A Winter Walk + A Little Link Love

Everyday Magic on a winter walk

Everyday Magic on a winter walk

These days it’s more than a little dark, damp, chilly and gloomy in Portland.  It that almost-Spring time of year when I usually come down with a huge case of cabin fever and start stuffing myself with chocolate.  I’m not picky.   Anything that’s baked with chocolate, coated in chocolate, chocolate bars, See’s chocolates, dipped in chocolate, smells like chocolate or, the worst, something that sort of resembles chocolate when I dig it out from the bottom of my purse.

This year I am trying a new tack.  I have been taking myself outside on daily walking adventures whatever the weather (mostly) looking for a little Everyday Magic.  It started with the photography class I took last month.  Instead of just complaining about the ugly piles of brown gunk and dead leaves everywhere, I am looking at winter with new eyes – through my camera.  And I’m loving it.  I put together the collage above using a few of the photos I took on a recent outing.  Just me and my iphone camera.  Who knew brown came in so many beautiful shades?  Other than chocolate that is.

I also wanted to share a little link love with you.  Here are five blog posts I really enjoyed this week and I hope you do as well.

Amazing Winter Snow Art

There’s No Place Like Rome

Love it or Leave it

Where will boomers spend their golden years?

and…this recipe for gorgeous no-flour chocolate cake

Cheers to a happy weekend filled with your own everyday magic.Nancy


Life is Good ~


I took this photo while walking to my gate at the Las Vegas airport last Sunday.

As I’m figuring out how we’re going to make our goal of a backpack and rollie life in retirement work, this just about says it all.

Thanks, Life is Good guys for the inspiration.  I loved your shop at the airport and I am very impressed by your business model.  You are a great example of doing well by doing good!

Goodreads the Sequel ~ 25 Books on My Must Read List

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.        Charles W. Eliot

Several weeks ago in this post, I mentioned that I had joined the online book club Goodreads and in a moment of enthusiasm signed up to read 50 books before the end of the year and report on them.  I really love the idea of being able to get honest opinions on books from friends and follow readers rather than the glowing praise that authors seems to heap on each other’s books these days.  Since I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut lately, mostly in the fiction-lite or what am I going to do with the rest of my life self improvement categories, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to broaden my horizons.  So… I asked for your input.  What’s on your nightstand?  What is your all time favorite book?  Wow, what an enthusiastic response!  Thank you for all of the great suggestions. Your titles included every genre from poetry to sci-fi (two that I would not gravitate to on my own), and everything in between.

I promised to share my list with you and here are the first twenty five. I decided to include every book that was recommended and I’d really love to keep this conversation open.  If you read a new book that you’ve enjoyed and want to recommend, please let me know in the comments here on the blog, via Facebook or Goodreads and I’ll add them to my list.  As I complete each book, I’ll be sharing my own reviews on Goodreads. IMG_1765

Here’s the list so far.

1. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (I started this one last night and I’m loving it already)
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (like Astra who recommended this book, this will be a re-read)
3. Songs of Ourselves by Walt Whitman (poetry)
4. Outlander by D. Gallbadon (this is not my usual genre but with 2 recommendations it made the list)
5. The Giver by Lois Lowry
6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
7. On the Road by Jack Keroauc
8. Swimming by Joanna Hershon
9. Food Rules by Michael Pollan
10. When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams
11. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by
12. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
13. About Food by Mark Bittman
14. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
15. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz
16. Walk Across the Sun by Corbin Addison
17. The Elements of Story by Francis Flaherty
18. The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson
19. Pastic Free – How I Kicked The Plastic Habit & You Can Too by Beth Terry
20. The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor
21. Turn of Mind by Alice la Plante
22. Crossing on the Paris – Dana Gynther
23. Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein (great book! so I’m reading it again)
24. False Memory by Deane Koontz
25. Camino de Santiago – to Walk Far, Carry Less by Jean Christie

What an eclectic list you created.  I am looking forward to some very interesting reads and my guess is that there are a few titles here that inspire you as well.

Now, it’s definitely time for a cup of tea, a comfy chair, my reading glasses and The Paris Wife.

                     Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.   Groucho Marx

Happy Reading!

Road Trip ~ a mini adventure

I’m taking a fabulous online writing course Writing in the Digital Age with writer/blogger/photographer/simple living guru Tammy Strobel.   A recent assignment was to take ourselves on a mini adventure and write about it.  Last Saturday morning when the hubs asked his usual “What fun things are we doing today?” I told him about my homework assignment and asked if he wanted to join me.  Of course he did!  He’s always a willing side-kick when fun and food are involved.

So, with camera in hand and a full tank of gas, we headed out for a wintertime drive through Oregon farm country.   We really got a feel for the rhythms of nature as we drove past dormant farm land that just a few months ago was lush with the colors of ripe berries, apples, wheat and corn.  Spring is in the air though.  This shot captured the vibrant green shoots just starting to pop through the soil.

15 minutes and we're in farm land and rolling hills

15 minutes and we’re in farm land and rolling hills

Our first stop was the town of Dundee in the heart of wine country where we fortified ourselves with hot chocolate and home made sweet rolls.  Pure indulgence and about a six inch slice of heaven.  The Red Hills Market is a hidden gem.  Delicious local foods, good wines and a bocce ball court out back.  I’m already picturing a bocce ball tournament here this summer.

Red Hills Market - what a great find in Dundee

Red Hills Market – what a great find in Dundee

From Dundee we drove on about 20 miles to McMinnville.  I love this place.  It is the quintessential small town – just the right mix of old and new.  Farmers whose families have tilled the land for over a hundred years and the new breed of farmer – the vineyard owners. Beautiful wineries dot the hillsides and farms stands line country roads.   College kids, gruff old geezers, and all manner of artists and creative types come together in a tasty stew of history, culture, art and a love of the land and its bounty.

Somali tea vendor and cowboy hippie wood carver share a moment at the McMinnville Market

Somali tea vendor and cowboy hippie wood carver share a moment at the McMinnville Market

We strolled the McMinnville Public Market a year-round, indoor public market and farmers market featuring local produce, meats, wines, cuisine, baked goods, artisan goods, music and amazing people watching.  This city-girl liberal had several very interesting political conversations with folks from way over on the other side.  And, in the end, we found a large swath of common ground.  There is hope!   We walked, we talked, we ogled all manner of goodies that wouldn’t fit in the backpack-and-rollie and all we bought was beautiful purple kale, leeks and just-picked spinach for dinner.  However, if you ever need a carved wooden train set or bird house, I know just the place to find one – or beautiful hand sewn aprons like these…

McMinnville Farmers Market

McMinnville Farmers Market

Continuing on, we also cruised Main Street, the city park, and a winery or two, but my favorite find of the day had to be Shaggy Showers Dog Wash and the handsome new friend I met there.

Shaggy Showers Shampooches

Shaggy Showers Shampooches

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

My friend Lois reminds me that adventures are everywhere – you just have to look for them.    Like beauty, adventure is in the eye of the beholder (or adventurer).  Thanks Tammy for inspiring this mini-adventure afternoon and helping me flex my writing muscles.

Voluntourism ~ One More Travel Option for Retirees

For those of us who were just coming of age when President John Kennedy told us to “ask not what our country could do for us, but we could do for our country” and then a year later established the Peace Corps, volunteering in some capacity has always been a way of life.  We’ve served meals, collected coats, walked and run for a cause, built houses, sold cookies and knocked on doors.  A few of us actually took the leap (no, not me) and joined the Peace Corps back in the day.  We love to help.  We feel good when we can make a difference.

As I’m setting the wheels in motion for our JustaBackPack lifestyle, this idea of voluntourism keeps popping up.  Apparently I am not alone.  Volunteer vacations have become a growing trend among retirees.  These days you don’t have to join the Peace Corps and commit two years of your life to sleeping in a hammock in a remote village (although you still can if you want to).  You can travel to exotic destinations and serve others through a wide range of short-term volunteer projects – either overseas or right here in the U.S.  Most trips last from a few days to a few weeks.  And, here’s the best part – although the accommodations are modest in most cases, they are clean, safe, comfortable and come with indoor plumbing.

Here’s your chance to teach English, build a school, work with children and teens, assist IMG_0109 with community and environmental projects, or track chimps through the trees of Uganda.  The opportunities are endless and the need is great.  From what I’ve read, no special skills are required.   If you’ve got a strong desire to get involved and the ability to connect with the local people, good health and an adventurous spirit, you’re good to go.

Yes, you do have to pay for the privilege of volunteering.  It’s not cheap, but it just might be your trip of a lifetime.

I found quite a few organizations offering volunteer opportunities for us “older folk”.  Lots of people go through their church or local civic organizations.  That’s a great place to start.  A friend of mine has recently been on volunteer trips to Africa and Israel with her church and they were life changing.  Now she wants to go to Haiti.  At 74, she is living her travel dreams and having amazing adventures.  Go girl!  I hope I’m right behind you.

If this idea of travel + volunteering sparks something in you too, you might want to check out these sites for more information:

Habitat For Humanity – Offers a variety of house-building trips through its Global Village Program.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Earthwatch Institute – As an Earthwatch volunteer you can help world-renowned scientists conduct important field research.

Discover Corps –  Explore ancient archaeological ruins, hike through beautiful landscapes and relax on pristine white sand beaches.  It is an arm of the Peace Corps.

Cross Cultural Solutions –  Offers a wide variety of service projects combined with sight-seeing and cultural experiences.

Have you been on a volunteer vacation?  Did you go with an organization?  How was your experience and would you go again?  Inquiring minds want to know!









Walk this Way ~ Six Great Tips for a Successfull Walking Program

As a gal who plans to celebrate her 65th birthday by walking 65+ miles of the Camino de Santiago, I have been a little too attached to settling my butt into a comfy chair and watching the world go by.  The last few warm weeks of 2012 sparked both hubby and I to lace up our walking shoes.  We easily put up 6-8 miles on each weekend day.  Not too shabby.  Especially for the old guy, who thought walking was that thing you did to get to the car.  We had a goal.  We were working it.  And then…winter arrived in the Pacific Northwest and our walking days appeared to be over.  My shoes stood in the closet waiting patiently, but I ignored them for days, weeks, and now a couple of months.  They say it takes 30 days to MAKE a habit, and I’m here to tell you it takes a only couple of days of cold, dark and wet to break one.

So, now that Spring is right around the corner and we can count the weeks until we leave for Spain (29 to be exact), it’s time to kick our walking program into gear or we’ll be riding the Sag Wagon of Shame across Spain. And, that’s not going to happen if I have anything to say about it.

Since a body at rest tends to stay at rest and it’s time to get this body back in motion, I went looking for a little motivation and inspiration.   I found just what I needed at  Wonders of Walking and everybodywalk.org

Here are a six great tips to help you (and me) get back the healthy walking habit:

1.  Tell others and find a walking buddy.  Telling others somehow makes me more accountable to stick with it.   Having a walking date with friends (or the hubs) will get you out the door even when you don’t feel like it.

2.  Have a weather plan.  It’s winter.  It’s dark and cold and icy and wet.  Don’t use the weather as an excuse.  Worst case, walk at the mall or on the dreaded treadmill at the gym.  Really, unless it’s pouring rain, you’ll warm up pretty quickly and enjoy being outdoors so much that it’s worth a little cold.  Gloves, hat, warm socks and good shoes are a must.  And a hankie.  Why does the cold make your nose drip?

3.  Start Slow.  If you haven’t been walking for a while (or ever), don’t go for the ten miler on your first day.  Thirty minutes a day at least five days a week can make a huge difference in your health.  Your can do the 30 minutes in 10 minute increments if you need to.  Do what you can and work up from there.

4.  Keep a log.  Buy a pedometer and wear it.  Shoot for 10,000 steps a day and then keep going.   Or, try one of the phone apps like everybodywalk.  I just got mine.  It looks great.  I’ll let you know how it works.  It’s motivating to watch your steps and miles add up.

5.  Sign up for a charity walk.   These walks are fun, festive, and you are doing a good thing for others while you are doing good for yourself.  Win/Win.  Plus, there is nothing like walking across a finish line.  You feel a sense of accomplishment – no matter how long it took you.

6.  Join a walking group.   Whether its a group of friends that meets three mornings a week or one of the local AVA groups, walking with others creates social opportunities of being with others who share similar goals and interests.  I’ve been curious about Volkswalking for a few years now.  I think this is the perfect time to join up.  What a great way to meet new people, explore walking routes all over the country.

What are your favorite walking tips?

Love Notes for Friday ~

We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.

A Perfect Pair

A Perfect Pair

Love is in the air this week.  We don’t make a big deal of Valentine’s Day at our house.  It feels too much like a Hallmark Holiday.  We try to show love in our everyday acts.  I am grateful just to know that I am sharing my life with a man who “gets” me in all my craziness and loves me anyway.

When I saw this photo I knew it was hubs and I for sure.   I’m the little princess in my tiara and he’s my man of mystery always willing to go along for the ride.   Honey, I love you!

I also wanted to share a little link love with you.  Here are five blog posts I really enjoyed this week.

Old does not mean slow

Managing Mom’s Money

The World Needs More Love Letters

Host An ARTBreak in your community

Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Salted Carmel Brownies 


Have a fun and fabulous weekend!



P.S.  This photo is from a card I received years ago.  I do not know who took it to give attribution.  Sorry.

What are you planning for your Third Act?

I am a big fan of TED Talks.   What began as an annual get-together of the brightest minds in technology and entertainment to share their creative ideas and vision for the world, has grown into an amazing resource of information and inspiration for all of us.  From the comfort of my own home, on my own time, I too can be awed by brilliant minds, stories of courage and humorous insights that are inspiring change and lighting the dark in every corner of this planet.

As a sixty-something woman who is still searching for meaning and purpose in my life, I love Jane Fonda’s concept that today’s 60 year old’s have about 30 years of extended life.  Not long ago, that was an entire lifetime.  In her talk at TEDx Women, Jane speaks about this additional life span as Life’s Third Act.  I’ve been spending a lot of time lately researching and planning for my own Third Act so finding this talk the other day was perfect timing.  Jane had some really interesting insights and good food for thought and I was ready to listen and learn.

Plus, at 74, that woman looks hot!

Thanks Jane for sharing your voice and your wisdom on the art of aging.



Thanks for the memories ~

I just spent the past week with a woman who has been a dear friend since the early 1970’s.  When we first met, I was newly married and still childless.  Bell bottoms were high fashion and shag carpet came in burnt orange.  We have remained friends for over forty years and although we don’t see each other very often, it’s amazing how we can pick up the conversation as if we had spoken just the day before.  Good friends are like that.  Our friendship has outlasted a couple of husbands and more than a few boyfriends.  One of us (me) moved several times while the other has lived in the same home for 43 years.  Life goes on and yet some things never change.

Which brings me to the subject of memories.  Isn’t it amazing how you can talk for an hour about something that happened 30 years ago…. but, dammit, you can’t remember where you put your wallet or the name of the person you just met?  We talked about that a lot this past week, my friend and I.

Is it Alzheimer’s?  How many times has that thought flitted through your mind?  If you are like me, more than you care to admit.  Well, the good news is that Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.  Most of us won’t get it.   Fewer than 1 in 5 people over 65 and less than half of people over 85 have the disease.  That’s the good news.  The not so great news is that our brains do change over time.  Some cognitive abilities actually continue to improve (yea), some stay constant and some unfortunately decline.  Both episodic (when you forget your doctor’s appointment or what you went into the kitchen to get) and long term memory decline as we age.  Information processing, learning new things and doing more than one task at a time also become more difficult with age.

The American Psychological Association suggests some ways to keep your brain functioning a little better, at every age.

Be Social –   Hanging out with your friends and joining community activities improves mood and memory function.  Girls’ night is good for your brain.

Get Moving – Exercise, including brisk walking and dancing, help boost and maintain brain function.   Get that blood pumping!

Brain Training –  There are websites you can join such as Luminosity or try simple mnemonic strategies to improve learning and memory.  You might remember this one from 5th grade geography.   The names of the Great Lakes are: Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario. You can remember the order from west to east with the following: Super Man Helps Every One.

Check Your Hearing –  If you can’t see it or hear it, you probably aren’t going to learn it or remember it.  Just sayin’.

Pay Attention –  Try to avoid some of the distractions that divert your attention such as loud noises, TV in the background, talking and not watching where you are going.  Focus on one thing at a time and then move on the to next.  I learned that lesson the time I could not find my car in the parking lot at the airport.  It was raining.  It was midnight.  I was not happy.   Since that night, whenever I park, I always stop, make a mental note of my location and then write it down on the parking ticket.  I can’t tell you how many times that extra couple of minutes has saved me and my sanity.

Use Memory Aids –  Keep to do lists.  Establish routines.  Keep everything in it’s place – have a place for things like keys, glasses and cell phones and put them there – every time. Use the calendar on your phone or computer – they will remind you of important appointments.

Don’t Buy into ageist stereotypes about memory decline.  Studies have shown that having positive beliefs about aging can improve memory performance in older adults.

My first memory lapse is still vivid in my mind.  I was a single mom in my late 30’s, driving home from work, kids in the back, thinking about dinner, homework, the long, long, long To Do List and when I stopped at a red light a few blocks from my house, I could not  decide if I should turn left or right.  I literally could not remember how to get home!   So, now when my memory fails me, I remind myself that it’s probably not Alzheimer’s, it just my brain on overload.  The brain can only take so much and it needs a break.   It’s my signal that it’s time to make a cup of tea, ease into my comfy chair and close out the world for a few minutes.

And, to my dear friend Betty… Thanks for the memories!  The ones we’ve made over forty years and all of the fabulous new ones we made this past week.

Enjoying the oyster sampler at Southpark.

Enjoying the oyster sampler at Southpark.



Food For Thought ~

At 20, we worry about what other people think of us.

At 40, we don’t care about what other people think of us.

Weekend Cheer from The Queens of Quite-a-Lot
Weekend Cheer from The Queens of Quite-a-Lot

At 60, we realize they haven’t been thinking about us at all!

And, I think that’s a very good thing.  Happy Friday.