Those Someday Goals http://www.thosesomedaygoals.com Changing a Life, One Goal at a Time Sat, 25 May 2019 19:42:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.4 It’s Never Too Early to Start Planning Your Next Spa Trip to Desert Hot Springs /2019/05/08/its-never-too-early-to-start-planning-your-next-spa-trip-to-desert-hot-springs/ /2019/05/08/its-never-too-early-to-start-planning-your-next-spa-trip-to-desert-hot-springs/#respond Wed, 08 May 2019 21:35:37 +0000 /?p=6898   If you are looking for an oasis-like spot in the middle of Desert Hot Springs, California, The Spring Resort & Spa is your spot.…

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If you are looking for an oasis-like spot in the middle of Desert Hot Springs, California, The Spring Resort & Spa is your spot. It has all the positives: clean rooms, multiple thermal pools and a full day spa. Plus, it’s only minutes from the restaurants and entertainment of Palm Springs.

 

Andy surprised me with a trip to The Spring Resort & Spa for my last birthday. I had been feeling a bit down about my lack of career progress, and it was just the thing I needed to recharge and get excited about working again. Because, as you might know, working by a pool is always a good idea.

The Rooms
We took a deluxe room right by two of the hot spring-fed pools. The mineral springs are said to have healing and therapeutic values. For me, it was all about finding relaxation and letting go of all the negatives that I had been holding onto since I had a terrible meeting with a would-be manager earlier in the year.

There are 12 rooms in total at the resort, with nine of them surrounding the mineral pools. Our deluxe room allowed us direct access to the main swimming pool (which is delightfully warm, but still refreshing) and the first of the hot pools (my favorite). The room was immaculate (my first requirement for any stay), with wood floors and a long-bench that featured space for luggage and offered up refreshing beverages. The bathroom was clean with exclusive bath products and an energetic showerhead that helped wash off the desert. The only downside of the room was that there was no desk inside of it. It turned out not to be a problem because there was a table for two just outside of our door that had a view of the pool and was perfect for getting work done in-between soaks.

If you are coming with friends, family or just want extra space to work, choose one of the suites or the villa. They tend to be quiet and sit closer to the spa.

The View from our room

 

Our outdoor office
Our roadrunner buddy came to visit while we were working.

 

The Spa
Andy’s mom had gifted me with a spa massage, and I was so excited to give it a try. I’m not terribly adventurous, so I went with a traditional Swedish, and it was fantastic. I felt utterly decadent – exactly how you should feel if you are celebrating a special occasion or just there for some long-overdue self-care. They have a comprehensive menu of healing treatments, and you can sign up at the check-in desk when you arrive or come in during your stay to make your selection.

 

The Pools
As I mentioned, the mineral pools range from bath water to truly toasty. I don’t go for the extreme heat, but Andy loved the hottest pool that was located over by the fire pit. The water comes out of the ground at 170 degrees and then is cooled and fed into the three pools. I liked the middle-of-the-road pool the best. Also, it was covered, so when the evening winds started to blow, we didn’t get inundated by the palm fronds.

Visit the fire pit between the pools when the sun sets.

 

Restaurant/Food
There is a type of continental breakfast that has healthy options, but it is limited. In fact, the lack of a full-service restaurant at The Spring is the biggest negative there. But it is so close to downtown and Palm Springs that it didn’t stop us from having a wonderful time. It allowed us to explore a bit, and we discovered some delicious options in Palm Springs that we’ve decided to visit again when we go back.

A View of Palm Springs

When to Visit
We loved being here in March, and we’ve taken desert trips as early as February and as late as November. When the nights are cold, the mineral hot springs can feel particularly delightful. The only time I’d caution against is the summer where daytime temps can hit 120. Still, you can find good deals, the rooms are air conditioned, and the nights cool off enough to enjoy the tubs.

 

The desert flowers were already blooming in March.

 

Overall Impression
The Spring is a beautiful, relatively affordable resort and spa that is perfect for a weekend getaway or mid-week escape. While it does offer day passes for people to visit, it never feels overcrowded. Plus, early hours and evening hours are restricted just to the people staying at The Spring. It was so relaxing that whenever we get stressed, Andy and I seriously contemplate running away to visit The Spring in Desert Hot Springs, California.

Desert views

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/2019/05/08/its-never-too-early-to-start-planning-your-next-spa-trip-to-desert-hot-springs/feed/ 0 How to Declutter Your Clothing Closets and Drawers When Marie Kondo’s Method Doesn’t Work For You /2019/03/14/how-to-declutter-clothing-closets-and-drawers-when-marie-kondos-method-doesnt-work-for-you/ /2019/03/14/how-to-declutter-clothing-closets-and-drawers-when-marie-kondos-method-doesnt-work-for-you/#respond Thu, 14 Mar 2019 08:00:46 +0000 /?p=6908 You may want to turn over a minimalist leaf, or you may just be looking for a great way to declutter your clothing closets and…

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You may want to turn over a minimalist leaf, or you may just be looking for a great way to declutter your clothing closets and drawers. After our move, I was with you. But the KonMari Method wasn’t going to work for me because I wasn’t in a place where I could make that big of a change that quickly. 

 

I love the KonMari Method. I think Marie Kondo is a tidying genius. I read everything Courtney Carver writes about minimalism and decluttering. Joshua Becker rocks and The Minimalists (aka Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus) are so compelling that I have watched the documentary on Netflix at least five times. I’m sold on how damaging “fast fashion” is, and I’m a minimalist because I never want to consume mindlessly.

But even after saying all of that, I have to tell you that the KonMari method did not work for my closet right away, and as a freelancer, the Project 333 approach spearheaded by Courtney Carver didn’t seem to fit my closet decluttering needs. I wasn’t ready for them. I needed to take small steps before anything was going to “spark joy” or make it into my core wardrobe.

 

I was pretty sure I was never going to be this woman or have her closet — mostly because I’ll never be that age again, and I don’t live in an industrial loft with a white infinity screen behind a clothing rack that doesn’t reflect anything in my life.

 

What is Your Style?
Before you start removing all of your clothing from your closet and creating a mountain on your bed, think about what you really want from your wardrobe going forward. I had left a job with a corporate law firm to work as a freelance travel writer, author and screenwriter. Very little in my new life was going to require suits, pencil skirts (still love them) or an endless supply of dress pants. I didn’t have a style goal (in other words, I didn’t have a particular icon that inspired me that was also realistic for my day-to-day life), but I knew I needed a change. Where did I land? I’ve always been a little preppy. Every once in a while, I fall on a cool balance of preppy and “hip,” but most of the time I lean into preppy. This was true when I had corporate paychecks, and it remains true today. Once I committed to what look I wanted, it felt easier to start sorting through my stuff.

 

Decluttering, Closet, Clothing

Sort #1
The picture above is what my closet looked like after we moved into a place with closets built in 1929. I don’t understand why the two clothing rods in a row ever made sense because you have to walk through one packed rack of clothing to get to another one. I suppose the second rod was probably put in later in a concession to ever-growing American clothing consumption, but it was a pain in the butt from the beginning. And, weirdly, that reinforced my desire to pull out stuff that wasn’t serving my needs.

Did I take everything out of the closet at this point? No. There are some things you just know are never going to fit you again. You know some things have never really looked good on you (and those are often the things stuffed in the very back of the closet anyway). You know there are things that you got as gifts that still have tags on them that you have never worn, but hate to donate out of guilt. You know some things cost you a lot of money to buy, and you don’t want to donate them because… well, they cost a lot of money and there might be guilt there, too. This was all true for me. So, the first round was pulling out the things that I already knew in my heart were not things that I would miss. Did I donate them right away? No. I put them in two large bags and placed them in our front closet. I figured that if in six months I hadn’t thought or needed anything in those bags that I was free to move on.

I did this in two phases. I never went into the bags for any of the items. So, when the time was up, I separated them into things I was going to sell (see my notes on ThredUp here) and things I was going to donate. And I didn’t look back.

Note: Don’t feel bound by the six-month number. For people living in places with dramatically different seasons, you can condense or extend this time depending on your needs. I can wear summer clothing in LA for about 9 months out of the year, so my weed-outs had to reflect that.

Sort #2
It was time to re-review my clothing with an eye towards fit. This is not as easy as looking at a tag and seeing a size. Every brand seems to size their clothing differently and use the numbers as a vague guideline driven by horoscope rather than an exact science. It was time to try on the things that I didn’t wear often, but for some reason loved. This created another pile of things that didn’t fit correctly. Again, I put them in a bag, and I waited a few months to see if that workout plan I had initiated was going to start showing results or a promise of results. When I re-opened the bag some of the clothing did fit me better, but in some cases, the cuts were wrong for my body no matter what size I was. It was much easier to physically remove them at this point because I had already mentally gotten rid of them when I put them in the bag.

Sort #3
I was ready for a combination of KonMari and Courtney Carver. I was able to take everything out and do a real assessment of whether or not I wanted to take these items into the future with me. I knew what I needed and wanted, so creating that core wardrobe was far easier. This is not about believing that I would always have abundance and, therefore, could just replace everything. This was about actually knowing my needs. And I found myself easily able to move from my closet to my drawers and cedar chest (for winter wear) with the same attitude.

 

Decluttering closets, clothing, Marie Kondo, Courtney Carver

Am I finished decluttering? I’m close. I’ve got the KonMari folding method down in my drawers (and it absolutely works), and my closet is now only one filled clothing rod, even with the winter sweaters out (it has been surprisingly cold in LA). But decluttering and tidying is an ongoing process. I always want to be mindful of, and grateful for, what I have and what I am acquiring. In terms of creating my core wardrobe, I’m working on it. Project 333 could still be a reality for me.

Have you gone through a significant decluttering process? I’d love to hear what methods worked for you or what methods you want to try.

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Marie Kondo is NOT Telling You to Throw Out All Your Books /2019/01/17/marie-kondo-is-not-telling-you-to-throw-out-all-your-books/ /2019/01/17/marie-kondo-is-not-telling-you-to-throw-out-all-your-books/#respond Thu, 17 Jan 2019 18:45:16 +0000 /?p=6916   Marie Kondo is NOT telling you to throw out all your books. If you’ve watched either her Netflix show or read her books, she…

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Marie Kondo is NOT telling you to throw out all your books. If you’ve watched either her Netflix show or read her books, she is telling you to be mindful of about what you take into the future with you. For some people, that is going to mean taking 1,000 books with them. For some, that number is going to be 5. But it’s okay, Marie Kondo is not coming for your books. And neither are The Minimalists.

 

I’m not really sure how these things get started, but I have seen a lot of people freaking out under the assumption that Marie Kondo (or her KonMari Method) wants people to toss their books in the garbage. I’ve seen the meme going around that suggests an ideal number of 30 books on the shelf which has people very agitated and ready to call Marie Kondo “evil” for the suggestion. But I’m here to tell you, you can tidy up, follow your bliss, spark joy and be a minimalist and still keep all of your books, some of your books, two of you books, whatever. It’s not about the number, it’s about what you value.

What Did My Books Say About Me?
Up until about a year ago, I was someone who had a great deal of their identity wrapped up in her book collection. I always had dreams of a vast library (complete with moving ladder) that welcomed me home. I love books. I love the way they feel, smell and look on the shelf. I also loved what I thought having all those books said about me – I wanted people to see that I was well-read and had a wide range of interests. In short, there was a lot of my ego wrapped up in all of those books.

I had two huge wooden shelving units, one tall bedroom unit and one short, long unit filled to the brim with books when I moved into my apartment in Los Angeles. I moved those books from New Jersey, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Ohio. All totaled, I spent thousands of dollars moving books.

And I did it again. When Andy and I moved into the new place, we added two more bookshelves to the mix with Andy’s books. But the way the spaces are broken up in the new place, I started to feel claustrophobia rather than joy.

Most of those books had not been opened in a decade. More of those books had not been perused in 25 years. The out-of-date textbooks were not reference sources for my career. The old Russian, Spanish and French language books felt like an accusation when I looked at them, which was not often. I had copies of books that I hated. That’s right – I paid to move books that I hated.

Choosing Which Books To Donate

The Minimalists talk more about the things that you find valuable in life rather than “sparks of joy,” but it comes down to the same thing. I had to go through every one of those books and decide if they brought value to my life. I wanted to be ruthless, but that was impossible. Again, too much of my ego was part of this collection.

There are some books I read every year. Those were staying. There are some books that I haven’t read in years but are works that I love and those that represented a new discovery. Those were staying. Books I hadn’t read yet remained. Special books my mother gave me are still on the shelf. But hundreds of books took their leave over the course of the last year — not because of Marie Kondo, but because they no longer fit my needs. And I feel better about them being read by new people who can appreciate them rather than staying dusty on my shelf.

I refuse to throw out books (most of the time). I understand that you might need to throw out books that have food or water damage on them, but if they are in good condition, consider donating them. I started with a yard sale. All of my Penguin Classics were snatched up at the beginning of the day despite my highlights from junior and high school classes. It turns out that teachers need to keep extra copies of books in their classrooms for new kids or book short-falls. Had I known, I would have just given them to the person who bought them, but I didn’t find out until later who she was. So, note to everyone out there, if you are getting rid of books that are taught in schools, find out if you can donate them to classrooms.

Did you know that some senior centers have libraries? If you have popular, paperback (or hardback) books that you don’t plan on keeping, consider contacting your local senior center to see what their needs are. Veterans groups often accept books, as well, but be sure to ask them before packaging them.

One of my most significant donations went to the Friends of The Robertson Library book sales. They sell used books that are in good condition twice per year to help finance their own acquisitions and activities. And if you happen to be donating something they can use, they may also add it to circulation.

Do you have the Little Lending Libraries in your area? These are the mini-libraries you see on tree lawns in residential areas. For the most part, these are also great places to offer up popular books. Plus, if you see something there that you want to read, you can swap it out for one of the books you are donating.

I tend not to donate books to places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. While some of your local ones might take them, many do not. That seems like a waste when so many other places do want your used books. Naturally, if you have the time and patience, you can also sell through Amazon, eBay and textbook companies.

My Library Now
I have fewer than 50 books now. Every book is either something I love, something I need or something I have yet to read. Andy also got me a Kindle to make traveling with my current reads much easier. It took me years to give in to the digital read, but I certainly understand its appeal now. We sold or donated three of the bookcases, and the office is progressing toward a much more useable writing space. Did I get rid of my books because Marie Kondo or The Minimalists told me to? No. I curated my collection to reflect what I want to take into the future with me. For every person, that number is going to be different. And that’s okay.

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Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Go Down the Minimalism or Decluttering Path /2019/01/09/questions-to-ask-yourself-before-you-go-down-the-minimalism-or-decluttering-path/ /2019/01/09/questions-to-ask-yourself-before-you-go-down-the-minimalism-or-decluttering-path/#comments Wed, 09 Jan 2019 08:00:13 +0000 /?p=6901 At the start of the new year, it’s easy to get excited about KonMari methods of decluttering, Swedish Death Cleaning or any of the plans…

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At the start of the new year, it’s easy to get excited about KonMari methods of decluttering, Swedish Death Cleaning or any of the plans that will help you declutter, get organized, tidy up and feel less stressed (and by extension, more productive). But before you go down any of these paths, there are some questions you should ask.

Why Do You Want to Declutter?
Are you doing this because Marie Kondo show on Netflix looks so fun, and you want to jump on board so that you too could be as lovely as Marie Kondo appears to be? Are you always stressed and looking for any method to help you find a sense of peace in your home? Do you have a severe retail therapy issue that you can no longer afford? Have you shopped so much that you no longer know what you actually own? Is your closet full of things with the tags still on them? (Been there).

You may have answered yes to all of these questions or none of them. The decision to start decluttering and get organized is a profoundly personal one. And, depending on your needs, it could take a lot longer than it appears to take on TV to get yourself sorted. But if you have the desire, the need and the energy, you may end up in a much happier place.

How Do You Want to Declutter?
Obviously, the KonMari method has a lot of fans. Even if you haven’t read Marie Kondo’s book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, you have probably heard about it. And you can get a crash course in her methods by watching the new show on Netflix (trailer below).

But the KonMari method doesn’t work for everyone. Not everyone can find that spark of joy or have the emotional fortitude (the time or a spouse joining in) to follow Marie Kondo’s plan in its purest form. In fact, there are dozens of options out there for people who want to get started but can’t commit to KonMari.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter is another book that has gotten quite a bit of attention. I love aspects of Margareta Magnusson work. Having recently started helping my dad clean out my mother’s things after her sudden death, I can see the advantages. In fact, after that experience, I wanted to come home and start tagging everything with what my intentions were for each item and donate the rest. That, of course, was mostly an emotional reaction, but there is a lot to be said for making sure your affairs are in order at any age.

If you aren’t sure if you are ready to take the plunge, you might want to watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix. I got oddly obsessed with it, and probably watched the documentary three times in a row. What can I say? I related. You can also follow the guys behind the documentary on their podcast and website, where they talk about different games and techniques you can implement to get started.

Is your primary area of concern centered on your closet? You might want to check out Project 333 and the wise words of Courtney Carver, who came into decluttering and minimalism at a time where her health demanded a change from her stress-filled routine.

Now, here’s the reality, you might not find a pre-made method that works for you. I didn’t. I needed to mix and match and find a plan that worked with my schedule, my emotional attachments to certain things and the fact that I live with my husband who isn’t a shopper but isn’t signing up for Marie Kondo boxes either. But there is good news: if you want to do this, you can. You’ll find the way that works best for you, and you will do it. You’ve already taken the first step by reading this blog.

Want to hear how I got started? You can read all about it here.

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The Pros and Cons of Spending Christmas at the Hotel del Coronado /2018/12/14/the-pros-and-cons-of-spending-christmas-at-the-hotel-del-coronado/ /2018/12/14/the-pros-and-cons-of-spending-christmas-at-the-hotel-del-coronado/#respond Fri, 14 Dec 2018 00:39:56 +0000 /?p=6881 The Hotel del Coronado is a historic beachfront property in Coronado Island, California. Many of the wooden hotel buildings were constructed in 1888, and the…

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The Hotel del Coronado is a historic beachfront property in Coronado Island, California. Many of the wooden hotel buildings were constructed in 1888, and the grounds are stunning. However, the crowds and management changes have created a scenario that may leave you feeling more “Bah Humbug” than Christmas festive.

 

 

Finding ourselves in town for our first Christmas as a married couple, Andy and I decided to splurge a bit and enjoy the beauty of a hotel that we’ve admired for years. On the surface, The Hotel del Coronado offers a stunning waterfront location, historic buildings, appealing amenities and delicious dining opportunities (provided you can get in to enjoy them).

 

 

The front desk told us that Christmas is their busiest time. Our first indication that this was true was the difficulty in getting into self-parking and the long lines to check in our room. In keeping with its Victorian beginnings, the lobby has a stunning upside-down Christmas tree at the center of it. The gorgeous detailing of everything from the ornate elevator doors to the ceiling work draws the Instagrammers. Unfortunately, that also makes the check-in process harder because the lines have to snake around people posing with the tree. Still, it’s quite a sight and adds to the hotel’s visual appeal.

 

Booking: Notes and Con
If you want to stay in the Victorian part of the hotel, you must make sure that you book a room in the historic buildings. Otherwise, you could end up in the tower which is just like any other outdated hotel, although you are still on the beach. There are private and semi-private villas that could be perfect for traveling families or a group of friends.

Book directly through the hotel. We made the mistake of booking through hotels.com. When we checked in, I noticed that our pre-authorization charge was more than the cost of the room for two nights, which didn’t make sense as we had already paid in full. We were assured that was normal. Then when we checked out, and the charge was still on there, we were assured by the front desk that it would be removed. You know where this is going, don’t you? They claimed the money never came over from hotels.com, and we were charged twice. It took me eight different contacts with the hotel over six weeks, even after they admitted that they had made the second charge in error before I moved on to Hilton corporate, who took care of the double charge in less than 24 hours.

 

 

Room: Pro and Con
Our room was clean, and although the furnishings were dated, we had a lovely view. We loved walking through the winding hallways. We could almost picture ourselves in our bathing clothes as we walked by the umbrella wallpaper in 1888.

 

 

Because it is a historic hotel, the walls are pretty thin. Usually, that doesn’t really bother us, but the person directly next to us brought their dog and then left the dog in the room the entire time. Clearly, the dog was not loving that and spent quite a bit of time barking to be let out to join the fun.

View from the room

 

Amenities
There is a gorgeous pool that is close to restaurants and just off the beach. It’s heated, and even in December, there were a fair number of people enjoying the water. And you know it’s considerably warmer than the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

There are a host of stores on the ground floor of the main hotel building. You can not only pick up some last-minute gifts and treats, but the halls are filled with old pictures of the hotel in its prime.

Movie night on the beach is a terrific family activity. The views are incredible, and they take care to make sure you are comfortable with a beachside movie. If I ever go back, I would definitely make plans to attend the beach movie.

 

Skating Rink: Pro and Con
One of the reasons I was excited about going to the Hotel del Coronado was the skating rink. The idea of ice skating within sight of the ocean in December was too tempting to resist. The views at sunset are incredible, and then the twinkle lights come up as the darkness settles over the rink.

 

Alas, we never ended up skating. We were only there two days, and the lines were so long that it didn’t make sense to spend that limited time waiting in line to skate on a crowded rink. The rink is open for anyone who wants it, whether they are staying at the hotel or not. This is great for the community and people in nearby San Diego. This is not great for people staying at the hotel with limited time to wade through the crowds.

Dining: Pro and Con
Hotel del Coronado makes an amazing Victorian Christmas dinner. It’s expensive, but just the experience of sampling terrific food in the Victorian dining room, all done up for the holiday, is worth the splurge. However, make reservations now. And once you make them, keep checking them. We heard a lot of complaints about lost reservations, and because the dinner sold out, they were out of luck.

 

 

There are many excellent restaurants in the hotel, including a fun-looking bar/restaurant that extends over the water. Again, the restaurants are expensive, but you would expect that at a resort. But, in the end, the public crowds made it difficult for hotel guests just to grab a drink or appetizers. I think we had a drink late on Christmas Eve, and that’s the only time we successfully navigated the restaurants. Trust me, make reservations now or at least make them when you arrive. Here’s the good news: there are excellent restaurants that we loved, that were far cheaper, within walking distance, including Clayton’s Coffee Shop (real 1940s diner feel), Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge and Maretalia Ristorante.

 

Would I go again? That’s so complicated. I’d love to revisit Coronado Island. The hotel itself is fascinating. The beach is begging to be strolled and explored. Andy and I had a wonderful, romantic getaway because we’re flexible, and we were willing to spend time in the city rather than at the hotel. I would probably not stay at the Hotel del Coronado – it’s too expensive for too little access to the amenities (and my billing problems with their accounting department left me feeling deeply vexed).

However, if you do decide to go to the Hotel del Coronado (and its historic charms make it a bucket list hotel for many), choose a random Tuesday that isn’t close to any holiday. Skip Christmas, the 4th of July, Memorial Day, etc. Go on an average day, make dinner reservations beforehand and book directly with the hotel. That’s the best way to enjoy a hotel stay right on the beach. You may even hear more of those ghost stories that made the hotel famous.

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Explore in the Nature Trails and See the Salmon at Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe /2018/10/27/explore-in-the-nature-trails-and-see-the-salmon-at-taylor-creek-in-south-lake-tahoe/ /2018/10/27/explore-in-the-nature-trails-and-see-the-salmon-at-taylor-creek-in-south-lake-tahoe/#comments Sat, 27 Oct 2018 18:28:15 +0000 /?p=6853 Are you looking for a nature-filled fall activity that works for the entire family? It may be time for you to head to South Lake…

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Are you looking for a nature-filled fall activity that works for the entire family? It may be time for you to head to South Lake Tahoe to visit Taylor Creek. Not only will you experience some breathtakingly beautiful scenery on the trails that run through the park but if you time it right, you’ll be able to see the Kokanee salmon spawn.

At the suggestion of Andy’s family, we walked through the park in October last year. The weather was crisp (South Lake Tahoe is a world away climate-wise from Los Angeles) and fall was clearly in the air. I just wanted stand there and take deep breaths – enjoying the clean, peaceful feeling of the place, despite the Saturday crowds.

 

We knew we wanted to walk the trails and see the Stream Profile Center. Most areas are easily navigated even if people have mobility challenges, and we loved being able to look out over the water to see the fish, as well as spotting the animals in the trees.

You can start in the Steam Profile Chamber, which allows you to see the salmon and other fish in their natural habitat through floor-to-ceiling glass windows, or finish there. We actually began our explorations on the Rainbow Trail.

Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe
Andy by the Rainbow Trail at Taylor Creek in South Lake Tahoe.

 

The Rainbow Trail loops through the marshland and along Taylor Creek. It runs for about .6 of a mile and felt like easy terrain to me (and I can be a wuss about these things). It can be quite crowded on the weekends in the fall, but we had no difficulty getting spots near the water to see the salmon.

 

When we came out, we looped back toward the Visitor Center and decided to walk out to some of the vista points along Smokey’s Trail to get a feel for the mountains beyond the park. I admit that I fell in love with some of the views. The extraordinary colors reminded me of paintings I used to see when I was a child, and I can’t imagine ever getting tired of seeing these sights.

 

 

There are still a few more days that you can get up to see the salmon and wander the park. It is closed during the winter and early spring months as the snow will begin to fly in South Lake Tahoe any day now. The Visitor Center, trails and the Taylor Creek Steam Profile Chamber are all free!

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Where to Find the Best Halloween Decorations in LA /2018/10/25/where-to-find-the-best-halloween-decorations-in-la/ /2018/10/25/where-to-find-the-best-halloween-decorations-in-la/#comments Thu, 25 Oct 2018 07:00:50 +0000 /?p=6838 Are you looking for truly macabre Halloween decorations in Los Angeles? Thanks to a friend’s tip (shout out to Michele and Larry!), Andy and I…

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Are you looking for truly macabre Halloween decorations in Los Angeles? Thanks to a friend’s tip (shout out to Michele and Larry!), Andy and I discovered the horrifying wonders of Crescenda St in Brentwood (take North Barrington from Sunset, and you can’t miss the turn). If you love all things Halloween, this is your spot.

 

Why is it special? It’s entire block of horror-inspired scenes. Some are original set-ups that dig into childhood fears (and childhood toys) to inspire awe. Other tableaus evoke very specific classic films (and yes, The Exorcist is one of them).

The decorations appear to be the doing of one very festive house, and they run the entirety of the block. There is parking, but please be careful as people are constantly stopping and walking toward the decorations to check out the details.

We went at sunset, but you can tell that the Halloween decorations have lighting staged for nighttime. There is a rope so that people don’t get too close, but you can see every detail from the curb. And don’t forget to look up – you’ll be stunned by the size and scope of the giant ghouls, warriors and devils swooping down from the treetops.

It was impossible to take photos of everything with the time we had, but here are a few of my favorites to get you inspired to go check out the incredible display of Halloween madness here in LA.

For scale, Andy is in the corner, and stands at 6’3″. That’s how huge those statues and floating apparitions are!

 

Have you seen any memorable Halloween displays in Los Angeles this year? Let me know in the comments!

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Somm Series, Part 2 /2018/10/08/somm-series-pt-2/ /2018/10/08/somm-series-pt-2/#respond Mon, 08 Oct 2018 15:04:22 +0000 /?p=6803 If you’ve taken my advice and watched the movie “Somm,” you are now going to want to check out “Somm: Into the Bottle.”  If you…

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If you’ve taken my advice and watched the movie “Somm,” you are now going to want to check out “Somm: Into the Bottle.”  If you haven’t watched “Somm” yet, go do that now.  I’ll wait.

Okay, so now that you’re ready to move on to the second installment from Jason Wise, let me just say that you’re going to need to have more than one bottle of wine on hand for this film. There are so many incredible wines being tasted, you’re going to want a few glasses for yourself.

“Into the Bottle” brings back some of the folks we met in “Somm” as well as many new faces.  It opens with an attempt to answer the question, what is a sommelier?  We see a variety of people sharing different, often contradictory, definitions.  In the last clip before the opening credit sequence grape geneticist, Carole Meredith, quips “Can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit?” Considering the reverence with which much of the movie unfolds, I love these little moments that remind us, as Brian McClintic is fond of saying “it’s just fermented grape juice.”

After the title sequence, we land on the idea that the best somms are, at heart, storytellers. This sets up the format of the film: Ten stories about wine, told from multiple perspectives (somms, winemakers, historians, etc.), featuring people tasting some of the most iconic wines in the world.   You probably do need to be a bit of a wine geek to really enjoy this film. Not only is it basically a lot of waxing poetic about wine, but it waxes poetic about some strange things. Several minutes are devoted to the deep affection European winemakers have for the mold growing in their cellars. Spoiler alert: you can pet it! Possibly a bit niche.

The chapters focus on numerous aspects of wine from the importance of the vintage, to the cost, to the use of oak, to the wine industry in California. Along the way, we hear from various wine professionals who share very personal stories and connections. For instance, the chapter on oak tells us not only what oak imparts to wine, but also the story of Elio Altare, who revolutionized Barolo, alienated his father and caused a lasting rift among makers of Barolo.  What did he do?  He started aging his wines in smaller French oak barrels instead of the large Botti traditionally used for Barolo.  New oak created softer, more approachable wines and the wines became popular, causing other winemakers to follow suit.  Traditionalists were outraged. His father was one of them. We hear the story not only from various somms but also from Elio’s daughter, Silvia, who helps run the winery today.

Set inside the chapter that contrasts the historical reverence of European winemakers with the mavericks of the U.S. there’s a wonderful profile on Robert Mondavi and his pioneering influence in the California wine industry.  The story is punctuated by tasting a bottle of the first vintage of Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon from 1966.  Still drinking well (at the time of filming) 49 years later. Forty-nine years is a long time for a bottle of wine, something only the greatest wines can achieve, but it’s a very short time for the wine industry itself.  Not only did we start much later, but we were disrupted by prohibition. Most California wineries are less than 50 years old.  The difference between the U.S. and old-world wineries, where winemakers go back 7, 11, 16 generations, is striking. Consider this: Schloss Vollards in Germany, where grapes have been grown since the first century, has a wine ledger for sales for the year 1492.

I enjoyed every story and could easily have watched a full documentary on each piece.  Once again, I found myself wondering about the scenes that didn’t make the cut though.  What else did Fred Dame, Jean Louis Chave and Aubert de Villaine have to say?   I’d love to see more of so many of the people in this film. I’d love to have a glass of wine with them and just listen to their stories.  I’d also really love to taste even one of the wines they open—alas most are extremely rare and way beyond my price point. Note to self: must play lotto.  To me, this film touches on everything that makes wine magical, the sense of place, the history, the way it enhances food and the memories both created by and celebrated with a bottle of wine.

If, like me, the first two Somm movies have left you thirsty for more, don’t despair.  Somm 3 has been released in select screenings. The Blu-Ray is available for pre-order on Amazon now and should be available for streaming in December. One of the focuses of the new film is the famous 1976 “Judgment of Paris” wine competition in which California wines beat French wines in a blind tasting putting the CA wine industry on the global map. I can’t wait.


Cheers!

Helen

 

 

 

 

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Becoming a Minimalist /2018/10/01/my-journey-towards-minimalism/ /2018/10/01/my-journey-towards-minimalism/#respond Mon, 01 Oct 2018 08:00:54 +0000 /?p=6785 I’d love to tell you that one day I decided to become a minimalist and the next day my life was a shining example of…

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I’d love to tell you that one day I decided to become a minimalist and the next day my life was a shining example of order, simplicity and minimalism. But that would be a lie. In fact, my moves toward this way of life were slow – glacially slow. There was no big profound realization. It was a million tiny little things that brought me to a point where I am now.

How did I start?
When I was a teenager, I went through “white phases.” My bedroom furniture was white, and whenever I was feeling overwhelmed by school or performances, I would start to furiously clean in order to have all the surfaces be blank (thus, the white phase). So, the impulse toward order to better deal with stress has been there a long time. But as a teenager, I was not decluttering. I was putting things away, and probably stuffing my drawers so full that they couldn’t open. At that point, minimalism wasn’t a mainstream concept — it was something monks did.

The Moves
As a 20-something, I moved a lot. In fact, I moved so often one year that I had four tax returns for four different states/districts to fill out. Every time I moved, I paid to bring everything with me. I didn’t downsize my book collections, my clothes, my memorabilia or my furniture. In fact, every time I moved, I added more.

When I moved into my apartment in Brentwood, I had a closet that ran almost the half the bedroom and a second smaller closet in the room, plus a hall closet – all for me. And, you know what I did? I filled every one of them. I filled them with things I never wore but had to have when I went out to do some retail therapy.

In short, by the time Andy and I moved in together, I had a lot of stuff in that 750-square-foot apartment. And I paid to move it all – again.

At one point, I had three, large bookcases and one half-sized bookcase, all completely filled with books and project binders.

 

The Realization
This is the point where it really began to dawn on me that I was paying for things I rarely wore, never read again and didn’t need to be moved all over the country. Why did I do that? Sure, moving is a pain in the ass, and eventually, you will be inspired just to throw everything into a box and hand it off to the movers. But a couple years ago I did an accounting of exactly how much it cost me to move these things and was startled to realize how many thousands of dollars had gone out the door and into a moving truck.

I vowed never to do that again. I don’t want to mindlessly spend in order to make me feel better about my life or my choices. I want everything that I bring into this house to be a conscious decision.

The Status
I feel like I’ve genuinely embraced mindful spending, and I’ve made significant strides in downsizing and decluttering. I’ve carved out my own path toward minimalism as I’ve gone because many of the lauded Kondo-like methods didn’t quite work for me. I still have quite a way to go to feel like my spaces work for me. But I’m getting there, and I’m going to share with you as I go.

Next week, I’m hoping to share with you how I began the big declutter! Stay tuned!

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Photo Tour: Revisiting Ragged Point in Big Sur, California /2018/09/28/photo-tour-revisiting-ragged-point-in-big-sur-california/ /2018/09/28/photo-tour-revisiting-ragged-point-in-big-sur-california/#respond Fri, 28 Sep 2018 08:49:56 +0000 /?p=6779 If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that Andy and I spent the last night of our Honeymoon in Ragged Point/Big Sur, California.…

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If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that Andy and I spent the last night of our Honeymoon in Ragged Point/Big Sur, California. Another rockslide had just occurred, and we were at the last point before the road closed. About 20 minutes after our arrival, the fog rolled in and didn’t let up the rest of the time we were there – so much for that ocean view room. Naturally, when we found ourselves in the area again, we decided to explore the Ragged Point Inn property again – this time, under some brilliant sunshine.

It seemed only fair to share the photos of this lovely spot in Big Sur, and give you an idea of the difference between our May 2017 and May 2018 visits to Ragged Point.

 

Pergola View, May 2017

Ragged Point Inn and Resort, Big Sur, California, Central Coast, Travel, Hotel
It was so completely fogged over that you couldn’t even see the ocean beyond it.

 

Pergola View, May 2018

Ragged Point Inn and Resort, Big Sur, California, Central Coast, Travel, Hotel
Voila! The view beyond is revealed.

 

The View from Above Big Sur in May 2017

Ragged Point Inn and Resort, Big Sur, California, Central Coast, Travel, Hotel
The view would have been the perfect setting for a spooky mystery.

 

The View of Big Sur from the steps in May 2018 

Big Sur, Ragged Point Inn and Resort, Travel, California, Road Trip, Pacific Ocean Views
This time, it was safe to descend the steps to see the ocean.

 

You can see the difference, can’t you? It was an entirely different experience, so keep that in mind when planning travel in this area. The weather changes quickly, and you don’t want to have only one day here.

Want to see more photos of Ragged Point, Big Sur?

Big Sur, Ragged Point Inn and Resort, Travel, California, Road Trip, Pacific Ocean Views
Andy enjoying the sun and the views.

 

Big Sur, Ragged Point Inn and Resort, Travel, California, Road Trip, Pacific Ocean Views
Wandering through the trees that run above the water.

 

Big Sur, Ragged Point Inn and Resort, Travel, California, Road Trip, Pacific Ocean Views

Big Sur, Ragged Point Inn and Resort, Travel, California, Road Trip, Pacific Ocean Views

 

Big Sur, Ragged Point Inn and Resort, Travel, California, Road Trip, Pacific Ocean Views

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