Week 52 : Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Wrap-Up Edition

This last year has quickly passed and, like everyone else, it wasn’t the year I expected. Since Covid-19, I think we’ve all had more time for reflection. In thinking about my bucket list experience, there has been so much positive that has come from it. First of all, I have always been drawn to self-improvement projects that span over the course of a few months or a year. For instance, I’ve done Simple Abundance and I re-do it every few years and I am alway surprised at the different perspective a few years can bring. I’ve also embraced The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’ve done P90X to get in shape, which is a workout program which spans 90 days. I’ve done Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home and the Happiness Project with time spans ranging from 9 months to a year. There is something intriguing about taking a chunk of time and using it to re-shape yourself. I also feel, as an obliger, publicly acknowledging a goal makes me more accountable. So the year has come to an end and now it’s time for the reckoning. Let’s go back to the year’s beginning and I will try to do a quick summary of my successes and failures.

Here are my results:

  1. Create a blog to document my year. Obviously, mission accomplished on this one. For the first 31 weeks, I posted weekly. As my list dwindled, my post frequency lessened as there was less to write about. So I give this one a big checkmark!
  2. Go skydiving. Checkmark here as well. (week 15) What an experience. To be honest, I didn’t do it to conquer a fear, I’m not afraid of heights. I did it for the adrenaline rush. I especially loved sharing the experience with my daughter. Now quite a few years back, I faced a fear by scuba diving. That for me, was a much scarier experience!
  3. Do 50 random acts of kindness throughout the year for family, friends and/or strangers. Check mark here. I did not share each act of kindness because I am a believer in keeping the nice things one does a little more private.
  4. Finish modernizing our house. Checkmark. We modernized our lower level and remodeled the bath. We still need to redo our wood floors on the main floor. That was waylaid by Covid. Hopefully we’ll be able to do it soon.
  5. Do a 5k. No check mark here for two very good reasons. One is I waited too long and Covid canceled the runs. The second reason is I was recently diagnosed with arthritis in my hips and my doctor recommends no running or high impact exercises. As it hurts when I run, I will be following that advice.
  6. Keep up my Duolingo streak. Well I’m not sure what magic allowed this to happen but on my birthday, May 13th, I have a 1,000 day streak on Duolingo! I have completed the whole program but go on it every day to refresh my skills.
  7. Lose 10 pounds- hahahaha. Ok, Covid, I see you. I was VERY close to reaching this goal and then….Covid. Damn you! I am back to watching my weight with Noom, but I am not sure I am going to continue with it. I am committed however, to getting the weight back off!
  8. Complete 50 workouts on my Nordic Track treadmill. Gold star here! I have completed 76 workouts on my NordicTrack. The last few were very interesting. One was a walk through Salt Lake City Utah with a couple of comedians. They weren’t hilarious, but made they did make interesting guides. The other was a meditation walk through southern Utah’s Scout Cave Trail with Dr. Shauna Shapiro. I did enjoy being able to walk and meditate and check off two of my daily line items in one fell swoop.
  9. See Stonehenge. This was done early on, week 3. What a wonderful trip for so many reasons!
  10. Keep attending French Class at the Alliance de Francais, Detroit. Well I’m giving myself a checkmark here. When I traveled to our Florida home over the winter, I switched to private FaceTime classes with my instructor David. And of course, all classes are online still with Covid. I definitely enjoy one on one classes though they are a little more expensive, they are worth it. I’m able to converse with and ask my questions of my instructor, a native French speaker. I think this is one of the things that I enjoyed the most this year. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone!
  11. Try one “new to us” restaurant a month. Well, check, until Covid reared it’s ugly head.
  12. Organize our storage room. Proud to say that Mike and I worked together to get this done! (Weeks 44, 45&46)
  13. Meditate daily. Check but I have to be transparent and say that I may have missed a day here and there. I am enjoying it though and plan to carry it forward. I use Headspace and also meditate on my own.
  14. Create my own signature cocktail. Yep. See Week 18 for the recipe for “The Tropical Bae.”
  15. Learn the alphabet in sign language. Done! Here it is.
  16. Decorate our Florida retirement home. This was such a joy to do! It is spread over several different posts. I am still working on selecting a few paintings and decorative items. Week 19, Week 30 and Week 37
  17. Go hiking. See week 13 for this one. We hiked to the Au Sable Pointe Lighthouse and the Pictured Rocks area.
  18. Read 50 books in 2019. I read 72 books. I’ve set my new goal for 2020 to 75 books. I am currently 5 books ahead of schedule. I am currently reading “Love and Ruin” by Paula McLain. It is a fictional account of the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and journalist Martha Gelhorn. I’ve always been intrigued by Ernest Hemingway and have visited his home in Key West. I enjoyed reading The Paris Wife also by this author which imagines the relationship between Hemingway and his first wife Hadley.
  19. Build a capsule wardrobe for Florida. Done, though I won’t say I’m entirely finished. I’ve enjoyed adding a few more pieces into the mix. If you want to see what I selected, check out week 22.
  20. Entertain friends and family in said Florida retirement home. Check! We enjoyed visits from our kids, our new neighbors, my parents and our old friends. It’s been amazing! Weeks 40 & 41.
  21. Complete the complicated puzzle that my husband Mike bought me at Christmas that sits untouched. Week 22 saw the completion of this puzzle. If only I had waited it would have made an excellent corona virus activity.
  22. Bake a loaf of bread from scratch. I completed this on week 25. I’ve made a couple loaves since then. It’s a lovely skill to have acquired! (Thanks Deana!)
  23. Try a new recipe at least 1-2x a month. I’m giving this one a provisional check. I was rocking it all the way until Corona virus hit. I feel like I am blaming this miserable virus for quite a bit but it complicated my methods. I usually select my menu for the week and then go shopping. Well, with shopping being hit or miss, I am having to come up with menus around what is available. I still enjoy trying new recipes though and will continue to do so.
  24. Find and attend a French Meet-up event. Again, enter Corona Virus. I saved this for my return from Florida and meet-ups are currently out of the question. I did attend a virtual Zoom Happy Hour with some of my classmates though, so I’ll give myself credit after all.
  25. During our annual family trek to the Les Cheneaux islands, take a day trip to somewhere we’ve not been before. Check! See week 13.
  26. Organize and catalog all of the photos sitting in a jumble in the storage room. A great big project that I was happy to wrap up! See week 28.
  27. Re-enact the Beatles walking on Abbey Road. Done! See week 2. I was so tickled to be able to check this one off on our awesome trip to London.
  28. Reach out to a friend or extended family member in person or online at least once a week. This has been even more so since Covid. We are zooming with family and friends probably at least as often, if not more so than usual.
  29. Daily Visualization. Done!
  30. Finish a course in the Masterclass online teaching series. I have finished several Masterclass courses and have enjoyed them all! My most recent was an interior design class by Kelly Werstler. I also did a Storytelling and Humor class by David Sidaris and am looking forward to taking a gardening class and a Mixology class. Perhaps I’ll come up with another new signature cocktail!
  31. Teach our dog Kobe a new trick. Check and here it is! His new trick is playing dead.
  32. Ride my bike from the Lower Huron Metro Park to Lake Erie and back (about 40 miles). Done, see week 14.
  33. Host a fun event for all of the ladies in my family. Well this one did not get done, sadly. Again with the Covid thing. But I am really looking forward to doing this at some future point. I am envisioning a Hallmark movie night sometime before Christmas, with cookies and cocktails!
  34. Learn to play a simple song on the piano. OK. Here’s the thing. I did make a HUGE discovery. I haven’t any talent or ability here. I also have no desire to try to acquire any. I am happily crossing this off my bucket-list and placing it in the “don’t ever do this” list.
  35. Learn how to use the Overdrive app to borrow books from the library. I have been enjoying the heck out of Overdrive/Libby. I use it almost exclusively, unless there is a book I am dying to read and the wait time is too long. I’ve also showed my mom how to do it and hope to help Mike’s mom with it as well. It’s a money saver and really allows me to indulge my reading without feeling guilty about spending the money on yet more books.
  36. See Buckingham Palace. Again, this was done early on when we made the trip to London. Week 3
  37. Work on our Family Tree through Ancestry.com. Done! Well, I’m not actually done with the family tree. It’s still a work in progress. But the interesting thing is extended family I’ve not met in person on both sides of my family have reached out asking to be in touch. I’ve been emailing back and forth with a couple of them. Such an unexpected benefit!
  38. Try the restaurant The Woods on our annual family trip to Mackinac Island. We were happily able to do this on our family trip to Mackinac Island. Week 9
  39. Take our kayaks on a romantic paddle leading to a picnic in the park. Yes! I discussed this one on week 15.
  40. Keep an herb garden and use it in cooking. This was done over the summer. What is surprising is the chives that I planted wintered over and I have a full crop already. I didn’t realize they were perennials. Week 6
  41. Try something new I’ve never done before. My spontaneous thing was asking my mom to pick a destination for her birthday for her and I to travel to. We had an awesome time in Williamsburg. (See week 17)
  42. Actually take out the jet-ski instead of letting it sit in the hoist un-used. Nope. This did not get done. I did take it out once. But we didn’t end up bringing it up north and I usually preferred a boat ride over the jet ski. I am hoping to get some use out of it this summer.
  43. Plan a sunrise breakfast on the pontoon. Done on week 8. Mike and I often enjoy spontaneous last minute boat rides. Having our boat at the dock, uncovered except for the canopy on the hoist makes it easy!
  44. Take our dog Kobe on a walk through a nearby park. Kobe was delighted with this one. He also enjoyed a whole lot of walks when we were in Florida as there is a dog park in our community located about 3/4 mile from our house. (See week 12)
  45. Watch a movie in French. Done. In fact, I’ve watched several and through the course of the year, my comprehension has definitely improved, though I still use the subtitles as I don’t pick up every word.
  46. Discover a new favorite wine. I was happy to have been gifted this wine aptly called Shady Lane. Alas, it was a limited edition from a private vineyard. I will stay on the look out for more wines of this varietal from their Shady Lane vineyard. Week 11
  47. Do a high-ropes course. So fun! If you remember it took two attempts due to inclement weather. But if you are thinking of doing it, I highly recommend Treerunner. It was fun for our whole family. (See weeks 17 & 20)
  48. See Liverpool. Again, I tackled this early on during our memorable trip to England. Week 2
  49. Go sight-seeing in Boston. We loved Boston and I discussed our trip during week 10.
  50. Do yoga at least once a week. I may have missed a week or two in here but especially now with arthritis, I am planning to practice it even more regularly.

So, if you are keeping track, I consider myself to have completed 46 of the 50 things I set out to do. Some things simply couldn’t be done thanks to Covid and others were interrupted. In the case of piano playing, I decided it really isn’t something I actually wanted to pursue. For me, this has been a worthwhile endeavor. In looking back over my 59th year, it has been filled with travel, novelty, leisure, enjoyment, learning, adventure, along with the unwelcome surprise of Covid-19. I think creating a list of desired goals and activities definitely added a richness to my year.

What have I learned from this year? I’ve learned I’m made of sterling stuff. I’m tougher than I thought. I am happy to welcome my 60th year, along with all it brings, both the joy and the challenges. We’ve got a new reality and while we are all learning how to adapt and adjust, I am going to keep reaching out to try new things. I’m going to push myself to look at things with different eyes, to challenge my body as well as my mind. I wonder what my 60’s will bring. What new challenges will be presented and what new opportunities will arise, or are they one in the same? Being diagnosed with arthritis makes me wonder about my genetic lottery, what other illnesses may yet reveal themselves? I hope my 60s are as wonderful as my 50’s have been. To tell you the truth if they are only half as good, it would still be more than I could possibly hope for. And for that I am so grateful. As my 50’s have drawn to a close, this will be my last post. Whether you tagged along for the whole trip or just popped in here and there, thanks for following me. You are appreciated. Stay well my friends. Cheers to the next decade!

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!

Week 18: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Progress Report Edition

I can’t believe I’m a little more than one third of the way done with this journey! With summer almost in the rear-view mirror, I thought this might be a good time to take stock of where I am on the bucket-list and dive in to what remains to be accomplished! Everything that’s been highlighted has been completed. If it has an asterisk by it, it has been started but is something that is ongoing.

So I’ve completed twenty-two items on the list so far, and an additional fourteen items are ongoing. Many of the remaining items left to be done were intentionally saved as an indoor activity for cooler weather, such as organizing photos, cleaning the utility room, or baking bread for instance. I am very happy with my progress, though sad to report that #42, use the jet ski more, has probably reached it’s expiration date. The best I can hope for there is a fun day on the jet ski during summer’s last gasp or maybe early May if we get lucky with the weather and we are organized enough to have the jet ski back in the water. We’ve been traveling a lot this summer so we’ve actually not had as much time on the lake in general. There’s always next summer!

Tropical Bae : Molokai Coconut Bai with Pineapple Vodka

New items for the week included creating a cocktail for myself. I actually didn’t use Disaronno, as I had mentioned earlier. I’m tempted to create a new cocktail for each season though, so perhaps fall will bring something based with Disaronno. I am calling this cocktail Tropical Bae. It is super simple and very tasty. I simply combined Bai Molokai Coconut Antioxidant drink with New Amsterdam Pineapple Vodka. It was the perfect summer drink! Bai only has 5 calories a serving, so it’s a little easier on your waistline than some of the sweet and fruity cocktails and oh so very yummy! What the heck, I may even drink this in winter when I am yearning for summer weather, cue up the Jimmy Buffet.

I am continuing with Nordictrack, French Class, Duolingo, meditation, visualization and weekly yoga, though the search for a class continues. I have started working on # 7, lose ten pounds. I am using the Noom App and so far so good. It’s only day #4, so I will keep you all posted and give you more information on it if I continue with it after my two week trial. I hesitated to start because we still have a few trips ahead of us, but there is never a perfect time to start so why not start now! I also want to mention a fun read I just finished by Sophie Kinsella, “My Not So Perfect Life.” It was a funny and engaging read, just as we’ve come to expect from this author. I am currently reading “We Were The Lucky Ones,” a novel relating the experiences of a a Jewish family separated at the beginning of WWII, based on a true story. A much different book, but historical fiction is my jam so, despite the tough subject matter, I am enjoying it.

I am also excited that my husband and I will be heading down to Florida to check on the status of the house we are building. I hope to start working on #16, decorate our Florida house, while we are down there. Well, at least I’ll be taking measurements and doing some furniture shopping. We should be able to get a handle on closing dates soon. We are so thankful to our dear friends, Dave and Kim, who have helped us every step of the way. We are beyond grateful and are looking forward to being Florida neighbors!

In other items, I’ve started cleaning out our storage areas. I’ve taken photos of some furniture that we’ve been holding on to, and put it up on Facebook Marketplace. I have used this before with great success, though so far, it’s been two days and no bites. I am also going through my daughter’s closets to see what they’ve left behind and what they still want to hang on to so I can clear out some space. There’s still quite a bit to do. So far, two big bags are headed for the Salvation Army. The storage room will be next up.

I have to thank my friend Kelley for reaching out with suggestions on ways to use my herbs. She suggested making herb butter by mixing softened butter with chopped herbs ( any combination) then place either in ice cube trays or make into small balls and freeze. Once frozen transfer to a ziplock or freezer safe container. You can use it to added richness to sauces or place on top of cooked steak/ fish/ potatoes/ pasta. It makes a great finish. She also suggested making an herb vinegar. Start by getting a pretty bottle with a stopper, one that can fit in your fridge. Fill the bottle with herbs. Keep them whole and on stem as they are easier to remove and look beautiful. Then fill the bottle with white vinegar. Let it sit in your refrigerator for at least week. Use on salads or warm greens. You can keep topping off the bottle with additional vinegar to keep this going for months. Note: herbs must be fully covered by vinegar or they will start to mold. As long as you are using smaller amounts it is easy to top off and still keep the great herb infusion. These are awesome ideas. I will try to post photos if I am able to make either of these. As you can see from my photos below, one pot is thriving but the second pot with the basil plant appears to be on it’s last legs. The stems have become woody which can make the leaves bitter. They aren’t yet, but I fear they soon will be. I will need to get to harvesting right away. Thanks to Kelley for these awesome ideas!

Mint, Cilantro and chives still looking good.
The basil stalks have gotten a bit woody as the plant bloomed during out last trip. I need to harvest the basil before it’s too bitter.

I am so grateful to everyone that has followed along for any or all of this journey, and especially to those that have reached out to me with ideas or simply words of encouragement. This blog started as a means of accountability for myself and I have to say it has added so much fun and adventure to the inevitability of becoming sixty. As John Barrymore said, “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” I intend to keep on dreaming and I hope you do too. Until next week.

Week 17: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – The High-Ropes Course and Williamsburg Edition

Good morning! I’ve got a few more things checked off of the bucket-list this week and I am excited to share them. First, we did the high-ropes course at Treerunners in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Well, sort of. After being all suited up, getting our orientation and doing a medium level course, we were lined up for a double diamond course (the highest level of difficulty, much like the hill designations for skiing). We were then told the course would be closing due to thunder. Because we were only an hour or so in to our visit, they issued us all rain-checks and we will be returning at the end of September to fully experience it. So this week’s post will be part 1 of our experience.

Registration is online but you check in here!
Ready for our adventure!

Treerunner Adventure Park was a little difficult to locate initially. It is just off the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center. It had something for everyone, from kids above 3 to grown kids like myself. I went with my 23 year old daughter Samantha, my 26 year old daughter, Jenna, her husband Kristianth and my husband, Mike. After receiving an orientation you proceed out on your own. It’s very safe as you are always secured with a carabiner to a line, much like belaying in rock climbing. There are a variety of different level courses to choose from and there are staff members floating around should anyone require assistance. I think it is fair to say, despite being there for only an hour, it exceeded everyone’s expectations. We are looking forward to part 2 of our adventure and I will definitely be sharing a bit more in-depth about the experience afterwards. If this is something you would like to do, here is a coupon code to get $5 off your visit: TRWRC18. It is not combinable with any other coupons or discounts. Reservations are required. It can be booked online and here is the link. https://www.treerunnerwestbloomfield.com

You can see a few of the lower courses here.
A few courses of various levels.
We headed to lunch after our rain-out and were treated to a double rainbow!

Last Thursday, I headed off to Williamsburg, Virginia with my mom. So here’s the back story: For her birthday this year, we let her pick anywhere in the continental US or the Caribbean for a trip. As my dad isn’t a big traveler, my mom’s adventures have been mostly limited to those she takes with her kids so this was to be a girls trip with yours truly. Initially I was thinking maybe mom would pick the Caribbean, but after hurricane Dorian, I ended up extremely grateful that she didn’t. Williamsburg contains the historic triangle comprised of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. This was right up our alley as we are both history buffs! We stayed at the Williamsburg Inn which was a beautiful splurge and one I highly recommend, especially for a trip without kids. It is a beautiful 62 guest room/suite hotel in a Colonial Revival style, elegantly appointed in 19th century Regency decor. The design and construction were overseen by John D. Rockefeller in 1937 and it has served guests such as Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, among other notable dignitaries. Our room overlooked the fountain and golf course. One of the little luxuries is a turn down service, complete with chocolates and Disaronno liqueur each night. We felt totally spoiled! Hey, I could get used to this. If you remember, # 14 on my list is to create my own signature cocktail. I am planning on using this lovely liqueur as a base! The other wonderful thing about this hotel is that it is located in historic Williamsburg and an easy walk to most of the things you might like to do there. The whole of the street is about a mile, so not too demanding an undertaking.

Mom in front of our hotel.
This is our hotel from the back. Our room is the middle three windows on the second floor in the curved section. Our view was this terrace with the fountain and the golf course. In nicer weather the patio is open for dining. It was open the Saturday evening of our stay.
Mom with her birthday present from the hotel. Delicious gourmet chocolates which she was kind enough to share!
Evening turn down included two chocolates (one milk, one dark) and my new favorite liqueur!

As far as dining, the hotel also offers several dining options. We dined in the Terrace Room for breakfast and we also enjoyed the Rockefeller room for our last evening meal. The service was great and the food was amazing.

Love the Nespresso machine in the room!

Thursday, our first day, we explored Williamsburg. I had gotten a package that included most of the things to see and do in Williamsburg. Rather than give a day by day play by play, I’m going to give a quick overview of our visit.

There was a lot to see in Williamsburg. We dined at Kings Arms Tavern one day for lunch for an authentic colonial experience. I enjoyed peanut soup, a dish I’d never had, which was amazing. Our servers were all dressed in colonial garb. As a matter of fact, while strolling through historical Williamsburg, all of the workers were in period costume. Historic Williamsburg is a little like Greenfield village here in Michigan. There are cobblers, weavers and coopers at work on authentic equipment. As you pass various employees in full garb, they may tip their hat and say, “Good day to you!” We saw the Art Museum and went into the Governor’s Palace. The entrance hall looked more like an armory! I am sure the town was well-convinced of the Governor’s ability to defend their city. We also toured Basset house with a knowledgeable docent. This was the personal home to John D. Rockefeller and his wife Abbey during the time they were building the Williamsburg Inn and helping restore Colonial Williamsburg. It is an 18th century farmhouse with 586 acres of lawn and garden. It has been lovingly restored to the 1930’s, the era that Mr. Rockefeller and his wife lived here.

Peanut soup, rich and delicious! I need the recipe!
Lesson in Flexibility. You can make a plan, but Mother Nature may have other ideas!

Day two, we decided to do all of the indoor museums as we were under a tropical Storm watch due to the remnants of hurricane Dorian. It sounds far worse than it actually was. We ran between a few raindrops, nothing a raincoat and umbrella couldn’t handle. And bonus for us, the museum was practically empty and we had the place to ourselves. We hit the American Revolution Museum first in Yorktown. We were even given a raincheck to return to see the grounds so that is what we did on the following day. The grounds included a re-creation of a soldier encampment as well as a revolutionary era farm. My mom grew up in the south, so this actually brought back some early memories of her grandparent’s farm. It was priceless to be able to share these moments and memories with her. We also visited Jamestown Settlement. By the afternoon Jamestown opened the outdoors and we were able to see the grounds which held an authentic Powhatan Indian village, a fort and two ships. We were unable to go on the ships due to unsafe water levels making boarding difficult on that particular day. We enjoyed every part of our trip, even the road to Yorktown. Colonial Parkway was a beautiful drive, reminding me a little of Upper Michigan’s tunnel of trees, only with scenic overpasses.

Beautiful scenic drive along Colonial Parkway.
We learned how meals were made for revolutionary armies. Each group of 6 men had a bucket with a stew type food in it. This group of men was called a mess, go figure. There were separate fires built for each mess. They were responsible to keep the fire going and for making their own food. The fire pits were dug in a trench below ground level, like the one above, to be unaffected by wind.
Fun Fact: The Governor’s Palace at one time was home to both Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry.
Mom and I on the grounds of the Governor’s Palace.
Mom with George Washington in front of the Revolutionary Museum at Yorktown.

While Williamsburg wasn’t exactly on my bucket-list, what WAS on my bucket list at #41 was “Try Something new I’ve never done before.” And in that spirit, mom and I decided to do an evening ghost tour. I bought tickets for Haunted Williamsburg on our last evening. We planned an early dinner so we could make it to the Playhouse Stage where our 8:30 pm tour began. Our tour guide was named Iris and she was amazing. We talked with her a bit and found out she was a dramatic literature major in college. (who knew that was a thing?). Well, she certainly put her degree to good use! There are other ghost tours in Williamsburg but this one was recommended by our hotel and is the only one that brings you inside of buildings for the story telling. We stopped by Wythe house which is supposedly haunted by a woman in a blue dress who has lost a shoe(?). We also went to the Governor’s Palace as well as Randoph House which is supposedly haunted by a child. Most, but not all, of the stories involve employees who encounter things when they are alone in the houses. As I am a skeptic, I wasn’t convinced. Iris said she used to be a skeptic too and worried she wouldn’t make a good ghost guide. Her colleagues said to wait long enough and she would have an encounter of some sort. She did, she heard a baby crying in one of the empty historic homes. (twice). Iris was a great guide, and despite not leaving as a believer, I enjoyed myself tremendously. My mom was on the fence about ghosts before taking the tour, where I believe she still remains. While I don’t believe in ghosts, I do believe in signs from our loved ones that have passed on. But that, is an entirely different story.

This plaza in front of Jamestown Settlement has flags from all of our states with pertinent information.
Michigan’s plaque at the Centennial Plaza. I would like my family to note it was explored and settled by the FRENCH!

If you are thinking about going to Williamsburg, I would do it! It makes history come alive, though perhaps for smaller kids, some of the museums may not hold their attention. I have to mention another option for staying in Williamsburg which sounded intriguing, you can stay in one of the colonial era homes. That sounds like it might be nice for families with children. I was very delighted with our stay at the Williamsburg Inn. It would be a great place to go for an anniversary or special occasion. Make sure you tell them if you are celebrating something! They gave my mom a lovely little box of chocolates and a welcome gift of a small porcelain box on check-in. Our visit ended with a very nice thank you note to thank us for staying there. All in all, it was an awesome experience and one more checkmark on the bucket list!

Mom at the Jamestown Fort

As far as remaining items on the bucket list, I completed book #50! If you know me, you know I love to read on vacation, especially on the plane ride. I managed to finish two more books, The Road to Bittersweet (excellent) and The Friday Night Knitting Club (light and fun). I am currently reading My Not So Perfect Life (by Sophie Kinsella) with We Were the Lucky Ones in the on-deck circle. French class for the fall semester resumes tonight. My Duolingo streak remained intact throughout the vacation. I am happy to report they’ve added additional skills so now I have more to do than just review. I’ve completed 35/50 NordicTrack workouts. I am still working on the MasterClass series from Margaret Atwood (author of The Handmaid’s Tale). I’m still meditating, though I didn’t while on vacation. And speaking of vacation, upon my return I was absolutely delighted to discover a surprise package I didn’t order. THANK YOU to Deana for sending me “Flour Water Salt Yeast The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza” along with a dough bowl. She had received the book as a gift and it changed her bread-making life. I am so excited to crack it open and check off item #22, “Bake a loaf of bread from scratch.” I will be happy to share the recipe I end up using. (Deana, recommendations please?) So thank you, thank you Deana! That was such an amazing surprise!

Thank you Deana! Can’t wait to try this!

Here is the link to my original bucket list if you are curious. I am thinking of posting an updated list showing those things I’ve managed to check off at some point in the future. https://wordpress.com/block-editor/page/farewelltomy50s.home.blog/10

Well, that’s it for this week. Here’s to amazing surprises. I hope your week has a few in store for you as well!