Pancakes, Christmas Lights and Rudolph to the Rescue!

Christmas Lights
Our new neighborhood is decked out! That’s my handsome husband on the right.

Dear Reader:

I woke up with the “moving blues” today. I was not alone. My husband passed me in the kitchen transferring items from one spot to another and then back again and asked how I was doing. I think he knew.

“Moving is a drag!” I responded. “And, you?”

“I was thinking the same thing. Let’s go out!”

I’ve got to say banana blackberry pancakes can do a lot to improve one’s disposition! They fueled us throughout the day until we needed another diversion. It wasn’t hard to find one; we simply stepped out our front door and walked the neighborhood.

We live in an old part of the city that’s known for decking the halls big time! People walk our block, drive our block and rent carriages to trot down our block to see the lights. We’ve managed to decorate a bit and we’re gathering ideas to step up our game next year.

When we returned home with cold noses and ears, I was happy to see that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was just showing on t.v. My husband kindly agreed to indulge me as I sang along to my favorite childhood Christmas show.

Moving is still a drag and I still haven’t found the perfect organizational system for my new pantry. But, I’m reminded of the simple truth: All work and no play make Michele a very dull girl! Here’s to pancakes, lights, fantasy and the companionship of a lovely man!

What are you doing to balance your life during this busy season, dear reader?

Michele

So Many Options!

 

Which rug will it be?
Two out of three dachshunds agree on the first rug option…the third could care less as the sun is shining outside!

Dear Reader:

I’ve been in my new home now for exactly 25 days. I always think that I should count the boxes when I move, but I never do. Part of me thinks it would give me a sense of accomplishment to know how many boxes had been packed and unpacked, but the smarter side of me knows that I’d be better off not knowing.

There are a lot of boxes. My husband and I love to collect…art, china, books and all things Christmas! I’ve managed to get through about 3/4 of them.

I’ve only had a washer/dryer for four days now and we are still waiting for California Closets to come and install new master bedroom closets in the empty spaces cleared by our contractor. But, we are almost fully functional here! As you can see, we have the bandwidth to consider rug options for our kitchen nook, so that’s an improvement over the first ten or so days when we were drowning in wrapping paper and trying to find the dust buster.

I am making friends with my new town and feeling confident that life here is going to offer so many opportunities to learn and grow. I’m truly excited to get beyond the “home set-up phase” and onto the “live my best life phase.”

I’ll be doing a reveal of my new pink shed soon. Watch for it!

Michele

 

Home for Thanksgiving

My Neighborhood
The view down the street from my new home on the day we fell in love with it. Today, the Sycamore leaves are golden and crisp and falling like the rain.

Dear Reader:

So much has happened since I last wrote. But, I must start by wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving, if it’s a holiday that you celebrate. If not, well…everyday is a day to be grateful. It goes without saying that I’m most blessed by the people in my life: husband, daughter, friends and neighbors.

But this year, I’m thinking about my home. I moved from Carmel, California to our state’s capital Sacramento on November 7th. I began unpacking boxes just as the fires broke out in Paradise which is a mere 88 miles from my new neighborhood.

As of today, nearly 14,000 people have lost their homes. As I work my way through each box to create a beautiful, functional, relaxing environment, I can’t help but think of those people who have no place to gather today.

I’ve always been a homebody who dreamed of living in beautiful spaces. When I was a teenager, I’d spend my hard-earned babysitting dollars on books and magazines. In addition to Tiger Beat, I’d often purchase a copy of Architectural Digest or House Beautiful. I’ve been blessed to live in several wonderful neighborhoods and my husband and I are poised to begin another adventure in a lovely 100-year-old home in a bustling area of town.

I’m so grateful for the roof over my head and so sorry for the victims of California’s fires. I hope you are happy, warm and snug in your home tonight.

Michele

Aunt Bessie’s Tablecloth!

Aunt Bessie's Tablecloth!

Dear Reader:

Let me introduce you to Amy. She’s wearing her Aunt Bessie’s tablecloth, and she’s so happy that I noticed just how magnificent it is!

I had an amazing sandwich at a tiny little neighborhood restaurant in Sacramento last week. Despite how very hungry I was when I walked through the door, the first thing I noticed was that dress and the woman who wore it so joyfully.

I never hesitate to compliment people…why should I…that’s my thinking. I see it…I like it…I say it! And, sometimes I am rewarded with a great story, as I was on this day.

“Excuse me,” I said as she hurriedly passed me. “But, I must tell you that I adore your dress.”

“Oh, it was once my aunt’s Christmas tablecloth and I inherited it!”

Well, that’s not something you hear everyday, I thought. But it helped explain the great happiness that I felt emanating from this woman. Her aunt saved the bright red, hand-embroidered cloth for just a single day each year. Her niece remembers it fondly.

“I wasn’t sure what to do with it,” she continued. “Then one day my friend offered to turn it into a dress so that I could enjoy it all year long.”

Now that’s a story to love! I’m still smiling!

Michele

Shopping for…Cannabis

Dear Reader:

I’m smelling a bit earthy this evening, but feeling quite wonderful. Both conditions are due to the purchase I made at Big Sur Canna Botanicals, Carmel’s first cannabis dispensary. I never thought I’d write those words!

There’s a pot dispensary 2.5 miles from my home in the Carmel Rancho Shopping Center. My hair salon, a French bakery, my husband’s favorite sandwich shop and the SPCA Benefit Shop are all located in the same shopping center. And, I’m a happy customer.

But, I don’t want to mislead you, dear reader. I count two puffs from a joint when I was in my late teens as my total prior experience with pot. Just wasn’t my drug of choice. As you know, I’m an eat, drink and be merry kind of gal; I’ve got a whole category with this title here on my blog. This, of course, could be resolved as the dispensary offers cannabis infused chocolates. Maybe next time…I’ll let you know!

I visited the store with butterflies in my stomach (is marijuana really still taboo?) seeking to buy a topical to relieve the arthritic pain in my fingers. Whoa…I am so not cool! I’d been talking about going shopping for three weeks before I made it into the store. I just needed a little encouragement to get there. It came from my hairdresser.

“You okay,” she asked in her concerned voice. I think she’s a psychic.

“Oh, ya…I’m great…working out, feeling strong…sure, of course,” I answered. Followed by, “other than this (expletive deleted) pain in my fingers that’s starting to turn me into a crab!”

She pointed out that the dispensary was just a quick walk across the parking lot and made me promise to go shopping as soon as she’d made me beautiful. What would I do without my hairdresser? I should pay her extra for the counseling.

A  first visit to Canna Botanicals is unlike any other shopping trip. It’s an experience. Large rectangles of contemporary art fill the exterior windows giving the illusion that it’s  just another Carmel art gallery. The visual delight continues when you open the door to find an image of Bixby Bridge nearly filling one side of the room and leading you to a concierge style counter. The greeter was a young man dressed in black jeans stylishly paired with a t-shirt and blazer.

I don’t know what I expected him to say or ask, but it was a simple exchange. Was this my first visit? Yes. May I see your driver’s license? Sure. May I take your name? Please take a seat and we’ll call you when a sales representative is available.

I cozied up into a large leather chair and waited with a dozen other people for about ten minutes. I reached for a copy of High Times magazine so I could glance above its pages to assess the group of people in the room. The 30ish woman sitting across from me was dressed in chic casual wear. I wanted to enthusiastically compliment her entire outfit  and ask where she acquired her purse, but I didn’t. It didn’t seem right. I felt the proper etiquette in a dispensary waiting room should be like that in the waiting room of my doctor.

I eavesdropped to hear a bit of hushed conversation between two people. One was successfully treating the side effects of chemotherapy. I wanted to hear more but the quiet of the room was shattered when a man and woman entered greeting the employees like old friends. They were about my age, I’d guess, but they were …well, weathered…very tanned and wrinkled. They wore sloppy cut-offs, t-shirts and fanny packs. They were the stereo-type, but there were only two of them. There were several tourists, too. There are tourists everywhere at this time of the year. But, overall, the group of people in that room was fairly unremarkable…just a slice of life.

When my name was called I was led to a large rectangular room with a bright clean counter that resembled the cosmetic area of a department store. There was a long line of diverse products inside including pre-rolled joints, cannabis-infused ginger bites, tinctures, salves, candies, drinks and even new chewing-tobacco-like Cannadips. Glass jars of boutique buds lined the shelves behind the counter. It was an artful presentation.

There was a certain energy in the room. The counter allowed space for about 15 people to shop with the personal assistance of a knowledgable sales representative. Cat, presumably short for something, asked what had brought me into the store.

“Well, in addition to curiosity,” I answered, “my hands hurt.”

“Ah, you need Papa and Barkley; people swear by it,” she said.

It turned out that I bought the last container of the balm. She warned me that if it worked for me, I shouldn’t let my supply get low. Seems it’s a very popular product for mature Central Coast residents. I felt like I wanted her to give me a tour through the full product assortment, but it was busy and I’d only come for one thing. I pulled two twenties out of my wallet (cash only in dispensaries) and thanked her.

Well that was quick, easy and relatively inexpensive, I thought as I left the building. I drove home, poured myself a glass of vino, it was 5 o’clockish, and applied the cream. That was two weeks ago and I’m happy to tell you: IT WORKS! So, now if I’m crabby, I’ll have to find something else to blame it on!

Michele

This is what I purchased:

Papa & Barkley: 1:3 Releaf Balm 15ML $36

Our Releaf™ Balm is tougher than pain, bringing a breakthrough new approach and formula. This formula delivers hours of pain relief in an all-natural, botanical pain balm, infused through a coconut oil soak process unmatched for potency and terpene content. With more than 400 mg of cannabinoids per 15ml jar. Available in a CBD Rich 1:3 THC/CBD formulation.

In case you didn’t know:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Appetite loss
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia
  • Glaucoma
  • Mental health conditions like schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Pain

Vacation Mode!

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Dear Reader:

I’m on vacation, which is unusual as I’m retired! My fitness journey has completely reshaped my life. When I made a four-day a week commitment to Zone Fitness, I’m not sure I realized just how big a chunk of time that would take out of my life. There’s travel time and shower time not to mention the actual sweating time!

When my trainer announced that he’d be closing for several days to observe the holiday, I felt a bit excited…a gift of time! My husband and I took the opportunity to hit the pool at Carmel Valley Ranch. I enjoyed a spa cocktail (think Jonathan would approve)…vodka, lime, cucumber and seltzer water and a caprese salad.

It was a lazy afternoon punctuated with a few laps up and down the pool for good measure! As I said, I have made a lifestyle change!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday,

Michele

Independence Day; Fireworks or Not

 

On the barge
Shaver Lake circa 1982 with Bart

Dear Reader:

I have one really vivid Fourth of July memory. I was about ten years old…so that was 48 years ago! It was also the year that I fell out of love with sparklers! Since then Independence Day celebrations have been pain-free and carefree.

During the late seventies and early eighties, my husband (then just a boyfriend) and I enjoyed spending time at Shaver Lake at his family’s cabin. We spent the Fourth floating on the barge just like any other summer day. Fireworks were not legal, but they weren’t missed. The evening was spent on the deck of the cabin perched among the trees drinking and eating.

After we married and had our daughter, firework shows were de-rigueur. But, perhaps because of that early experience with a burn, I’ve never really needed the light show to make the holiday special.

Hope you have a glorious day!

Michele

A Gift for You…Enjoy!

Dear Reader:

Here’s a little something for you, because you deserve it! Honestly, it’s been tough going for a while now. Sometimes we must turn off the noise and let Mother Nature soothe our souls. I pushed the thought of Anthony Kennedy’s resignation from my mind yesterday and enjoyed the sights and smells of lavender at Carmel Valley Ranch.

Michele

 

 

 

If Donuts Are Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be Right!

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Enjoying my favorite, a maple bar, at San Luis Obispo Donut Company (SLODOCO)!

Dear Reader:

I’ve lost twelve pounds in the past seven months and people are starting to take notice. When asked for my “secrets,” I am happy to share the diet of my own creation. I call it the “Donut Deny Myself Anything Diet.” I’m not into deprivation; I’m an “eat drink and be merry” Italian with a passion for pasta, wine and donuts. And, I’ve found that I really can have it all…in moderation. Here’s my plan:

  • I employ the 80/20 or 90/10 (I’m not good with math) rule. In other words, most of the time, I eat clean*.
  • I refuse to give up alcohol, but I drink in moderation. I sip slowly.
  • When I want a treat, I have a treat and it’s usually the real thing, not a faux, low-calorie knockoff. The idea is to feel truly satisfied.

This brings me back to donuts…

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  • Donuts are a destination! I do not keep them in my home; I travel South* every couple of months and I always enjoy wine and a donut or two along the way!

As Michelle Pfeiffer put it:

“Eat well, exercise and get lots of sleep but make sure you indulge occasionally. At my age I think, what the hell, and eat a Krispy Kreme doughnut.”

My new approach to eating allows me to maintain a healthy weight without giving up two of the great joys in life: celebrating and eating. I’ll never be the woman who goes to a birthday party, but skips the cake. I’ll always ring in the new year with bubbly.  Pasta will always be on the menu in my home once a week. And, I’ll just ignore sexy Sue at the gym when she yells, “No Donuts!” before my trips to San Luis Obispo. That’s just how I roll.

Michele

P.S. Even Winnie loves a good donut!

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*Recipes to follow in coming weeks

*A trip from Northern California to Southern California would be a real waste if it didn’t include wine tasting and other treats!

On-board The Coast Starlight Train

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I am so impressed with this picture taken from my train window!

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I know it’s blurry, but I was on a train taking a photo of the railroad crossing sign…fun!

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Love the rows of green…love California!

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It was nice to leave the driving to someone else this time!

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Madonna and Bishop Peaks…I’m almost there!

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Time to toast the Cal Poly 2018 Graduates!

 

Dear Reader:

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight runs daily from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California, via the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s a convenient option for me as it makes a stop in Salinas, which is less than 20 miles from my home.

I just need a ride to the station and I’m off! The kid in me seems to come out as I stand on the platform waiting for my train. I can’t help it. First, I see it, and then as it gets closer, I hear the great rumbling sound of the beast that will deliver me to San Luis Obispo.

For an additional twenty dollars, I’ve upgraded to a business class ticket so I’ve got a large seat with plenty of space to stretch out. Upon boarding, I settle in and unpack my brown bag lunch and prepare to just sit…and do nothing more than marvel at the beauty of my beloved state.

As the train leaves the station, it makes a steadily increasing chugging sound and the whistle sounds. I’m on my way to celebrate the graduation of one of my daughter’s friends from Cal Poly.

As a business class traveler, I’m entitled to free WiFi, but I know that perk is really no perk at all because most of the area between Salinas and Paso Robles is so remote that it’s without service. I find it oddly comforting to know that there are vast stretches of my state that remain undeveloped or sparsely populated and agricultural. So for three and a half hours, I sat back, relaxed and snapped photos on my iPhone to share with you.

Shortly after arriving, I continued to enjoy my day with a glass of local wine made from the grapes I saw from my train window.

Cheers,

Michele