Farewell to Summer

Our summer here is officially over.  Fall begins tomorrow. The high temperatures will linger into October but the nights will begin to cool. In November  we will experience our “fall” in Southern California.  From now until then we will have dry dusty days without rain, Santa Ana winds, and abundant sunshine. The palm trees will remain green, native plants will flourish, hillsides will continue to brown,  leaves will drop and blow in the wind, but a few splashes of fall colors maybe found.

Summer was wonderful.  Although we spent more time at home than usual, we enjoyed many opportunities to get outdoors and appreciate summer. Rather than bore you with details,  I decided to showcase a few highlights and allow the pictures to tell most of the story.

A visit to Berkeley and the University of California

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Exploring Berkeley and visiting with family.

Visiting a winery near Gilroy, California

Salinas, California-Home of John Steinbeck.

Beautiful Monterey Bay

Camping in Big Sur and exploring the California coastline.

Laughing in amazement at sun bathing sea lions.

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A Phoenix sunrise. One of two trips we made to Arizona.

Who knew Arizona could be so green?

We loved our visit to Oro Valley north of Tuscon, Arizona…

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…and even enjoyed the rain!

Our small garden yielded us tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash, and strawberries.

I worked on a few sewing and craft projects.

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We spent a great deal of time with family, friends, and just hanging out.

(and of course eating and shopping!)

So while we say farewell to the Summer of 2016…

I am looking forward to what comes next!

How was your summer?

(or winter-depending on where you live)

Boys and Girls

Isn’t it interesting how families seem to have more boys than girls, more daughters than sons, or more guys than gals? In our blended family we have 4 girls and 2 boys, 4 grandsons and 7 granddaughters, 1 great granddaughter and 2 more on the way (due in April and May). Thommmee is 1 of  5 brothers and 2 sisters, I am 1 of 4 sisters and 2 brothers.

In our more local/ immediate family we seem be surrounded by girls. As a result, I spend time with the girls in efforts of cooking, sewing, shopping, etc. We all spend time together camping, vacationing, playing games, barbequing,  beach trips, and a multitude of birthday parties. When it comes to doing ‘guy’ things, however, I have often felt that I fell short. I recently decided to make more of an effort to participate in some of the things that they enjoy. Surprisingly (or not) we actually ended up having a really good time.

A few weekends ago my 16 year old grandson and I made plans to attend an outdoors/sportsman event near me.  We were both really excited to spend this time together but honestly I was a bit apprehensive that I would disappoint him or he would be bored hanging out with grandma. Although we are very close and enjoy a very special bond, we are usually a part of a group since he has become a teenager. He lives about 30 miles away and this would also be his first trip managing the congested Southern California freeways by himself. On a Friday afternoon he headed my way as soon as he got out of school and arrived at my house about 3:30. I had decided to just go with whatever I would normally do so we quickly got busy making strawberry jam. Now, I realize this might not be a 16 year old boy’s idea of fun but I figured it was still hanging out with grandma so…. It was fun and he learned a thing or two about making jam.  Since it was Valentine’s Day weekend, we took a jar of fresh jam and decorated it for him to give to his girlfriend ( along with his other special mementos).

While I cleaned up, he went outside with Poppa (Thommmee) to barbeque some steaks and veggies. I made potatoes and garlic bread.  After dinner we settled down to play some board games and cards. We baked brownies. We talked. We laughed.  Eventually Poppa was ready for bed but we sat up and talked well past my  bedtime. We really shared with each other and I will treasure that evening forever.

Early the next morning the three of us were up laughing and talking over pancakes and bacon (which is enough to make anyone happy-right?) We didn’t invite Poppa or anyone else to go along on this trip so the two of us headed off to the event. Now, I don’t know what I expected, maybe a bunch of dudes in overalls chewing tobacco or some other foolish notions of what hunters, gun carrying survivalists might look like (sorry if I offended anyone here-I am somewhat a sheltered urban raised girl ). Anyway, it was mostly men (hey ladies, the ultimate place to meet a guy maybe?), normal looking people, a few women, and even a few families. Nonetheless, I am fairly certain I was the only proud grandma accompanied by her handsome 16 year old grandson. We had a great time but for me this was a one time event (just the show not the grandson).

Encouraged by this adventure, the following weekend I offered to take Thommmee to the Gold and Treasure show at the Fairplex (formally know as the LA Fairgrounds). He loves to watch all of those treasure hunting, prospecting, gold digging type shows so he was all in! (maybe this is where I got that stereo-type idea of the outdoorsmen?) They were selling all types of  machines, gizmos,  and every sort of prospecting gear you could imagine. They even sold dirt and a dirt of the month club membership so you could pan for gold in the privacy of your own home…really? Again, mostly men but more women and families at this event…..normal people! I think get these ideas from the shows Thommmee watches. They must pick extremes types to keep the shows interesting.

OK. I tried. I love the outdoors. If you read my blog you know I love to camp, I sleep in a tent and cook outdoors. These two weekends were a bit of a stretch for me but these men  appreciated my willingness to try something new and I got to spend time with these great guys.  I am not complaining at all. Next weekend our church is having a ladies afternoon tea which I will be attending. Not sure this is a fit for me either. I like my jeans, sneakers and bracelets. Perhaps I am someplace in between but I would like to keep an open mind.

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Not just another road trip!

Whew! We just returned from a whirlwind 9 day road trip. Our goals were to visit a cousin in Northern Idaho and to see Yellowstone National Park. We kept our plans somewhat flexible and managed to see at least parts of California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada with over 2,000 miles driven. It was a marvelous trip but I am exhausted.  I have decided to share just a few highlights of our trip and allow the pictures to do most of the talking.

Mono Lake, California

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You can see the effects of the drought clearly here.

A night in Boise, Idaho at an adorable guest house

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A 2 night visit with family in Sand Point, Idaho.

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Lake Pend ‘Oreille

The cousins lovely home on 28 acres

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We really appreciated their hospitality.

Next stop…

Yellowstone National Park

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Geysers and Paint Pots dot many parts of the park.

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WOW!

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Buffalo sighting!

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I didn’t know about this gem.

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A view of the valley taken from the canyon edge.

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Impossible to express the vastness, diversity, and beauty of this place with just a few pictures.

Our Kamper Cabin located at Flagg Ranch was just outside the park. A new take on camping but very convenient. Just the basics.

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Possibly my favorite of all was The Tetons

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View of The Tetons from Lake Jenny

We came across this quaint chapel in the middle of Wyoming

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Looks more like an old ranch.

Of course I could go on and on but I will spare you. I know we all have busy lives, blogs to write and blogs to read. I do appreciate you taking a moment to stop by for a snapshot of our trip.

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Until next time…

Summertime!

I have been a bit absent and distracted from my blog for the past few weeks. I have tried to keep up with my favorite bloggers but may may have missed a few of you. It might take me some time to catch up.

What have I been up to????

Well…

I have been granddaughter and doggie sitting for a few weeks.

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 (while their parents have been in Alaska!)

A few beach trips…

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 …and poolside with grandkids or my swimming buddy.

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Giving sewing lessons…

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My recent project of sewing 150 zippered bags is complete and they are now finding new homes across the globe.

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Making more strawberry jam.

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(seems I give it away almost as fast as I make it…or eat it!)

 Hitting a few yard sales. Picked up this great rattan chair.

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 (One of the cats thinks we bought it just for her)

Planning a trip to Idaho via Yellowstone and the Tetons later this month. (Did I say road trip?)

 Heading to Big Bear Lake in the local mountains for a 3 day camping trip.

(No campfires allowed due to the drought and high fire danger)

 Catching up on some housework

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 with a little help.

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 And summer has only just begun!

The Great Date Adventure

You have heard young women say, “don’t hate me because I am beautiful?” Perhaps it is said tongue in cheek or as a joke or maybe because they really believe it-or maybe they are!  I have no idea. No, I am not beautiful. Today, I am asking you not to hate me because I have the most marvelous husband ever! People often ask me how I got so lucky to get ‘one of those’ or does he have a brother? Yes, he has four brothers, all taken. Yes, I am lucky. My theory is that after spending sixteen years married to the wrong man, God decided to bless me with the right one. All I can say is after twenty-seven years-he has only improved with time.  Please don’t hate me.

Marriage, like most relationships, takes work. We don’t take our good marriage for granted-we invest time and energy into it!  Not only do we find common interests, we have friends and outside  interests also. This helps keep us fresh and interesting (we hope) so, when our church offered a couples event, we decided to take part in-

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The event was arranged by Building Bridges, a local Christian Counseling Center.  Selecting a date in the city, desert, mountains, or beach, you were given an envelope with your location which included restaurants, sights, museums, parks, maps, and ideas in which you could work with. The packet  also had questions to be used throughout the day in order to connect and open conversation. Now I know many men might go running at the thought of having to open up and talk but it was actually fun-I promise!

We picked up our packet the night before and found a destination very familiar to us

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Huntington Beach, California

Although I was a bit disappointed at the particular beach that was selected (since our kids live in the area), we decided to just go with it and see what happened.  Bright and early that morning we set off on the familiar 45 minute drive. It  was a perfect morning and our first surprise of the day was this marvelous sunrise.

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Once arriving, breakfast was our first mission (especially since we were caffeine deprived). We immediately headed to the pier and on to a cute diner located at the end.

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It was early so we only passed a few fisherman and walkers.

The suffers were already out

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and it was a glorious morning on the water.

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We stopped to appreciate the early morning quiet and then…

Breakfast!

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It was so early we had the place to ourselves…

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…and picked a window seat to enjoy the unobstructed ocean view.

After breakfast we walked the shops and main street. Still early, most of the shops were closed.

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 We decided to sit in the sand for awhile and soak up the sun…

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…while we opened our packet of questions.

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The questions were non threatening like,  “What is the best piece of advice you have ever received” and ‘When did you realize you had fallen in love with me?” Fun but not deep enough to make a husband go running for the hills (or throw himself into the ocean)!!

Soon enough the stores opened so off we went. Since it was a date, Thommmee humored me while I tried on shoes at the Croc  shop.

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If you have never been in one of their stores or know much about Crocs, they offer so much more than  their signature clog. The shoes are so comfy and I needed a new pair of flip-flops anyway. I don’t know how it is in most places but in Southern California you can wear flip-flops most of the year! Oops…I  got so excited about the shoes, I digressed. Back to the date!

The Surf Museum was not open until noon but we did venture into a quaint little antique shop.

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A street faire and farmers market was setting up and we spent some time touring the vendors.

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Although the sun was out it was a bit chilly near the water.  We decided to drive  to Bolsa Chica Beach which is about 5 miles north of Huntington Beach. I had packed a light lunch. After a short (and chilly) lunch on the beach, we changed gears and drove up the coast to Long Beach. Parking at the marina (and staying in the car this time)

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we pulled out the lunch questions.

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The lunch questions were a bit different but still designed to spark conversation. We felt  questions like, ” If you didn’t have to work how would you spend your time?’ were directed at younger couples but we did our best to go along. By then we were ready to head home knowing that if we waited much longer the traffic would be horrible.  After we got home we kicked back for awhile then resumed our date with-you guessed it-a game of Scrabble on the patio while barbecuing ribs for dinner…

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 …and dinner questions.

The day ended with two tired but happy people.

On Sunday, there was a luncheon for the dating adventurers.  As I looked around the room at the other couples, I realized we were the oldest couple there. Instead of making me feel bad, I felt good that our marriage was important enough for us to continue to keep it alive and growing. The therapist who organized the dates was there. He talked about marriage and the commitment it takes from  both. After chatting with each other and listening to his encouragements and thoughts, he passed out (what he called) ‘A recreational enjoyment inventory’ to encourage couples to find interests that they might share together. It was quite an extensive list with things like canoeing, archery, watching sports events,  hiking, cards, coin collecting, and things I never would have thought of!

Even if you don’t have an opportunity for an organized adventure or even if you aren’t married-what I took away from this is that all relationships need a commitment. Friends will not remain friends for long if the relationship is one sided. Friendship takes time to cultivate and maintain. Parents and children need to keep their relationships growing as that child matures. Couples of all kinds need to put effort and commitment into their relationships. Finding new interests  can help create new relationships as well as strengthen old ones. I guess that can be said for blogging as well. We need to be interested in others if we want to support a growing and caring blogging community.

At the end of the day it could be said that

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We only get one chance at this!!!

Today is National Scrabble Day!

Thommmee and I love to play Scrabble. In the warmer months you will often find us  sitting outside  with a Scrabble game between us. This may or may not also include something cooking on the barbecue. We will be busy trying to come up with a double or triple word score while trying to outwit each other (and hopefully not burning something on the grill)!  While I don’t consider myself to be particularly competitive, when it comes to Scrabble we are all in.

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Last week Thommmee had his best game ever with 387 points. Although it might not be much in the world of Scrabble, we thought it was pretty good  (anytime we exceed 300 points we are happy).

 

You will find us hauling our full-sized game on camping trips.

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At the beach, poolside, or vacation we carry our travel edition.

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My trusty Scrabble dictionary is circa 1978.

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We updated to a ‘new’ paperback dictionary a few years back.

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(I don’t like this nearly as well).

Nowadays we have our smartphones nearby to checkout the newest words such as ‘selfie’ and ‘hashtag’ which were added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2014.

Since Aril 13th is National Scrabble day-and I did not know such a day even existed-I decided to find out a little bit of the history of my favorite game.

Alfred Mosher Butts invented the board game  in 1933. He was an out of work architect.  It was at the height of the Great Depression and  he was looking for a way to cheer people up. Originally called  LEXIKO, the game is considered a cross between an anagram and a crossword puzzle . A few years later the name was changed to CRISS CROSS WORDS. The rise to popularity was slow. The game is now sold in 121 countries with 29 different languages available!  Did you know there are 105 playable two-letters words  according to the Official Scrabble players’ dictionary? There are 187,632 words on the official Scrabble list for tournament play. Nigel Richards, who has won the World Scrabble Championship three times and the National Scrabble Championship five times, travels the world to play in Scrabble tournaments.  I have seen some of these championship games on TV-very impressive!   Scrabble is owned by the Hasbro Company. If you have any interest in learning about the history or game of Scrabble, the Hasbro link will give you further information.

This is a great educational game and can be played by 2-4 people. Each person randomly selects 7 letters. Alternating turns, a player makes words with the letters on their tray and using the letters on the board. When the kids were younger, we would allow them to use the dictionary to find words. This game increases vocabulary while allowing for an enjoyable interaction between the players. Nothing quite like sitting around a table together and experiencing the laughter and conversation going on during a board game. If you haven’t played a game recently, dust off those boards and give it a whirl. Invite the kids, the family, a friend or a neighbor in for a good time.  You can pick up many of the old classic games at bargain price from  a thrift store or yard sale.

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Happy National Scrabble Day!

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Retirement-one year later

It is hard to believe that one year ago today I walked out of work for the last time. I looked at my earlier post celebrating this big event. I wanted to find out how I felt that day. I wanted to see what my expectations were, what I was thinking, planning, and to see how this year came together.

This is what I discovered.

I commented that I was free to pursue many things.  I am pleased to find that many of those dreams are being fulfilled but… some not exactly as expected!

I come and go as I please.

I did not start a sewing business. Most of my (many) hours of sewing are for gifts or simply pleasure.

I can stay up late if I want to… but… these days I really don’t make it much past 9:00PM.

I do spend time with family and friends and have worked on strengthening those relationships.

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I spend a great deal of time in the kitchen and you will often find me experimenting with new recipes. For someone who really never liked to cook this was a huge discovery.

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I cleaned out a few closets and drawers but somehow this does not seem as important to me as it once did (go figure).

We did plant a vegetable garden last year but spent so much time vacationing that the results were somewhat less than spectacular.

Oh well.

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(photo courtesy of Pinterest)

I did make several batches of strawberry jam

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and even took a crack at making lemon marmalade.

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I have not read many books this year.  Although I love to read, I really found that I don’t like to sit quietly very much.

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I have spent countless hours talking on the phone, emailing and catching up with people. When I want to. Voice mail or text messages when I don’t.

I did manage to regularly attend the gym 2-4 times a week… faithfully… until about Thanksgiving…

I do attend a weekly Bible study, occasionally keep grandkids for the weekend and do some babysitting for our newest granddaughter.

Well, you get the idea. Some success…some not so much.

But…

I am happy and loving life!

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Not for one minute have I missed working at a “real job.” I love the freedom that retirement allows.

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(courtesy: be the change tumbler.com)

I love spending time with Thommmee. I don’t miss the extra money as I had feared. More time allows for more ways to be frugal. I find I need less-in fact-I find I want less!

I did buy a much needed coat at a local thrift store… for $8.00.

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With all the time I spend in the kitchen I splurged on a glass Pyrex pie pan, loaf, pan, square pan, and glass mixing bowl for $1.00 each at an estate sale.

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I have clipped coupons, shopped sales, and made many gifts. I try not to waste and plan meals based on what is in the kitchen. We don’t eat out often. We are a do-it-yourself couple living the good life in our little house in our own little corner of the world.

I wouldn’t trade a thing!

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I’m purring a lot these days

(No intent to borrow photos without permission or misuse intended.)