Thursday, July 27, 2017

Settling-In Challenges

Today is the first day I feel like I'm coming up for air after the sheer craziness of moving, re-settling, then taking stock of the many, many projects that will be keeping us busy at our new house for the next couple of months. The good news is that I am nearing the end of my shopping list, and my daily trips to both Home Depot and Loews should soon be coming to an end.

So speaking of settling in, both my husband and I were surprised this week to experience a bit of homesickness. In talking it through, we agree that it's not so much that we are missing our prior home, or town, or really even our friends in that we are still seeing them, just with a slightly longer drive. It's more a sense that nothing is familiar yet, and the loss of that familiarity has turned out to be a bit unsettling. As just one example, I'm used to seeing familiar faces, and oftentimes friends, when I'm out for a run or racewalk. Here, everyone is still a stranger. The same is true when I run errands or go to my gym. Here, of course, all the faces are still new. And even the house, as fabulous as I know it will be in just a couple more months, is still somewhat foreign in it's current homely state (The carpeting throughout most of the house is beyond horrible, truly. As are the overhead lights, non-matching electrical outlets and switches, and fairly damaged oak floors.).

But a few days later, with lots of deliberate, forward momentum by both of us, things are already beginning to fall into place. We've met most of our neighbors, and are beginning to feel like we belong here now. We walk the trail to the beach at least twice a week, and are beginning to recognize some of the people we repeatedly walk past. We have joined a wonderful marine organization that functions largely based on volunteers, and are beginning to meet people and build a base there. I've joined a running club, and each week I feel a bit more connected to the people I'm running alongside. Our UU congregation involvement is continuing to grow, and each Sunday we see more people we recognize to say 'Hello' to. And we have not one, but two area Lifelong Learning programs that we are looking to get involved in this coming Fall. All of these activities are resulting in scads of events being placed onto our calendar, and I can already see that very, very soon our calendars will be as full of possibilities as they were prior to our move.

With just a bit of hindsight, I can see how much progress we've already made in the three short weeks we've been here. As disconcerting as those few days of feeling out of place here were, they are already diminishing as other aspects of our new life present themselves.

And already, when we have cause to return to our prior area for appointments and prior social engagements, I find myself missing the beauty of my current town, how cool and comfortable the temps are, how close we are to the ocean, the graciousness in general of life here compared to the slightly more intense town we left. It's all good for sure, and even with just a few weeks of living here under our belts, neither of us would swap what we have here for what we left were we given the choice.

Our beautiful new coastal-close community.
We are never, ever leaving! 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Summer Bucket List - Update #1

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 one new Farmers Market. 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!