Week 39: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Sometimes I really do have to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming. The weather has been fabulous all week here in Florida and the weeks go by so quickly. My days have been filled with appointments for the house, visits from friends and dinners out. It’s been a wonderful whirlwind that shows no signs of slowing down. It seems Wednesday has become my preferred blogging day down here. So if you happen to be following me, look for Wednesday posts from now on.

So let me dive right into my bucket list. Item # 20 (Entertain friends and family in our Florida retirement home.) We had a fabulous time with our friends from Michigan. They were staying with our friends Dave and Kim but we were able to spend a lot of time together. We had lots of delicious dinners out, fun girls’ shopping day and relaxing by the pool. We were sad to see them go. I also was blessed to have Sammi’s boyfriend Andrew’s parents over for a visit during their stay on Sanibel. It was great to meet their sister and brother–in-law and I had fun showing them around. I also had a visit from another Belleville family who is in the process of building a home in Florida so they popped in with Dave and Kim to check out our house and pool. I really enjoyed everyone’s visit. My daughter Jenna and her husband Kristianth are driving down and arriving on Friday evening. Kristianth will be flying back and Jenna will stay behind for a month with her two dogs. She works from home and she is about to “work from pool.” And bonus: Kobe will be so happy to have friends to hang out with. Mike returns next week and my parents will be coming for a long weekend as well. It has been so nice seeing everyone and I was happy to discover that I really love the way the house lives. The big kitchen island is nice for putting out appetizers and the large doorwall really makes the lanai part of the living space.

#16 (Decorating our Florida home.) Kim and I have done a lot of shopping in search of the perfect home accessories. I think we’ve canvassed most of southwest Florida! It’s been fun but I still have a lot of artwork to select. I did manage to find a nice vase for the front bedroom dresser and some cute desk accessories. I also ordered a digital photo frame online. Digital frames have sure come a long way. It has it’s own email address and friends and family can send photos that you can include in your frame. It can play music, tell you the date and the weather as well as showcase your photos. I plan to fill this frame with photos of friends and family that visit us here so it will be a rotating gallery of memories made in our Florida home.

Digital frame by Pixstar.

#6 (Keep my Duolingo streak intact.) #10 (Keep attending classes at the Alliance de Francais.) I thought I would have a lot more time to devote to French here but it has proven to be the exact opposite. I have managed to keep my Duolingo streak intact though. I am on day # 909. My treat for making it to day #900 was watching a French film. I watched Sarah’s Key on Netflix, which was a combination of French and English. It is based on a book I read a few years ago by the same name. It was good but the book was better. Isn’t that usually the way of it? My FaceTime French classes continue weekly and I am enjoying conversing, however limited my abilities. What an awesome opportunity to have a native French speaker be able to answer my questions. The French that is taught and written isn’t exactly the French that you will find spoken if you are lucky enough to go to France. One funny thing I learned this week is the French term for a six-pack (the abs version) is le tablet du chocolat. I would much prefer a bar of chocolate to a six pack of beer, so I embrace and salute that terminology!

#13 Meditate daily #18 Read 50 books in 2019. I am combining these two because I have been having trouble getting my meditation in and I am reading “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works.” That is one heck of a long title. It’s by news anchor Dan Harris. He relates how he had an on-air melt-down and how he subsequently found inner peace, despite his initial skepticism. I am half way through and enjoying it tremendously. I am hoping it will re-motivate me to get my daily meditation sessions in as I definitely feel more focused and productive when I do. That alone doesn’t seem to be motivation enough though so I am hoping this little book will work some magic for me. This is book # 11 of my 80 book goal for 2020 putting me 2 books ahead of schedule.

#7 (Lose 10 pounds) I am sticking with Noom and am STILL 1 pound over that goal. I’ve been walking a lot, regularly exceeding my daily goal. I also squeezed in a work out at the clubhouse. I hope to do a lot more working out when Jenna comes down.

I promised to update you on the landscaping. It’s done! It was done in a day and a half. Here are a few photos of the job “in progress” and a few “after” photos. I added a couple of potted plants which I will plant outside once we close up for the season. The red plants on the side between the houses is Red Tie. It is native to Florida and will grow to be tall enough to provide us with some privacy on our lanai. We also will be adding lanai lights to finish off the space and make it more usable in the evening.

I posted this last week, but thought I’d repost for anyone who didn’t happen to see it.
Work in progress
From the right side,
The view from the inside.
The pots I added with Salvia.

I am going to wrap it up here because I have a little online shopping to do! One of my favorite home accessory stores, ZGallerie, is having an online sale. I hope to find a few things to share in a future blog. Have a great and productive week.

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 16: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

Happy Labor Day! Hope everyone is out enjoying the day with friends and family. I will be heading out to do a high ropes course at Treerunners in West Bloomfield (Bucket list item # 47) with my family later on this afternoon. Looking forward to telling you all about it next week!

This week, has been a bit low key. I am keeping up with most of my ongoing goals, which I’ll tell you more about in a bit. First I wanted to share a new-to-me recipe using herbs from my garden (items# 23 and 40). This one comes from Healthy Cooking magazine June/July 2008. It is simple, quick and delicious, three of my favorite things in a recipe, emphasis on simple because, hey, I’m no Julia Childs.

Chicken Provolone

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 oz each)

1/4 teaspoon of pepper

8 fresh basil leaves

4 thin slices of prosciutto or deli ham

4 slices of provolone cheese

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle the chicken with pepper. In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken over medium heat until a thermometer reads 165 degrees, 4-5 minutes on each side.
  2. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet; top with the basil, prosciutto and cheese. Broil 6-8 inches from the heat until the cheese is melter, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Garnish plate with parsley if you want to be fancy (and who doesn’t?).

I ended up using ham instead of prosciutto which I am sure would have been delicious, because that is what I happened to have on hand. I also did not use a meat thermometer, I gave it the old eyeball test and cut into it a bit to check for doneness. I served it with a baked potato with sour cream and chives from my container garden.

Nutrition: 1 serving equals 236 calories, 11 g of fat (6 saturated,) 89 mg of cholesterol, 435 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 33 G protein.

It was deceptively simple, but tasted amazing!

Help!! I am on the lookout for ways to use my herbs before the season ends. As they will not over-winter, I would love to find a good pesto recipe for the basil or any other suggestions to make the best use of my remaining herbs. I did manage to use some basil when I had my wonderful Book Club ladies over for a floating meeting on the pontoon. I put together a caprese salad as well as used a little rosemary for garnish on the charcuterie board. It’s awesome spending time with these articulate intelligent women. Most of the time we converse about books in our private facebook group, but once a summer we head out on the pontoon. We also try to meet up at a restaurant at least one other time in the year. We seem to have a lot more to say in person than we do in writing! These ladies are partially why I’ve been able to read some extraordinary books in my 50 book quest. They come up with some awesome suggestions and I much prefer curated books, when someone has read it and recommends it. I used to commit to finishing a book once I’d started it no matter what. Now my motto is “Life is too short to keep reading a bad book.” I’m not afraid to abandon mid-read if it’s just not holding my attention (of course, then it doesn’t count on my list either!) We came up with a few more suggestions for this year, and selected “The Silent Patient,” which I had just finished, (highly recommend) as our next read. I am on book #50 of my 50 book goal. Huzzah! My current read is “Pieces of Her,” so far, so good. I anticipate finishing it up today or tomorrow. Now I’m curious to see how many books I can read in a year.

We started at the house, then packed it up for the boat!

In other updates, French class at Alliance de Francais continues. No class this week due to Labor Day, but we are planning to meet for dinner Tuesday night. I am anticipating that we will be speaking French to one another but I am not counting this as my “meet-up” (item #24). Our instructor David has started conducting class entirely in French. I’ve perfected my “I understand what you’re saying” look while I frantically search my brain for the right translation. Did he just say, “The city hall is very ugly,” or did he just insult my mother? Two very different responses are required! And so we learn. Mistakes are made but I learn best by my mistakes. I just wish I wasn’t given so many learning opportunities! By the way, my Duolingo streak remains intact at 747 days. I am determined to keep it going as long as possible.

I have been working to continue yoga at least once a week. And since I can’t convince my awesome sister-in-law Sharona and niece, Ashley, to move to Belleville to teach (I mean really, is that too much to ask?) I am on the look-out for a nearby studio with a restorative yoga class at a convenient time. I have found that quick 10-20 minute classes on YOUTUBE have been fabulous. I like morning and evening routines with yogis Adrienne or Sarah Beth. I’m still meditating with the Headspace App. I remain in Costa Rica on my NordicTrack, half way through the walking series there and still enjoying it. They get more difficult within each series as it progresses. I have completed work out #34 of my 50 work out goal. It still holds my interest and keeps me working out on my days off of boot-camp.

Forest trails, beaches, mountains. Ecological diversity is amazing!

New things I am working on include taking an online Masterclass in creative writing with Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale (item #30). I have really enjoyed Masterclass. We have an all access pass and in the past, I’ve taken cooking with Alice Waters and writing with Judy Blume. They have things like stand-up with Steve Martin, magic with Penn and Teller, or how about Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard or Jody Foster on film-making (what?!!). There are classes on just about every interest. The reason it’s on my bucket list is that something that can be done at any time often gets done at no time. You know, there’s no time like the present, Carpe Diem, strike while the iron’s hot, never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, insert your favorite cliché here, (too much?)

We are headed to Florida in a couple weeks to make a few selections for our pool and to check out the local furniture stores. I did a little preparatory work, both in person and online, checking availability, turn around and selection at various furniture stores in anticipation of diving into item #16, decorating our Florida vacation home. Can’t wait to share the results and perhaps even solicit opinions on a few things along the way. I am hopeful the hurricane will not do major damage wherever it strikes. This will be a whole new area of expertise to master, putting on hurricane shutters, lowering pool levels, and apparently many of our soon to be neighbors in Florida are filling sand bags. I am not sure what for or where they will put them. So many questions I need answered! As of this writing it has veered away from our location. In any event, prayers for the safety of those living wherever Dorian makes landfall.

Next week in addition to the high rope course I hope to share with you a little of the adventure I will be having with my Mom. We are heading to Williamsburg this week, a city neither one of us has been to. We are both history buffs so we plan on checking out Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. I am looking forward to spending some long overdue quality girl time with my mom. Here’s hoping the hurricane stays the heck away from Virginia! That might be more adventure than even we can handle. Make it a great week everyone and wherever you are, stay safe!