated, however, we'll be just a couple of miles from Dana Point Harbor, a wonderful place to kayak, and we are definitely planning to do so as soon as we can.
    14. Lose 10 pounds. In Process. I've lost five so far, primarily due to the stress of moving if I'm completely honest, but I'm determined to keep it up even when this is all behind us.
    15. Sell or giveaway all our old motorcycling gear now that our motorcycles are sold. No! Instead, sigh, we'll be moving it all to the new house to be dealt with there.
    16. Clean out garage rafters. Yes! Completed previously here.
    17. Volunteer three times. Almost! I volunteered at an all day wine competition, which I know sounds a little suspect until you understand that all proceeds raised go toward a scholarship program for college students focusing on viticulture studies. OK, so maybe still a bit self serving, but I have plans to do much better once we relocate. 
    18. Read one book for pleasure each month (Book club selections don't count!). Almost!  I reviewed book #1 here and I reviewed book #2 here. Once we decided to move, however, my reading became primarily focused on and the MLS. 
    19. Join Spanish discussion group to keep up with my language studies. Almost! A group of interested Spanish speakers is being assembled at my UU congregation, and I've added my name to the list, but no date has yet been set for our first meeting.
    20. Find a new online Spanish tutor focused on Advanced Beginners. Yes! Completed previously here.
    So, while not a total success, not a total failure either. I completed seven of my twenty, made terrific progress on another seven, and ended up with six completely undone. Regardless, I absolutely loved the idea and the challenge of it all, and I can't wait to return on June 21 with 20 Things On My Summer Bucket List, so be sure to check back.

    Or better yet, create your own Summer Bucket List and join us!

    Monday, June 12, 2017

    Our Revised Summer Plans

    One of the things I've truly looked forward to and appreciated since retiring is the ability to escape our hot southern California summers. The heat ramps up here starting in early July, and remains pretty warm until about mid-September. Since starting what I call 'sunbirding' in 2012, we've spent most of our summers RV'ing up and down our beautiful coastline, from San Diego, California, all the way up to Port Angeles, Washington.

    Cannon Beach, Oregon, summer of 2015

    Morro Bay, California, summer of 2016

    San Juan Islands, Washington, summer of 2013

    Sigh. It just never gets old.

    Last summer all that changed because of my younger daughter's move to the east coast with her husband and our granddaughter. (Hrumpf!) In trying to grab as much time with our granddaughter as we could, we volunteered to help drive cars and pets across country (my sweet husband, along with my son in law) and help with move in and unpacking (me). That meant that instead of cool Pacific Northwest breezes and coastal hikes, we were battling heat and humidity and unpacking lots of boxes. Still, we were more than happy to do so knowing that we had next summer to return to our beloved California coastline and Pacific Northwest.

    But then we decided to move closer to the coast here in Southern California.

    So now, in addition to needing time to make a series of immediate improvements to our new home (re-piping, windows and floors) we are thinking we won't necessarily wish to travel or RV all summer long going forward, because July through September should now be spectacular where we are moving. Clear blue skies, cool temps, and tons and tons of summer-at-the-beach festivities that will be literally in our backyard.

    So here's our revised schedule, before and after move:

    Three weeks back east to visit our granddaughter, including a week long road trip to explore Delaware (State #31 for us).
    One week RVing in Mammoth Lakes to go hiking and enjoying their summer chamber concert series.
    One week RV'ing in Newport Beach going hiking and attending the several summer concert and festival series we enjoy.
    Weekend yoga retreat with my oldest daughter.
    Three weeks RV'ing and backpacking the California coastline and wine country with our newly retired best friends.

    One week back east to visit our granddaughter, no road trip.
    Weekend yoga retreat with my oldest daughter.
    Two weeks RV'ing and backpacking the California coastline and wine country with our newly retired best friends.

    We shortened our trip back east, we pushed our Mammoth trip back to 2018, cancelled Newport Beach altogether because we don't need to flee to the coast in our RV to enjoy summer concerts any longer, as we'll be living in the midst of them, and shortened the portion of our California coastline RVing trip that was going to be done after our best friends headed for home.

    We are truly very happy to direct the resources that would have been pointed toward these trips to fixing up our new coastal home instead. Plus, we've been hearing rumors that we'll be able to see multiple firework shows from our new backyard. If that turns out to indeed be the case, I see a new 4th of July tradition already shaping up!

    Plans and Goals for Today
    - Sixty minutes of cardio at gym
    - Prepare menu and grocery list
    - Pick up wood flooring samples
    - Book club reading (Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte)
    - Sixty minutes of Spanish review
    - Set up appoints for re-piping (bid #2) and pest control at new house.
    - Attend evening couples program

    Friday, June 9, 2017

    Project Retirement Relocation - Weeks #2 and #3

    I've decided that one way to keep myself calm under what will surely be a most stressful process is to track our progress each week in order to assure ourselves that, yes, we really are achieving forward momentum!

    When last we left off, we'd selected a realtor for our current home and undergone the pre-listing activities of staging and photography. We had no idea what a whirlwind of activity was about to come our way one our home went up on the MLS. And And And Zillow, and about a dozen other home listing sites we'd never even heard of. Selling a home today is a whole different ballgame from the last time we did so for sure!

    Week Two
    • Helped with the ad copy to be used in the MLS, a result of my sales and marketing background. I write pretty good ad copy. ;-)
    • Vacated the house for a realtors walk and received our first showing request later in the day as a result.
    • Vacated the house again for an Open House over the weekend, day four of being listed.
    • Received multiple offers for our home the next day.
    • Countered three of the above offers, keeping hold of the strongest, number four.
    • More showings, more offers.
    • More counters while still receiving offers.
    • Confident our home was sold, even if not sure exactly to who quite yet, started home shopping in earnest down in south Orange County.
    Week Three
    • More house searching as we continued to refine our search - no to Aliso Viejo (not coastal enough), no to San Clemente (too far away from many of the activities we enjoy in central Orange County), yes to northerly Dana Point (felt tidier than the more southerly side) and a continued yes to Laguna Niguel (still coastal close, but homes a bit more spread out).
    • Accepted an offer on a buyer for our current home.
    • Placed a bid on a home in Laguna Niguel and nervously awaited to hear if our offer was accepted.
    • Responded to a counter offer on the above home, and again nervously awaited to hear if our counter was accepted.
    • Learned our counter-counteroffer was accepted!
    • Got word that our home here had just fallen out of escrow. Gulp.
    • Got word six hours later that our home here was back in escrow, same terms, but different buyer. Relief!
    • Researched and set appointments at the new house for a home inspection, termite inspection, and geology inspection (the new home is on a hill and we'd like to make sure it stays there!), plus for new flooring, windows, and plumbing.
    • And finally, we walked to the beach from our new home, which immediately reminded us why we'd started all this craziness to begin with. Because once we arrived we saw surfers, and dolphins, and pelicans. Kids playing in the water, teenagers sunning, lifeguards keeping an eye . . . pretty much all the stuff we'd dreamed about.

    Excepting that last, magical item, in looking over the above lists, I'm thinking it's no wonder we've been feeling so utterly exhausted at close of each day. So many emotions are being engaged throughout this process it's a wonder we are still standing - trust me when I say that tears have been shed by yours truly on more than one occasion. 

    We are going to try and disengage from all things pertaining to moving over the upcoming weekend, and just focus on enjoying our life as it is in this moment. The summer heat has not yet arrived, so the days are just perfect for hiking, and that's the plan for the weekend, along with attending services at our spiritual community, and meeting up with our Pacific Symphony group on Sunday for a concert and dinner. Cumulatively, a big dose of much needed relaxation!

    Plans and Goals for Today
    - An appointment with our selected moving and storage company in order to get a bid.
    - Gym for sixty minutes of cardio.
    - Sweep and dust inside.
    - Rake and weed outside.
    - Register for Lifelong Learning program at our new location, so we can enroll in summer courses ahead of our move.
    - Make a 'real' dinner for the first time in a week: Rosemary topped pork roast, mashed sweet potatoes, sauteed broccoli and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

    Sunday, June 4, 2017

    We Bought A House!

    Remember this post? Well, what a swirl of a couple of weeks since it has been! I really had no idea, as in absolutely no idea, just how stressful selling a home and buying a home would be when it's not being coordinated or assisted by an employer, as our prior five moves were. I was also surprised to discover that although we thought we were somewhat flexible about what home we bought next as long as it had a backyard view, turned out we were actually quite picky about the type of home we saw ourselves living in.

    Selling our home here turned out to be quick, but still stressful. We had lots of showings out the gate because the market here in Orange County is red hot, and people are eager to buy while interest rates are still low. We began receiving offers by day four, and when all was said and done we think we received nine offers altogether - we honestly lost count in and amidst all the counter offers, the best and final offers and the really, really best and final offers. Craziness!

    So when it was our turn to try and buy a replacement home closer to the ocean, we were rather nervous. We looked and we looked, but nothing felt precisely right. If it had proximity to the ocean it didn't have enough square footage. If it had square footage, it felt too far inland to really feel coastal, in spite of the lower temps and cool ocean breezes assuring us it was. If it was a fixer, it was too much of a fixer. If it was turnkey, it wasn't necessarily my kind of turnkey. If it had a view it had a tiny kitchen. If it had a large kitchen it didn't have enough bedrooms. And so on and so on and so on.

    Who knew we were so picky?

    So as we drove down last Friday for yet another day of house hunting with our realtor, we were feeling a bit perplexed about what to do next if we couldn't find our forever home. Right out the gate, however, we started seeing homes we actually liked. Not a one of them was absolutely perfect, but they were each close enough, and we began to relax. We could do this after all!

    As we drove into one of the last properties we were going to tour, I began to get both nervous and excited. The neighborhood was beautiful, the homes were lovely, the ocean was within site in the distance - what was our realtor doing bringing us here? There was no way anything here was in our price range!

    But then we drove up to this adorable-on-the-outside, ugly-duckling-on-the-inside of a home tucked into a long, quiet cul de sac, and we were instantly smitten. As we waked up the driveway and into the home I started ticking off checkbox's in my head - three car garage, front yard patio, quiet street - even as we entered and I started identifying all the things that needed updating - bad carpeting, wobbly stair railing, ho hum bathrooms, wallpaper in every bedroom. As we walked into the, surprise!, large, beautiful and newly updated kitchen, my heart started beating faster. And then, as we walked outside to the tidy, smallish backyard, it positively exploded. The views were incredible - open wilderness behind us, and a slice of the ocean to our right. Immediately the quote from Jerry Maguire came to mind, 'You had me at 'Hello.''

    Open wilderness behind, Pacific Ocean to the far right.
    I immediately knew I simply had to have this house, there was no going back now that I'd seen it. So we did what every nervous buyer does, we checked comps, checked our bank account, submitted an offer, and nervously waited. The first call from our realtor was to assure us that our offer had been submitted, and that the homeowners had received and read our submission letter (yes, there is such a thing as a submission letter in a hot market, where you pretty much throw yourself on a sword and beg the homeowners to pick you to purchase their home), and that they loved the letter. Next was a call to let us know that there was one other bidder, and we'd both be receiving counter offers. Next was the counter offer from seller, and our acceptance. Next was a full day of nervous waiting. Had we done enough? Were we still in the running, or should we reset our expectations and get ready to start thinking about a runner up home to bid on? And then the call we been waiting/hoping/dying/dreaming for - we were the winning bid and the home was ours.

    It's been a full 24 hours since and I still haven't come down from my cloud. The list of to-do's is urgent and long - we have short 30 day escrows of both sides of the equation - but we'll just take it day by day until we get through it all and come out the other side. That's the plan at least, wish us luck!
    The trail to the beach from our new home.

    The coastal park at the end of the trail,
    and where I'm already envisioning us walking day after day after day.