Week 31: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

It’s been a fun and productive week! The holidays always seem to add a layer of extra busyness. My shopping is only halfway done, which is very unlike me. I am normally 99% finished by this time. On the plus side, I know what I am buying, I just need to get out there and do it. I’ve already ordered everything I intended to order from online, so all should arrive in time. It’s just the real life shopping that I’ll need to complete.

So let’s dig in. In regard to item # 7 – Lose 10 pounds, I have plateaued with about a pound to go. I have decided my best option is to try to hold steady through the holidays and resume reduction efforts after we return from Florida soon after the first of the year. I believe that will be difficult enough. I am still using the Noom app and have found it helpful. On a related note, I am slacking a little on the NordicTrack workouts. I did two this week, bringing me up to 62 workouts of the 50 work out goal. One was a stroll through Dubrovnik, Croatia and the other a stroll along the Champs Elysees in Paris. We have visited both of these cities IRL (in case you aren’t familiar, you may see this abbreviation in your kids’ texts, it means “In Real Life”). I’m probably too old to be using these abbreviations but IDC. I’m pretty sure that means “I don’t care.” And if it doesn’t, it should! The Dubrovnik one was interesting as despite having visited this city, there were still new things to learn. I didn’t know that at one point in their history a kilo of salt was as valuable as a kilo of gold. They would harvest it from the sea and use it to “pay off” their aggressors to retain their autonomy. I learn something new almost every time I hop on the treadmill!

Item #10- Keep attending classes through Alliance de Francais. This Monday’s class is the last for this year. I will be setting up private FaceTime or Skype classes after the start of the year when classes resume. I hope this will allow me to keep up while traveling and pick right up where I left off in class upon my return. My Duolingo streak is intact and I am so excited that they’ve recently added additional content which gives me some new things to learn! I am also revisiting Pimsleur French IV and V, which is an audio language learning course.

Item # 11 – Try one new to us restaurant each month. This time we were out on the western side of the state meeting friends from that area. My husband is a private pilot, so we flew and shortened what would have been at least a two hour car trip to a short 45 minute flight. We were even able to fly over the Big House in Ann Arbor. Our friends picked us up at the airport and we went to a nearby restaurant called The Four Roses Cafe, in Plainwell. It is rather unassuming from the outside. In fact, it looks a lot like someone’s home who suddenly decided to open a restaurant, but oh my goodness! What a treat. Everything is made with the freshest ingredients and menus are changed daily based on the best locally available produce. I had a grilled romaine salad for my entree which was wonderful but the best was saved for last. They make some really scrumptious home made desserts on site from scratch. Between the four of us, three deserts were ordered and they were all amazing. My husband had the Coconut Cream Pie, our friends ordered a brownie sundae type desert and another chocolate desert whose name I can’t remember but it was reportedly delicious. I just had a bite of Mike’s pie and it was worth whatever calories were in it! If you are ever in the area, I would recommend seeking this place out. We arrived at 11:40 am on a Friday and had a half hour wait, so be prepared. They will, however, take reservations for parties of six or more.

Flying over the Big House!

Our Florida house is coming along. The couch, desk and end tables for the den should be delivered on December 31st. As far as furniture goes, we will just be missing our barstools. Curtains for the dining room and den are hopefully to be hung sometime this week. I still have a lot of accessorizing to do, along with fabric selections for bedroom curtains, and bathroom valances. The bedrooms do have blinds in place for privacy. They have dug the pool and poured the walls. They back filled and leveled the yard. Next comes pavers, and tiling/gunnite as well as a lanai surround. I can’t wait to watch it all come together!

Walls are poured and ground is back-filled and leveled. Making headway!

I am currently reading “This Is How It Always Is” book #70 of my 50 book goal by Laurie Frankel. It is a Reese Witherspoon book club pick. It’s a little early to decide if it’s one I’ll recommend but I’ll let you know.

This book is a selection from Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. I’ve just started it, so I’ll keep you posted.

In item #26 – Organize and catalog all of the photos sitting in a jumble in the storage room, I have made great headway. There were way more photos than I originally anticipated and I keep finding more caches of them all over the house. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though and hope to complete this project before year’s end.

The large plastic container and the smaller boxes are still being sorted and filed. The smaller plastic boxes are almost all filled. Thankfully the end is in sight!

I haven’t been as good with item #13 – Daily meditation. It’s been a rather hit or miss proposition lately, primarily due to the busyness of the holidays, the extra get-togethers, cooking, shopping, baking, birthdays and events. I know they say that is when you need it the most, to calm a busy mind, so I am going to have to double down on my efforts to fit it into an already jam packed day. I think perhaps starting the day with a short bit of meditation ideally followed by a brief bit of yoga should help bring clarity that will let me tackle whatever lies ahead. Well, at least I hope so.

I have been working on my family tree a little through Ancestry.com. Recently a second cousin reached out to me via messaging and we have been exchanging helpful information for our family trees. It’s an interesting thing to have someone who’s shared a common history yet we don’t know each other and I doubt either of us had heard of the other before genetically matching on the DNA testing and determining that we shared a few relatives. I look forward to doing a deeper dive soon, perhaps after the rush of the holidays.

In item # 30 – Finish a Masterclass, I’ve finished the Anna Wintour Masterclass and have recently started one with make-up expert Bobbi Brown. I’m really enjoying it so far. She is kind of the antithesis of the Kardashians, very understated and natural. So far, I’m liking what I see. This will be the third Masterclass for this year. Before Anna Wintour, I took the Margaret Atwood Writing class. I’ve enjoyed each and every one of these courses.

Well, I believe I have a few presents to wrap and there is a glass of Moscato calling my name. I am taking the next two weeks off from the blog to revel in the holidays and enjoy spending time with my family. I will rejoin you on January 6th. Until then, I’ll leave you with my favorite holiday quote from Burton Hillis , “The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.” I hope the same will be true for you this season. Cheers!

Merry Christmas!!

Week 30: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Florida House Update

I am writing this a bit bleary eyed as we just made it back home from Florida at 1:30 am. My husband Mike and I decided to squeeze in every last minute by taking a late flight and we are both paying the price this morning. Mike is off to work and I am peddling madly trying to catch up to my normal Monday routine, so I will keep this brief. If you want to see my original bucket list, you can do so here.

A quick bucket list report: My Duolingo language streak is intact. I have French class tonight. I hope I don’t nod off during class. In bucket list item # 18 – read 50 books, I finished reading “The Oysterville Sewing Circle” which I enjoyed very much and also finished “Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me,” a troubling memoir that’s being compared to The Glass Castle in regard to family complexities. I was riveted and finished it in two days. Thank you plane rides. That was book #69 for the year. Not quite sure what my next read will be. I am open to suggestions so please send them my way!

The comparisons to The Glass Castle prompted me to read this book. I would recommend it.

In item #8 – complete 50 NordicTrack work-outs, I managed to squeeze #60 in before we left for Florida, a studio interval workout. I did use the treadmill at the clubhouse in Florida and while I didn’t like it as much as my NordicTrack, I did get in a good workout with a spectacular view of the pool. We also managed a couple of walks through our neighborhood, stopping to greet neighbors and their dogs. I think our dog Kobe will enjoy it down here. I see a lot more walks in his future. The weather was beautiful, mid 70’s and plenty of sun.

We were in Florida from Thursday to Sunday and the trip was a productive one. We arrived early and were met in the driveway by workers. This pretty much set the tone for the visit. We had lined up a few things to be done while we were there and were able to check most of them off!

So happy to report that our pool is underway. They set up the external structure on one of the days we were there and poured it on Friday. It’s fun to see the skeleton of the pool and watch it come together. Can’t wait until it is done and the lanai is up. We are looking forward to coffee by the pool in the morning and cocktails in the evening. I can just about feel the steam off the hot tub.

We had fun checking out our new light fixtures and the furniture that had arrived since our last visit. We still need our sectional, our barstools and the desk and side tables for the den. We had also ordered a few accessories to be delivered while we were there. Actually the delivery window was a day before our arrival to the day after. We got really lucky because almost everything arrived while we were there. We were informed that our sectional has shipped so we are hoping for delivery before we return. There is still a lot of decorating to do, curtains, wall art and other design elements but I am going to take my time here. I am in the process of selecting accent colors and am waiting for some fabric options to complete things. We had selected a few things without actually seeing them, from a catalog. So far, we’ve not been disappointed in anything. Below I’ve posted a couple of the rooms in progress.

We added a backsplash and under and over cabinet lighting as well as changed out the standard light fixtures to customize the home and make it a bit more to our tastes.
We added the light fixture and Mike added lights under the console and around the television. We are waiting for our sectional.
Happy to report we have dining room chairs this time around!

We had envisioned a bit more of a relaxing trip but our days were packed. We met a couple of our contractors to pay them after taking a look at the jobs. We scheduled to meet a painter to give us a bid on our added trim work. In a happy surprise he came in at a good price point and was able to not only start it, but finish it while we were there. He and his two sons did a fantastic job. When does that ever happen? With the trim painted, our electrician came in and did the recessed lighting in our bedroom ceiling. He also added a couple of smart switches. He had already done some under cabinet lighting for us in the kitchen. We are really happy with the way it is turning out.

I did a lot of shopping to equip the house with the basics. I always think I’m done and then we notice something we’d forgotten, like shampoos for all of the bathrooms and extra beach towels. Target and Bed Bath and Beyond are starting to feel like my second home. I half expect to be greeted by name.

Mike has been happily making our home as high-tech as possible. It is already a smart-home with a ring doorbell. Mike has set up an Echo dot in many of the rooms, blink cameras for the front driveway, back pool area and main living areas of the house. He’s also added a few hue accent lights. He’s really in his element!

We are happy with the progress that’s been made and are looking forward to sharing it with our kids and extended family and friends in the near future! I also have to give a big thank you to my daughter Jenna and her husband for watching our dog, Kobe while we were gone. They have 2 dogs and 2 cats of their own and I am sure Kobe will very much miss all the excitement once he is back to our quiet house.

Cheneaux, Kobe and Roary all settled in to watch Lady and the Tramp. Kobe is going to miss these guys!

We topped off our visit with a quick stop at Mike’s mom’s house where we brought in dinner before heading to the airport. Our trip ended up being 80% work and 20% leisure.We were disappointed that we couldn’t visit with Mike’s brother who was unable to join us but we know we’ll have a bit more time in the future as we are hoping the work/leisure percentages shift to a bit more leisure.

I haven’t done a bit of Christmas shopping except for a few “Angel tree” gifts. Our neighborhood club adopts some families and everyone takes an angel or two off the tree with gifts written for the family members. The deadline required I get that done, so I did. Looks like I may have to give myself a deadline to get the rest of my shopping done. Until next week I hope that your work leisure ratio is looking good. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Week 29: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Detroit Edition

The Christmas season is upon us with it all of the busyness and social commitments that come along with it! Unfortunately for me, it means I don’t have a lot of time to concentrate on tackling my list so this week’s post will be short and sweet! For those who might want a refresher, here is my original bucket-list.

This week, I’ve maintained my Duolingo streak of 837 days. I’m still attending French classes at Alliance de Francais of Detroit. Because I am planning to spend a lot of February and part of March in Florida, my instructor suggested I take a private class with him remotely so I can advance more quickly. I think that will be an excellent idea and may even afford me a bit more flexibility. I will miss the classroom setting and my classmates though.

I just finished Isaac Mizrahi’s book “I.M. A memoir.” He is just one year younger than I am and hearing about his ascension through the 70’s and 80’s was a stroll down memory lane. He mentions Studio 54 and celebrities from that era. As a Jewish gay man, he had a lot to share about the difficulties he faced when there was far less tolerance of those with a different sexual orientation and his fear through the height of the AIDS epidemic. It was an interesting read and I topped it off with listening to his interview on one of my favorite author’s podcast, “Happier with Gretchen Ruben.” If you are interested, here is his interview. Now I want to watch the documentary on him, “Unzipped” filmed as he put together his 1994 runway collection. I have unwittingly been doing a deep dive into the business of fashion lately and the book was a nice complement to the Masterclass with Ann Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue and artistic director of Conde Naste. I am still really enjoying the Masterclass series. I finished Anna Wintour’s class and have now started watching Bobbi Brown’s masterclass on make-up.

In regard to reading, I’ve finished I.M. and am currently reading “The Oysterville Sewing Circle” book #68 of of my new goal of reading 75 books before the year ends, which may be overly ambitious. I am using the app Overdrive for this one and will need to complete it in a timely manner to prevent it from disappearing before I’m finished with it.

We didn’t visit any new restaurants this week but I have to give a shout out to The Shinola Hotel. We stayed there the evening before Thanksgiving and it really was wonderful. The evening didn’t start out awesome as the roads were mostly closed in anticipation of the Turkey Trot the next morning and the Thanksgiving Day parade. The evening rapidly got better when our room was upgraded to a suite. It had a distinct mid century vibe and even had a beautiful Shinola turntable in the room with several albums, including The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and John Coltrane. I loved the robes that were hanging in the closet. They looked like a boxing robe with Detroit written on the back! After dropping off our luggage, we had dinner at Parc. It was a short walk from our hotel and it’s my favorite restaurant in Detroit which is even more magical this time of year. It sits in the shadow of the beautiful Christmas tree which glimmers through the restaurant windows. You can also see the skating rink and the trees all aglow in white lights. The food is amazing and they also carry my original favorite wine, Grand Traverse Riesling. The evening was perfect! In the morning, we ordered room service and sat and watched the runners go by dressed as everything from Santa Claus to the Grinch and everything in between. Once the race was over, the parade began. It was cozy sitting at the window with a wool blanket on my lap and a hot cup of coffee in my hand. This just might be the start of a lovely tradition. The best part is it was just a short walk to Ford Field to watch my girls cheer on the sidelines at the Lions football game and perform in the half time show. Then on to my parents where we all enjoyed a yummy Thanksgiving meal lovingly prepared by my mom, just as she has every year for as long as I can remember. One difference is that now my young nieces are grown with children of their own. It’s a tradition I wouldn’t change for the world!

Check out that awesome turntable!
Love the robes!
Dining and “bar area”
I somehow didn’t grab a photo with the running Santas or the dinosaur or any of the other crazy costumes that were out there! It made the race very entertaining!
Room service!

I also have to give a shout out to The Caucus Club, where I brought my husband and family to celebrate an early birthday for my husband Mike this past weekend. The Caucus Club is really a throw back to the rat pack era, complete with a piano player and fun fact, which I may have mentioned before, it’s reportedly where Barbra Streisand got her start! It was so nice to have our Samantha, Jenna and Kristianth all together to celebrate Mike’s 60th birthday. He is an amazing husband, father and human being and I am lucky that I’m the one he’s sharing his life with. It’s been an eventful week and my heart is full to bursting.

Birthday Celebration at the Caucus Club
The crew at dinner
Our girls at Campus Martius
Love Detroit’s holiday vibe!

But my heart isn’t the only thing that’s bursting. As I’m sure you can surmise, with all these eating opportunities I’ve not managed to make it to my goal. However, I am happy to report that I am holding my own. I still use Noom daily, though I may have missed logging a meal or two here and there. I am back on track and determined not to gain any weight over the holidays. Wish me luck! I have done a few more workouts on the NordicTrack. I am at workout #59 of my 50 work out goal. I did the core yoga workout and a walk through the Balkans as well as an interval incline walk through Lake Tahoe.

I am still neck deep in organizing our photos but the end is at least in sight. I am strongly leaning towards removing photos from their photo albums and filing them all away using this storage system. I think I’ll need to run out and get a few more storage containers though.

Mike and I are heading to Florida sometime this week and I will update you then on our Florida house. On the plus side our pool is finally underway! However there is still no couch and one does not appear to be on the horizon. Surprisingly, they didn’t have enough fabric and had to order more. In fact, none of the remaining furniture is in yet. This is a lesson in patience. At least this time we will have dining room chairs and a couch in the den. I ordered a few lamps on Black Friday from Wayfair as they were very much on sale. They should be arriving while we are there. Our new backsplash is in and our wine refrigerator has been ordered. I will be so happy when it is all complete. We still need curtains for a few of the bedrooms, and we need to select art work and accessories which Mike and I hope to shop for while we are down there (fun!) I was hopeful it would be completely decorated and furnished before the end December, but sadly, it’s not looking like that will be the case.

That’s where I will leave you for now. I hope to have a little more to share about our Florida place next week. Until then, may you enjoy every minute of this busy, messy beautiful season!

Week 28: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Photo Archive Edition

Where has November gone? We are rapidly approaching Holiday Defcon 1 here. My home is decorated, the trees are up but sadly not a lot of shopping has been completed. In my defense, my husband, my dad, my best friend, my daughter and my son-in-law all have birthdays in late November and early December, so birthday shopping has taken precedence. Sorry, not sorry. Nevertheless, the holiday spirit abounds! On to the bucket list. For those that are curious, here is the link to the original list.

Language learning continues. My 830 day streak in Duolingo is intact at a crown level of 982. I missed class last week because I had a situation with my tire on the way to class. I turned around and headed back home but I did get this week’s assignment and homework done which I emailed to the teacher. I have class tonight. Wish me luck!

I’ve completed 56 NordicTrack workouts, going to geographic extremes with a walk through Alaska and then Hawaii. I also did a NordicTrack core yoga class set on a Hawaiian beach. I believe this workout has been recently added as I’ve never noticed it before. I really like it and hope to repeat it soon. It’s great for a recovery day!

I am still using the Noom app and am just 1/2 pound away from my initial 10 pound weight-loss goal. This has been a slow go but I am still enjoying using the app. To be honest, I am a little surprised that I was down this morning as we attended a couple of birthday celebrations over the weekend. Maybe that was what I needed to do to break the plateau. If that’s the case I would have started celebrating a long time ago!

The biggest project I’ve undertaken this week has been addressing bucket-list item #26: Organize and catalog all of the photos sitting in a jumble in the storage room. This is a work in progress that is still underway. I will say the anticipation of the project is far worse than the actual doing. My first decision was to decide if I was going to digitize these photos. I decided against that because I already have the photos and I already have so many photos in my online photo album. It would be less complicated and far less time consuming just to physically organize what I already have.

This is a very big container and it was filled to the brim!
Here is a laundry basket full of photos.
I should have shot this from the side so you could see the depth of the basket to better tell how much there is here. Of course I have been finding little caches of photos in cupboards, closets and cabinets to add to the stack!

The next decision was how exactly to do it. Should I scrapbook them (oh hell no) or perhaps put them in photo albums? I thought about the cardboard shoe box type photo boxes but ultimately I did what any sane person would do. I googled it. After a quick search, I decided to go with plastic boxes that contain other smaller plastic boxes that you place your photos in by year. This is perfect for keeping photos safe from flooding or water damage. But where to find these boxes? I started with the “easy” answer and hopped on to amazon, where I found this beauty for $25.99.

However, I did not order it because I knew I would be out running errands that day and being the frugal person that I am, I thought I would take a look around first. The errands were local and I didn’t want to venture too far, so ended up at our local Walmart. I found an excellent option for just $10. It was a large plastic box with clip closure which contained 5 smaller boxes, perfect for 4X6 photos. Each smaller box holds about 250 photos, so the entire box holds approximately 1,250 photos. I bought 4 of them, thinking with 5,000 photos, that might enough – or at least I would be off to a good start.

I started by taking just one basket full of photos upstairs and began sorting through them. About a quarter of the photos had the date printed on the back or front. That made those easy to place. The rest became a guessing game. If my kids were in the photo, I could “guesstimate” how old they were pretty accurately and figure out the year based on their birthdays. I also know my niece Michelle was born 20 years after myself and I know how far apart she is from her two sisters. So I would determine Michelle’s age with the help of looking at her sisters for reference to date the photo.

Of course, physical clues helped as well. I would try to remember, what years we were in a certain house or office or what year we took a specific trip. It is a time consuming process and I felt like yelling “Jackpot!” every time there was an actual date on the photo. That being said, it hasn’t been as onerous as I anticipated. In fact, it’s been rather pleasant, giving me the opportunity to look at photos from when my girls were small, photos in some cases, I hadn’t revisited in years. I put on the Hallmark Channel and grabbed a cup of chocolate peppermint coffee and started sorting. It was easy to slip down the rabbit hole and linger a little too long over a photo or two. But it’s been quite a lovely way to spend a few afternoons.

As you probably guessed, I ran out of boxes. I needed to run errands in a neighboring community and decided to stop at their Walmart to pick up the same boxes. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the same ones. They did have these, which were at a much better price point than amazon. They were just $14.99. I bought two.

While I was out, I checked Michael’s just for comparison sake, and came across something very similar here, the dimensions are the same, but a much different price point, $41.99. I think I got the better deal.

I will say hindsight is 20/20. If I were to do it again, I would insist on getting all the same type of boxes. As I’m filling up the small plastic cases, I am labeling them with the year. However, some years require more than one box. That’s something I found out late in the game. My recommendation is to get all the same type of boxes, label them with a sticky note with the date until you are entirely done with the process. At that point, permanently affix the year on the box. Having used both types of boxes, the colored ones are prettier, but as I have so many photos, I think the clear with blue interior boxes work better for my project. There are fewer boxes but each box holds more.

When I was looking online, another source indicated that it was smart to take your photos out of the magnetic type photo albums as your photos can degrade. (Protip: You can thread dental floss behind the photo to remove it if it is sticking to the page.) I haven’t decided yet if I will be doing this, as I have a ton of photo albums. On the plus side, they are all dated so it would be an easy process to store them in the correct box. I will however, be putting the girls’ larger dance and school photos into albums.

I am deep into the process, but still have a long way to go. On the plus side, once I am done, I will never need to do this again, as nowadays all of our photos are digital! IN fact, archiving physical photos probably isn’t something anyone under 30 will every need to worry about. Not sure how much time this week I’ll have to tackle this as we have Thanksgiving, a Lions football game and I have jury duty on Wednesday (dang-right before Thanksgiving) of this week. Right now, I am going to grab that cup of coffee and sift through a few more photos. I will leave you with a couple of my sweet memories from when my girls were small and the hope that this Thanksgiving you make a few photo-worthy memories of your own. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Week 27: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Love pulling out my Christmas decorations! I made this box at AR workshop a couple of years ago. Fun family field trip!

The holiday season is upon us with all that it entails. The fact that we in Michigan were graced with 8 inches of snow certainly helped the season along. That and the Christmas carols I’ve had playing non-stop since November 1st. Can you tell that it’s my favorite time of year? Don’t be surprised if you catch me smiling from ear to ear and if you are one of those people with resting grinch-face, my apologies. And almost nothing makes me smile more than decorating for Christmas! My trees (yes plural) are up and the inside of our home is fully decorated. That hasn’t left me with a lot of time to tend to my bucket-list so today’s post will be fairly short.

I love our eclectic tree. It holds sentimental decorations, photos of my girls throughout their childhood, handmade ornaments and a few ornaments picked up from vacations we’ve taken. It’s always awesome to savor the memories while putting up the tree, and lingering over them throughout the season.

My Duolingo streak is intact at 823 days. The new session of French classes start tonight. We will begin book #2. Our teacher, David, has informed us that class will now be conducted entirely in French. We are not to speak English in the classroom. This will surely prove challenging. However, he emphasized that mistakes WILL be made and that is perfectly ok and a part of learning. I think that will take some of the stress out of it for me. I’m looking forward to stretching my linguistic muscles, as anemic as they may be.

In reading, I’ve finished “Happy All The Time” and “Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker” and have just started “IM A Memoir” by Isaac Mizrahi. It was a book selected by Gretchen Rubin for her online bookclub, so I thought I would check it out. This will be book #67 of my original 50 book goal. I think perhaps I set the bar too low. I made a new goal of 65 and have passed that too. I’m now shooting for 75 which I think is reasonably ambitious. If you have any suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed reading, send them my way please! I’ve had my first hiccup with Overdrive. I never received notification that the book I’d had on hold (Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker) was in my cue until a couple days before it was due back. Despite my attempts to read quickly, it was returned mid-read. Fortunately it was only gone for a day as I’d requested to put it on hold again and it was soon returned to me. So just a heads up to check your holds to check if you’ve got something loaded up and ready to read.

I am still using and enjoying the weight loss app Noom, though I am stuck at a plateau with only 1 1/2 pounds left to go. I hope to drop a few more pounds after I reach goal, however long that may take. I’m fine with it taking a while, as long as it eventually happens. It’s not a hard system to stick with and surprisingly my motivation has remained strong. I made several Noom recipes this week and while they were all good, I’ll share our favorite one from among those, below.

Curried Chicken With Coconut

2 tsp peanut oil or walnut oil

1tsp butter

.5 large chopped onion

2 cloves of garlic, minced

.75 cup chopped celery or fennel

.5 large green or red bell pepper, chopped

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 oz each) cut into 1″ cubes

.5 tsp salt

.25 tsp ground black pepper

1 TBSP curry powder

.667 cup canned crushed tomatoes

.5 cup chicken broth

3 TBSP chopped peanuts

3 TBSP shredded unsweetened coconut

Heat the oil and butter in a pot over medium heat until the butter is melted. Stir in the onion, garlic, fennel or celery, and bell pepper. Cover and cook just until translucent, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes.

Stir in the chicken, salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until the chicken has lost most of the pink color, 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle with the curry powder and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Add the tomatoes and broth, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes.

Serve with the nuts and coconut for sprinkling on top.

158 calories/serving – 4 servings as prepared

I did only one additional NordicTrack workout this past week. It was an Alaskan hike. That puts me at 53 workouts of my 50 workout goal. Shooting too low seems to be the theme here. Maybe therein lies the lesson: Aim higher!

I’m working on a few bucket list items # 31 (teach our dog a new trick) and #34 (play a simple song on the piano). But I have nothing I’m ready to share yet.

I will leave on a fun note. Since November holds Thanksgiving and is typically a month for gratitude, I am having fun expressing gratitude to those who are in positions of service. Even if it’s something small. I always put a jar of candy canes on my kitchen counter and grab a handful for my purse when going out. I offer one to harried clerks behind the counter who are doing their best in the middle of the holiday rush, or servers who are busy juggling the needs of several tables. This past week, I gave one to the usher at the Lions game who we see weekly, the parking lot attendant who always saves us a spot, and the waitress at Chili’s who did a great job with our party of six. It always brings a smile when we are so gratefully thanked for our gesture. I usually feel like I made their day and you can be sure they’ve made mine. It’s a little thing but it brings me joy. My husband has even taken to reminding me, “Did you remember your candy canes?” before we go out. Of course, we try to tip generously too, especially around the holidays .

Dinner at Chili’s after the Lions’ game with our girls. (not shown but equally important, my fabulous husband Mike, Jenna’s husband Kristianth and Sammi’s boyfriend Andrew)
Candy cane for our server.

And that will wrap it up for this week. I hope you, like me, are on the lookout for opportunities to be a kindness ninja, sprinkling a little of the magic dust of the holidays wherever you go!

Yes, Kobe is on Santa’s naughty list. Don’t ask!

Week 26: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Reflections at the Halfway Point

I am exactly at the halfway point of my bucket list quest and feeling a bit reflective. Here is the link to my first post, with my original bucket list items, if you’re curious to revisit it.

Am I happy to be doing this? Heck yeah! Having a bucket list adds a sense of fun and whimsy to life. It has given me things to enjoy, like discovering new wines, new restaurants and new recipes. It has allowed me to put a twist on things we’ve done before, like selecting a restaurant we’ve never tried on our yearly treks to Mackinac Island or discovering a new place to visit when we are up north. It’s challenged me (high ropes course) and exhilarated me (skydiving). It has also encouraged me to take trips that we’d dreamt of but never taken (London, Stonehenge, Liverpool, Boston, Williamsburg, Toronto). It’s expanded my mind (learning French through Duolingo and taking classes at Alliance de Francaise, reading 50+ books in a year). It’s challenged my body (NordicTrack workouts and yoga) as well as my mind (meditation and visualization). And it has given me a sense of accomplishment (building and decorating a home, riding my bike on a 40 mile trip through the metro parks, losing weight.) And it’s taken my mind off the fact that I’m getting older. I don’t feel older, though I admit to more aches and pains than I used to have (I’m looking at you, shoulder and hip flexor!). I think you are never too old for a new challenge, a new goal or to discover a new way to look at the world. Whatever our age, I hope we never stop striving to live our best life, to have personal goals and to feel that sense of accomplishment once those goals are met.

Enough reflecting already! Let’s get down to business. This week I finished wallpapering the back entry way. It’s far from perfect but I am satisfied with the way it came out. The secret for me was selecting paper with a random match and no repeat. I didn’t use pre-pasted paper so wallpaper paste was a necessary part of the equation. It was far less messy than I imagined it might be. My husband added 5 hooks and we placed a bench at the back door. This takes up less space than the locker which was useful when my kids were younger. The locker has been passed along to my daughter, Jenna, who has put it to good use in her entryway. I also cleaned out the back closet and donated several coats and a bunch of hats, scarfs, and snow pants. I really like the space now and I believe it will function better for us. The last thing on the modernization/renovation list will be to refinish the wood floors in the kitchen/family room area. We’ll look into that probably after the first of the year.

Before by the back door.
Before, the mudroom. This was always a tangle of coats, shoes, packages, leashes, umbrellas, etc.
Wall paper stripped, painting the trim. Project in progress.
After, linen look wallpaper. Washable, and durable! Easy to match as there was no repeat pattern. Very forgiving to work with!
Very functional. The drawers and baskets hold gloves, hand warmers, leashes, collars and umbrellas. The mess is contained and it even provides a place to sit down and put on or take off your shoes/boots!

I signed up for the next semester of French at Alliance de Fran├žaise. We are moving onto the next workbook and this course will be more conversant. I am still doing daily Duolingo. I’m meditating, though I haven’t been faithful to it, it’s been hit or miss since we came back from Florida. I’m hoping to get in the swing a bit more this week. I’m still doing Noom, but at a plateau with still 1 1/2 pounds to go to my 10 pound goal. I am sticking with it! Our carpenter is working on putting up some trim in our Florida house. The light fixtures are in and look great. Things are coming together there. The pool is slated to be started the week of Thanksgiving though we’re hoping for earlier. I completed two more NordicTrack workouts, both through London. One was a royal tour and the other a square mile tour covering the Tower of London and various buildings in the city proper of London. I learned something that I didn’t discover on my actual visit to London. Apparently Londoners give most of the modern buildings nicknames, like the Cheesegrater, or the Gherkin based on their appearances. I always learn something on my NordicTrack workouts. I also am still doing the Anna Wintour Masterclass. She is an interesting person and I am enjoying what she has to say though I do wonder if I would like her if I met her in person. After all, The Devil Wears Prada was supposedly loosely based on her.

I finished The Summer Wives and it was excellent. The writing was really well done and a pleasure to read and the narrative was interesting. Now I am reading Happy All The Time by Laurie Colwin. It’s a different sort of read with several odd characters. I’m still deciding what I think about it. I’m over half way done with it. I’ll let you know.

Happy All the Time. I’m still deciding what I think about this one!

I made several Noom recipes and thought I would share this one because it was so yummy. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo. As my girls sometimes say, no photo and it didn’t happen. I’m here to tell you it did and it was awesome.

Here is the Noom image as I neglected to take a photo.

Baked Pork Chops and Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled

1 large onion

2 TBSP canola oil

2tsp grated fresh ginger

.25 tsp salt

4 thin cut boneless pork chops (12 ounces total)

.25 tsp ground cinnamon

ground black pepper

.25 cup hot chicken broth or water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a large shallow baking pan with cooking spray. Cut the sweet potatoes and onion into halves. Cut each half into 8 wedges. Transfer the vegetables to the pan.

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, ginger, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the vegetables and then use clean hands to spread the mixture evenly on the vegetables.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, tossing occasionally or until the vegetables start to brown. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Add the pork to the pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly on the pork. Roast for 10-15 minutes or until the pork is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Remove the pork and vegetables to a platter. Add the broth or water to the the pan juices. Stir to combine, scraping any browned bits in the pan. Drizzle the pan juices over the pork and vegetables. Enjoy!

301 calories/serving

The other thing keeping me busy is decorating for Christmas. Yep, I’m one of “those” people. I love decorating early because it extends the season for me. I love the fellowship and the good feelings of the Christmas season. I like to take my time and put it all up a piece at a time. So far I have two of our three trees up and the garland on the stairs. I still have a lot to do, but I’m fine with that. It probably will all be done sometime this week unless the weather doesn’t cooperate enough to put up the outside lights. I still use the month of November to reflect on gratitude for my many undeserved blessings and the joys of Thanksgiving. I just do it surrounded by Christmas decorations! It also helps me feel less stress and better able to focus on selecting meaningful gifts for those I care about. I just LOVE Christmas!

Until next week, whether or not you are an early decorator, may you carry the joy of the season in your heart!

Week 25: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Bread-making and Florida House Update

25 weeks, just one more week to the half way mark. I am writing this in sunny Florida, the weather is lovely and I wish we were able to stay longer but it’s time to return home this afternoon. We were able to accomplish a lot and I would say this particular trip was more work than leisure, but what a pleasure!

I am excited to share our Florida house update with you all! Only some of our furniture has been delivered. Ironically just one chair, which we had to share. So yes, a dining room table, no chairs, a coffee table, no couch. We did receive the bedroom sets. I think the universe was telling us there was no time to sit down this time around but thankfully, we were allowed to sleep.

Finished!
The house from the back. We will be adding a pool and lanai soon.

The trip started by heading to the house right after landing. We were greeted by our awesome friends, Dave and Kim, who had put up a congratulations banner for us to cut and some Prosecco which we opened on our last day there. We also had to break open the Dom Perignon that had been gifted to us by a dear friend to commemorate our move-in day. Having been through this themselves, they were kind enough to leave us with some paper plates, paper towels, napkins, scissors, and toilet paper, the essentials! They also had lunch waiting. Did I mention they are AWESOME? What a welcome!

Cutting the banner, our grand opening!
We couldn’t ask for better friends. Toasting to friendship and being neighbors in two states!

Then I was off to meet our designer to work on curtains and bedspreads. Part of the adventure is learning the area. I haven’t really driven much around here, so of course, I got lost and ended up arriving late. Darn GPS! I am excited about my selections and can’t wait for the rest of the furniture and all of the bedspreads and curtains to arrive. I made a quick trip to Target for some basic food supplies to get us through the weekend and of course a Keurig! There are a lot of things we can do without, but coffee isn’t one of them. While I has busy hunting and gathering Mike was meeting with the electrician Scott, our Comcast rep, Adam the glass installer, and the Best Buy installer. Because so many of the houses are the same and there aren’t really opportunities to customize much with our builder, many of the residents change certain things to make their house more to their taste after closing. We don’t want shower curtains and didn’t like the shower door in our master bath, so we are changing it out to frameless. We are adding some architectural detail to several of the ceilings and a bit more molding. We will also be adding a pool and hot tub with a cage lanai. They’ve not broken ground on that yet but hopefully will soon. Our new light fixtures will be coming in this week.

After a quick shopping trip, I had to scoot home because it was Halloween. We are the first people to build on our section of the street as we are phase 2 of the development, so we weren’t expecting trick or treaters but were invited to pass out candy at our friends home. We sat in the driveway and trick or treaters came by foot and by golf cart! As there was no Michigan weather to contend with, you were able to see their costumes and everything. Imagine that!

The next day at 8 am, Mike and I met with Rebecca, a sales representative who happens to live in our neighborhood, to order some black-out shades for our bedroom windows. Then we were off to the amenities center to get our orientation to the facilities here. After that, Mike awaited his various appointments first with the carpenter, Kyle, then Joe who will be doing our backsplash (another one of those customization projects) and a representative from Home Team pest defense. Meanwhile, my awesome friend Kim and I were off to Bed Bath and Beyond where we FILLED 5 shopping carts full of necessities to set up a home, things like glasses, dishes, vacuums, brooms, mops, towels sheets, and the list goes on…and on! We managed to get most everything we’ll need, though there are still a couple things on my list that I’ll tackle next time. I want to be fully equipped when friends and family come to visit! It was probably the biggest shopping trip I’ve ever done but the total came in less than either Mike or I anticipated. I had been advised (again by my wise and experienced friend Kim) to purchase a Bed Bath and Beyond plus membership. I saved well over $500 doing this. Highly recommend if you anticipate fully furnishing a new home.

5 baskets full of stuff! I had to document this because I think this is the only time in my life this has ever or will ever happen! We literally had a parade to the car with workers helping us load it all in!

It wasn’t all work. We did manage to squeeze in a nice dinner at the Barefoot Bar and Grill, our neighborhood’s restaurant with our friends. We knocked out a quick morning work out at the club facilities and managed to have dinner in Punta Gorda at the Blue Turtle again with friends. We enjoyed meeting our friends’ friends as well, a couple that I’m surprised we’ve never met before. They know a young woman we know through the Lion’s organization and they also vacation up in Hessel, just like us and even show their boat at the boat show we attend annually. In fact, we found out last year their boat was right next to a friend of my husband’s. We probably were standing right next to them and didn’t even know it. Small world!

The weather the whole time we were there was in the 80’s, sunny and humid. We were told this is unusually warm and muggy for this time of year. Apparently, it’s typically in the 70’s with less humidity. My husband’s brother Ken and his wife Chris surprised us by flying in from Lauderdale. Ken is a recreational pilot and it’s a short 45 minute flight from their home to ours. Unfortunately, I missed them because I was out filling my cart. I am looking forward to seeing them on a future trip when we have time to sit and visit and entertain them, you know, with actual chairs and everything! It was so nice of them to swing by!

I will save the photos of the inside for when we receive all of our furniture, which should be before our next visit in December.

I did want to share a couple of other accomplishments. I made bread from scratch using the recipe in the book sent to me by Deana. The unusual aspects of this technique are that it requires using a kitchen scale to measure as opposed to measuring cups and spoons. The bread dough is folded and pinched instead of kneaded and you cook it in a dutch oven instead of a loaf pan. Despite the fact that I muddled through the process, it came out yummy! Super crusty on the outside and moist and delicious on the inside. If you are into bread making, check out this book: Flour Water Salt Yeast – The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza by Ken Forkish. It wasn’t too difficult, but it does require a time commitment as you have to keep an eye on the dough and decide when to fold and when to let it rest, especially for me as a beginner. I am looking forward to trying more recipes from this book.

So good!
Crispy on the outside, and yummy soft on the inside!

In other bucket-list items, I am currently reading book #64, The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams. I am about half way through and enjoying it very much! I finished An Anonymous Girl which I also enjoyed. It was a psychological thriller which holds the readers’ interest. I had read another book that I had enjoyed by this author, The Wife Between Us.

The Summer Wives. Enjoying it so far.

I have also finished my goal of fifty workouts on my NordicTrack! #50 was another walk through the Scottish Highlands. So yay! That is a checkmark for me! My wallpaper had arrived before we left for Florida, and I began the project of papering the back entry way and hallway only to find out that I had under-ordered. I had to re-order more. Lucky for me I am using it in two separate areas, so it won’t be awful if the dye lot isn’t perfectly matched. I completed the hallway off the kitchen and the rest of the paper showed up while we were gone, so I should be completing my back entry way soon. I hope to be able to share photos by next week.

I am still using the weight loss app Noom. It wasn’t hard to do in Florida as we were so busy, and it was pretty easy to stick with it! I have 1.5 pounds to go to my 10 pound goal. I think I may try for another 5 pounds or so after that. We were so busy, I didn’t get to meditate in Florida at all. I hope to pick it back up this week. My act of kindness was helping a lady struggling with her luggage trolley while she was pushing her mom in a wheelchair at the airport today. Well that’s it for this week! I will be on the look out for more opportunities to be helpful and kind during this busy shopping and travel season and I hope you will too! See you next week.

Sunrise from our backyard in Florida. Goodbye for now Florida. Hope to see you soon!

Week 24: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Monday again? Guess what? We closed on our Florida house! It’s been a busy week getting everything scheduled for when we head down sometime this week. We are meeting with various trades to further customize our home. Furniture delivery happens the day before we arrive, though not all furniture is in yet. They are so used to snowbirds down there, they even have a service that actually accepts delivery and sets up your furniture for you so when you arrive, your home is furnished and ready to go! So excited to see the what everything looks like all pulled together. My husband Mike and I will need to divide and conquer with him doing most of the tradespeople meetings while I am out shopping for towels, linens, dishes, kitchenware, and other essentials. I will be relying on my friend Kim’s help and expertise as she has already been through this process and has done a stellar job with her own home. I promise to post a few pics of our house in progress. Wish us luck on getting everything we’d like to accomplish done in the few days we’re there.

Progress reports on one of our last house modernization projects; the back entryway. The wallpaper is stripped and the trim is painted. As far as wallpapering, I have the wallpaper and supplies but will need some uninterrupted time to start on the task. Besides stripping the walls and painting the trim, I am working to clear out the closet of old coats, scarves, etc which I will donate. I also cleaned the grout with a product called Magic grout cleaner. It worked pretty well, though it didn’t completely lift all the staining. I would say it is 95% improved. We had ordered a bench for the back entryway from Grandin Road which arrived broken. I am happy to report customer service for Grandin Road was amazing. They sent someone to pick up the broken bench the next day and two days later the replacement was on my front porch. I will post pictures of the whole project when it is complete.

This product worked pretty well. I would recommend it. It does require letting it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with a nylon brush.

Duolingo continues with an 801 day streak. I was delighted to hit the 800 day mark! French class is underway and I’ve purchased the second book Alter Ego A2. We have almost finished our first book and the semester ends in a few weeks. I am really enjoying the challenge of orally conversing in French. I am still working on overcoming my “stage fright” when asked a question. It’s definitely a process.

I am at 49 work outs on my Nordictrack, almost up to my 50 workout goal. A migraine slowed down this week’s progress. This week I did a studio interval workout and a walk through the Scottish Highlands with Scottish actor Graham Mctavish (The Hobbit). This was the first time that a walk was conducted by a celebrity rather than an actual trainer. I am still concentrating on walking programs rather than running. However the studio interval incorporated a slow but tolerable intermittent jog that was manageable. Noom continues, 7 pounds down 6weeks in. My clothes are more comfortable and I am trying to be patient through this process. Only 3 more pounds to goal!

A nice stroll through the Scottish highlands to see a waterfall.

Meditation, affirmation, visualization and short yoga stretches continue. I am still using the app Headspace for Meditation. I look forward to talking more about working on our family lineage through Ancestry.com. I will go more in depth with that on another post.

The new to us restaurant we went to this month is Griffin Claw Brewery in Birmingham. We were looking for a place to eat after attending the Lions game with friends. It was a special game because it was a “Crucial Catch” game, honoring cancer patients, survivors, those who have passed and caregivers. As I’ve mentioned before, my daughters are both Lions Cheerleaders and they were dancing in honor of their Grandfather Les. It was very moving for us. I know their Grandpa Les would have been so proud of them both. So, we were looking for somewhere to relax and share a meal with our daughter Jenna, her husband Kristianth, our daughter Samantha and her boyfriend Andrew, his lovely parents and his good friend Jacob. We considered a few places before settling on Griffin Claw Brewery in Birmingham. They were busy but able to accommodate our party of 9. They offer outdoor seating with heaters and a fire pit along with indoor high tops, tables for 4, and long picnic tables pushed together. We were lucky to snag a picnic table for our group. They specialize in their own beers, offering seasonal brews as well as specialty releases. I passed on the beer and ordered the Apple Harvest Salad which featured apple slices, turnips, greens, goat cheese, sugared walnuts with Balsamic dressing on the side. Our group had a variety of orders ranging from shrimp tacos, burger and fries, jambalaya, macaroni and cheese, grilled chicken sandwich, with appetizers of fried pickles and pretzels with mustard dipping sauce. I may have missed a couple in there but everyone enjoyed their meals. They all came out at roughly the same time and everything was hot on arrival. This is a very noisy, lively place and great for after a sporting event. If you are looking for a quiet place for a private conversation, this is not it. I would definitely recommend it for a fun evening and will return if the opportunity presents itself.

The girls with the sign they held up during their dedication dance in honor of their grandpa.
Sammi acting as my model in front of Griffin Claw Brewery. You can see the outdoor seating directly behind her to the right.

Item #18: Finish 50 books in 2019. I finished the book “After the Flood.” I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it. I am currently reading book # 63 “An Anonymous Girl” by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen. So far, I am really enjoying it. Here is something not on my bucket list but I feel like I need to give it a shout out. If you haven’t seen the Netflix Series The Blacklist, do yourself a favor and check it out! It has seven seasons and we are only part way through season 1 and we are riveted! If you do check it out (or are already a fan) I’d love to know what you think!

Bonjour, mes amis! That’s all for this week. I look forward to sharing more about our Florida house next week. Make it a great week and see you all next month. (YIKES! It’s almost November!)

Week 23: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties- The Wabi Sabi Edition

Happy Monday! We are well into Fall and I am happy to be getting into the more “homier” aspects of my bucket list. I’m wrapped in a warm blanket, I’m wearing fuzzy slippers and I’ve got a fall scented candle burning. So let’s dive right into the messy but beautiful leaf pile that makes up life and take a look at this week’s progress.

Kicking it off with a big check-mark on completing that wonderfully complicated puzzle! I have to give a shout out to Mike and Sammi here because they were intrigued enough to join me and together we knocked it out in a couple of days. It was fun, challenging and unique and I would definitely try another puzzle made by this company.

Loved working on this with Mike and Sammi. Fun seeing how the unusually shaped pieces ended up fitting together.

My Duolingo streak continues, currently at level 982 and I have a 794 day streak going. Classes at Alliance De Francais of Detroit continue. I am thoroughly enjoying it and I know I’ve made definite progress. We are ready to advance to the next book soon and the course will have more emphasis on conversation than it has in the past. This is exactly why I took a class in conjunction with my other efforts as, despite being passably familiar with vocabulary, being able to read and understand the simple spoken word, when it comes to conversation, I get stage fright! So send positive vibes my way because I’ll need ’em!

Let’s talk about bucket-list item # 22: Bake a loaf of bread from scratch. I purchased all of the items I’ll need to make bread, according to the book “Flour Water Salt Yeast: Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza (Deana’s bread bible). Deana so kindly gifted me this book and a proofing basket. I only needed a more detailed set of measuring spoons that included 1/16th tsp, a kitchen scale, a kitchen thermometer, a dutch oven and dough tubs. I was able to obtain all items from Amazon. Looking forward to giving this a try! I know I won’t be getting to this until next week, so I’ll report back in two weeks and let you all know how my first attempt goes.

I chose Lodge for my dutch oven because the handles can stand up to the heat from the oven. I was surprised to see that this book advocates using this to bake bread as opposed to a loaf pan. Excited to see how it all turns out!

We have started another modernization project. As Mike and I are empty nesters now, our back entryway doesn’t serve the same purposes it once did. The fact that the wallpaper was ripping expedited the decision to redo this area. I started by ordering wallpaper samples and selected the one I thought would work best in the space. We are getting rid of the black Pottery Barn locker and replacing it with a storage bench from Grandin Road and more hooks on the wall above. One of my pet peeves is the fact that my husband Mike tends to pile six or seven coats on a single hook. We will be adding more hooks and hopefully limiting our number of items per hook. I need to purge the back closet and get rid of old coats and winter gear long outgrown by my adult daughters. The bench has been ordered and the wallpaper is stripped. Next up is repainting the trim. And no, I haven’t repainted the laundry room yet, but that will be tackled in due time.

Before: The hallway leading to the mudroom.
Before: Ready for something different. You can see where we took the door off the hinges leading into the laundry room. We had moved the door to the top of the basement stairs to close it off a few years ago. We still need to repair the woodwork!
Wallpaper stripped and ready to go!

I made two great dishes with Noom recipes this week, so I have a couple to pick from. The rosemary marinated pork chops were great, but the recipe I’m going to share was our favorite, Apricot Grilled Shrimp which I served with brown rice.

Apricot Grilled Shrimp

1 cup apricot preserves

1 lemon

4 tsp soy sauce (I used low sodium)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Place the preserves in a large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high power for 30 seconds, or until melted. Grate 2 tsp rind from the lemon into the bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze 2 TBSP juice into the bowl. Stir in the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and pepper. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Coat a grill rack or broiler-pan rack with cooking spray. Preheat the grill or broiler. (I broiled.)

Remove the shrimp from the marinade; reserve the marinade. Thread the shrimp onto 8 metal skewers, leaving 1/4″ between the pieces. Cook 4″ from the heat, basting often with the marinade, for 2 minutes per side, or until the shrimp are opaque.

Place the remaining marinade in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 2 minutes. Serve with the shrimp.

208 cal/serving

Apricot Grilled Shrimp, sooo good!

In other ongoing items, Noom continues. I completed week 5 on Friday and am down 6 pounds with 7 1/2 inches lost. I am happy with my progress and plan to continue. I have exceed my 50 book goal. Unlike my other items this one concludes at the end of the year as opposed to my birthday. I have read 61 books so far. I am currently reading “After the Flood” by Kassandra Montag and am really enjoying it. It has been described as a riveting and epic saga set in a post apocalyptic world. It was selected as a Libraries Transform Book Pick. I was not familiar with this initiative, but they make a select book available for download in unlimited quantities. After the Flood is available in unlimited quantities only through today (October 21). Here is a link for more information about this digital bookclub and unique reading opportunity.

Enjoying this great read by an extraordinary new author.

I’ve completed 47 of my 50 workout goal on Nordictrack. This week’s destinations were Bora Bora, Hawaii (again) and my favorite, a walk through New York City which included Central Park, the theatre district and Times Square. It was nice to re-visit NYC, if only virtually! Meditation, affirmation, and yoga all continue, though I’ve not found a convenient studio yoga class yet. I am happy to report we will soon be closing on our Florida home and will be heading down to tend to a few things shortly thereafter. I am grateful for the ability to close remotely. Furniture delivery (at least what’s available) will happen shortly after closing. When we head down, I will be shopping for bed linens, towels and kitchen essentials as well as selecting curtains and bedspreads. We are also doing a little customization after we close, adding a pool, a little custom woodworking, cabinets in the laundry room, new shower doors, and a tile backsplash in the kitchen, among other things. We will be meeting with the trades to get these things underway soon!

Lastly, I am ending with a FAIL. Item #42: Actually take out the jet ski instead of letting it sit in the hoist unused, will remain undone. We pulled out the jet ski on this past Saturday which was a gorgeous day in the mid-sixties here in Michigan. It may be one of the last beautiful weekends here before the chillier temperatures of Fall settle in for good. As my birthday is May 13th, it is unlikely we will have the jet ski back in before that. So I have made peace with the idea that this particular bucket-list item will remain undone. In fact, I am going to embrace the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi Sabi, the aesthetic concept of admiring that which is imperfect. This idea is not unique to Japan. The Navajo also have a concept of leaving an open line in the border of their rugs called a “spirit line.” It makes the border imperfect but it allows the spirit of the weaver to exit the work. As I tend to be a perfectionist, I will take this as a lesson in the beauty to be found imperfection. I am going to see this as my “open line” that allows me to exit my 50’s and enter my 60’s with grace and gratitude.

My sweetie taking one for the team and getting in the not so warm water to pull out the jet ski. And hey, check out those legs. What a fashionista!

Until next week, I hope you are warm, present and taking time to experience everything Fall has to offer. May every blessing be yours.

Summer is officially over for us when the boat and jet ski are both out of the water. Even the kayaks have been stored away for the season. Welcome Beautiful Fall!

Week 22: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties-Capsule Wardrobe Edition

Fall from my backyard.

Is it even fall if I haven’t pulled out the sweaters and hit up the local cider mill for warm donuts and fresh apple cider? Well, yep, I guess it is. Mother nature is in complete disregard of my personal time table as the temperature has indeed cooled and the leaves are all glorious. I’ll have to check going to the cider mill off of my fall list soon before the temperature tumbles too much for it to be enjoyable.

But in the vein of fall, I have come up with a favorite fall cocktail (#14), which I made for my husband. It’s apple cider (sadly purchased from the grocery store) mixed with two shots of Disaronno. I rimmed the glass with caramel and crystalized sugar. He gives it two thumbs up! Perfect for watching football or those cool fall evenings.

Apple Cider and Disaronnno – a perfect fall combo!

I am going to be updating a few items. You may have noticed I haven’t been reporting much on item #3, “Do fifty random acts of kindness throughout the year.” I have been doing a few things that I haven’t reported on because sometimes it’s not necessarily my business to share. Besides, it’s nice to fly under the radar and to do things without “getting credit” for them. But, as the holidays approach, I’ll ramp it up a little and do a few things that I feel comfortable sharing, just in case it might inspire someone else to do a similar act of kindness.

I am not sure when I will be able to do a 5k. Right now I am struggling with hip flexor issues. I do exercises to strengthen that area (when I remember). I still hope to accomplish it, even if I end up walking most of it. It hasn’t stopped me from working out on the NordicTrack and I have completed 44 workouts of my 50 workout goal. This week was a zebra safari in South Africa, a walk through Hawaii past the Kona Ironman starting line for the run/swim and a walk through a petrified forest in Argentina. I still really enjoy doing this in addition to my 3 day a week bootcamp.

I made a couple new dishes this week but neither was share-worthy. They both came from Noom, Old World Goulash, which tasted a bit bland and apple cider glazed pork loin which sounded awesome, but disappointed in flavor. I will only share successes for recipes that Mike and I both enjoyed.

Speaking of Noom, I am still using it and though progress seems slow, I am indeed progressing. I completed 4 weeks this past Friday and am down 5 pounds. I am half way to my goal so I’m not complaining! It’s been fun reading encouraging and enlightening articles and trying new recipes and Mike’s been very supportive throughout the process. If you want to check Noom out for yourself, here is the link.

Now that we are turning to more indoor activities, I have started on item # 21, “Complete the complicated puzzle that my husband Mike bought me.” This is a wooden puzzle he purchased at a specialty shop in Denver. After working on it for 15 minutes I was left trying to decide if it was supposed to be a present or penance. The pieces are all laser cut, and made of wood. There are only a few obvious edges; points and pieces come together to make a lot of the edge instead of pieces that are flat on one side. I started it Friday. Mike has also been known to fit more than a few pieces. In fact, we’ve even made a fair amount of progress since this photo was snapped. It’s actually a fun challenge and I ultimately decided it is really an awesome present. I will report progress in the future, but this may take a while!

Challenging but fun!
Many of the pieces are shaped unusually, or like birds, people or flowers. You’d think that would make it easier. Not so much.
I love this puzzle board I bought from Amazon. As much as I love doing puzzles, it bothers me to leave it out on the table when I am no longer working on it, like when we’re expecting company. This allows me to store it and pull it back out when I am ready to work on it without losing my progress!

I’m continuing with my French class and Duolingo. I still listen to Pimsleur French V to supplement my learning and also do Duolingo flashcards and Duolingo Stories. I try to do at least a half an hour a day, usually more. I finished the Masterclass by Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale. It was awesome. I really felt that she was enjoying imparting wisdom in whatever time remains to her. In fact, she as much as said so. I also started another course by Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief at Vogue. Her course is on creativity and leadership. So much to learn, so little time!

I am still trying to do daily meditation with the Headspace App and visualization, mostly successfully. I don’t get to the meditation every day and even when I do I sometimes suffer from a wandering mind. I shall nevertheless persevere!

The last thing I want to share is I’ve started on my Florida capsule wardrobe. I purchased a few things, but mostly shopped my closet. I still will add some dresses, shoes and accessories later. My primary neutrals will be black, navy and white.

Black cropped slacks with two short sleeve options and a dressier off the shoulder long sleeve option.
Jeans with a white tea or a floral cami. The black sweater can go with most of the clothing clusters.
White cropped dress slacks with red print cami, or navy or black sleeveless tops.
Black and white checked ankle pants with white sleeveless button front top or black sleeveless dressier top.
White jeans with blush sleeveless shirt or black and white striped cami with a navy light weight open front cardigan.
Navy capris with navy/white striped sleeveless shirt, or navy cranberry patterned shirt or white sleeveless shirt.
Optional tops for the navy, white or jean bottoms.

This wardrobe of 6 bottoms, 17 tops and 2 sweaters will provide me with 81 different outfits, not including the variations the sweaters could provide. Between the two sweaters there is a sweater option for every outfit, especially important in those air conditioned Florida restaurants and malls. Almost everything goes with everything else, with the exception of the gingham pants, and even they have several options outside of their cluster. Once I’ve added shoes and accessories and throw in a few dresses, I’ll have even more options. I’m pretty pleased with the way this all came together.

Speaking of Florida, we should be closing on our house in a few weeks. We were pleasantly surprised that we are able to do this remotely. We are having our realtors do our walk through for us to add to anything the inspector may find. Looking forward to spending a little time in the sunshine, but right now I’m off to enjoy Michigan’s beautiful fall weather. Happy Fall, y’all!