Friday, April 29, 2016

Decorating R Us

My love of interior decorating goes way back.  As much as the pocket book could handle, I experimented with different color schemes (from white/beige to present day green/orange) and style.  Sometimes others would love it or they would definitely leave it.  The photo to the left was taken for an article for our local newspaper, the Tri-City Herald, August 30, 1987, in the Sunday Desert Living section.  This was my beige/white period.  A nice escape from the previous 1970's golds and avocado greens.

Shortly, I will start posting the upgrades to our new home.  The house is almost twenty years old and the young couple who originally built it were limited on time.  The place needed some attention.

So far, we have updated the master bath (except for the shower), guest bath, laundry, master bedroom, painted the entire interior and garage, window treatment for the dining room, re-landscaped (it was a bit overgrown), added a soft water system, and made numerous repairs.  Looking back at our last five months living here, it is kind of amazing what we have accomplished so far.  And explains why my posting has been sparse.

There are still plans to update the kitchen cabinets and counters--next year.  The exterior needs painting and that will happen this summer.  Eventually a walk-in shower will be installed, another window in the master bedroom, washable floors in the art studio and build a woodworking room in the garage for driftwood sculpting.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Crafty Cork

A trip to Slovenia/Bosnia/Croatia in October 2014, included visits to several wineries and wine drinking at some great restaurants.  Always walked away, if possible, from both with the wine cork.  I have been looking for a unique craft using the cork I brought home.  Finally found a project on Pinterest, but it used the cork as a stand for a dinner place card.  I am using it for small paintings or cards.

[Sorry Mom, I am giving you a preview of your Mother's Day card.  Only small painting I have right now as an example.]

Using cork from the Lisjak winery and from the winery run by the Serbian Orthodox monks, I made up my mini painting "easel" using hot glue, twine, and unused jewelry.  Nothing elaborate, but I like it! Will be making more.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Good Eats - #1

In retirement, I vowed to learn to cook healthy, avoid processed foods, and steer clear of restaurants (unless it is a special occasion and the restaurant is special, too!).  Not just for the two of us, but to share our meal with friends and make a social occasion out of it.  In the beginning, I doubted myself often and relied on the store-bought casserole for guests.  Not any more.  Falling off the healthy meal wagon happens, but not as frequently.

The reason this lifestyle change made it into the blog is (1) I am excited about the success, (2) I like to share my successes to encourage others, and (3) another way to stay active and healthy in retirement which is what this blog is about.

To make this a goal a forever one, the meals have to be simple to make, every-day ingredients, and easy to obtain local/fresh (Mystery Bay Farm goats photo left).  I also had to devise a monthly plan with recipes.  It is documented on my computer tablet calendar to make planning and list making straightforward.  Here is the skeleton plan without the recipe:

Sunday - homemade soup (usually in a slow cooker)
Monday - pork (roast/chops)
Tuesday - ground beef
Wednesday - chicken
Thurday - pasta day
Friday - fish
Saturday - beef (roast/steaks)

From there, a recipe for each day of the month (for example, every second Tuesday of the month is meatloaf, every second Monday is pulled pork, etc).  October through March are the winter recipes; April through September include lighter fare for warmer weather.  Each recipe is tweaked to make healthier and easier.  Once we achieve a great meal, out loud we declare, "It is a keeper!"  (Honestly, we really say it out loud.)  Each meal is planned to serve at least 6 and if we do not have a dinner party, then the leftovers are used for lunches the rest of the week.

This week, our meatloaf recipe is a keeper! (every second Tuesday).  Finally, a recipe without sugar-laden ketchup.(Note:  photo from Wicked Stuffed website, but our meatloaf looks just like this, complete recipe found at www.wickedstuffed.com.) All ingredients purchased local--direct from farmer or Farmer's Market.  Recipe includes ground beef (local beef from www.clarkfarms.weebly.com about 2 miles from home), eggs (fresh eggs from the small farm across the road--they have over 200 chickens running free--often running from the eagles!), scallions, spinach, garlic, onions (from Nash's Organic Produce, www.nashsorganicproduce.com about 2 miles from home in the middle of their farm), herb soft goat cheese (www.mysterybayfarm.com located on Marrowstone Island about 30 miles away, but we buy their cheese from Nash's unless we decide to take a scenic road trip to their farm), coarse salt/peppercorn (Sequim Spice and Tea shop--they sell bulk downtown and fill your container directly), and finally rosemary just out the door which practically grows wild here. 

Mix all except goat cheese and spinach, lay out flat, plop the cheese and spinach in the middle and roll meat mixture around.  (Note:  I do not include the tomato paste in the recipe.) Cook at 450 degrees for 60 minutes.  Verra good!

Monday, February 29, 2016

2015 Winter Sun Fix

Our home base on the Olympic Peninsula is unique to western Washington; it has a very little rain with an annual average of 16 inches. (Although, this year was record-breaking with rain.)  However, very little rain does not mean we have endless sunny days in the winter.  The three-month period of mid-November through mid-February can be dreary.  If we can travel to a warm location for a few weeks during this time, we do!

This past December we had an invitation to visit friends, Tom and Kate, in Puerto Vallarta at their timeshare, Costa Sur, on the south side of the city.  We did visit PV 30+ years ago at the beginning of their tourist explosion in the early 1980s.  In our 20s and not much money to spend on a vacation, we took advantage of an economic downturn in Mexico in 1982, the peso was devalued and Puerto Vallarta became a bargain destination for us and the friends traveling with us.  Really, really good time.

And it was fun to go there again in 2015.  Tom and Kate have been wintering in PV for 15 years, we were able to take advantage of their local knowledge of the best shops, restaurants/bars, and attractions.  The timeshare/hotel has nice pool area and well-stocked bar plus a protected little beach to find seashells--nice way to spend the warm, tropical day.  But, by far, this time around, it was the restaurants we enjoyed most (of course 30 years ago, it was all about the bars!--see photo above right).  Some restaurants we visited were upscale with stunning ocean views, others quirky, and a few with quaint little flowered courtyards--the food was all fresh, prepared perfectly, and priced beyond reasonable.  I ordered the shrimp over and over again.

With temperatures in the mid-80 degrees and cloudless days, we got our sun fix.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ceilidh

Our trip last summer to Scotland left an impression in several ways.  At the top of that list was the pride of the Scottish people in their re-telling history and carrying on traditions.  One of my favorite traditions is the Ceilidh (pronounced kay’lee).  A traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing.  We had a taste of it one evening with the visit of several young musicians sharing the traditional music true to its roots and with a modern twist.  Along the Caledonia Canal as we passed small villages you would see banners advertising the upcoming weekend Ceilidh.

“On long, dark winter nights it is still the custom in small villages for friends to collect in a house and hold what they call a “ceilidh”. Young and old are entertained by the reciters of old poems and legendary stories which deal with ancient beliefs, the doings of traditional heroes and heroines, and so on. Some sing old and new songs set to old music or new music composed in the manner of the old.”
Mackenzie, Donald A., Wonder tales from Scottish myth and legend, 1917

Our tour guide, Paul, described a recent birthday party for his nephew.  Attended by young teenagers and parents, the gathering started with rap and hip-hop music to the dismay of all the adults.  But, the parents figured it was the kids’ party and they would support whatever they wanted; although Paul had made up his mind to make a short evening.   Without any prompting about 30 minutes in, the kids pulled out an assortment of fiddles, accordions, drums and guitars and began playing the traditional Scottish tunes.  Everyone joined in with the singing and dancing.  The party became an spontaneous Ceilidh and no one left until dawn.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Technical Difficulties

Having a few problems posting.  Hope to fix soon.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Travel Trivia

Many people keep copies of restaurant menus, matchstick covers, or some small memento of a place they have visited.  We like collecting drink coasters from bars.  Not sitting and drinking away your trip, but rather chatting with the bartender about fun things to do and see, striking up a conversation with the stranger next to you, and trying out the house drink specialty. 

Our Scotland tour host picked up all the passengers early evening at the Glenmoriston bar and drove us out to the Caledonian canal to board the barge.  The hubby, me and our two travel partners decided to indulge a few hours early at the bar before the scheduled pickup time.  We met Robert, the bartender, listened to music new to me (Kygo) which I loved, and tried the week’s special drink.  Details were documented on the coaster (see photos).

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Here are a few more coasters collected over the years (below—Darwin, Australia; Singapore[yes, we had the Singapore sling at Raffles hotel/bar], and Kauai).  We have not been very disciplined about collecting the coasters and we have missed a lot of locations, but will try a little harder in the future.  The coasters are used back home and it is a fun way to remember details of the trip.

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