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 21: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties: Toronto Edition

Toronto with my love!

OK, you got me. Toronto wasn’t part of my original bucket list. But since we’ve traveled to this lovely city of international culture and beauty, I thought it would only be responsible of me to share our adventures. So here it goes.

First of all we were in the city because my husband, as a high volume user and faculty member for Invisalign, was invited to lecture here. We arrived a day early so we could explore a little. We checked into a lovely corner junior suite at the Marriott Delta. It had big windows on two sides overlooking the city. It was also unique in that the bathroom had a floor to ceiling window that looked out at the foot of the CN Tower. Of course, there was a shade to pull for privacy but it made quite an impression when we first walked in.

Very comfortable room with windows looking out over the city on two sides!
Taken at a bit of an angle, but that is the top of Ripley’s Aquarium and the tall gray column on the right is the base of the CN tower, had I taken the photo a bit more centered you would see more of the tower.

We had plans to head up to the top of the CN tower, but the day was rainy and overcast and there would have been very little to see. Instead we decided to check out the Ripley Aquarium of Canada. It doesn’t appear to be very big from the outside and at a ticket price of $39 per person, I was thinking we might be disappointed. However, because it has lower levels, it actually is a pretty extensive aquarium. It did a lot to educate visitors on the need to be mindful of our wasteful ways to preserve the integrity of our natural resources for generations to come. Mike and I both enjoyed it and spent a few leisurely hours strolling through the exhibits. There were two high points, one was a scuba diver that could be observed feeding stingrays while a narrator discussed these animals. Surprisingly, the diver was also equipped with a headset that allowed her to join in the conversation. The other cool part was a very long tunnel made of glass going through the exhibits, including the predators of the deep. I have been in others like it, but this one was by far the best. It was very long and it actually appeared the fish were flying over our heads, like something from a surrealist painting. It was pretty cool. If you are thinking of a visit, tickets can be bought online and even purchased as a combo with a ticket to the CN Tower.

The ticketing area of the aquarium.

The following day, Mike started his day bright and early and while he was lecturing, I headed out to explore the city. Somehow, my internal radar brought me directly to a mall, just a short .75 miles away. Hmmm, go figure. Eaton Center Mall had some great stores, Nordstrom’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Ann Taylor and even Old Navy. I spent some time strolling around, and following lunch at the Nordstrom’s Bistro, headed back to the hotel, logging plenty of steps and seeing much of downtown along the way. I felt perfectly safe strolling the city by myself. I made it back in time to read a little and then dress for dinner. We were having dinner at Aria with the attendees of the conference, along with the other speakers and Invisalign representatives. We met some lovely Canadian orthodontists and as a bonus, Paul, a Toronto rep (and very nice guy) gave us some awesome suggestions for restaurants to try and areas to visit. Aria, our restaurant for the evening, was also very good. Great appetizers, great dinner, great conversation and a lovely way to end the evening.

Saturday, Mike was up early again, but the lectures were confined to the morning and he was free for lunch and the remainder of the afternoon. We ended up heading to the Distillery District at the recommendations of Paul, enjoying lunch at Mill Street Distillery. I had some yummy crab cakes and Mike ordered a chicken pot pie and an unusual orange flavored beer whose name escapes me. Then we did some shopping and strolled through a few of the many art galleries before heading over to Balzac’s for coffee.

Distillery district. We saw several wedding parties taking photos while we were there. It was a visually rich environment!
Mill Street Brewery, cool vibe, good food and drinks!
Lots of art galleries and unique installations that made it a popular spot for instagrammers and photographers alike.
Funky coffee shop. We sat upstairs on the balcony and enjoyed a leisurely latte.
Cool chandelier in the coffee shop.

After our Distillery area adventures we headed out to dinner via Uber to Patria. Patria was a small plates Tappas restaurant, tucked away just a little off the street, again recommended by Paul. It was amazing, though I didn’t navigate the menu as expertly as I’d hoped. In my defense, it wasn’t in English and I ordered two dishes that both basically ended up being fried cheese. One was porcini mushroom with manchego and the other, goat cheese and figs. Delicious! Mike ordered three things, spicy meatballs, a savory shrimp, and bacon wrapped dates. All were yummy. I also tried a new white wine Torres Viña Esmeralda, Cataluyna. Just as an aside, my favorite wine, if you followed that particular post, was a Michigan wine called Shady Lane made with Moscat grapes. However, as it was from a small vineyard, it was produced in small batches and it is no longer available. I would say this wine is another winner. It is a well-balanced Spanish wine, and it looks like it is available on the open market at a price point in the neighborhood $15 dollars a bottle (which is one of my favorite neighborhoods!) Though at the restaurant it was $13 a glass, very typical of the general mark-up on wines at restaurants, I suppose. This meal didn’t do much for my weight loss attempt and it was difficult to quantify what was exactly in it to determine calories. Whatever it was, it was worth every bite! Not to make excuses, but we had a lot to celebrate. Mike did a great job with his speaking engagement and they suggested at a future point they’d love him to come to Vancouver to lecture. We’d love to see that part of the Canada so I hope it comes to fruition. We were also celebrating getting a closing date on our Florida house! Very exciting! 

Go through the archway and head towards the back, following a lantern path to the restaurant.
Patria, I wish I had taken a photo inside, it had a cool and romantic vibe. For Mike’s cocktail, my glass of wine and our 5 small plates the bill came to $135 Canadian. It’s definitely a nice place to celebrate a special occasion!

Sunday was the warmest of the weather we encountered, edging up to the low 60’s, most of the time the weather had been in the 50’s and overcast. We headed out to Lady Marmalade, a little restaurant that was recommended as a brunch spot for locals. It was about 3 miles from our hotel, a short Uber ride away. It was a rather small place, very narrow, just one table wide, but two floors. Very unassuming from the outside. The line was up the stairs by the time we arrived at 9am. It moved quickly though and it was worth the wait. Interestingly enough, they only prepared eggs two ways, scrambled or poached. I tried poached, never having had eggs prepared that way before and they were quite good. Mike had a waffle with fresh fruit that looked luscious. The serving size was adequate and the service was very good.

Very unassuming exterior, danish modern interior with lots of light wood. Great menu, great find.

After breakfast, because the restaurant was bordering on Chintatown, we decided to do a little exploring. There were a lot of fresh fruit, flower and vegetable open air stands. We walked almost all the way back to the hotel.

After checking out at 12 noon we headed to the CN tower, which held the title of the tallest free-standing structure in the world for 32 years, until 2007. We were able to pre-purchase tickets through our concierge to avoid the line, which ended up being a smart decision. They offered discount coupons as well, which would have saved 15% if you didn’t mind having to stand in line for your ticket, but because we were pressed for time, we opted to pre-purchase tickets through our hotel to expedite things. We purchased the ticket that takes you all the way up to the top, all 1,465 feet. There is another less expensive option that allows you to go up fairly high, about 1,135 feet. This area is the one with the glass floor. I was surprised to see an option for adventure seekers,  you could walk out on the out ledge on the 2nd highest level, 1, 135 feet above the ground. You’re hooked to a rail with a carabiner and walk around the ledge before leaning over dangling from the edge. We were able to observe this from above. I wish we had more time, I might have tried it. One of the people doing it was celebrating her 60th birthday! Mike assured me this is NOT what he wants for his upcoming birthday. Me, on the other hand, if we are ever back in Toronto, I’d love to try this! We had planned to stroll around near the hotel, but it had started raining so we decided to head to the airport early instead. We took an Uber which cost about $40 from our hotel. We had planned to go to the Delta Sky lounge but unfortunately it wasn’t located in our terminal. Again, a big THANK YOU to Paul for hitting it out of the park on every recommendation. 

In other bucket list items, I managed to read a few more books. I am currently on book #59. I read “Crazy Cock” a book by Henry Miller given to me by a friend, which was unremarkable and in fact the language was clumsy at times, but what distinguishes it is that it characterizes the process of a writer finding his voice. Henry Miller was a censored author in the sixties, his work was ultimately vindicated and subsequently  allowed to be printed in the United States. This book apparently is supposed to epitomize his early writing. I want to read “Tropic Of Capricorn” which is written in what ultimately came to be known as his “voice” and compare it to this early work. I also read “The Lost Girls of Paris” while in Toronto,  an excellent read.  I am currently reading “Sold on Monday,” by the author of “The Orphan Train.” I hope this book is just as good!

Excellent work of historical fiction based on factual happenings during World War II.

In other items, I have done one more Nordictrack workout before we left for Toronto, an interval workout around Lake Bled, Slovenia. I am still deciding on the next series of workouts I want to try.  Yoga work outs continue at home, along with meditation and visualization. French class continues as does my uninterrupted Duolingo streak. 

This is where I will leave it for now. I am writing this sitting at the Toronto airport waiting for our flight to board. Looking forward to landing back in Michigan and getting back into my normal routine and the opportunity to chip away at a few more items on my list. But of course,  I am ever hopeful another adventure awaits us all just around the bend. 

Week 11: Farewell to My Fabulous Fifties – The Bathroom Edition

Hello on this beautiful Monday. I am not sure what the weather is doing but it is a beautiful Monday to me because my bathroom is done! There are no painters, plumbers, contractors or workers of any kind. As nice as they all are, it’s great to have our home all to ourselves again! In fact I think I’ll do a celebratory lap in my jammies!

So this edition, week 11, will primarily focus on our bathroom reveal. Our home is 21 years old and the bathroom is original to the house. The before photos don’t show it well, but the tile was cracked in spots and the space was in need of a general update. Our contractor Tony did a great job from start to finish and I would happily recommend him without reservation. He was honest, hardworking and always showed up on time. He was also priced fairly. We really felt lucky! We are delighted with the way it turned out. This bathroom is used as our back-up bathroom when time is tight and we both need to shower and it also serves as a guest bathroom. We had a new steam sauna installed. Our old one had been broken for quite a while, so we are really looking forward to putting that sauna to good use. So here are a few before and after photos.

Surprisingly, we found this vanity at Lowes and it was exactly what we had in mind. It came with the sink and marble vanity top. We decided to eliminate the wall mirrors and just place one individual mirror above the vanity.
I stripped off the wallpaper (not fun) and we opted for wainscoting along the walls with a tile border running around the room. It also serves as a backsplash to the vanity.
We opted for a rain shower and a hand held shower. We had a niche built in for bath products.
Side view entering from the guest room.
Hand-held shower in addition to rain shower and bench for using the steam sauna.

I scoured Instagram for quite a while to collect all the bathroom images I liked and looked for commonalities between the photos to help make decisions. We opted to go from a beige palate to a gray and green palate to coordinate with our recent basement remodel. The green in the photo actually doesn’t translate well. Our paint color was Seasalt from Sherwin Williams with Extra-white for trim and wainscoting. Our tile is a linen-look from Virginia tile with coordinating Agate Bari Pearl with variations for trim and shower floor. Our plumbing fixtures were from Builders Plumbing and Heating Supply and Ferguson Plumbing, both in Ann Arbor. Now that it is complete, I am so happy we undertook the project. It took 3 1/2 weeks from start to finish but that includes a week where nothing was done, the contractor was finished but we were waiting for the painter and shower door. The shower door had to be custom made due to sizing, and was done by Mirror Image. The artwork on the wall adjacent to the vanity was a watercolor we purchased years ago in Saugatuck, which I had re-matted in gray. I found the Bless Our Nest mixed media piece at Bed Bath and Beyond. If you want any names of people or products, don’t hesitate to reach out.

So, that’s a wrap for our bathroom redo! But because owning a house provides a revolving carousel of never-ending projects, our next few undertakings will be having our wood floors refinished and replacing the laundry room countertop. Onward and upward.

In other news, I have found THE wine! Many thanks to Amanda, a member of my husband’s office team, for sending it my way! I have been trying wines from Italy, France, California and Washington, but I should have known that deep down I am a Michigan girl at heart. This 2016 Muscat is from Shady Lane Cellars located in Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula. It’s described as elegant and fresh with aromas and flavors of orange and apple blossoms, tangerine and a clean vibrant finish. It is not too sweet and strikes just the right crisp note for my palate. I still love me some Grand Traverse Late Harvest Riesling but this will provide a nice alternative when I’m not in the mood for sweet. I enjoyed it with barbecue chicken, fresh corn and a salad made with produce from our local farm-stand (shout out to Budd’s Produce). And as a further bonus, I know I will always remember the name of this wine because my family nickname is Lane. I find it pretty humorous or perhaps poetic justice that its name is Shady Lane. I believe I can confidently check off item # 46 on my list (find a new favorite wine) I also believe I see a road trip up to Shady Lane Cellars in my future!

Shady Lane Muscat
Chicken was still on the grill while we enjoyed yummy salad and corn from Budd’s Produce in Belleville. Shady Lane Muscat was the perfect accompaniment to this summer meal.

Moving on, my Duolingo streak remains intact at 712 days. French class resumes after summer hiatus on Monday. I’m still meditating using the Headspace app. I’ve even tried a walking meditation which I liked. I’ve done yoga using my Nordic Track and I’ve managed to squeeze in a total of 30 workouts on my way to 50, including a walk along a Hawaiian beach, and a stroll through both Antarctica and Vienna. I am way ahead of schedule. I’ve read a few more books (Unsheltered, Year One, The Education of Dixie Dupree). Very different reads but all were enjoyable. I am currently reading John Grisham’s new book, The Reckoning, which will be book #43. I am 84% of the way to my goal of 50 for the calendar year, and 14 books ahead of schedule. This will give me a cushion when I dive back into the last book in the Poldark Series, which is entails reading 688 pages of very small print and always seems to slow me down!

We are getting close to the debut of our dog Kobe’s new tricks. (yes, I said tricks with an s!) Turns out you CAN teach an old dog a new trick …or two! In looking over my list, there are still quite a few things that can ONLY be done in warmer weather, so I need to keep plugging away at them. We head up north next week where I hope to check a few more items off of my bucket list and take a few photos of the lovely upper peninsula to share with all of you. Make it a great and productive week and like Kobe, why not challenge yourself to try something new this week too? As always, if you want to check out the original bucket list here is a link to the blog post. Make it a great week. Now where’d I leave that wine glass?

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Week 8: Farewell to My Fabulous 50’s

Summer on the lake. Backyard views.

Well I am eight weeks in and feeling pretty satisfied with my progress so far. The check marks are flying and the bucket-list items that require ongoing commitment are also doing well. As Mike was off this week, we had a little more time to accomplish some of the things on our summer wish list (and my bucket-list). Fun fact: I thought we were approaching the midway point of summer, so I googled it. And guess what? Summer is not half over until August 7th. We still have a lot of summer left! Doesn’t that make you feel better? So let’s get on with it, shall we?

The bathroom is rounding home plate. Tony, our contractor extraordinaire and jack of all trades came on Saturday to finish up. The last items needed will be a custom glass door, which is scheduled to be measured by Al, someone Tony recommended, on Tuesday. It also needs painting which I’ve lined up for Tuesday. I picked several paint colors and we narrowed it down to the top two contenders. We painted swatches on the wall and have decided to go with Sherwin Williams Seasalt. Did we make the right choice? Let me know what you think! The wainscoting will be Extra-white, also by Sherwin Williams. The last thing we need are all of the accessories, towels, wash cloths, waste baskets, artwork, i.e. the fun stuff! I’ll wait to share bathroom pictures though until the final product.

Unfortunately the true colors didn’t translate well. They are a bit lighter than this appears.

I also used my herb garden to prepare a dish this week, Skinny Teriakyi Pork Chops topped with a few chives from the garden. It’s from a recipe I printed off the internet a few years ago. It was yummy! I wish I could attribute the recipe to someone however, despite an exhaustive internet search, I couldn’t relocate this exact recipe, just variations of it. Here is the recipe:

Skinny Pineapple Teriakyi Pork Chops

20 oz can Pineapple Slices in 100% juice, (reserve 1/2 cup juice)

1/4 cup less sodium soy sauce

2 TBSP brown sugar

2 TBSP rice vinegar

1/4 tsp ground ginger

4 -40z boneless pork chops, trimmed of fat

1 tsp fresh chives, chopped

  1. In a small bowl prepare marinade. Whisk together pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar and ground ginger.
  2. Place pork chops in a large resealable bag and cover with marinade. Seal bag and place pork chops in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight. If possible, turn bag every hour or so to evenly cover pork cops with marinade.
  3. Remove pork chops from bag. DO NOT DISCARD MARINADE.
  4. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, bring marinade to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer sauce for 15-17 minutes until sauce thickens, making sure to stir sauce frequently. After sauce has thickened, remove from heat and place in a small dish. You will use this marinade sauce while grilling pork chops and pineapple.
  5. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Lightly coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray.
  6. Place pork chops on grill and brush often with marinade sauce while cooking. Cook pork chops on each side for 4-5 minutes or until cooked through.
  7. Delicately add pineapple slices to grill and cook for 1-2 minutes on both sides.
  8. Let pork chops rest for 2-4 minus before serving.
  9. To serve, place a grilled pineapple on top of each pork chop and sprinkle with chives.

Serving size is 1 pork chop/1 pineapple slice, 268 calories

Skinny Teriakyi Pork Chops topped with garden chives and a side of my “special” coleslaw.

Yoga lakeside was ah-mazing! (bucket list item #50) Thanks to my sister-in-law Sharon and my niece Ashley, our instructors, for the excellent start to our day. Thanks also to Katherine for sharing her beautiful lake-front with us. Class started at 10:30am and it was H*O*T*. It felt like what I imagine hot yoga must feel like. Sweaty. Despite the heat, it was an amazing class. I know the heat seemed to improve my flexibility, but the best part for me was, as we were resting in savasana, a gentle cleansing rain came and cooled us off. Thank you Mother Nature!

Favorite way to do yoga: Outdoors with friends.

We tried a new restaurant, San Morello (bucket-list item #11). This little gem is located in the new Shinola Hotel in downtown Detroit. We brought Mike’s stepmom, Louise, out to lunch there for her birthday. The atmosphere was lovely and everyone’s meals were delicious. We ordered 2 dips with bread for our starters: Sheep’s milk ricotta with hot honey and garlic and also Italian butter bean wild mushroom sott’aceto. Both were yummy though I especially liked the ricotta dip. Louise ordered a traditional breaded eggplant al forno, (Melanzane for you Italians out there.) I had a classic tomato, mozzarella, basil wood-fired pizza, and Mike ordered Tuna tartare as an entree. Our waitress was very good and I would absolutely go back. We opted to sit inside as it was extremely hot but they do offer patio seating and I’ll bet it’s lovely on a cool summer evening. Here is a link to their website if you want to check it out for yourself. https://www.sanmorello.com

San Morello. You can see the patio dining to the left.
Lunch with the birthday girl.

After lunch, we walked around the city a bit and discovered this cute little coffee shop, Madcap Coffee, next to The Brakeman. It had large windows that open in the summer, allowing you to place your order street-side. We ordered their summer blend, which we enjoyed before heading home.

Awaiting our coffee. Bonus: a good place to people-watch.

Newsflash on the wine front: I may have a contender here for new favorite wine. I gave the waitress at San Morello my likes and dislikes and, after conferring with the bartender, she suggested I try a white wine from central Italy, Verdicchio Classico Castelli di Jesi Felici 2017, Marche. It was $12 by the glass, and I was able to find it online from $14-$20 a bottle depending on the vendor. If you, like me, prefer less dry white wines, with crisp fruit notes, you might like this one. Currently, it is my top contender for new favorite wine!

Top contender so far for new favorite wine!

Bucket-list item #43 was a sunrise breakfast on the pontoon. Mission accomplished. We got up early on July 4th before the lake gets busy and had a lovely little sausage/egg/English muffin sandwich with fresh pineapple orange juice, and fruit. I hope we are able to do this a few more times this summer. What an awesome way to start the day!

Breakfast on the boat. Don’t mind if I do!

On Sunday, we had planned to tackle that bike ride to Lake Eerie but we decided to take a raincheck. Literally. Rain would have affected much of our ride and why make it unpleasant when we don’t have to?

As you can see, it was a busy week. Hope you all had a happy and safe July 4th. Until next week, happy trails!

Week 6 Of Farewell to My Fabulous 50’s Tour

Finally some beautiful summer weather!

The weather has finally been beautiful and we’ve been busy with yard work and cleaning the boat. Of course, when your boat is clean it’s mandatory to take it out for a spin, because, why wouldn’t you? In addition to the chores and pleasures that come along with the nice weather, the bathroom renovation continues to occupy much of my time. It is coming along well and our contractor, Tony, has remained true to his word. He shows up and stays all day and does the work. We anticipate being done in about another 1 1/2 weeks. The drywall is repaired and ready for sanding. On Monday, he continues with the plumbing. Excited for each new phase! Here are a few pictures of the work in progress.

Work in progress: mirror removed, all cabinets, plumbing fixtures and tile removed. This is the “yikes” phase.
Shower stripped of tile
Drywall repaired and ready for sanding

I am excited to report that one of my herb gardens is thriving. It looks and smells great! The other, I’m afraid will need transplanting. As it happens, this pot has no drainage and the plants were too wet with all the rain we’ve had. The chives, a sad little cilantro and a single spindly twig of dill are the only survivors. I will transplant them but I am trying to decide whether or not to replace the herbs I’ve lost. On a happier note, I did harvest some basil and made a mini caprese salad as a side with our BLTS one evening. You guys, if you haven’t tried Rachel Ray’s Drizzle Reduction with Balsamic Vinegar, you are missing out. So yummy!

Thriving! Parsley, basil, sage, and rosemary.
Lost a couple plants and the survivors don’t appear very healthy. Need to give this guy a transplant and then a little intensive care. (Why do cardiac nurses always seem to revert back to familiar terminology? Or maybe it’s just me.)
Mini caprese salad with fresh basil and balsamic reduction drizzle

I have to admit that the recent sky-diving plane accident in Hawaii has me a little spooked. I’ve not scheduled my jump yet, but have been perusing Youtube watching videos to prepare myself. After a bit of reflection and a good self-pep talk, I have decided I just need to do it! I will be jumping tandem instead of solo and plan to use Skydive Tecumseh. If anyone has any feedback on them, I would appreciate hearing it.

On the language front, my French class is now on hiatus until end of July. C’est la vie. I continue with daily Duolingo and have maintained my streak, currently at 675 days. I hope to meet up with a few of my classmates at least once over this break.

In the search for a new wine, I sampled and loved a Washington Riesling (Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select Sweet Riesling, Columbia Valley, vintage 2017) which was delicious. Almost all of the rieslings I’ve sampled have been very good. And fun fact: I’ve learned that the high sugar content of rieslings make them age well. So despite many white wines “going bad,” sweeter rieslings apparently will still do well if left on the shelf for a while. Good to know but somehow they never end up on the shelf very long around here. I’ve come to the conclusion that I would like to find a different varietal, OTHER than Reisling, which I already know I love. All suggestions are welcome!

A comfy chair, good wine and a good book. #winning

I am in the process of teaching Kobe a new trick (#31 on the bucket list). This resonates with me because it is pretty emblematic of my whole blog, teaching an old dog a new trick. He is a quick study! I’m teaching him to play dead (which he’s almost perfected except for the telltale tail wag). He’s a clever guy! Now we are working on getting him to jump through a hoop, thanks to some tips from my bootcamp coach, Shirley, who is also a dog breeder and trainer extraordinaire! She knows her stuff because we are making progress daily. I will share a video of both tricks once we’ve perfected them.

My Nordic track work-outs continue. I am doing a bootcamp series on the beach in Bora Bora. I have completed 17 work outs of my goal of 50 for the year, which I believe puts me 10 ahead of schedule. My favorite moment so far is when a group of dogs joined the trainer on the beach while she was running. It felt spontaneous and real and made me smile while running, which almost never happens. Have I mentioned I don’t care for running? I also did a simple yoga stretch class at home to fulfill my weekly goal.

Dogs! They were “fishing” in between running along with the trainer.

I am on book # 35 of my 50 book goal for the 2019 calendar year, which is 11 books ahead of schedule. I finished book #11 of the Poldark series and am going to read a few summer reads before tackling the last book of the series. I finished The Right Time by Danielle Steel. (Thanks April) Ms. Steel is not an epic writer, but she is a good story-teller. I am currently reading a book using Overdrive from one of my favorite authors, Lisa See, Island of Sea Women. I just started it last evening. So far, so good. (Thanks Kelley for putting it on my radar.)

So, that’s it for this week. I need to get that skydive on the schedule. I’ll just keep reminding myself that growth won’t occur in my comfort zone. Let’s hope this beautiful weather continues. Make it a great week and I hope you all continue to find new ways to grow and thrive.

Week 5 Of Farewell to My Fabulous 50’s Tour

This week has been a busy one! Most of my time and effort has been directed towards our kitchen and bathroom renovations. I am happy to report we are making great progress! Much of the kitchen has been done. The only things left to do in the kitchen are to paint the shiplap and to accessorize it to suit the new vibe. Our old cottage kitchen pastel accessories just don’t suit the space. I have to go on record as saying our contractor Tony has been awesome so far. He’s on time, on budget and a hard worker. Mike and I are very pleased with the results. In the kitchen, he put in a glass tile backsplash and a new sink and faucet as well as added shiplap to the front of the breakfast bar area. He accomplished all of this in two and a half days. My job was to be on top of purchasing the sink, faucet, tile and grout. I picked out some new cabinet hardware and Mike and I replaced those ourselves. Overall, we are delighted.

Love my new glass tile backsplash.

Next up is the bathroom space. Can I just say how much I dislike stripping wallpaper! YUCK! What a job. Happy to report that part is finished. After a mishap with a back-ordered tile selection, we finally arrived at our final decision. We are going with a linen look tile and a mosaic accent tile in grays, whites and creams. Mike and I also hauled all 900 pounds (really, 900 pounds!!) of tile down the back steps. He did the bulk of the heavy lifting. I forgot how many little decisions go into a bathroom remodel. I’ve picked out a light fixture and towel bars. Mike and I ended up going to a specialty shop for the shower heads though. We wanted a rain shower and a hand held shower as well as body sprays which we just weren’t finding at the big box stores. Tony returns on Tuesday to start in on the bathroom. Can’t wait for it all to go in and to share the final result with everyone!

Wall paper stripping was not my favorite thing to do. It was hard and I have the blisters and calluses to prove it!
Tile selections.

In other bucket-list items, my random act of kindness for this week was letting an elderly gentleman with just a few items in his cart ahead of me. My Duolingo streak continues with day #670 and crown level at # 817. I’ve jumped a level up to Saphire and my new goal is just to stay in the top 10 on the leader board, which has been challenging. I continue with my French class which is coming to a close this week. My teacher, David, is taking a hiatus until the end of July and classes will resume then for me. In the meantime, I will continue listening to Pimsleur French V in my car and plan to review all we’ve learned in class.

I’ve done a couple more Nordic Track work-outs. One was a stroll along the Seine and the other a walk along a beach in Bora Bora. That puts me up to 12 out of a goal of 50. Daily meditation continues, using the Headspace App, as does visualization.Visualization must work because I have been visualizing ourselves in our Florida home and we just got word that they are breaking ground in two weeks instead of August. We are psyched about that! I also did a relaxing yoga flow via Youtube. We had to postpone our lake-side yoga class but looking forward to being able to do it soon!

Strolling along the Seine and later a view of Notre Dame.

With my reading goal, I am still on Poldark series book #11 The Twisted Sword but happy to report I am rounding home base with a book on deck (thanks to April!). My new recipe for this month was again from The Doctor’s Diet, a chicken vegetable stir-fry which Mike really enjoyed. As usual, I’ve altered it a bit to suit our tastes. Recipe to follow.

Chicken veggie stir-fry with a Rosé.

Chicken Veggie Stir Fry

Olive Oil cooking spray

1 pound chicken cut into bite size pieces

1 yellow pepper cut into 1 inch strips

1 red pepper cut into 1 inch strips

1 cup broccoli florets, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 cup fat-free, reduced sodium beef broth

2 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce

1 TBSP chili paste (more if you like spicy)

Spray skillet with olive oil cooking spray. Over medium high heat, stir fry meat until cooked through. Remove to a plate. Turn off the heat and spray pan with more olive oil spray. Over medium heat stir-fry the veggies and cook until crisp-tender. Combine the broth, soy sauce and chili paste, stir into vegetables, add meat back into the pan and heat for 2-3 minutes. Top with cashews. Make 4 servings.

Adapted from The Doctor’s Diet by Dr. Travis Stork

I’ve reached out to friends and family this week and enjoyed a Fathers’ Day barbecue at my parents. Have I mentioned my mom is amazing and hosts our family almost every single holiday? Now I have!

I am still working on finding that new favorite wine. I tried two. Both sounded promising but neither delivered. The Rosé was in a super cute bottle with a rose on the bottom and a glass stopper but that was where it peaked. Despite the fact that I generally like Rosés, I really didn’t care for this wine. The second wine, San Angelo, an Italian Pinot Grigio, sounded promising in it’s description: fresh fruit-forward bouquet with notes of pear, banana, peach, anise and honey; rich and full-bodied with a long finish. How could I say no to a banana note. I’ve never seen a wine mention banana before, so intriguing! But…uhmmm..no. Not the one. I didn’t taste much in the way of fruit notes, but of course, my palate is not really that developed. I do, however, know what I like! The quest continues. 

Rose bottom of the bottle was the best thing about this wine.
Notes of banana? Nope, at least not for me.

Unfortunately the jet-ski is STILL sitting in the drive-way. Of course, whenever we have time to do it, it’s raining! Maybe next week.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Father’s Day! We brought Mike to brunch at Parc, one of our favorite restaurants. It is located in Campus Martius, Detroit and featured some great menu items and an amazing vocalist. I wish I knew her name (think Jewel).

I am anticipating next week focusing primarily on the bathroom remodel but I do hope to squeeze a few more things in. From our family to yours, we hope you all had an amazing Fathers’ Day! Until next week.

Happy Fathers’ Day from our family to yours!