Monday, October 28, 2019

Week 43: Fun Lights!

It's snowing and cold here in Superior, CO..  my least favorite kind of weather. I'm heading out to Orlando on Wednesday to start my snowbird adventures for the season, but I've made a mental note that if I really want to beat the snow, I'm going to have to leave by mid-October.

However, knowing that I'll be gone for most of the winter, it's been a little easier to remind myself of all the beautiful things I do enjoy about wintery weather: the sparkly new snow, staying warm and cozy with snuggly blankets and warm drinks, and holiday lights!

This was a good week to work on goal #53 from my list of 60:

Hang pretty lights in basement and bedroom

A couple of years ago, I bought a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree which means I have an abundance of extra holiday lights.  I thought it would be fun to put those up in the rafters of my unfinished basement!

I also found these cool neon flamingo and palm tree lamps for 75% off at Michaels! Add a space heater and I can pretend I'm already in Florida!  (MB: Thank you for your help with the assembly!)

This has been a more challenging goal than you'd think because I had to get an electrician to add some additional outlets around the basement.  Then I had to get power strips and extension cords to let me hook up all the lamps and lights.  I really wanted to add a lot of light so that rather than being depressed by the dark days of winter, I could instead enjoy all the fun lights!

I have an old lava lamp and some other 'retro' party lamps that fit right in with the other 'vintage stuff' in my basement.  OK..  maybe it's really just 'old junk' but I like it and it is the perfect decor for the 60's theme party that I'm thinking of throwing for my 60th birthday.

I also bought an LED strip that comes with a remote that let's you change to any color. You can do things like make the lights blink or change colors for holidays or certain moods.  I have bulbs that are controlled by a remote in the same way. These LED "party lights" are incredibly cheap, but they've had their share of problems.  The remote doesn't work too well, and the first set I got was missing a very important adapter cable, so I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to get it plugged in. But today I finally got the missing adapter and now that I see how these lights work, I'm getting more!
As for my bedroom, I put a couple of beautiful tiffany lamps on my Wish List, so let's hope I get one from Santa!

What worked well
  • Having more light cheers me up, especially in winter.
  • Those LED lights that change colors are so fun and so inexpensive!
  • Love having holiday lights up all year round.
  • 75% off my cool flamingo and palm tree lights!
  • MB helped me assemble the flamingo and palm tree since the instructions were not very clear.
What could be better
  • I still have a lot more lights that I want to hang..  I'm hoping my kids, who are very creative and artsy decorators, will help me continue hanging more lights in my basement.
  • I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to install the LED lights that were missing an important adapter.  Customer service was unresponsive.
I also have lots of big comfy blankets to snuggle with down in the basement so bring it on, Mother Nature! (Just as long as I can get out of here on Wednesday!)

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Week 42: Updating my Website and CARpe Diem!

I have my daughter-in-law, Stella, to thank for inspiring me to work on Goal #58 on my list of 60 goals:

Update Website with my coaching / training / writing accomplishments

Last week, Stella sent me an email telling me she'd wanted to learn Web design and had already created a mock-up of a new Website for me, pulling in from elements of my current Website and blog.  This was a great reminder of my goal to get my Website updated and also just what I needed to help me think through what I want to do in this next chapter of my life!

As much as I loved the work I did as an Agile Consultant,  I have really been enjoying the freedoms of not having to go into an office or sit for hours in front of the computer.

However, I really enjoy part-time freelance work as a coach, trainer, and writer.  I also have toyed with the idea of moving more into personal coaching and hosting workshops and retreats.

My Website and my Professional Blog were both extremely out-of-date. I made some updates to the content on both of them and I'll work with Stella to get my new look and feel!

Meanwhile, I also gave my car a new look and feel with a colorful wrap. What's really amazing is that Stella created the mockup site above without even knowing about my car and look how well they match! As usual, she knows exactly what I love!

Even though I hate marketing, I can add a URL to my wrap and then write off part of the cost as a business expense!

What worked well:
  • Really good to reflect on what kind of work I want to do in this next phase of life
  • Love updating my branding and coaching to incorporate Carpe Diem lifestyle and colors
  • I practiced doing personal coaching with friends and got positive feedback
  • So nice of Stella to pro-actively do some Website design for me and amazing that she picked colors and a design that matched my car without even knowing about the car!
  • Good to review and revamp my old Wordpress blog
  • Love my new colorful car and happy that I'll be able to use it for marketing and have a business expense
What could be better:
  • Even though I updated my old site and blog, I still haven't migrated to the new look and feel
  • I'm still not sure I want to work at all, so am reluctant to do any marketing quite yet. I may save that for next year, since I still have so many other things I have planned for the rest of this year.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Week 41: Leaf Peeping in New England

Woohoo! Another awesome goal, wildly exceeding expectations! This one was #34 on my list of 60:

Visit New England in the Fall with Rebecca R.

Even though we have beautiful scenery and fall colors in Colorado, I’d often heard that nothing could match the New England fall foliage, so this experience had long been on my bucket list.  One of my best friends, Rebecca Ritter, is originally from New York, and agreed to join me on a trip out east and even offered up the opportunity to spend one of our nights at her parents’ beautiful home! 

We thought mid-October would be perfect leaf-peeping season, planning on spending our first couple of days and nights in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and then head to Rebecca’s parents’ home. As our flight from Denver was leaving, the national news reported this:  I

It's going to be a wet and windy end of the workweek and weekend on the East Coast, as a fall nor'easter -- with wind gusts approaching tropical-storm-force -- slams an area stretching from Delaware to Massachusetts. 

Oh dear! Wind, cloudy weather, and rain was predicted for our entire 4-day stay!

What a surprise that the weather turned out to be so beautiful! The leaves were breath-taking, living up to their reputation. We heard that they’d been even prettier a couple of weeks earlier, with more reds, but it’s hard to imagine it could be any prettier.  The experience was so wonderful that I want to make it a tradition to visit the area each fall. 

What worked well:

Weather and scenery

I haven’t missed a day of walking at least 10,000 steps every day since the year started.  (As I’ve written about, I can be quite obsessive about this.) This goal can be difficult when traveling, especially if the weather is bad.  However, Rebecca’s such a good friend that she said she wasn’t going to let me miss a day and would walk with me in the rain if need be (despite her cold!)

Again, the weather turned out to be perfect, and the hikes were amongst the prettiest I’ve ever been on! My photos really can’t capture the brilliant hues of fall colors but the whole time we were there, I kept thinking, “Wow!! This. Is. Gorgeous!”

Bonus perk: We missed a record cold day back in Colorado! Yay!

The Berkshires 

Neither Rebecca nor I had ever been to “The Berkshires”, a touristy place with a lot to see and do. The vibe was friendly, and down-to-earth. The streets were lined with quaint restaurants and shops and every street looked like a Thomas Kincaid painting. 

Rebecca and I enjoyed exploring the neighborhoods, drove by the impressive Tanglewood, stopped and visited the Kripalu Yoga Retreat, and spent most of Friday afternoon at The Norman Rockwell Museum (I just LOVE Norman Rockwell!). Friday night, after a delicious dinner, we went out to see a thought-provoking play, Time Stands Still, performed by Shakespeare & Company.

Rebecca’s Family

Speaking of Norman Rockwell, Rebecca's family could have easily been the models for his pictures!

Norman Rockwell picture
Archer Family Dinner

Rebecca is the 3rd in a family of 8 kids. Her father (age 90) and mother (age 84) renovated a beautiful, big barn that the family used to use for a vacation home, but now is her parents’ full-time home.  What a fun, big home with a huge sunlit great room where the family gathered to talk and laugh.

Two of Rebecca’s brothers and her sister, along with some spouses and her sister’s daughter met at their parents place for the weekend, so I had the pleasure of getting to know her family more. Her family was all so sweet to me…. I felt like I was just another sibling!  I was especially impressed that her parents were so energetic and healthy, seeming much younger than their years. 

I’ve always loved big families, and it was fun for me to listen to all the stories as they reminisced. They even found a box of memorabilia from Rebecca’s grandmother with old letters and her mother’s report cards from elementary school! They were all laughing at some surprises that were uncovered including a drama about a crazy college roommate! It was better than an episode of The Waltons!


One thing I’ve learned about my 60 until 60 project, is that my favorite goals are those that I’m doing with someone I love. Rebecca has been one of my best friends for almost 20 years and I feel so grateful for having her in my life.

Even though she was sick and has been so busy, Rebecca made the time to take this trip with me. She never complained about anything, and whenever there was a little curve-ball, she didn’t let it derail her, She’s always positive and flexible and such a great travel buddy. She even drove the whole time because she knows I don’t like driving.

I feel very lucky that I got to not only experience beautiful fall scenery this week, but was able to share it with such a good friend and to experience her fun-loving family!

What could have been better

As I'm finding with most of my goals, especially the trips, the good things were SO good that the not-so-good things seem very insignificant.  However, here are a couple of minor things that could have been better:
  • The rental car smelled like smoke and had a broken tail light when we picked it up. The pick-up and drop-off processes were very inefficient.  I don't think I'd use Avis again.
  • We had to wait two hours on take-off because they needed to de-ice the plane and also a passenger was sick and needed to get off. Though this really wasn't a problem with Frontier, the flight-attendants were kind of snarky, and Rebecca and I agreed that we both preferred Southwest.
Again, Rebecca didn't let these things, or the fact that she was feeling under the weather herself, get her down.

Memorable trip with a wonderful friend! 

Monday, October 07, 2019

Week 40: Goal #43: Try marble contact paper on an old table

It's the end of Week 40 of my 60-week celebration and a many of the goals on my list have to do with cleaning up my basement.  I've got a lot of old junk down there. However, I saw a picture last year of a table that had been beautified with marble contact paper and thought: 'I want to try that!'

Finished Result! 
After my old table was transformed, I used it to display some other thrift store finds and I think it looks very cute in the corner of my basement!

Like many of my goals, this turned out better than expected! First of all, the roll of contact paper only cost $5! Secondly, it's very rare that I'm pleased with anything crafty that I attempt, especially on the first try! This turned out to be exceptionally easy, even for someone like me, who makes a mess out of anything that involves stickiness (duct tape, packing tape, super glue, etc.) You should have seen the pathetic job I did with the Dollar Tree stick-on fingernails I tried! But, unlike the botched up fingernails, this worked like a charm!

I started with this very old little table.

Uh oh! When I saw all these creases I thought I was in trouble. But after the backing was removed, it was easy to smooth out the contact paper and remove any bubbles or creases.

Contact paper applied

Both sides brought up for a longer table

What worked well:

  • Contact paper was only $5
  • Even though I'd never done it before, I'm very pleased with the end results!
  • I was able to do this whole project in less than an hour
What could have been better:
  • The edges and corners aren't perfect
  • This worked well on a small table, but it would be harder on a bigger table because the seams would show. 
  • If I were doing a larger space or piece of furniture, I'd want to do it with someone else. Projects are always more fun with another person (especially one who knows what they're doing!)