Saturday, October 21, 2017

Has it really been a month already? Fall bucket list update

Glorious tree in my former home back yard
I limited my list to 10 this time in hopes of actually getting things done and I have checked some things off.

Now check out the other updates in the links below! Thanks, Leslie, for organizing the link-up.

- Have at least 3 dates that aren't just going out for food LOL. Visited an aviation museum and walked at the beach.
- Spend our granddaughter's 1st birthday and Hubby's 65th with family in N. Cal (and yes, we are all bringing the dogs)
- Have coffee or lunch with 3 potential new friends
- Give myself a budget and go shopping for some new Fall clothes but everything I buy has to be at least an 8. 
- Plan a vacation that will add some variety to our experiences and where we can take the dog along since we know she travels so well.

- Figure out a weekly schedule of interesting activities, health promoting exercise and homemaking and stick to it (unless something more fun beckons). After an intro yoga class at a studio nearby I am going to try to take yoga 2x a week. DH and I are also going to divide up homemaking chores now that he is retired.
- Finish the repairs and upgrades to our new to us home. Only the fiddly ones are left.
- Make plans for the big 3 holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year's
- Make the rounds of elderly relatives and cousins in person, by phone or writing. 3 meals with elderly relatives.
- Get our home and car earthquake/emergency kits fully stocked. Mostly done.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

6 months after our move

What has transpired?

I am taking a look back to see what we have done, what is working well and what is still ahead after our cross country move, Hubby's retirement and general life changes.

It has been quite a journey since we started painting walls in our former house about 15 months ago. Or as we are saying, so far so good!

Moving from Georgia to California including selling and buying homes:

The move itself went well and we feel comfortable in our new home and location. Even the dog has adjusted to the changes in routine and people.

We got unpacked rather quickly although there still are 2 boxes of photos/ decorative items as well as some pictures to be hung. We bought the big items we planned for (new HVAC, washer & dryer, 2 beds, bedding, den furniture, shutters for 3 windows) and some we didn't plan for (water heater, recirculating water pump). We restocked the pantry, toiletries and some emergency supplies.

So far for emergency/earthquake supplies we have in the pantry canned and boxed food plus lots of gallons of water, some first aid supplies, a battery powered lantern and extra pet food. For the car I repurposed a backpack which so far has emergency blankets and ponchos, long lasting LED light stick, first aid supplies, face masks, foot and hand warmers, gloves, and 5 year shelf life food bars and water packets. I've added shoes and socks to the car in case we aren't wearing good walking shoes and a few bottles of water. I still need to add supplemental cell phone chargers, a hand crank/solar radio/siren/light, more car first aid supplies, etc.

Many home repairs have been completed: popcorn ceilings removed and painted, termites treated, plumbing fixed, electrical to code, bathroom fan installed, stuck doors repaired, window uncovered (although why it was dry walled over remains a mystery), outdoor porch lights re-installed, etc.

Hubby cut down the overgrown bougainvilleas that were a hassle to trim each week (big thorns) and used up too much patio space. He scrubbed the patio walls and had the irrigation hose disconnected, put down pine straw and put in some large decorative pots and plants.

The repair list has been added to as we experience the home and we plan on getting new attic insulation and we are still waiting for the Association to take down the dying tree in our front yard.

We couldn't figure out a new wall color for the open floor plan and our furnishings so we decided to live with the existing one. Hubby did paint a dark master bedroom feature wall, dark walls in a small room and dark ceilings in 3 places. That was a huge improvement.

Feeling at home in our new location:

We have learned our way around and found that we like the library cafe and a few local restaurants. The local art gallery is becoming a favorite including the events they put on. I am enjoying taking an OLLI class and Hubby is enjoying golfing. We found a primary care doctor, dentist, vet, orthopedic masseuse, and hairdressers. I met up with some online friends and saw East coast cousins who were vacationing in California. I've met some locals that I can see becoming friends.

We like the weather and can get to the coast or to my FIL's assisted living facility in 20 minutes, to our local son & DIL's in 60 minutes and to the others in 7 hours. I have gotten involved in yoga, the Pet Club, and the local AAUW chapter.

The biggest win is all the time and fun we have had with family! It is so great to be close again and we and they are figuring out how best to fit into each other's lives on a regular basis as it is a change after 20 years. We are also able to help out such as dogsitting for 3 weeks while the local son and DIL celebrate their 20th anniversary with a European trip. 


We have managed to retain most of the profit we made from selling our house and buying a less expensive one. We decided to try being a one car family at the time of our move and so far it is working for us ans saving lots of money too. Hubby has utilized the free bus service some and the train. I do need to get the Lyftt app on my phone and learn how to use it!

I took a look at expenses for the first 6 months here vs the same 6 months last year in Atlanta (excluding one time home expenses at each end) and so far our housing, home insurance, property taxes, utility and cable costs are about half to two thirds of what they were in Atlanta. Food and gasoline are about the same as we are driving a lot more and food costs are similar. We will see if that continues.

I found a free Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will form on the CA AG's website and we completed those. We are going to research if our Georgia wills and Durable Powers of Attorney are valid and double checking all beneficiary designations on accounts.

Hubby worked full time until the end of September which meant working remotely with monthly commutes to Atlanta at our cost. He completed all the paperwork for retirement, I started my SS on my 68th birthday and we both signed up for Medicare. He bought a laptop computer and got a personal cellphone as his work ones were returned. 

Since we know our income in 2018 will be less than half of 2017 we are maximizing our itemized deductions this year including paying our full property tax bill instead of doing 2 payments. We will be tapping into our savings for the next 5 years until we both reach 70 and have our full retirement incomes, but that is planned out as much as one can.

What is ahead for us?

We will be spending the next 6 months getting the hang of living on my SS, the yet to be finalized income from his pension and savings. That is planned to last for the next 2 1/2 years.  I say yet to be finalized because it takes months for the Feds to process retirement and finalize the pension payment so you receive a partial pension in the interim. Then I will have mandatory minimum withdrawals from my 401K as well for the following 2 1/2 years. After those 5 years Hubby will take SS at 70 and his mandatory minimum withdrawals from his 401K and 403B as well. Best laid plans and all that LOL.
I need to finish preparing our emergency/earthquake supplies for home and the car and getting the last of the unpacking and home improvements finished. The new to us house will require less attention as we complete improvements although we plan to do a a partial remodel on the guest bath in the second half of 2018 as it still has some original fixtures that aren't in good shape.

I also need to find a dog sitter so we can plan some vacations or as an alternative figure out a pet friendly vacation. We do like to travel.

Hubby has to figure out his retirement activities, I need to up my weekly activities and both of us need to make new friends. We will continue to spend lots of time with family members and stay in touch with friends and family on the other side of the country.

We also plan to broaden our distance in our search for restaurants, arts and theater that provide us with what we need to be happy in those arenas.

So it has been quite a journey and the new normal is here at last. Some surprises along the way but our extensive planning made it go fairly smoothly so far. Now on to the not unusual challenges of retirement, aged relatives and everyday living!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

First Social Security payment!

My first ever Social Security payment was deposited in my checking account today. I was able to wait until I was 68 to start collecting which I know is an impossibility for many people.

We are hoping Hubby can wait until he turns 70 since his Federal employee pension starts this month and we have savings to draw on. The rationale is that then his will be higher than mine so if he dies first I will be able to collect a higher amount. Who knows if this is the right decision!

How have you, or are you thinking about, when to collect your Social Security?

They are so well behaved - so far

We are taking care of our Grand-dog for 3 weeks while his people travel to Amsterdam and Greece. Fortunately he is the nicest dog and gets along really well with our dog. They do encourage each other to bark at every little sound but we are working on that LOL.

A new 2 dog adventure for all of us!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Finally, the den is finished

So we started with this

Which evolved to this as we unpacked

And now we have a cozy place to sit and watch TV or read or extra seating for gatherings. I'm quite happy with the way it turned out and enjoying having more artwork hung.

 Fortunately this was the only room we had to furnish if you don't count our new beds!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

September in (Not Quite) a Sentence a Day

Today, I’m excited to join in with a group of fabulous bloggers to share my September in a sentence a day review. My thanks to Leslie who organized the sentence a day link up.

1st - Spent my birthday alone as Hubby out of town but enjoyed the phone calls and messages from family and friends.

2nd - Picked Hubby up at airport and saw the burning hills above Burbank first hand.

3rd - The family all arrived to spend the weekend which had to be the best birthday weekend so far with all my "kids" and granddaughter plus dogs visiting.

4th - We all went out for lunch at a local brew pub and were highly entertained by the granddaughter before going to see her Great Grandpa for a bit!
5th - We all took a long walk to the nearest park just to watch joy on her baby face as she was in the swing for about 3 minutes; then came home, helped them pack the car and said goodbye for now.

6th - Laundry, dishes, remake beds, post items left behind including baby's favorite blanket, credit card fraud called so waiting for a new card, and tired.

7th - Took my new large shopping/beach bag made by my DIL for my birthday with me to make the rounds of the local thrift and consignment stores.
8th - Another very interesting art history class session about Seurat and the post-Impressionists, a way too brief visit with cousins from N.H. as they drove through S. Cal on their way back to the airport, and a good, inexpensive dinner at a new to us tiny hole in the wall local Thai restaurant.

9th - Went to part 2 of the new resident orientation and learned some helpful things about what the HOA allows us to do without approval and with approval.

10th - Phone calls with husband's aunt and my brother followed by a coastal drive to view the ocean.

13th - The best masseuse ever!

14th - The Women's Club in my community put on a fashion show fundraiser with Macy's providing outfits so it was interesting to see what their fashion stylists thought women over 55 in S. Cal would want to wear.

15th - Came home from my OLLI class very happy for having chatted with 3 women I can see as friends and very ready for lunch only to find Hubby in a dither over problems with his computer and did not react well - in fact can say I way overreacted in a not good way - sigh.

16th - Had fun plans but in the end we stayed home with one event cancelled and the other seeming like too much effort after I bathed the dog, walked her and did some house cleaning.

17th - My older son and DIL asked to meet for coffee on their way to do some shopping for items needed for their upcoming trip to Greece and we spent an hour chatting and laughing which is really why we moved back to California to be near family.

19th - Found the most adorable raincoat for my baby granddaughter at the local consignment shop on sale for $3.84 (plus shipping of course LOL).

21st - Fall seems to be here right on schedule so I wore jeans and made veggie soup for dinner along with apple salad and garlic bread.

22nd - I really enjoy having made 2 friendly acquaintances in my art history class and chatting with them each Friday.

23rd - Hubs and I went on a short hike at a nearby city park in the Santa Monica mountains and learned its human history as a Venturano Chumash Indian site and location of a stagecoach stop, saw volcanic outcrops and learned about local plants, great views and generally had fun.

24th - Met a whole lot of bright, energetic, motivated women at the annual kick-off meeting for the local AAUW branch (American Association of University Women) and heard nine articulate, bright, and enthusiastic 8th grade girls talk about their experiences at a week long summer TechTrek program the group sponsored them for so I joined up.

25th - Bought a pair of gray slip on Skechers which I hope will work as casual and around the house shoes in cooler weather.

26th - Car serviced & oil change, grandbaby's jacket mailed, more books from the library and scheduled handyman service so I can check all of those off.

29th - We went to the new Tom Cruise movie and although I thought he did a good job with his role overall I didn't think it was worth seeing.

30th - My first Fall in S. Cal in 20 years and the first one in an (almost) coastal location for 40 years so I am slowly creating a weather and new lifestyle appropriate Fall wardrobe capsule aka Project 333 which led to 3 outfits I liked this week although 2 used the same new top - oh well.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

What happens when you are tired of pruning!

Hubby's retirement project #1:

Our little patio in our new house came with large old bougainvilleas that required pruning every week while stabbing us with large thorns. Pretty and a good wind break, but a pain in the tuchus. No room for the patio table.

So yesterday it went from this

to this.

And soon will be beautiful again with large potted plants, larger with added pavers, and more functional with room for the patio table. No weekly painful pruning required.