Thoughts From The Beach

What I have learned about life, living at the beach.


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Hello Again….

Has it really been four years since I last wrote? That is so hard to believe but I guess like everyone life has a way of getting in the way.  The last 4 years have been filled with love, laughter and of course some sadness and struggles. Life in all its forms.

As I sit here on Christmas Eve looking back over the past 4 years I feel more content and happier than I have ever been. I have learned to roll with the punches better, not perfectly but better. I have also continued to enjoy the little things around me.

I guess the biggest change in the past 4 years has been my marriage to the love of my life. Probably THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE! I’m sure that is so cliché but you know what it is true.

I learned that planning a wedding can be frustrating no matter how big or small. Even though we had a very small ceremony at our home I still went into my perfectionist mode and needed all things perfect. Though there really is never complete perfection. A lesson I am continually learning. I must admit it was as near perfection as I could have imagined. Sunny weather, in March, in the Pacific Northwest! Really?!? Who plans an outdoor wedding for March in the Seattle area? Me that’s who. The most important thing about our wedding day is we were with those we love and it was a celebration! In my mind that is what a perfect wedding is.

I have included some of my favorite photos from our wedding. The ones that make me smile every day. Let me know your thoughts on weddings, favorite parts of your wedding or the struggles and successes in your planning. I would love to hear them.

Until next time, which I am really hoping won’t be 4 years from now, enjoy this amazing thing called life!

Anita


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Simplicity

It has been months since I have carved out the time to post. My how time flies! This post has me enjoying one of my favorite seasons. The cool crisp days of fall! But this year it does leave me wondering where the summer went. Maybe that is because this summer was all about simplicity. No major events, projects or deadlines to punctuate the long lazy days of summer!

For me this was a welcome change from my previous summers since moving to the beach. There were no pieces of BIG heavy machinery in my yard, no holes that could swallow a small house or repairs that needed to be done to make the house livable. It was a summer of reflection, remembering and enjoying the simple things the beach has to offer!

The best part of this summer was getting my fishing license! I use to fish off our bulkhead with my father for hours when I was a kid and then later as an adult to be able to have some alone time with him. Some days fish would be caught and others…… There was that day that I actually “caught” a rock. Reeled it in and everything. I never did claim to be the best fisherman in the family! This summer brought back all those memories. The quietness, the focus and yes even the thrill when something was on your line. 

This summer really reminded me why I love this old, creaky, in need of a major facelift of a shack. It is because of the simplicity it brings to my life.


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Perseverance!

Perseverance has been a mantra of mine since moving to the beach. Especially when it is related to reviving this cottage that did not age well! A few days ago I was looking at pictures that I have been taking since the beginning and realized, that yes, there has been a big change. Sometimes you think that no changes are happening, that nothing is changing, but being able to take a look back you can clearly see changes.

This is not only true for run down beach cottages but also in personal growth, professional projects and relationships. Being able to take a look back to see where you came from can be a good thing and it can re-build your momentum and fortitude to continue to move forward!

 

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Paint

Never under estimate the power of paint to transform! I have always known that and when moving back into my family home paint was never far from reach. In fact the entire week before moving in Peter and I painted. We painted with stain and smell blocking primer, twice (50+ years of smokers in the home required it) we painted walls, ceilings, mouldings, doors, floors, you name it nothing was safe from our paint brushes. However, by the end of those 7 days I never wanted to see or hold a paint brush again. Only problem was we weren’t done.

It wasn’t until a month ago that I finally tackled the last job, the inside of our kitchen cabinets. Now remember this is an old cottage, built in the 40’s, with it’s original cabinets (aka plywood boxes). When we were in the midst of our painting frenzy we did get a coat of primer on them which helped with the smell but it only made them look worse. So now I was going to finally fix that, nearly 4 years later.

So what color should they be I wondered. I mean no one, or hardly anyone, will actually see the inside of the cabinets, so did it really matter? Yes to me it did. I would be looking at the inside each and every day so I wanted something that I would love.  So my inspiration came from a spice jar lid from Anthropology. With the jar lid in hand off to Home Depot I went. Only one problem, the lid was too small and not flat enough to put in their color matching machine. So on a busy Saturday morning the paint department attendant hand matched the paint to the jar lid! This again fostered the LOVE side of my love hate relationship with Home Depot.

The color was perfect! While Peter was gone on a business trip I painted and painted and painted! Who knew that even with a coat of primer the cabinets would still take 3 coats to cover.

The results? Amazing!! I love my cabinets. They look and feel clean, they brighten up what use to be dark black holes in my walls that dishes and spices would get lost in. They are great, and again I learned the power of a coat of paint (or two or three)!

I want to know what your greatest transformation with paint has been!

Happy Painting!

Anita

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After

After


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Joys of living by the water!

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One of the many joys of living at the beach is the never ending supply of seafood, and right now one of my favorites is in season, Copper River Salmon! Yes we need to get it from Alaska but it is still so fresh when it gets to Washington state! 

Also, since my schedule has changed so dramatically from working in a very busy hospital clinic and inpatient program to working in a setting with shorter hours and no management responsibilities, I have more time to experiment with dinner. Peter received a “Slow Fire” BBQ book for Christmas and has been experimenting with a variety of rubs. They certainly enhance what he has been cooking so I decided to try my hand at creating a rub for the salmon. 

We had been having a lot of savory meals over the last couple of weeks. I think BBQ season lends itself to that, so I was wanting something with a little sweetness and saltiness. Below is what I came up with. It makes a fair amount so you will have plenty for the next time you have salmon.

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar in the raw

2 teaspoons each of: course ground black pepper, kosher salt and minced garlic.

Mix well.

First I brush olive oil on the skin side of the fish and place it on a sheet of foil, then I brush some more olive oil on the salmon. Once this is done I sprinkle the “rub” on the fish, garnish with a couple of sprigs of rosemary and fold the sides of the foil up to create a shallow dish. I don’t completely close the foil for 2 reasons. One I don’t want to steam the fish and two, I like the smokiness from the wood chips in the BBQ.

The fish is then placed on the BBQ for about 30 minutes. Thats all, simple, tasty and clean up is a breeze!

Enjoy!


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Lessons

There are many lessons that I have learned since moving to the beach. My most recent lessons have been through watching my yard and gardens taking shape this spring. 

The last couple of years I have had miserable spring and summers as far as my gardens go. For someone who left a flourishing garden in Portland Oregon it has been disheartening. This spring as I was watching the early bulbs blooming I noticed some hyacinths blooming from under our wood pile. You may think “why did she plant bulbs under a wood pile?” The answer is, the wood pile wasn’t there when I planted them! Due to all of the work in my yard the past year or so we needed to move the pile to its current location. But back to my lessons learned…..

AsI looked at the flowers it brought two thoughts to mind, “bloom where you are planted” and that nothing ever worth having is easy. Those flowers worked their way out from a load of firewood to bloom in all their glory! This showed me that there is hope to make this house, this garden and this life of mine bloom gloriously. With a little work I can have the life I have always dreamed about. It is getting there. Closer than I have ever been and I am enjoying the journey. I think of all the “wood piles” I needed to overcome and it is amazing to me that I am at this spot at this time living a life I couldn’t even dream about!

So I want you to take some time and think about your own wood piles and then congratulate yourself in blooming even when they should have crushed you. 


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Randomness!

I find that I am a person who likes to have more control in her life than randomness. Even when I try to impart randomness (others may call it naturalization) in my gardens. You see to obtain this randomness in my garden I do it with a certain amount of control. Take bulb planting for example….my process to obtain randomness or naturalization is to throw all those instructions related to spacing away, who reads them anyway right? When I am planting bulbs I grab a handful and toss them in the air, where they land is where they are planted. If multiple bulbs land in one place, that is where they are planted. Though this may seem like randomness it is not in all actuality. See I have control over where I throw the bulbs in the air, how many I throw at once and what kind I am throwing. See control over my randomness.

However, the other morning when looking out at my yard I saw three hyacinth flowers coming up in a location I never tossed them, or even thought about planting them. They were there randomly. How they got there? Could it have been all of the digging and moving of dirt during last summers dust bowl of 2012, did the moles who had taken up residence in my yard last year move them? Who knows. All I know is that when I looked out at this true randomness, I began to realize that maybe having a little more randomness in my life would be ok. To try and be less controlling over how things happen around me. To go with the flow just a little bit more. I think by adopting a little bit more of this attitude I will feel less stress and less of a need for perfection in myself and those around me. It is worth a try! Anyone want to join me?

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SCORE!

I have a love hate relationship with places like Home Depot and my local Ace Hardware store. Usually when I need to go there it is because something is broken or I need something to finish a job and not usually for fun things. Well that was all different last week.

Last weekend, Peter and I had some time to spare while waiting for Costco to open so we dropped into our local Home Depot store. Mind you I am kind of a hardware store geek but that doesn’t change my love hate relationship with the store. As we were walking through the garden section there they were. Piled high in a rainbow of colors and ON SALE! As I mentioned in an earlier blog my tiny yard has been home to multiple tractors, bulldozers and the like since last summer. The result of one of those jobs was a new terraced area, needed to control the erosion of our bank, that looks over the water. So far this area has been keeping my mind occupied on how to fill up this large space without compromising the view, but not just looking at dirt. These chairs, that were just waiting for me at Home Depot, have started my creative gardening juices going and now I am excited to tackle what I once thought as too overwhelming of a project to even start.

Yesterday after several hours out in the yard, and with my back turned away from the dirt behind me, I was able to try out my new score! They will be perfect in the coming months and I look forward to being able to sit out there without mittens, hats and a sweatshirt!

Come on SPRING!
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As I sit looking at the gloomy sky on this first day of March I am dreaming of spring and all that it means to me. I love spring. I love how new life is literally bursting out all over! But the main reason I love spring is because I love to garden, and the last year or two I haven’t had much opportunity to.

Last year I started with high hopes of creating a productive vegetable garden and luscious cutting garden, but my dreams were squashed with the earth shattering sounds of bulldozers in my tiny yard. They could only mean one thing…….time to replace the septic. So my spring and summer went by with an air of frustration as I looked longingly at the torn up garden and dirt mounds that were my reality.

THIS YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT! No bulldozers (fingers crossed as there was another one in the yard in December helping to stabilize the bank), no dirt mounds, just digging in well tilled soil that I have been painstakingly trying to create. Creating beauty and function in a yard that has been neglected for so many years.

This photo is an inspiration to me. Hydrangeas are favorites of mine and this is one from my yard that survived the dozer (as my kids at work would say) and bloomed all spring, summer and fall. It will keep me going until I can really get out in the yard and dig in!

Come on spring I am waiting!


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A little about my journey!

I consider myself a very steady soul but when, at 50, I was going to completely change every aspect of my life I jumped in with two feet.
For many years I had been taking care of aging and ill parents while working full time as manager of a very busy physical rehabilitation program at a children’s hospital. During this time I reconnected with a friend that I had known since I was 15. He was in the midst of a divorce and I had always been single. We connected on a level that we had never done before.
Needless to say after a while we knew that we needed to be together. So I sold my house, left my job with the hospital (for which I had worked for for over 25 years) and moved to what we lovingly call “The Shack”, and that is when my adventure began.
This blog is about the things that are most important in my life. The man I share my life with, the adventures of bringing an aging (and not gracefully) cottage back to life and what I have learned along the way.
I hope that you enjoy and maybe find an idea or two for your own life.
Anita