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Inspire

    Inspire

    What’s Next For My Fab Fifties Life

    Damn the PanDamit. We are traveling. We have our vaccine and our booster and we are working to safely and conscientiously get back out there, the way we intended our retirement to go. We want to live our life and so we plan to do it – carefully. It’s time. So after two months in Hawaii, and a brief stop back in Washington State for family issues, off we go again. Here is what’s next for My Fab Fifties Life.

    This Month

    We have one week in Utah and Arizona doing some hiking, including a visit to Antelope Canyon, a bucket list item for me. We then fly to Mexico City for six days where we will eat our way through the city (not kidding – blog coming) followed by two and a half weeks at the beach in Puerto Escondido.

    Winter

    Back to Washington State for Christmas with our family and then mid January we fly to French Polynesia. We have two months in French Polynesia on the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora.

    Spring

    We will return to Washington State again in March, regroup and say Hi, then depart in April for New York City and Boston. May 1st we plan to begin a guided tour of the “Stans” (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan,Turkmenistan) to be confirmed shortly. Followed by attending a wedding in Morocco.

    Summer

    If all goes well we will spend June back in Israel and Cyprus, the two countries we had to abandon on our itinerary when the world shut down in 2020. We also hope to include time in Malta before returning to Washington State for the summer, and returning to Hawaii for the Fall.

    Living the Gamble

    Not all of this is 100% booked yet, but we are deep into the planning and it feels good to be back into travel planning mode. Travel is never going to be as easy and carefree as it was when we began our Grand Adventure world tour in 2016. And we also recognize it’s going to be a bit of gamble, knowing how quickly things can change in the world. But we have coined a new phrase lately to add to our PanDamit phrase collection…”living the gamble”. And so we continue…

    Continuing to Write

    This itinerary above may not allow me to have a fresh new travel blog EVERY Friday. But I will do my best and I am grateful for all the continued support you give this blog. I also plan to step back from Tasty Tuesday, our weekly YouTube cooking show. I will do a Tasty Tuesday when I can but not every week. Tasty Tuesday was created as a way to travel internationally from my kitchen during lockdown. It has been fun and well-received during the PanDamit and I also thank you for that. Reading Wednesday will continue each week.

    Living the Dream

    So this is what’s next for My Fab Fifties Life. Living the dream, dreaming the life, finding the silver lining every day in this wild and wacky world. If we can encourage you to think outside the box, choose to be happy despite the world’s troubles and act positively and conscientiously in your Fabulous Life, our work here is done. Be Brave. Be Smart. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Be Fabulous.

    See last week’s blog My Favorite Maui Restaurants here

    See this week’s top performing pin here – Maui Top Five Things to Do

    Inspire

    Taking a Break This Fall

    It’s a tough time right now…trying to make it all work. I got it pretty good…I know that. But it can also be a bit exhausting; the worry, the news, the weather, that freaking PANDAMIT. Ugh.

    This time last year I took a much needed social media and blog “cleanse”. I think it’s time for me to do that once again. I need to recenter myself, focus on my health and mental well-being and just BE. Deep breaths and maybe some crashing waves and I’ll be back to my old cheerful self.

    I’ll probably post on Instagram (find us here) but step away from Facebook for awhile, except for some pre-scheduled posts.

    In preparation for my break I’ve scheduled blog posts ahead for several weeks. You may not even know I’m on a break…but there it is. Me + Break = Happy.

    So, enjoy the scheduled posts and stay safe and healthy everyone. I’ll be back soon. xxoo

    See last week’s post about my trip to Ogunquit Maine – My Favorite Things

    See this week’s top performing pin here Chasing Waterfalls in Washington’s Puget Sound Region

    Inspire

    Running for Recovery

    It’s been about 12 years since I became a runner…relatively late in my life. Since the start of the PanDamit I have used running as therapy for my mental and emotional health. Along the way it also helped me lose and maintain the loss of thirty pounds. And when I had major diverticulosis surgery in April, I found a way to incorporate running for recovery into my wellness plan.

    Early morning summer runs look like this

    PanDamit Wellness

    During the early lockdown days of the PanDamit I ran constantly from my home base in Washington State, as well as during our little close-to-home sanity staycations. From May 2020 to April 2021, I trained for and ran a total of five half marathons.

    My last half marathon was on April 18th, two days before I underwent my diverticulosis surgery. I took about six weeks off after the surgery from running, and then very slowly started back at it. And I mean very slowly. It was amazing how much that surgery took out of me. Even now, nearly five months from surgery, I am slower and struggle often to keep my pace. But she persists! I hope I will eventually get back to my pre-surgery running self. And if I don’t, then I will live with my new post-surgery running self. I intend to keep running at whatever level I can as long as my body allows it.

    Half Marathon Running
    One of my half marathons about ten years ago

    Return to Running

    Meanwhile, since my slow return to running in June, I have been once again following Hal Higdon’s half marathon training program. This is the absolute best training program I have found. It’s easy and safe and flexible…all things I need in my fab fifties (sixties) life.

    So this week I will run another half marathon. An organized run that supports the local organization Race for a Soldier, a non-profit close to my heart. I’ll be slower than before. I might need to walk part of the 13.2 miles. But I will cross the finish line with a smile on my face. Because running for recovery is my answer to all things that life throws at us in 2021; surgery, lockdown, stress and the never ending PanDamit.

    Be healthy my friends.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts. Thank you.

    At Home  --  Inspire

    A Passion For Creating In Wood

    Finding a Post- Retirement Purpose

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    I can really identify with Joel Burkhardt. It’s easy to identify with the emotions you encounter when you first retire and are struggling to find what’s next. Retirement can have you looking for focus and passion in a new unknown period of life. Neither of us are the first to step into retirement and feel a bit lost. But for lifelong Gig Harbor resident Joel, he is finding some solace in a passion for creating in wood.

    Chief Petty Officer Joel Burkhardt at his retirement last April

    Post Retirement Focus

    After 32 years in the Coast Guard, when Joel retired in April he foundered…his entire identity was wrapped up in being a Chief Petty Officer in the Coast Guard. One day he was. The next day he wasn’t. He admittedly felt “weird” while he searched to settle into his new identity. A cancer diagnosis didn’t help, and so Joel found some comfort in working with his hands and a passion for creating in wood.

    Joel in his Gig Harbor shop

    “People don’t realize what’s going to happen when they retire,” Joel said. “After 32 years in the military, it’s hard to justify in my head that career is over.” Joel wondered who he was now that he wasn’t in the Coast Guard. He turned to friends and the VA to help keep him focused. And he turned to a new hobby of woodworking.

    This cutting board is coming together with walnut, mahogany and black palm

    A New Hobby

    Joel had dabbled in woodworking a little before retiring, making a bell for his unit (see photos) to use for ceremonies and call to assembly. But when his mom needed a cutting board, he told her he would make her one. His wife Kelly posted pictures of the cutting board and then someone else wanted one. I saw the pictures and I wanted one too. And now, Joel creates beautiful, one of a kind trays and cutting boards in his shop near Wollochet Bay where he is finding his passion for creating in wood.

    Joel’s early work, the bell
    Resin display on the bell

    Every piece Joel makes is unique. Clients can choose the wood (his favorites are walnut, mahogany and purple heart) as well as the design and the size. Joel has a distinctive process of doing fractal burning on some pieces and can add color to the burn. It makes the wood look like it’s been touched by the hand of Zeus himself.

    Joel also loves to work with resin, and depending on what the wood piece is going to be used for, a resin finish is often added. Resin can also be used in many artistic ways and he is enjoying getting creative with this substance.

    Work in progress

    “Wood prices are finally coming down,” Joel told me this week from his shop. “We can get exotic wood like zebra, black palm, leopard and highly marbled walnut.” Joel finds his wood at shops in Tacoma and Everett and sometimes even from Amazon.

    Dancing Ghost Woodworks

    Joel named his new wood working business Dancing Ghost Woodworks and you can find him on Facebook. He looks forward to working with clients to pick out the wood and design. He then gets busy matching the grains, planing and finishing. If you want a design or logo he can do that too, free hand with his palm router.

    My board in my kitchen

    The cutting board Joel made me was made from end cuts and it is so clever and beautiful. It looks awesome in my kitchen and I love it. Not to mention I use it daily and it is solid and sturdy.

    Want to shop local, thank a dedicated veteran AND have a one-of-a-kind piece of art? Contact my friend Joel. You’ll be glad you did.

    See our blog about Re-Wirement – Finding Your Midlife Passion

    Want to support other local businesses? See our blog about A Passion for Coffee in Gig Harbor, and our recent post Breweries of Kitsap (Plus One)

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    Europe Travel  --  Inspire

    Restarting The Grand Adventure

    Away We Go On International Travel

    Location: Iceland

    Not everyone is ready yet to travel….and not every country is ready to accept international travelers. But after 13 and a half months stuck in the USA, we are ready to go. So many of you have been asking about our plans, so today I thought I would share with you how we are restarting the Grand Adventure.

    The Grand Adventure which began in 2016 has evolved over time and will continue to evolve as we mitigate a new world. We may never again be able to flit from country to country the way we did before, but with planning, caution and ingenuity we think we can have a travel life full of adventure and intrigue.

    Restarting The Grand Adventure

    After abandoning our travels mid-itinerary in spring 2020, this week we embark on our first international trip. During our time in the USA we have done a lot of travel to eight different states. But this will be our first trip out of the USA since April 30, 2020.

    We fly this week to Iceland for a two-week adventure. No tour, just on our own, using the Rick Steves Iceland Guide. Our visit includes three days in Reykjavik, then nine days in a camper van exploring the island. We have visited Iceland before, but only for two short days so we have always wanted to go back. Iceland seems like a safe place for restarting the Grand Adventure.

    Summer and Fall

    After two weeks in Iceland we will return to Washington State for the rest of the summer, as summer is the best time of year to be here in the Pacific Northwest. We have a couple of short excursions planned within the state as well as a trip to Maine in early September.

    On September 20th we fly back to Maui where we will stay in the apartment of a friend who will be off island for six weeks and then two additional weeks in an Airbnb. Then we fly to Los Angeles before heading on to Arizona and the Grand Canyon. Next we have a trip to Mexico City for a Taco Tour (no joke, a whole week of eating tacos with a guide) and on to Oaxaca before returning to Washington to spend Christmas with our family.

    2022 Away We Go

    January and February will be spent in French Polynesia. OMG yes it will. First time there so I’m really excited. We will spend two months on the island of Moorea as a big step towards restarting the Grand Adventure.

    March is still unplanned but we tentatively hope to fly back to Washington, say hi to the fam, repack and reorganize and then, embark to Israel and restart the itinerary we abandoned, almost two years to the day in March 2020. We have not booked that yet…we will wait and watch and keep our fingers crossed that the world will find its way and we can find our way back to the retirement life we were living and had always dreamed of.

    Follow Along

    I plan to continue to blog until its not fun anymore so keep following and we will tell you what we are doing. Finding us on Instagram is a great way to get daily updates and beautiful and fun photos and videos. We love your interest and are grateful. Cheers to all of you for your continued support!

    Cheers!

    I’ve learned a lot of things from living in the PanDamit, mostly to be more patient and flexible. Additionally I’ve learned there are a lot of crazy people and I just need to keep my head down and do the things I believe in, without judging even when I am being judged. Like I’ve said before, I absolutely refuse to be a victim in all of this. Instead I am searching for the learning opportunities and growing each and everyday from this life we are handed. It is still a fabulous life. And if our adventures help others make the step forward cautiously into the brave new world, then our work here is done.

    Join us on Instagram here.

    Iceland here we come! Learn about Iceland’s Covid restrictions here.

    See last Friday’s blog post My Favorite Gardens Around the World

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    Inspire

    My Favorite Gardens Around the World

    Enjoying Gardenss for Education and Beauty

    In our travels we have been blessed to visit a lot of gardens; botanical gardens, native gardens, home gardens, arboretums…even sculpture gardens. Fun and educational, I always look for these places in cities and countries as we travel. So today I will share with you My Favorite Gardens Around the World.

    singapore
    Singapore

    I sat down and tried to remember all the gardens we have seen. Because I enjoy gardening back in my home state of Washington in the USA, I always want to check out gardens in other places. My husband also enjoys looking at gardens, especially ones with native species we may not be familiar with. Lately Arne and I have become amateur bird watchers, and my favorite gardens around the world are always a great place to see birds.

    My Favorite Gardens Around the World

    As I have been working on my own tiny garden this spring I’ve been dreaming of starting to travel again and some of the world’s most beautiful gardens have been floating through my head…and thus this idea to blog about them has bloomed. I don’t have photos of all my favorite gardens around the world, but I do hope in your own travels you can find your way to some of these enchanting locations….some big, some small, all beautiful.

    In no particular order, here are my favorite gardens around the world.

    United States

    Palm Springs, California – I enjoyed our recent seven week visit to Palm Springs area where we particularly enjoyed learning about the flora of the desert at the tiny Moorten Botanical Gardens and Sunnylands. Sunnylands is one of my all time favorite gardens anywhere.

    Palm Springs
    Palm Springs

    Tucson, Arizona – Our recent two weeks in Tucson had us falling in love with this area, including the Tucson Botanical Gardens and the Arizona Sonora Living Desert Museum, our favorite thing in Tucson.

    Phoenix, Arizona – the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix is not large but it is laid out beautifully and makes a beautiful and interesting garden to stroll through.

    Sunnylands
    Palm Springs
    Phoenix

    Portland, Oregon – The Portland Japanese Gardens is one of the most unexpected gardens I have ever been to. A hidden gem right in the heart of beautiful Portland Oregon

    Seattle, Washington – Volunteer Park Conservatory. I have only been here once, and it was on a blustery cold winter day, and stepping into this warm and alluring conservatory was a perfect activity for a winter day. I loved everything about this place and hope to return soon.

    Spokane, Washington – Manito Park and Botanical Gardens is one of my most favorite things to do when visiting Spokane. The sprawling park offers so much plant beauty, including a Japanese Garden and a beautiful Rose Garden.

    Spokane

    Boston, Massachusetts – Boston Public Gardens is the oldest botanical gardens in the USA and offers 24 acres of beauty to stroll through in any season. One of my favorite Boston sites in a town full of amazing sites.

    Kula Hawaii
    Kula

    Kula, Maui, Hawaii – Kula Botanic Gardens is a hidden gem on the slopes of Haleakala. I visited this privately owned garden for the first time this past year and it was such a pleasant surprise. Don’t miss this hidden gem when you visit Maui

    Bainbridge Island, Washington – practically in my own back yard, Bloedel Reserve is a 150 acre historic property and gardens whose mission is to enrich people’s lives through a premier public garden of natural and designed Pacific Northwest landscapes. Timed entrance tickets available online.

    Bloedel Reserve

    San Marino, California – The Huntington Botanical Gardens is so much more than just spectacular gardens. This historic site is home to an Art Museum, Library, events and lectures…and of course one of the most beautiful gardens in the USA.

    Huntington

    Canada

    Victoria British Columbia – The Butchart Gardens is one of the most outstanding gardens anywhere in the world. No matter the season, it is a jaw dropping and magnificent 55 acres to behold.

    Butchart Gardens

    Montreal Quebec – Jardin Botanique de Montreal was not on our radar when we set out to visit beautiful Montreal, we fortunately just stumbled upon it. We were there in the fall and it was truly first class, one of my favorite gardens ever.

    Montreal

    Australia

    Sydney – Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney we only had four days to explore the beautiful city of Sydney and we made the most of our time from beach to hiking, performance and food. But one of our favorite discoveries was these phenomenal gardens, home to both flora, fauna and feathers.

    Sydney

    Singapore

    Singapore – Gardens by the Bay. Amazing. I could have spent a week in this place, an astonishing futuristic garden in one of the most astonishing cities in the world. The super tree structures and skywalk were incredible (especially at night) but my favorite was the cloud forest and flower dome. Worth a trip to Singapore just to see this.

    Singapore

    Mauritius

    Pamplemousses – Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens. Often referred to as the SSR Botanical Gardens, this beautiful garden is named for Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Mauritius’ first Prime Minister and a leader in Mauritius independence. The gardens were begun in the late 1700’s during the French occupation and today incorporates fruits, flowers and trees from all over the world in its 33 hectare site.

    Mauritius

    Sri Lanka

    Kandy – Royal Botanical Gardens. Our visit to Sri Lanka was so wonderful and this country remains one of our favorites. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy is one of three botanical gardens in the country – each unique. This garden was beautiful, very large and home to a great many species of trees, flowering plants, orchids, birds and bats.

    Kandy

    China

    Shanghai – Shanghai Botanical Gardens is the largest botanical garden in all of China. It encompasses more than 81 hectares and includes beautiful strolling paths and water features as well as thousands of trees, flowers, shrubs and more. Shanghai is a beautiful city, so different from Beijing.

    Shanghai

    Israel

    Haifa – Baha’i Hanging Gardens this was a surprising place in the heart of Haifa. These gardens aren’t actually “hanging” but the crawl up the hill and present a spectacular site for many vantage points. The gardens are the home to the shrines where the founders of the Baha’i faith are buried. A site to see.

    Touring gardens when you travel provides a peek into local culture and customs, while also enriching with beauty and education. I encourage you to support these beautiful places everywhere you go.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    See last week’s fun post A Passion for Coffee in Gig Harbor.

    See this week’s top performing pin here Nashville for First Timers.

    Inspire

    A Passion for Coffee in Gig Harbor

    More Than a Beverage it’s a Hobby Turned Small Business

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    Zach Tanner loves coffee. That may not seem that unusual, especially in the Pacific Northwest where coffee is a cultural phenom. But Zach doesn’t just love to drink coffee. Oh no. Coffee is so much more; an inspiration; a fascination; a hobby turned small business. Zach has a passion for coffee in Gig Harbor.

    Milkman Coffee
    Zach Tanner proud coffee roaster

    As many of you know I am a coffee-lover. In fact when I travel, tasting coffee around the world is one of the highlights for me; exploring the big wide and diverse world of rich dark coffee. Check out the blog I wrote last year My Favorite Coffee Around the World to learn more.

    So when I heard about Zach and his passion for coffee in Gig Harbor I was intrigued. Then I tasted it and I was amazed.

    After graduating from Montana State University Zach Tanner spent a number of years living the California film industry dream. But eventually Zach and his wife made their way back to the Pacific Northwest to start a family, settling in a private oasis rural home in Gig Harbor. While working at the Gig Harbor YMCA and being a dad, Zach found time on the side to have a tiny little coffee roaster and play with roasting and observation of beans and flavors.

    Green coffee beans
    The Green Beans are organic

    Then came Covid. Zach lost his job and turned his focus to home-schooling his kids. And roasting coffee. A bigger roaster, more research, a computer program, lots of experimentation, trial and error, more evaluation, a brainstorm session for a business name and boom. Milkman Coffee was born in Zach’s garage.

    Milkman Coffee
    The name came from the delivery bottles he used in the beginning.

    Zach gets the “green” beans from four different vendors, only organic non-pesticide beans. How the beans are sourced is really important to this coffee aficionado, and when possible his passion extends to women-run coffee bean co-ops in places like Ethiopia. Zach uses beans from many parts of the world including Uganda, Guatemala, Columbia, and Ethiopia.

    Milkman Coffee
    The roaster, each batch roasts for ten minutes

    Usually Zach’s roasts are single origin, but he will blend beans from multiple sources to get just the right flavor profile he is looking for. Don’t misunderstand though…these aren’t flavored coffees. But Zach approaches the taste and aroma of the beans and the final cup of coffee similar to a wine connoisseur; pointing out natural flavor notes in each batch such as vanilla, tobacco, fruit and mineral. Each bag of Milkman lists Zach’s flavor notes.

    Milkman Coffee
    The roasting is controlled by computer and information on each batch is saved for future reference

    While Zach continues to put his dad duties first, he hopes to expand Milkman Coffee. Short term goals include a website and social media presence. Long range goals include getting into small markets and farmers markets. But right now this one-man operation hand-delivers the beans to customers in the Gig Harbor area who sign up for regular delivery. Roasted beans are $15 a pound or $20 for a pound and a half.

    Milkman Coffee

    A passion for coffee in Gig Harbor. Hand-made, delivered fresh and full of flavor. That’s what Zach Tanner is all about with his small coffee roasting business Milkman Coffee. Want to support small business and drink some incredible, organic coffee? Shoot Zach an email at zlt13@icloud.com.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    Want to learn more about the history of coffee? See it here.

    See last week’s post It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard Washington here.