Make Life Easier By Starting New Habits

I have started reading the book by Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before.  It was recommended by my daughter.  I had read her other books, The Happiness Project and Happier at Home.  She examined how people can make the changes that she identified in her earlier two books.  I talked with Beth about how I made one change and struggled with another.

I like walking in the morning when the weather is cool with my new dog, Mr. Carson.  I was waiting to read the paper and have a cup or two of coffee.  Often it would be too hot or I had some other time commitment.  Instead, I get out of bed and immediately get dressed to walk outside.  I do the morning chores like open windows and blinds, and bring in the paper.  Then I grab his leash, and plastic bag and start walking.  We make a quick bathroom stop and and I leave the bag near my house and start again.  I listen to a podcast on my phone and start off.  With this new routine, I am averaging walking 8 to 10 miles a week.

I wasn’t getting in my piano practicing with the nice weather.  I talked with my husband and we identified that I eat my lunch watching something on the computer.  I could use the time to read and not get “hooked” finishing a TV show, etc.  And immediately go to the piano.  I had the goal of an hour but he said, “30 minutes per day is better than 0 minutes per day.”  And the system is working.

Trail of the Coeur D’ Alene’s Summer of 2013

My next new habit is not having a snack the last hour of the day watching TV.  We only watch TV usually the last hour before bed.  We reinforce each other to have a small snack.  When we are on vacation, we seldom watch TV and don’t snack.  I always say when we return from vacation that I won’t watch TV at night but read.  But I never do.  I give the excuse that I am too tired from all the chores once we get back in town.  I need to start breaking that habit at night.  Also I will end up getting more sleep because I won’t spend time reading longer in bed.  I think I will see two very positive results–increased weight loss with no hunger and more sleep resulting in more energy.

Posted in Early Retirement Life | Leave a comment

Are You a Foodie Quiz

1) Do you have White Vinegar, Rice Vinegar, Cider Vinegar, and White Wine Vinegar in your cupboard?  (4 Pts)    Give yourself a point for every type you do have in the cupboard.

2) Do you have both white and dark balsamic vinegar?  (2 points)

3) Do you have more a colored salt or specialty salt like truffle?  (1 point per salt)  Kosher doesn’t count.

4)Do you have dried mustard and Dijon Mustard? (2 points)

5) Do you fresh garlic?  2 points  garlic any form 1 point

6) Do you have specialty Asian sauces like fish sauce, oyster sauce, tiger sauce, Thai Chili sauce, bean paste, Sriracha sauce?  1 Point for each sauce

7) Do you have quinoa, faro, bulger, and orzo on your shelf?  4 Points  One point if you know how to use them in cooking.

8)Do you have bleu cheese, feta cheese, a Mexican Cheese like queso fresco or cotijo,  Boursin, goat, or sharp cheddar?  1 pt each

9) Have you used frozen puff pastry?  2 points

10) Have you combined recipes because you didn’t like the components of the recipe?  2 points

11) Do you grow herbs or vegetables for use or go to a farmer’s market and get them?  5 points


1-10 Points – You need to learn to cook at home

11-20 Points – You cook but you could be more adventureous

21- 25- You like to try new dishes but may not be cutting edge

26 Plus–You could work in the local cutting edge restaurant.  You may need help with pork belly but most dishes will be fun to create!

I thought of this quiz when I was looking for rice vinegar and Terakiyi sauce the other night.  I also had recently cleaned out the cheese and meat container in the refrigerator.  I don’t have goat cheese currently but I left off Tiger Sauce from the list.  Maybe I should get my Food Handler’s license so I can go to work for someone in town.





Posted in Early Retirement Life | Leave a comment

A Hazy Shade of Winter

The winter of 2016-17 was so long. My home town was 4th on the National Weather Misery Index.  The Misery Index looks at amount of snow, days below freezing, days of snow on the ground, and days without sunshine.  In order from worst-Bismark, Billings, Great Falls,  and then Spokane.   I think the weather contributed to getting 2 sinus infections.  I got a dog in September.  Mr. Carson is a Blenheim Cavalier.  We enjoyed walking outside until the weather would warm enough to make ice on the streets which lasted until mid February.  I did spend time practicing the piano and organizing the house.   I still have boxes and albums of photos to purge but I have a nice work space and a shelf to store our yoga mats.  I was 50% Hygge the winter of 2016 – 2017.

Posted in Early Retirement Life | Leave a comment

A Long December

A Long December  –Counting Crows
A long December and there’s reason to believe-Maybe this year will be better than the last.  I can’t remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin’.  Now the days go by so fast.

Many people feel the loss of cultural icons this week with the death of George Michael,  Carrie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds.   Almost 500,000 people killed in Syria,  4,000 people drowned trying to escape the violence in their homes.  Bombings of civilians worshiping, shopping, attending sporting events—all peaceful and universal activities.


Freedom Tour- Boston

And yet as Mark Wahlenberg  states in the soon to be released movie Patriot’s Day, “..I have seen Good vs Evil, Love vs Hate, the only thing to respond with is Love.”  The producer said,  “Hate took weeks to plan but love responded in an instant. ”

George Michael was a secret philanthropist.  His good works didn’t come to light until his recent death.  Debbie Reynolds started an organization for mental health The Thalians, the charitable organization founded by entertainers in 1955 to promote the awareness and treatment of mental health issues.  Thalians means Comics. Reynolds served as the group’s president almost continuously from 1957 to 2011 as the Thalians raised millions it contributed to the Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai and UCLA’s Operation Mend, which assisted military veterans.

My resolutions are to be patient and kind in 2017.   To share random acts of kindness and to think:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians  Chapter  4, verses  8-9  The Bible

Blessings in 2017


Isla Mujeres November 2016

Posted in Early Retirement Life | Leave a comment

Dakota Rose and other Roses

Dakota Rose is a beautiful piano piece by John Nilsen.   You can check it out on

John Nilsen, Dakota Rose – YouTube
I am listening to the song from the album I bought, it makes a great sound track.  I replaced the wild rose at the edge of my front porch with a new yellow rose, Julia Child.  Although it doesn’t smell like her kitchen with garlic and olive oil, the fragrance is lovely. I had a high tea with a friend from childhood that raised old roses to sell.  She is another rose in the garden of my life.   She explained that the yellow rose I had died at the graft.  The red wild rose was the root stock for the graft because the plant is very healthy.  It grew like crazy and flowered for only a day.  In the Encore of Life, I appreciate the slow reveal, the delicate, the need to nurture and substance over volume and empty.  front porchjulia child rose



Posted in Early Retirement Life | Leave a comment

Bombs away, Say Geronimo! Song by Shepard—— The Sacred and the Secular


In my spin class last week, the song by the band,  Shepard,  was played.  I was intrigued that a young, Australian pop band could revisit the battle cry of their great -grandparents.  WWII soldiers parachuting out of planes shouting the name,” Geronimo”.  The battle yell came after seeing a movie about an Apache chief that fought the US Army while vastly outnumbered, the ultimate warrior.  Which is ironic because it is ultimately the name,Jerome, coming from Greek for Sacred.  And yet defending one’s home, religion, and culture is sacred and make require the ultimate sacrifice as our young adults see with the rise of Isis and domestic terrorism.

But the band’s song is not written about warfare but jumping into a commitment with another person. The same total loss of self.  True commitment to a person or idea can also be sacred.  Although as adjust the tension on my spin bike and sing with the song, the setting is hardly a holy space.  Yet I remember the young men jumping out of planes and riding in Humvees, the young adults creating families, taking risks in careers and relationships, and a quick prayer is lifted  in thankfulness for the sacrifices of  past generations and protection and prosperity for ones of the future.   St. Paul directed people of faith to “pray without ceasing” which meant throughout the day, not just in times of worship or need–so chopping vegetables in the kitchen, pulling weeds in the garden, jogging, or hanging on to the spin bike can– all become sacred spaces with awareness.

When I started writing this blog after a break, I was going to write about the outward life since receiving a Fitbit as a delayed Christmas gift.  With the growing secularism of the West, the outer and inner life are shown in the media as separate and yet both lives are lived as one for many, many people  not just in formal institutions of church, temple, mosque.

“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
Mary Oliver

Maybe I need to be unafraid to share both my inner and outer life, to think of dangerous and noble things, to be light and frolicsome in my later years and risk looking silly or foolish.  I realize playing the piano with adults next month that played for years before returning, with my baby fingers playing from book 2,  I will meet this goal.  Walking a 1/2 marathon with the goal to finish before everyone goes home with enjoyment and laughter  is light.  Spending time in a prayer vigil is a noble act.

Bombs away, Say Geronimo!




Posted in Early Retirement Life | Leave a comment

No Quiet Life of Desperation but one of Dangerous and Noble Things

“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”
Mary Oliver, Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays

I discovered the poet Mary Oliver reading the newest autobiography by Diana Nyad.  She overcame  horrific childhood abuses by proving that she was strong and special as a young woman –to realize with age that she didn’t have to be a special person but live a life that was special.   At the age of 60, she decided to swim to Cuba, a life long dream–after not swimming for  30 years as a long distance swimmer.

At the age of 10, she felt life was racing past her.  At 60 she knows life is zooming by.  She tries to be in the moment, not dwelling in the past or gazing toward the future.  So I ask myself, “What will I do with the possible  last 20 good years ?” as Mary Oliver asks in the quote in Diana’s book, 

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ ‘ 


Posted in Early Retirement Life | Leave a comment