Emotional Monday….Grandparent LOVE

Welcome Rowan Joan Collery….thank you for this beautiful gift Taylor & Dan!

This is the only time in our lives we fall madly in love before we know what the person is like…Ellen Goodman

I’m not sure I completely agree with Ellen, because I think I fell pretty madly in love with my children the day they were born….but the difference is that you’re so tired you don’t even realize it!

Happy Monday Everyone!!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!


Yup, that’s the reaction I’ve gotten from a lot of people when I tell them I got a dog. WHAT!?…you travel so much?! How will you work that in to your lifestyle? Yes, I have been traveling quite a bit these past few years and loving every minute of it. I’ve traveled alone, I’ve traveled with friends, I’ve visited places I’ve always dreamed about and I’m still looking forward to more adventures and re-visiting my favorites. BUT….I kind of felt like it was time to slow down on the travel, add a dog and get ready for the the next chapter of my life…grand-parenting.

For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven…Ecclesiastes (…and Pete Seeger too!)

I grew up with dogs & cats & pet mice & pet guinea pigs…a whole menagerie. At one time when I was young I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. We had a small dog when the kids were growing up, who died over 9 years ago, and it was time to bring a furry friend back into my life. So, yes, I got a dog. Her name is Zoey and she’s perfect! She’s a 5 year old yellow lab and, except for an operation to remove a growth (which was just gross & expensive!), she has been so easy, knew how to use the doggy door and can fetch all day long. My son and daughter-in-law have an awesome yellow lab named Prince that is so well trained & that I love. I think of Zoey as the west coast, female, version of Prince! ….although definitely not as good on/off leash!

By getting a dog it literally grounds me a bit…and I don’t mean “staying grounded”..I feel I’m already a pretty grounded person…but, again, literally to keep me at home more. I’ve been pretty care-free (except for the obvious challenges I’ve faced) these past 5 years and I was kind of ready for the added responsibility that a dog entails. I’ve had her almost three months now and I love coming home to that smiling face that is so excited to see me! ….and there’s the added bonus of possibly meeting that perfect guy at the dog beach…a girl can hope!

So, sure, I’ll still travel for rowing, but my planned travel will mostly be to see my son and daughter-in-law in Brooklyn…with occasional home exchanges here and there.  She’s so great with other dogs that she’s happy being boarded or just hanging out at friend’s homes when I’ll be out of town. Another step on my road to grandparenthood!

I love this little framed needlepoint that I got on a trip to Carmel years ago.

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Mondays…share joy

In our lives, there are moments of great beauty that are so fragile, so transitory that to experience them is pure joy. To share them is to know the essence of living.

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

More than just a local beach Vay Cay

In addition to my two day stay-cay in LA, I still had eight nights to fill while the home exchange family was in my home. Luckily I have my sister’s place, or my friend Val’s place to crash, both on Balboa Island. Lucky Me!!

It would have been enough to just sit on the beach and relax, which I did plenty, but I had a few more fun experiences thrown in too.

In the week I was there I went on three Duffy outings…one being Pizza Monday from Pizza Nova…(you can dock your Duffy here) while watching my son-in-law learn to sail; did another cooking class down in San Juan Capistrano at Tspoons…this one all about bacon; and tried out a new island restaurant, Free Range Cafe . A few pics to share….

cooking with Jan and Val
bacon and caramelized onion flatbread…pre-baking stage
creamy bacon and cheese pasta carbonara
chocolate chip and bacon brownie a la mode…so decadent!
although I’m not a fan of the muggy weather we’ve been having, it makes for some beautiful, cloud-filled, sunsets!

Pizza Monday… Duffy style

watching my son-in-law learn to sail on Newport Bay…impressive

Tried out the new Balboa Island restaurant, Free Range Cafe, while I was down on BI. It replaced Park Avenue Cafe on the West side of the island near the ferry. The food was good and the ambience nice, but my sister made a good point, that there’s not much healthy fare on the menu. To be fair, it started as a fried chicken food truck up in LA, so we should have known it wasn’t low-cal. There’s no seafood or veggies to be had on the menu. I was on vacation, so I had the fried chicken sandwich and we shared some avocado toast and twice cooked crispy potatoes. They were all delish! Our waitress was really nice and the service was good. They have a 16% service charge added to every bill, so there’s no tipping.  I think most people would give more than 16% if the service was good…and it would be nice to leave less if the service was really bad….just sayin’! I’ll definitely go back, but not if I’m watching my calories.

Because I’m on a rowing team and on the water three days a week, sometimes I take for granted and forget how lucky I am to live here in SoCal, close to some of the world’s destination beaches and beach communities. Glad I had the chance to appreciate and be grateful for where I live. So, there you go, some ideas for fun things to do here in Orange County this weekend! …and there’s always Laguna too!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Stay Cay LA


So, as I mentioned earlier, I did a two-day stay cay in LA. Here’s a couple of other things to do if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

After my visit to LACMA, I headed over to the Farmer’s Market. It’s attached to The Grove now, but the original old market is still there and charming as ever. I used to go as a kid when my dad worked next door at CBS and it brings back great memories. The smells are still there….and you can’t really see the modern architecture of The Grove when you’re immersed in the old section. So cool!

My plan the first night was to walk to Petit Trois because it looked cute & yummy, I love little French bistros, and was only about a mile from the apartment. It was so f-ing hot, and it happened to be Monday, so I thought “stay in-order pizza” and really feel like a local. So, that’s what I did…and I’d recommend Village Pizzeria in Larchmont if you’re ever over that way…and I binged watched “Big Little Lies” on HBO. WOW, if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend. I’ll have to go to Petit Trois another time.

Tuesday I was up and out to the Griffith Observatory. Another ridiculously hot day, but I hadn’t been here since probably high school and I knew it had been completely renovated, so had to go…but I’d forego the hike and just park down the hill a bit. It’s a cool place to roam and look at the free exhibits. It has amazing views of LA and the Hollywood sign…and there are a number of events and shows to see for a nominal fee. I happened to run into a friend from high school there too…what are the chances??

Foucault Pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the earth…it’s huge!

I was leaving Wednesday to go back to Orange County, but had a couple more stops to make in DTLA. I asked my friend, Courtney, for some suggestions (she has a loft there) and they were awesome! I started at The Last Bookstore, which reminded me a little bit of the whimsy of Shakespeare and Company in Paris….although on a bigger scale. It has a large vinyl record section, as well as a cool artists section upstairs.

wave of books up on a huge wall

I can’t wait to get a new phone, so every pic I take isn’t blurry…ugh! Cool tunnel made out of books.

there’s even a cute little knitting store

By now it was about 11:45 and I was getting hungry. Last stop, Baco Mercat for lunch.

It is such an interesting, eclectic menu that I wanted to order a bunch of things. The fact that most of the dishes were displayed on a table when I entered was just cruel…what to pick!? The flatbread and bacos looked amazing, but I decided to go a little lighter and narrowed it down to caramelized cauliflower & “caesar” brussel sprouts. Both were soooo good and I had leftovers to take home too.

good night LA…it was fun!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Motivational Monday…Cheers to Summer!

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in it’s net of wonder forever….Jacques Cousteau

The best kind of therapy is beach therapy.

….and finally…

Nothing soothes the soul like a walk on the beach.
(…can you tell I’ve been at the beach this past week?)

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

I went to Europe yesterday

I have some home-exchangers from Copenhagen staying in my home this week (I stayed in their’s last September), so I decided to do a little “stay-cay” up in LA for a couple of days. Thanks to the generosity of my sister, Mariellen, and brother-in-law, Peter, I stayed in their FABULOUS apartment in Hancock Park overlooking the Wilshire Country Club.

I grew up in LA…actually the San Fernando Valley (yes, I’m a “Valley Girl”although I was 21 when that came out)…but hadn’t really done much LA stuff, so I decided to be a tourist for a couple of days. I headed up Monday mid-morning and my first stop was the LA County Museum of Art…aka LACMA. I’m not sure I’ve ever been there, even on school field trips, and it was so great in more ways than I would have imagined.

I’ve never really been much of a museum goer in my younger years, but have come to love the peaceful solitude I feel as I roam their vast halls soaking up the history and spectacular art. One of my favorite areas in any museum, and the one I usually head for first, is the “European Art” section. I know it’s so cliche, but I love the classic paintings of Monet, Rembrandt, Gauguin…and sculptures by Degas and Rodin. As I was strolling and wondering what it is about these paintings that I love….except the obvious beauty of the artwork itself…I realized that every familiar painting or artist that I viewed brought me back to another memory or experience that I’d had in the past. So, as I continued through the museum, I literally started writing down, and re-living, the places that each picture or artist brought me back to.

Artist, Camille Pissarro…I’d just seen an exhibition of his work this past April in Paris at the Musee du Luxembourg.

Painting: Le Pont du Carrousel a Paris by Bonnard…a view of Notre Dame and the Seine..again, I was just there in April

Artist, Degas…Reminded me of a trip to Paris I had in 2012 on my visit to the Orsay museum, where there was a special extensive exhibition of his work.

Artists, Rembrandt & Aelbert Cuyp…Reminded me of a super fun trip to Amsterdam with the neighbors. The scenes on the artwork, as well as the memory of some things we bought while we shopped at the Albert (they dropped the “e” at the beginning of his given name) Cuyp Market when we were there, made me smile.

….from there it just snowballed into memories of trips to Europe and NY, the museums where I’d seen some of the same artists and reliving some great moments in my life through the years. It made me really look at some of the artwork more closely to not only appreciate how old they were, but how much I felt connected to the places they depicted, or where the artist was from. It was so, so cool!

So, just meandering through a museum for a couple of hours turned into a magical walk down memory lane….and THAT is how/why museums and traveling are so connected….and I just figured it out! I’ve always been a fan of the arts, but it gave me a bigger appreciation of the importance of museums and the arts and how they make the world a smaller place. I’m not sure my younger self would have connected the two, because I hadn’t done as much traveling as I have in recent years. Which, of course, just makes me want to do more!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Foodie Friday…Spicy Shrimp with Coconut Milk

I had some leftover coconut milk and fresh ginger from a recipe I had made and felt like having spicy shrimp. A quick internet search yielded this recipe from Food.com. I only wanted enough for me and only had enough coconut milk for 1/2 this recipe, but I had all the ingredients for the spice mix…and there are quite a few. So, I mixed all the spices (bold/italics below) in a bowl and then only used 1/2 of it. Now I have leftover spices for the next time!

Spicy Shrimp in Coconut Milk
1 c. chopped onion
1 TBS minced garlic
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 TBS coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 cup drained canned tomato (I used petite diced)
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (again, I used what I had, about a cup)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, peeled & cleaned (I buy the frozen ones and just have to take off the tail)
3/4 cup fresh cilantro
lime wedge (optional for serving)

Heat oil on med-high, add onion and cook til softened, around 3 minutes. Add garlic & ginger and cook another 2 minutes. Add 5 spices and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook 1 minute. Add coconut water, milk and salt…and bring to simmer. Simmer until thick..about 5-10 minutes. Add shrimp, simmer 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Serve with lime wedges (optional)

I had mine over brown rice….yummy!

Bon Appetit!…and have a FAB weekend!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!