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!

Weeks 44, 45 & 46 : Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – Quarantine Edition

Wow, thanks to COVID-19 the world is a different place than it was a few short weeks ago. I hope you and those you love are all safe and healthy and taking precautions to stay that way. (ie social distancing and wearing masks/gloves if you go out) We were home briefly, but decided to return to Florida once businesses were shut down in Michigan. So after Mike tended to some important details with his staff and practice, we headed out. Mike and key team members are able to do virtual appointments so thankfully they can stay in touch with patients and address needs as they arise. We did not fly, we drove down. We drove straight through and packed our own food with minimal stops for gasoline, using a glove or plastic bag when pumping gas and wearing a glove on one hand if we had to use the restroom. Some gas stations had placed out of order signs on their restrooms. I am assuming they were reserving it for employees and to minimize transmission to those cleaning the facilities. Thankfully, we were able to reliably find bathrooms in the rest stops. The day we arrived in Florida, the governor here finally issued a stay home order. Here at The Place, all amenities are shut down including the gym, pickle ball courts, pool and the take out they had recently instituted at the restaurant, which is fine as we are planning to cook at home anyway.

My goals for myself before turning 60 seem trivial in comparison to what we now face, however on the plus side, it has given me something to focus on other than the horrible state we all find ourselves in and something positive to do other than watch compulsively for updates and take our poor dog on yet another walk. With that said, here’s what’s been going on with the bucket list.

Here is the link to my original list. I am keeping up with my French classes virtually. They have actually switched all classes to virtual, but for now, I am still doing private lessons as my current level doesn’t seem to match with anyone else’s right now. I am continuing with Duolingo and am at day #960 today. I am still getting pleasure from learning French, however I’m ’bout to have a throw down with the French subjunctive. It’s a concept that is still a work in progress for me. I have also watched a movie in French (with subtitles) on Netflix, Un + Une and would recommend it.

Some of what I had deemed a goal will be undoable now given the world’s current situation. For instance, try a new restaurant every month has been suspended. And life has intervened with # 5, Do a 5K. While new health circumstances would require that I walk it instead, it is unlikely anyone will be holding any 5Ks soon. Also, no fun gathering for the ladies in the family, but at least we can do so virtually, though we may have to include the guys for this one too now.

However it has also given me time to tackle a few things that I was neglecting, such as organizing the basement storage room. It was long overdue! Also staying in contact with friends and family has been converted to virtual happy hours via Zoom. We are probably talking more now than we ever used to and it’s been awesome. Another positive, I’ve had more time to work on tricks with our dog Kobe which I will share on a later post.

Before, so you can see just how messy it had gotten!
After, maybe not perfect, but a lot less messy!

As far as my weight loss journey, it’s a hard fought battle. I am using Noom but certainly not to the best of my ability. I, like probably most of you, have been snacking more than normal. I am in the process of getting back on track. In the “unfortunate” column, I was recently diagnosed with arthritis and bone spurs in my hips and I have some stiffness in my lower extremeties which limits my flexibility so my doctor has instructed me to eliminate high impact exercises. While in Florida, I plan to walk, bike, swim and do yoga. All of which are all less stressful on the joints. I did manage to use my NordicTrack a few more times when we were home. I discovered a new workout series. It is lead by an Egyptian Archeologist who brings you on walking tours of several Egyptian pyramids. I also managed to do a warm up and a cultural walk set in front of Niagara Falls and some flexibility yoga in Kauai, Hawaii, making a grand total of 72 NordicTrack work-outs. My original goal was 50. I also plan to take advantage of the video workouts our awesome bootcamp trainer is posting with modifications.

Walking the pyramids of Egypt with an Egyptian archeologist.

I am guessing my reading will pick up a bit more. I am currently on book # 21 of my 75 book goal. I am reading the last book in a Nora Rogers trilogy, The Perfect Hope. It’s escapism at it’s finest. Since I last posted about my reading goal on February 26, I have read In A Dark, Dark Wood, The Turn of the Key, Evvie Drake Starts Over, Olive Again, The Giver of Stars, Turbulence, The Last Boyfriend, and The Chocolate Thief .

I also tackled # 15: Learn the alphabet in sign language. Here is the poster for the hand motions.

And here I am, signing the alphabet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjsEHqdjul0

I also completed another Masterclass(#30) while driving down to Florida. It featured David Sidaris on writing. It was highly entertaining even if you aren’t a writer. I am working on learning Silent Night on the piano(#34). Let me just say it’s harder than I thought it would be and now I am in Florida with no access to a keyboard, so this particular goal may be carried over into my 61st year.

My birthday is mid-May and as there isn’t much left on my list to accomplish, I will be posting just once more at this project’s conclusion. I thank you if you’ve stuck with me throughout the year and look forward to summarizing all that I was and was not able to accomplish.

Remember to embrace the things you love that you are still able to do and enjoy keeping socially close while physically distant. I hope you all stay safe and healthy and that my next post finds us all in a much better place. ((hugs))

Weeks 40 & 41: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – The Family Edition

It’s been a fun and busy two weeks! Most of my activities have centered on bucket list item #20 (Entertain friends and family in Florida house.) Here’s quick reference back to the original bucket list for anyone interested. With both Mike and my parents in town and my daughter Jenna staying with us here for a month with her two pups, we had a full house. We were missing my daughter Sammi and Jenna’s husband Kristianth but they will be coming down very soon. I was very happy with the way our home lives. Even with a full house, it never felt crowded. Now onto a few of our activities in and around Estero.

Mom and Dad arrived this past Wednesday evening. Our home is a scant 15 minutes from the airport, so after a quick pick up, I gave them a tour of the house and community and we headed to The Barefoot Grille which is the restaurant on property. We had a low key evening in preparation for a busy Thursday.

My parents! Aren’t they cute?!

The next day, Mike landed at 9 am and soon after we headed to Bonita Springs to Everglades Wonder Gardens. This was a nice attraction recommended by a neighbor who has been a year round resident here for a few years. It’s been a local attraction since 1936 and is reasonably priced at $12 for adults, $10 for Seniors and kids 3-12 $7. Children under 3 are free. You can see the native flora along with the animals who reside in Florida. You can feed the alligators through a fence, though they must be pretty well fed as they weren’t interested in our Alligator cookies. Unlike the gators, the flamingos were very interested in the flamingo food, and Jenna was happy to oblige. Another cool thing was the lorikeet experience. They would come and land on you and drink nectar from the shot-glass looking cup we held. The unfortunate group before us had the “what goes in must come out” experience, which was one that I was happy to have missed. There was all sorts of wildlife to observe, including a butterfly house which wasn’t particularly well occupied, though there were a string of chrysalises, so there may be quite a few more in the near future. We headed to Naples for a bite to eat, landing at Barbatella’s on the patio. We enjoyed a leisurely meal before heading home to relax a bit before ending the day with a spaghetti dinner at home. All in all it was a fun day.

Cute sign!
Jenna feeding the flamingos with Mike trying to catch the shot.
One of the beautiful creatures we saw.
My daughter Jenna with the Lorikeets!
Spaghetti dinner pool-side.

Friday was a low key day. We relaxed a bit, explored the model homes here in our subdivision then the ladies went shopping and the guys just hung out. We had 5 pm reservations at DeRoma’s which is normally fantastic. Unfortunately the majority of their seating is outdoors and it was the coldest it’s been since we’ve been down here, about 58- 60 degrees. No one wanted to eat outside! We waited 45 minutes in the hopes of an inside table but were led to an outdoor table. We declined the first one because it was unprotected in the wind, with no space heater. We were then led to a second table which was a little better. The manager was helpful in locating us a table side heater which turned out to make it warm enough. At least everyone’s meals were yummy.

Saturday, we went out to breakfast at Skillets (would recommend) followed by a trip to Tin City. Tin City is a cute little collection of boutiques in tin buildings right along the water. We strolled around the shops and marina and then we drove on to Sanibel and Captiva Islands. This was recommended by my daughter’s boyfriend’s mom, Kathy and her sister-in-law. It was a little over an hour away. We headed to the Mucky Duck which is an English type pub and popular as a sunset destination because the view is amazing. We were there initially for a drink on the beach, as they have indoor and outdoor bars with outdoor picnic tables. We decided instead to do a late lunch/early dinner. Everyone’s food was good and it was really nice to see another part of Florida. The island was beautiful with a lot of really lovely homes. It had a low key, relaxing vibe. I definitely want to head there for sunset one evening. If you plan to go, plan ahead and pack your patience as the traffic on the island seems to be confined to one lane roads with a speed of 25 mph. Also make sure you have the $6 causeway toll. You pay only on the way in.

Tin City with this crew.
Mom and Dad outside of The Mucky Duck on Captiva Island

Sunday we relaxed. Mike made us a yummy breakfast and we had a casual late lunch of hamburgers, hotdogs, and side dishes before driving my parents to the airport. Mike’s flight was a couple hours later. All in all, it was a successful visit. We had beautiful weather all but one day. I very much hope my parents will be returning in the future.

In other bucket list items, I am continuing with French and am making progress. My teacher is so encouraging and fun to talk to. Face-timing has added a whole new dimension and being the only student definitely ramps up the involvement in class. My Duolingo streak is at day 923. I haven’t missed a single day, knock on wood!

The home decorating is coming along. I love Z Gallerie and have purchased quite a few things through them. Everything has been delivered and I am waiting for Mike’s return so we can hang the remaining items. I bought a bowl and floral arrangement for our bedroom dresser as well as paintings for our bedroom. I went to the store to exchange a pillow that I had ordered online that was sticking out of the box when it arrived. It had a bit of grease on the corner. Of course, I saw a few more things I “needed” while there: a vase for the bath with stems of flowers, a glass ball for the bathroom counter, and some lavender colored potpourri for the amethyst bowl I had ordered for my dresser. I still have a few more pieces to decide on. But I am going to take my time and enjoy the process. It is all coming together.

Still awaiting the art work for over the tub. I did get this vase and flowers though!
Latest additions to our bedroom, the bowl with potpourri and the faux floral arrangement. (Doesn’t faux sound better than fake?! haha)

Noom was suspended during my parents’ visit but I am back at it. I did manage to get my steps in as we walked the dogs twice a day, 1.5 miles each time. I average at least 15,000 steps daily here, going as high as 20,000. Jenna and I have been using the gym though we’ve not taken any classes yet, but we hope to this week. We’ve also been enjoying bike rides in the afternoon or early evening. My meditation slipped while we had company but I am doing it again. Dan Harris’ book “10% Happier” was interesting and it did motivate me, I need to re-skim it a bit though.

Morning dog walk. this was the chilly morning.
In case anyone is wondering, the 3 dogs are all getting along great! Here’s two of the triple trouble trio.

I am currently reading Nora Roberts “The Next Always” which is good so far. I am a little less than 1/3 of the way through. My next book is Ruth Ware’s “In A Dark, Dark Wood,” which has finally come up in my Overdrive app. My reading has been slipping down here as well. I expected it to be the exact opposite! I am on book #13 of my 80 book goal, which only puts me one book ahead of schedule. I need to get a buffer zone here!

I will leave it here for now. I hope everyone has plenty to keep them happily busy this week and I hope to have more to share with you next week. Friends and family, if you’re ever down this way, be sure to stop by for a cocktail! We’d love to see you!

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 38: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties

I don’t have a lot to share this week. I am enjoying Florida and the weather has been fabulous. I have been busy because there are still errands to be run, items to get for our home and workmen coming and going. One of my errands was picking up some storage containers so I could spend some time organizing my pantry and bathroom cupboards. Today, the hurricane shutter company came. The shutters are partially up. Nick, our installer, will be coming back in the morning with a new screen as the one that he had was made wrong. Hopefully the job will be finished tomorrow. We also had workers here fixing our sprinkler system, which looks like it was damaged during excavation. The county electrical inspector was here today as well to look at the pool electrical. The landscape company is also supposed to be coming tomorrow to re-landscape and sod our backyard as the pool installation removed much of the backyard landscaping. I will snap a few “befores” and show you the “afters” once the job is complete. We were told this could be accomplished in a day. I am excited to see the finished product! In between all this coming and going I also managed to squeeze in my FaceTime French class.

The back of the lanai. Pardon the cushions stacked up in the corner. Nick, the hurricane shutter installer, advised they be moved away from his work area as drilling into cement generates a lot of dust.
Side view

Speaking of French, I am on day # 902 of Duolingo. I have completed all the new content and am now just systematically reviewing each category. I am saving my “reward” for hitting day 900 for this evening. My reward is watching a movie in French. I’m afraid I still need to use subtitles to catch it all though. My FaceTime classes are going well. Today we listened to native French speakers, speaking on the radio. They talk very fast and I definitely needed to listen to it a couple times to pick up most of what was being said. I am grateful that my instructor David is kind, patient and encouraging.

I am still using Noom, but my weight loss has stalled. I really need to re-commit. Mike has been back in Michigan for the last three days. Despite eating Lean Cuisine and salads at home for the entire three days, my weight has remained unchanged, hovering 1 1/2 pounds over goal. Frustrating! I managed to take Kobe for a walk twice a day. My steps are always well about 12,000 a day, but it’s the evening snacking that I think is getting in the way. Skinny pop I’m looking at you. My daughter Jenna is coming to stay for a month next week. Maybe I can get her to whip me into shape! I am determined to accomplish this goal so it’s just a matter of time!

We are looking forward to a visit from our Michigan friends this weekend. They will be staying with our mutual friends Dave and Kim but I am sure we will all be spending a lot of time together. We also recently scheduled my parents for a visit in two weeks so I have been asking a few long time Floridians for suggestions of fun things to do in this area. I look forward to seeing everyone and to sharing our outings in the future.

We still have a long way to go on decor and artwork. I did pick up a few books (of course!) which are great for decor and which I also look forward to reading. I’ve been looking for artwork and hope to find a few local art galleries. I did look at Z Gallerie and didn’t have much luck, but I am going to re-visit soon. Our home is very neutral and I’d like to add bit of color with artwork and decorative items. Suggestions are welcome. I don’t want to “overdecorate.” I do feel better in a “lighter” less cluttered environment.

Small vase and books in the back guest room.
Looking for artwork for left wall and not sure what to add to the credenza and the coffee table. Suggestions are welcome.
Start of our Coffee table decor
Have been unsuccessfully looking for a centerpiece for our table. Not sure if I want candlesticks, floral or something else. Stay tuned.

Kobe is thoroughly enjoying being a Florida dog. I thought he would dislike having to be let out on a leash. Electric fences aren’t really a thing here when you are near the water because in Florida, where there’s water, there’s gators. But he loves going out on a leash. He also usually gets two 1 1/2 mile walks a day and spends some time at the neighborhood dog park. The only thing that has me slightly peeved is that Kobe is slimming down quicker than I am. (haha) He will be a “streamlined” dog.

Kobe in his element!

I am on book # 10 of my 80 book goal for 2020. I finished Cottage By The Sea and am currently reading The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman. I am about 1/2 way through and enjoying it so far. She is also the author of one of my previous reads, Home For Unwanted Girls. I am surprised I’ve not been reading as much as I’d hoped. I really anticipate that when the errands slow down there will be a lot more time for reading poolside. Today was actually the first day I was able to spend a little time doing just that!

I will leave it here for now. I look forward to sharing our finished hurricane shutter and hopefully our new landscaping next week. Mike is due back in for the weekend this evening at midnight. I understand Michigan is expecting some snow this evening. You have my sympathies. Now where did I put my sunscreen? **Ducking and running now!** Until next week.

Week 37: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties- Snowbirding

O.K. I know I usually post on Mondays and today is Wednesday. In my defense, Wednesday seems a lot like Monday when you are on Florida time. Actually, to be more accurate, every day feels more like a weekend. Anyway, my apologies for the late post. We’ve been so busy getting things accomplished while we are here that I really haven’t even had much time for my bucket list! Snowbirding is busy business! And, yes, I know Snowbirding isn’t actually a verb, I verbalized it though. I know what you’re thinking but yes, I used verbalize correctly here, it’s actually a thing. I looked it up: to turn a word, especially a noun, into a verb.

Onward and upward. I’ll start with French. Despite all the busyness, I haven’t lost my streak in Duolingo. I am currently on Day #895. I’ll have to have a little celebration when I reach day #900! I personally feel like that’s part of enjoying life, celebrating milestones, big and little. I have had two private lessons, one via telephone and one Facetiming. I will be having another one later this afternoon. I am glad I decided to continue pursuing my French while in Florida because I fear I might have other wise lost a lot of ground.

I am currently reading book #9 of 2020. I’m giving Debbie Mcomber a try. She’s a favorite of my mom’s. I am reading Cottage By The Sea. Based on the title, I thought it would be a nice little “beach read” and a break from heavy WWII subject matter. I laugh because the book starts out with the young character’s whole family being wiped out by a landslide. So much for light reading. However, I am 1/4 of the way through and enjoying it very much. I am 3 books ahead of schedule based on my goal of 80 books for 2020. As always, I am ever on the look out for a good book, so feel free to send recommendations my way.

What has been occupying most of my time is working on finishing touches. When we arrived, our pool and hot tub were basically done. Job #1 was finding furniture for the lanai. After asking about patio furniture in our neighborhood Facebook group, we landed on Zing, a frequently mentioned store with two locations near us, one in Fort Myers and another in Naples. I was headed to the pet store to get a kennel for our dog Kobe, and the closest Petco was in Fort Myers so to minimize driving, that is where I headed. Mike and I had looked at another store when we were here last time and it was hard to find everything we wanted that would coordinate. It didn’t have to be from the same manufacturer, as long as it “blended well.” We didn’t have much luck there but Zing had everything with lots to pick from. Mike really wanted something in stock rather than special ordering anything so we could start enjoying our outdoors immediately. It wasn’t difficult. My salesperson Andrew was very helpful. I found 2 basic chaises, on special along with a beautiful dining table and chairs plus 4 club chairs and a firepit. Even though it’s hot here, in the winter the evenings are very cool, so it’s nice to sit out back around the fire. I also had an appointment to select drape fabrics and my friend Kim came along to help out. With the help of our awesome salesperson/designer Janet, I was able to find some great options. The drapes will take about a month to be made and installed, so I should still be here. While Kim and I were out we popped in to the Naples Zing as she might be in the market for a couple more things. That store had a much wider selection and really carries some beautiful and stylish stuff. I don’t know if I would’ve made a different choice if I had gone there first or not, as much of it needs to be ordered and takes a while. I am happy with our choice and ready to start enjoying it all. I have already gotten some cute plastic dinner ware, plastic glasses and stemless wine glasses for the back patio.

Dining poolside

As far as entertaining, we’ve had our friends and neighbors Dave and Kim over for cocktails around the fire pit and we are in the process of organizing a trip down for my parents. Mike’s mom and stepdad are due to stop by this week as well and our daughter Jenna will be coming for a month in a couple weeks.

Mike enjoying the evening as we wait for our friends’ arrival.
There are lights in the pool and various settings to change colors. Pool can switch colors in a program from our phones. Red, orange, green, blue, purple and pink. There’s a setting called “Party” and one called “Romance.” Once I memorize the setting colors, I’ll know exactly what’s on Mike’s mind. Lol.
Perfect place to relax with a good book and a cold drink.

My husband, Mike has been managing to get around quite well despite his casted leg. He mostly uses the knee scooter with a little help from his blinged out crutches. He has an appointment when he gets back to have the cast changed. I think he is really longing for the day when he can swim in the pool and enjoy the hot tub. Maybe he’ll even play a little pickle ball, thought next time I hope he’ll be more aware that he’s not 18 anymore and take it a little easier.

I have been trying to keep up with Noom, though I have not been stellar. I’ve gotten a lot of walks in and have taken Kobe to the dog park several times. I’ve easily exceeded my 10,000 step goal every day. The seafood here is plentiful and delicious so I have been taking advantage of that. I am not back to my goal weight, still about 1 1/2 pound over. But I am working on it. I have made it to the gym once this week, and want to step up attendance there. There have just been so many appointments and workers (pool people, electricians, landscapers). Now that the pool is in, we need our landscaping re-done, so Mike’s been working on getting that scheduled. I’ve spent some time getting drawer and pantry organizers and figuring out where is the best place to store everything. There is still a bit to do as far as decorating. We have no artwork on the walls, and almost no decorative items. Looking forward to taking my time here and enjoying the process.

And with that, I will leave you as I’ve yet more errands to run. The sun is shining and life is good and I wish the same for you, my friends.

Week 36: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties- The Achilles Incident

My bucket list quest has been a bit side-stepped this week in order to help care for my husband post-operatively. Here is the link to my original bucket list for anyone interested. For those that have been following the saga of my husband Mike’s ruptured Achilles tendon, he had a successful surgery on Tuesday afternoon. He does indeed have a non-weight-bearing cast and it looks like he will be hobbling about in it for quite some time. He has a scooter, crutches and a “peg leg” that allow him several options for getting around. The peg leg was loaned from a friend who had the same surgery a while back. Mike likes the scooter and the peg leg as it gives him use of his arms. He finds the crutches to be a bit cumbersome and restricting. I will say he has some of the fanciest crutches around though as one of our artistic team members decorated them with the office logo and colors. He relies on them usually if we are going out to a restaurant because he can sit without worrying about the scooter or taking off any equipment. He will have to have his cast changed periodically, as they progressively take the foot from slightly pointed to flat to avoid putting too much pressure on the tendon. Despite the fact that he is an excellent patient, taking care of Mike has occupied a lot of my time early in the week. But now that his wound is healing and he is off of pain meds, he doesn’t really relish being fussed over. As the week has progressed, he’s become increasingly independent and things are getting back to our new normal. He’ll still let me run grab something from another room for him as a matter of convenience, but other than that he is like a two year old, “Me do it myself.”

Blinged out crutches
Knee Scooter
Mike and the Peg leg. I will say this thing sounds a little scary when Mike comes thumping along. It reminds me of Poe’s Tell-tale Heart. Thump-thump, thump thump!

Another thing that has bumped my bucket list off of my priority list this week is the fact that we celebrated my oldest daughter Jenna’s birthday. Her birthday is actually at the end of the month, but as we will be in Florida then, we asked to celebrate it early. We had a yummy lunch at Crispelli’s Bakery and Pizza. My daughter Sammi, her boyfriend Andrew, Jenna and her husband Kristianth were all there. We ordered 3 pizzas as well as cheese bread. Apparently cheese bread is from a “secret menu” that my daughter is familiar with as it’s not on the menu. My daughter Sammi’s boyfriend had a yummy rueben sandwich and my husband supplemented the pizza with a bowl of Minestrone. Everything was delicious and I would definitely recommend this place. We all agreed the pizza was just the way we like it, thin crust with just the right balance of sauce, toppings and cheese! We ended with ice cream cake at Jenna’s house, admiring her new office space and watching her pets play with one another. It was wonderful just being together! She will be going to Spain for a wedding and taking a side-trip to Paris this summer, not to see the Eiffel Tower but for a trip to Disneyland, Paris. Anyone that knows her knows that she is a Disneyphile! So for her birthday, we got them 2 day, 2 park Disneyland Paris tickets. One of her life-time goals is to visit every Disney park in the world so we were happy to oblige in her personal bucket-list adventure.

The Birthday girl.
Sparkler candles and ice cream cake!

Workouts have slipped a bit as doctor appointments and post-op recovery interfered with bootcamp. I did discover a 20 minute NordicTrack HIT (high intensity interval) workout that I loved. This is going to be helpful on those days when I am running non-stop. Surely I can find 20 minutes somewhere! Between that and the abbreviated core yoga class, I will have a few options.

I had my first french class via telephone on Friday. It went surprisingly well. I thought it would be difficult to speak for an hour, but we just talked about what was going on in our lives. My instructor, David would correct me as necessary but both he and I were pleased with the outcome. I am really excited about this because speaking has been my weak link. I can read French and write it somewhat better than conversing and this forces the issue. I hope to go back to regular classes once I am back in Michigan. We set up another telephone conversation for next Saturday. I am still doing Duolingo. They added new content not too long ago and I just finished it and am now back to reviewing. I am on day #886. I’ve really surprised myself on my ability to keep the streak intact. I guess when you’re motivated enough, anything is possible.

As far as item #18, I am currently reading “A Dangerous Act of Kindness” and am about 1/4 way through. This is book #7 of my 80 book goal for 2020. We are heading to Florida at the end of the week, and I am looking forward to having a lot more reading time there! It is definitely my preferred way of enjoying my free time. I’m not much for TV but I will say I enjoy picking a series and watching it with Mike. Our current series are: YOU. This show is on Netflix and we are really enjoying it. Great dialogue, clever characters, though the storyline is a bit disconcerting. We binged season 1 and are currently in the middle of season 2. The other series that we’ve been watching lately is The Politician (Netflix). Our daughter recommended it and we binged our way through season 1.

Well, as I said earlier, we are driving to Florida later this week. Mike got the all-clear from his doctor as long as he’s back in time for his re-cast. I will remain in Florida with Kobe and Mike will fly back after a short stay. He plans to fly down a few times while Kobe and I are down there. My daughter Jenna and her 2 pups plan to come down for a long visit too. As she works from home, she can work from anywhere, so why not pool-side? Speaking of pools, our salt-water pool should be done and filled by the time we get down there. I feel awful for Mike though as he has really been looking forward to the pool and hot tub and since he has a cast, this is going to prove difficult for him. He’s a clever guy though, so I’m sure he’ll figure something out.

The last few things for our Florida house include finishing the paint on the newly installed trim around the foyer mirror and selecting furniture for the lanai. We are thinking we want a round dining table with 6 chairs, 2 chaises, 4 chairs as a conversational area and possibly a fire pit table. We are expecting delivery of our barstools shortly after our arrival and I have an appointment to select curtains for the bedrooms and valances for 2 of the bathrooms. We hope to do some decor shopping for artwork and accessories while we are down there too.

I am happy to report that my remaining bucket list items are dwindling but I have selected a few items to work on while I am in Florida. I hope to get a little more accomplished with my family tree(#37), to teach my dog Kobe a few more tricks(#31), to practice random acts of kindness with regularity(#3), to get better at practicing weekly yoga(#50), and daily meditation(#13) and visualization(#29). I will definitely be staying in contact with friends and family(#28) and work on my reading goal for 2020(#18). I’ll continue learning French (#6, #10) and start learning sign language(#15). I also look forward to putting some finishing touches on decorating the Florida house(#16) as well as hosting friends and family there(#20). I will work on re-capturing and maintaining my 10 pound weight-loss (#7). I will work on strengthening my left hip flexor and calf muscle in hopes of being able to do a 5K(#5). I also hope to take advantage of the pilates and yoga classes offered at our clubhouse and I am excited that Jenna has already volunteered to come along. I hope I can convince my good friend Kim to join us too! I can’t wait to explore the Naples, Fort Myers, and Bonita Springs areas. New cities, new adventures! Of course my list has a few remaining things that can only be done in Michigan, so those items will be waiting for me when I return.

Until next week, I hope you all have plenty to keep you busy and that all of your Achilles tendons remain intact. Seriously, that is a monkey wrench you really don’t want to deal with. Have a wonderful week.