The Day Our World in Butte County Changed. #CampFire2018

The Day Our World in Butte County Changed. #CampFire2018

We awoke to one of those crisp, crystal clear autumn mornings where we could see all the way to the coastline from our perch. From the moment I looked out our window during breakfast and saw a menacing plume of smoke racing across the sky, with gray ashes falling into the pool, our world here in Butte County has been forever changed.

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A Sweet Bridal Brunch on the Canyon

A Sweet Bridal Brunch on the Canyon

Remembering this sweet bridal brunch on the canyon for the beautiful bride-to-be, also my honeymoon travel client, Jordyn. She and her family are longtime Chico residents and have become my dear friends in recent years. We had such fun celebrating Jordyn’s upcoming nuptials in this beautiful spot on the canyon.

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Wine Country Fires Bring Devastation, Heartbreak and Resolve.

Wine Country Fires Bring Devastation, Heartbreak and Resolve.

I'm nearly at a loss for words watching the devastating fires in our beautiful wine country. We are hearing reports of family and friends who have lost their homes. This image from iconic Signorello Estate a couple of years back that burned to the ground last night. Thoughts and prayers for everyone impacted by the firestorms.

Update: It's been nearly a week since the catastrophic firestorms exploded in wine country and it still feels surreal. This is a place where I have both lived and visited regularly for most of my life and it always feels like home. Praying that winds calm for brave firefighters and predicted rains help put an end to the destruction. Sending love and prayers to family & friends who have lost homes and livelihoods.

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Retirement for Two: "So What Do I Actually Do Now?"

Retirement for Two: "So What Do I Actually Do Now?"

I’ve received so many comments and emails about my retirement series as I made the leap from school psychologist to launching my Curated Travel business, a year ago. From making the bold decision, to steps along the way, saying goodbye, even my changing spending habits, I chronicled my journey this last year in these posts: Retirement Series. There are a number of readers who are planning on retirement in the near future and curious about how it feels to go through this experience. It’s been fun to share our experience.

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Throwback Travel: Our Honeymoon in Zihuatanejo

Throwback Travel: Our Honeymoon in Zihuatanejo

Just yesterday I came across an album of old photographs and was mesmerized by the grainy images, long forgotten, captured between the slightly dusty covers. It was an album of our honeymoon, back at the ‘turn of the century’, in 2000.  This was before digital cameras, Facebook check-ins, camera phones, and selfie sticks.  It was pure, unadulterated relaxation and romance, just like any honeymoon should be. Due to hurricane season being in full swing in September, we opted for a honeymoon destination on the western coast of Mexico, now known as the Viceroy Zihuatanejo.

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What I Gained By Giving Up My Shopping Habit [Retirement Series]

What I Gained By Giving Up My Shopping Habit [Retirement Series]

The last time I indulged in my regular shopping habit was June 2016.  This may sound odd, but I’m tracking how long it’s been since I have darkened the door of my previous shopping addiction, TJMAXX.  It’s been nearly 10 months. I’m sure my friends working at the checkout stand assume I’m pushing up daisies by now!

As with many life transitions, like retirement/reinvention, being conscientious with finances is an essential piece of the puzzle.  I’m impressed by how much cutting the excess shopping can ease the strain of a reduced income. It’s a simple, but effective formula.

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The Fine Art of the Romantic Gesture [It Doesn't Cost a Thing!]

Nothing like my husband being gone the weekend before Valentine's Day to make me feel nostalgic and sentimental. I've been in a mood to clear the clutter and organize this winter, so I dug into boxes of old photographs and cards this weekend for a stroll down memory lane.

I was reminded of the fine art of the romantic gesture; it costs absolutely nothing (or nearly nothing if you buy a card). This is a good one. Nearly 20 years from when we first met, this romantic gesture still fans the flame around our house. The first year I started this blog I somehow got Scott to agree to share his perspective on how to make your love interest swoon.

These are just a few of my vast collection of romantic cards, and notes, from my guy. They are still the first thing I would grab in a fire, so I've now taken to capturing a few of them on my camera for safe-keeping.

I would share the notes, but perhaps it's best to keep some things private--even for a lifestyle blogger. ;)

If you are looking for a swoon-worthy Valentine's Day dinner in the Chico area, Bacio Catering and Carryout has the most delicious menu for a romantic Valentine's Dinner at home.

Check out the menu for this Valentine's Day:

You can still order for Valentine's Day here!

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Curated Travel

 

5 Romantic Places to Dine Like Star-Crossed Lovers - Curated Travel

5 Romantic Places to Dine Like Star-Crossed Lovers - Curated Travel

Let’s face it, sometimes we all need a little inspiration to bring the romance back into life. It’s so easy to let day-to-day stresses zap the life blood out of a relationship. If you are needing a few ideas to enhance a date night, a couple of these romantic places to dine that might just set the stage.

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5 Surprising Things I've Learned in Retirement [Pt. 5]

5 Surprising Things I've Learned in Retirement

1 -  It's surprising, I only need about 1/3 of the current wardrobe in my closet. Most of those pencil skirts, silk blouses, short jackets and mid-height heels are simply not as necessary with my new lifestyle of working from home. Hello consignment shop and donations bags for the items that don't thrill me! I will need to spend some time creating my casual/active wear day-to-day style but I'm not in a huge rush. For now, I'm weeding through what I already have and no  longer need. That process always feels good.

2 - Integrating my work office and my home office spaces was more difficult than I anticipated. Odd little things like which stapler, pencil cup or desk accessory to keep for my home office space gave me pause. Some of these tools had been my daily essentials, in two separate work spaces, for many years. Figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of took some time so I decided not to rush the process. I'm finally completely unpacked and organized into my home office space.

3 - It is no surprise that waking up to an unstructured schedule reduces a tremendous amount of stress.  It's a bit like a perpetual week of Sundays and it's a life changer! I feel like I can now plan my days, weeks and life with more intentionality. One of my main goals has been to restructure my priorities and fitness is right at the top. One of the best changes is that I've added a consistent yoga/Pilates schedule to my week and have even started scheduling them in my calendar. When I make an intentional appointment it helps with my commitment. Though it could be tempting to loll on the couch and watch reruns of "Flipping Out" or "Below Deck", I'm finding my days are quite busy and productive.

4 - When you make a big life change, and leave a day-to-day workplace behind, you can't know how much you will stay in touch. I'm happy to report that friends/colleagues from my former workplace want to connect. I've been surprised at how many texts, calls and invitations I have received. It feels good not to be forgotten. I also find that I'm more of a "Yes" person now. My husband (the more spontaneous one) loves that I agree to more gatherings and events now that I'm not as stressed out with work.

5 - Despite the euphoria of retirement -- real life intrudes -- no surprise.  Whether it's a medical issue, as with our sweet kitty, Jack, or the ongoing concern for a close family member struggling with serious addiction issues, real life is that rude awakening sometimes. It is easier to be consumed with worry, or attempt to solve problems beyond control, when you have more free time. It's important to stay focused on life balance, especially when serious issues creep to the forefront. Keeping that balance is one of the main reasons Scott and I committed to turning off the phone and celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary last weekend. It was lovely and thank you for the wonderful wishes!!

Have you been surprised by anything lately??

 

Real Life: The Deepest Kind of Loss

As a school psychologist, I've grown familiar with being a first responder to crisis and grief. We are well versed in the stages of grief and have the resources at hand whenever there is a crisis. When the deepest kind of loss, the loss of a child, strikes at the heart of our school community, it is much more difficult to process.

Frankly, I'm at a loss...

This week, my long-time friend, and principal of our school, Maryanne and her husband, Brooks, lost their precious 8-year-old Wyatt, due to complications from newly diagnosed leukemia. He was suffering from flu like symptoms last week, transported to a regional hospital in Sacramento, and we heard there was a possible diagnosis of leukemia. Wyatt and his family were going to FIGHT this!!! They were gearing up and so strong. Then the unimaginable news filtered through the school, and on tearful phone calls, on Tuesday. Wyatt had just passed away.

I've known Maryanne since I started working at BCOE nearly 16 years ago. She was a teacher at our school and is now our principal. I remember plopping down in her office when the principal job at our school became available and "begging" her to consider taking it. We were thrilled when she did. Maryanne is a bright light to our school and programs.  Her office is just a couple of doors from mine, and I always love to hear her vivacious laughter. She's that kind of person--warmth and kindness exude from her. Wyatt was like that too.

This is not the first time the family has dealt with loss. Brooks lost his first wife to leukemia. When he married Maryanne, she became a step-mom to his son, Shane. This family has already been touched by grief and loss. To now endure this, the loss of a child, is simply heartbreaking beyond words.

It goes against the natural order of life.

I wasn't planning to share this story, it's not mine to tell, though we are all grieving for our friends.  I read one of Maryanne's posts on Facebook in which she told us to feel free to share as they need as much support "as there is in the universe to make peace with this loss".

Wyatt was a happy kid and a friend to all. People absolutely adored him. From wearing Dodger blue ribbons with his number 12 on them, to moments of silence at his team Little League game, to words of compassion written on butcher paper by classmates, Wyatt is being remembered. I know his parents are being comforted by hearing the stories of how Wyatt navigated his world. Friends of Brooks and Maryanne have also started a Go Fund Me campaign to "Build a Buddy Bench" at his Sierra View School to memorialize this wonderful boy, wise beyond his years, in a way that will be a gift to others. Even in grief for the deepest kind of loss, this family is thinking of others. Their strength is absolutely inspiring.

I reached out to Maryanne to see if she would mind my sharing their story and the Go Fund Me link with my wonderful blog readers. She thanked me and sent me a big red heart. I only wish I could do more at this time.  Please, from wherever you are today, I would appreciate a thought or a prayer for our friends, Maryanne, Brooks and Shane, as they navigate this new phase of life. Wishing them peace.

Hug your family today.

Life is so precious.

xx

Update: Maryanne has started a very moving blog, Salt Water Tides.