A Simpler Time

Did any other ’80s or ’90s brides have this book?

IMG_0843I stumbled upon my copy the other day and was struck by how simple life used to be, even when I was planning a wedding (to remember)!

This book was my bible.  I was superstitious about it:  “If I do what the book says, everything will be okay.”

Funny….now that I’m planning a bat mitzvah, I have this to-do list from “Mitzvah Marketplace” and I know that “If I do the list, everything will be okay.”

What’s interesting is how simple it all was.

IMG_0847When Beverly Clark lays it all out so neatly, with satisfying check-boxes next to each task, she makes it seem totally do-able.

I still remember how great it felt to completely cross out all the items that didn’t apply to us.  (Hey, I just eliminated half the to-do list without lifting anything other than a pen!)

IMG_0845Beverly Clark had quantity punch recipes, sample invitation wording, monogram information, charts of the meanings of different flowers, and this guide to diamond engagement ring shapes.

IMG_0848My calendar of bridal to-dos was very do-able.  With planning this bat mitzvah I feel like I’m doing something every single day.  Did I really do this little to plan our wedding?

Even the month of the actual wedding my schedule looks so….empty.

IMG_0849Everyone told me to save the book and my lists to use for holiday cards in the future.  (Actually several people told me to put them in a file card box but that seems over the top crazy.  Did people really used to do that?  I think they did!)

I did use my book with my handwritten lists for my baby shower a few years later.

IMG_0851 IMG_0850Now it’s all ipads and Excel spreadsheets and I am feeling very nostalgic for hand-writing notes to myself, coffee stains and all.

Should I be concerned?

My kids appear to be running an unlicensed massage parlor out of Jane’s room.  (Though the sign says “Eva’s ‘Gormet’ Massage” so clearly it’s a joint effort.)

I know the writing’s small, but you’ll need to know the details, like “Massage $5.  Do you have a baby?  Please watch it.  Childcare is $2.”

Note the tawdry details like the box of medical examination gloves (??) and Clorox wipes in the corner, along with nail file, Paul Mitchell “Skinny Spray” for hair, and a Scentsy travel tin.  You know, to keep it classy.







ZOMG you guys, we are less than one month out from Eva’s bat mitzvah!!!! AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! I am excited, nervous, overwhelmed, nostalgic, weepy, stressed, but mostly just READY for it to be here.

As the RSVPs are rolling in I am getting excited about seeing folks.

The plan is to keep August simple. I wrote out a big timeline and plugged everything into my ipad Planner Plus app. That of course tempted fate and *things* started happening. These are things that keep me busy, distract me from the goal line, and chip away at my resolve to stay sane.

I need to stay sane, competent, functional, and healthy (mentally, physically, emotionally, psychically, spiritually, etc etc) until August 30. I can turn into a pumpkin at midnight so if I look a little crazy at the morning-after brunch, you’ll know why.

A few stay sane tools:

* LAUGHTER. I am trying to maintain my sense of humor. I’m helping myself along with funny books, TV shows, movies, and Youtube clips. (A great read if you’re looking for something funny: blogger Snarky in the Suburbs has a book available for Kindle download. Hilarious! And in case you’re not in suburbia and think she’s exaggerating ANY of her story, nope. This is basically nonfiction.)

* THE GYM. I will never be that person who devotes hours to living in the gym. Short but sweet is better for me. But I am religious about getting myself in there to do my New Rules of Lifting for Women (aka NROL4W) three times a week. I just started Stage 2 this week after taking off a suggested week between stages during our trip to Portland. Got back into the gym this week, did some new exercises, and I AM SORE. But in a good way.

* READING. My Happy Place is the Temecula Public Library. I have a big stack of books here that I am working my way through. I have something for every mood that could possibly strike: “cozy” mysteries, more hardboiled mysteries, thrillers, zombie/vampire tales, YA dystopian fiction, and a Southern family saga called Peachtree Road that is a surprise page turner. It’s kind of like Barbara Taylor Bradford-meets-Gone With the Wind.

* HEALTH ‘n’ BEAUTY. When I plugged in all my bat mitzvah to-dos I made sure to schedule in my health/beauty stuff too, like going to the dermatologist, getting my B12 shot, and having my monthly Massage Green massage. I am solidly in my 40s now and the goal is maintain, maintain, maintain.

And that in a nutshell is how August is shaping up. Eva gets her school schedule, books, and photo ID on Monday and goes back to school a week from Wednesday. (Yes, in the middle of summer these kids go back to school. Smart in an area where it is going to be approximately a billion degrees every day for the next month and a half.) Jane goes back right before Labor Day. Also no golf lately, very little tennis, dog is on phenobarbitol (“PB”) and somehow anxious yet lethargic at the same time and also super thirsty with a dry mouth (he has a “drinking problem” as we like to say) but MAINTAIN. What else can I do?!

Ojai in Pictures

Ojai’s climate is warm valley meets ocean breezes (it’s only about 15 miles from the beaches of Ventura.)  There’s a lot of citrus (including their famous unique Ojai Pixie tangerines), bougainvillea, oaks, eucalyptus, lavender, olive trees, avocados, and cactus.

ojai 1 cactus treesojai 2 huge eucalyptusEucalyptus is SO fragrant.  I love it.  I learned as a kid that eucalyptus was introduced to California because its fast-growing wood could  be used to build the railroads.

ojai 3 fruit standPomegranates!

ojai 4 vistaAll of California is in a major drought so all of the vistas looked down into dry, rocky creek beds.

ojai 5 rains local stuffIn cute little downtown Ojai, Rains is celebrating their centennial.  Rains is a local institution that is truly an old-fashioned department store, with hardware, garden, housewares, and local items.  It has shoes and clothing (“Ojai Man” and “Ojai Woman.”)

ojai 6 matilijaI love these posters of matilija poppies (“fried egg flowers”) that grow locally.  A major street in town is called Matilija (the Rainbow Bridge health food store is on Matilija.)

ojai 7 mission tilesThese mission tiles are great!  The missions are all a day’s horseback ride from each other. Santa Cruz is #12.

ojai 8 artA local gallery has interesting art from all over the country.  I like these “Critters from the Hood” which are made from old cars.

ojai 9 art explanationThese creatures are pretty cool, too.

ojai 10 art againojai 11 tea shoppeLook!  An English tea shoppe.  What a nice surprise!

This consignment/resale shop caught my eye because there was a fabulous bright purple dress hanging out front.  The price was right so I bought it.  Ojai is bag-free so I had to walk around carrying it in my hands.  I always forget to bring my bags.  Memo to self:  bring a few bags in our luggage to Portland.  I’m SURE Portland must be bag-free.

ojai 12 treasures store

A Little Something Different…

photo 1 (5)photo 1 (8)Four weeks flew by, and it was time to pick Eva up at camp, so I decided to finally check out a place I’ve heard about but never visited, Pepper Tree Retreat in Ojai.

Their brochure says:  “Pepper Tree Retreat, an Ojai retreat with vegetarian cuisine, is the former home of philosopher J. Krishnamurti, perhaps Ojai’s most famous resident.  Krishnamurti lived here from 1922 to 1986, welcoming visitors from around the world who were challenged by his penetrating inquiries into the fundamental questions of life.  These included such 20th Century luminaries as Annie Besant, Aldous Huxley, John Barrymore, Greta Garbo, David Bohm, Dr. Jonas Salk, D.H. Lawrence, Jackson Pollack, Igor Stravinsky and many others.  The retreat guest rooms are named after these visitors, some of whom stayed in the rooms that are named for them.”

(I originally booked the Charlie Chaplin room but it wasn’t ready in time so ended up in the Annie Besant suite instead:  a nice upgrade as you can see!)

photo 3 (8)My suite of rooms was in a beautifully maintained 1910 farmhouse set among towering eucalyptus, oak, and pepper trees.

photo 1 (6) photo 1 (7)In addition to a main bedroom, I also had a screened-in patio with writing desk which had views of the porch, rose garden, orange grove, and mountains in the distance. Ojai is a very narrow valley so there are beautiful mountain views on both sides.

photo 4 (6)The whole place smells like orange blossoms and eucalyptus.  There is such quiet except for sometimes when you walk past pepper trees you hear a low buzzing:  bees!  There are lots of bees all around Ojai but none ever seem that interested in people, luckily.  And I was a little worried I might see a snake but nope, no snake sightings either.

photo 2 (6) photo 2 (7)I could walk right out my back porch down a winding path where I took my morning walk.

photo 2 (2) photo 2 photo 3 (6) photo 3The retreat is amazing.  There is a wonderful, still feeling that is both restful and restorative while also stimulating.  I felt calmly energized even though it was hot (even by Ojai summer standards it was hot:  over 100 degrees and humid, overcast with light sprinkles in the morning which is very rare.)

The common areas are beautiful.  Breakfast in the main dining room was simple but somehow everything tasted wonderful.  I asked the dreadlocked and nose-ringed guy who was putting out the food whether the jam (simply labeled “organic berry”) was made on the premises.

“It’s from Trader Joe’s.  I can show you the jar if you want.”  I noticed many of the products around the house came from Trader Joe’s, and I should have asked who gets stuck doing the shopping, since TJs always has THE worst parking lots.  I would love to know a yogi’s tricks for navigating the Trader Joe’s parking lot without losing it.

There’s a living room area with comfortable chairs and couches.  The walls are lined with books.  One entire wall is filled with books written by Krishnamurti.  (He wrote a lot!)  An umbrella stand filled with rolled yoga mats sits near the French doors leading to a shady patio.

Water and tea are set out all the time, and the water pitcher had rosemary and sliced oranges (grown on premises; the night caretaker urged me to pick whatever I wanted when I was there.)  They even had my favorite tulsi tea.  Score!

By day it was beautiful but I admit I was a teeny bit concerned that I might get scared at night.  You just never know.  Sleeping in a creaky old farmhouse haunted by the ghost of Charlie Chaplin (okay, I just made that up, but it sound like it could be true, right!?) might be scary.

I brought my airplane-freebie sleep set (eye mask and earplugs sealed in plastic) and my Essence of Vali sleep aromatherapy, but I didn’t need them.  I fell asleep and slept soundly until I woke with natural dawn light.  But when I checked the clock I saw it was only 2 a.m.  “Supermoon” had been two nights before and the moon was still really light, and by the wee hours it was shining in through the window at my headboard like daytime.  It was like summer in Finland.

I was initially worried that I might have to make chitchat with fellow guests or visitors to the retreat center but luckily everyone was very quiet and vague.  Nobody asked why I was there or how I decided to come for a visit.  Everyone had vague unplaceable possibly European sounding accents, and there were a lot of natural fibers and braided hemp sandals.

So anyway, the retreat was wonderful, and I plan to return for a longer visit in the future.  Best of all, it was only a few minutes from camp so I was able to be one of the first cars in line, pick Eva up, and be home before rush hour.  Score again!


Okay, so this is really exciting.  I have been doing The New Rules of Lifting for Women (NROL4W) since June 9.  I am not a newcomer to strength training, and I get why it is important, but this is the first time EVER that I’ve stuck with any type of organized program consistently for any real length of time.

And (AND!!!!) I began feeling noticeably stronger literally after my first workout.

Because I love “proof” I have been tracking my progress in a workout log.  The numbers on the log don’t fully capture how much stronger I feel, though.  Mere numbers can’t demonstrate confidence.  They can’t measure taller posture.  They can’t convey how much more comfortable I feel walking into the “real” weights area of my local Gold’s.

My weight is the same.  My clothes fit pretty much the same (except oddly my bras fit size-wise the same but the straps needed adjusting; I think my shoulders might be getting more contoured.)  I’ve been in a bikini a few times this month including yesterday for July 4th and I look the same.

Which is FINE!  My goal going into this program was to stay the same size, or even get a wee bit bigger, since I started out underweight, but I want to firm up, shape up, and most importantly feel strong.  And not just FEEL strong, but actually BE strong.

I’ve been athletic for decades but you can move a lot, and do sports, which is great, fun, very healthful, and good for a whole bunch of stuff, but now that I AM 44 (!!) I need to lift weights.  And I need to do it consistently.

[AND....AND!!!....those weights need to be HEAVY.  Doubt me?  Check out New Rules of Lifting for Women and the excellent rationale he has for why.  It makes so much sense.]

That said, the numbers are moving a little bit.  And truly though I feel different, it hasn’t been that long.  But just for example:

1.  LUNGES.  I am holding a dumbbell in each hand and stepping forward into a deep lunge, then pushing back into starting position.  Repeat on the other side.  That’s one rep.

On the first day, I  could barely do two sets.  I actually felt a little bit dizzy and queasy as I “finished” (aka ended early) my second set. Holding 15# dumbbells in each hand I did one set of 15 and one set of eight.  Yesterday, I did three sets of 10 reps each holding that same weight.

More importantly, I felt strong and held good form the entire time.

2.  DEADLIFTS.  Yes, deadlifts!  Like I said I’ve lifted weights in the gym before but I’ve always done “girl” exercises, mostly on the machines.  I was seriously outside my comfort zone picking up a bar like an  old timey strongman to bust out some deadlifts.

I started out with a 30# bar and did two sets of 15.  I was SO SORE the next day that I thought I might be coming down with some weird type of body-ache flu.

Now I can do three sets of 10 reps with a 60# bar.

3.  STEP-UPS.  Holding dumbbells in each hand, put the working foot on a step.  Push up to the step, letting the non-working leg trail along until it rests gently on the step.  Return to start and repeat all the reps on that side. Then switch working legs.

Step ups are a bit of a balance challenge for me.  Weird, I know.  But that’s one thing I love about this program. Every exercise works many different muscles.  Anything that throws me a little bit off balance?  I can absolutely feel my core strengthening to hold me steady.  Plus who couldn’t use a little balance improvement?

The first day I held 15# dumbbells and did two sets of 15 reps each. I was not feeling awesome as I ended each set, and in particular finishing all of the reps in that second set was a challenge.  Now I am doing three sets of 10 reps each holding 22.5# dumbbells.  Nice!

4.  SEATED ROW.  Sitting on bench, pull cable toward chest.  This may be why I had to adjust my bra straps around my shoulders.  I went from two sets at 40#.  I was supposed to do 15 reps but could only do 10 my first set and 12 my second.  Now I can do three sets of 10 reps lifting 60#.

NROL4W is divided into seven stages and the entire program takes approximately six months.  In my enthusiasm I already bought the author’s newest book:  New Rules of Lifting-Supercharged, which I plan to do after finishing stage 7.  More to come!

Quick Takes

To date the funniest sign I’ve ever seen: