Monthly Archives: June 2015

#50ThingsList Update – Week 2

I was able to check two items off my “50 Things To Do In My 50th Year” list since my last post, and I made some progress on two other items as well. Go me!

First, I completed Item #47 (Eat shawarma ala Avengers) on Saturday, June 20th.  I’d never had shawarma before, but after Tony Stark recommended it in the first Avengers movie, I knew I had to try it. Grif mentioned that there was a cafe in Simi Valley that served it, so when I had occasion to have lunch with my good friend C (who lives in the area), all the pieces fell into place. I love it when a plan comes together!

We met at Ali Baba Cafe and I had the beef shawarma sandwich. It was very tasty and reminded me of a gyro sandwich. I would definitely eat there again.

The other item I completed this week is #11 (Go to a tango milonga). Grif and I have been taking Argentine Tango lessons at House of Dance in Ventura for the past few months. They hold a social dance party every Friday evening, and the last Friday of each month is a milonga corta, which is a basically a dance party where they play tangos all evening. Traditionally, one is expected to dance with multiple partners at a milonga corta, but since Grif and I are still rank amateurs when it comes to dancing the tango, we cheated and kept to ourselves. Nobody seemed to mind too much.

We were only there for an hour, because Liam has a parkour class on Friday evenings and we needed to pick him up afterwards, but we were ready to be done by the time we had to leave. Argentine Tango isn’t a terribly strenuous dance, but it is done in a close “salon” embrace (essentially a full body press from the waist up), and warm room plus pretty much non-stop dancing for 45 minutes was plenty of milonga corta for us. I’d just gotten new tango shoes too, so while they fit like a dream and were a real pleasure to dance in, my dogs were barking when it was time to go home.

During our dance lessons, the instructors give us specific steps or combinations of steps to work on, so it was a bit of a challenge to figure out how to string them all together enough to keep dancing for an entire three-minute (or longer!) song. Argentine Tango is unlike any other type of dancing I’ve ever done before, and it is surprisingly complex, at least for me. Grif and I spent most of our time giggling and trying to stay out of the way of the other dancers, but in the end I think we made a huge leap forward in our ability to tango together because we weren’t just following along to preset choreography, we were actually dancing. By the way, if you want to improve your listening and communication skills, either as a couple or as an individual, I highly recommend taking social dance lessons. It has done more for my relationship with Grif than anything else we’ve gone through together.

Grif wasn’t too keen on the idea of attending the milonga corta when I first suggested it, but he seemed to really enjoy himself. I think we’ll be back next month, and we may even get brave and try out some of the other milonga cortas in the area. Woo hoo!

In other news, I made progress on Item #5 (Make 50 items to donate to charity). I’ve been doing charity knitting for years now, and my favorite thing to loom knit is baby hats. I have chosen Emily’s Hats For Hope Initiative to donate to this year, and I’ve completed 32 baby hats so far. Most of them were completed before my birthday, however. Is that cheating?

Finally, I made some progress on Item #34 (Finish will, advanced directive, body donation arrangements, etc.). Are you watching the “Ask a Mortician” series on YouTube? Caitlin Doughty is a delight and I can’t recommend her videos highly enough. Coincidentally, her most recent “Ask a Mortician” video covered the basics of advanced medical directives and other topics along this line, so I took lots of notes and did quite a bit of research this week. Not to be morbid, but 50 is pretty much midlife for me (if I’m lucky), so what better time to take care of the paperwork and get all my final arrangements in place so I can get on with the business of living, yes?

That’s it for this week!


Kicking Off the “50 Things To Do In My 50th Year” Project

Yesterday was my birthday, so it seemed only appropriate to start working on the “50 Things to do in my 50th Year” list.

Actually, I accomplished one of the items on my list on Sunday (6/14/15), which technically is cheating because it didn’t occur between June 15, 2015 and June 14, 2016, but when my dear friend LH invited me to go to Tienda Ho in Santa Barbara (Item #46 on the list), I couldn’t resist. Tienda Ho is a really fun clothing boutique right on State Street that has been there for 30+ years and looks like a cross between the Tiki Room and the Jungle Cruise. It has all sorts of colorful, funky, hippie-esque clothing from India, Hawaii and various tropical islands, and their $20 sales racks in the back of the store are legendary! I was able to pick up two blouses thanks to the fortuitous arrival of a Visa gift card from my grandmother (thanks, Nana!), and they are flowy, colorful, and awesome. And yes, I will post pictures as soon as I wear them.

So, yes, I went to Tienda Ho, but no, I technically didn’t go during my 50th year, so I’m going to leave that item on the list for now. Besides, I would love the opportunity/excuse to go back and buy more awesome stuff.

The item I did accomplish yesterday is #18 – Eat at the fondue restaurant in T.O. Grif, Liam and I went to The Melting Pot for dinner last night, mostly because I know a few people who’ve enjoyed it and it sounded like something weird and fun to do when celebrating a milestone birthday. I haven’t eaten fondue since my mother stopped making it in the mid-70s, but I checked out The Melting Pot’s menu beforehand and decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did.

We opted for the four-course menu, which consisted of a cheese fondue with apples, various veggies and bread chunks for dipping, a salad course (no dipping, but very tasty), and entree course with various types of meats and veggies that we cooked at the table in a pot of boiling broth, and a chocolate fondue for dessert with fruit and brownie chunks. OMG!!! It was all delicious and the staff was funny, engaging, informative and helpful as we floundered about asking questions and trying not to drip molten lava droplets on ourselves. I have to admit that I was a bit concerned at the seemingly small amounts of food we seemed to be getting for the price we were paying, but it was more than enough and all very tasty. Liam especially enjoyed the novelty of it and has decided he wants to celebrate his birthday there in August.

All in all, a wonderful way to celebrate the start of a year’s worth of adventures.



50 Things To Do In My 50th Year

EDIT: Added #46 to the list. Thanks for the reminder, Linda Ellen! 😎

I’m turning 50 in about two weeks. No, I’m not ashamed to admit it and I’m not dreading it, although I am noticing the passage of time a bit more now than I did when I was turning 40.

Since making it to the half-century mark seems like a fairly significant achievement, I decided to celebrate the occasion by making a list of 50 things I’d like to do in my 50th year. The plan is to start working on the list on my birthday (June 15th) and to check off an item every week or so until June 14, 2016. Yes, that’s 52 weeks to finish a 50-item to-do list. What could possibly go wrong?

I’ll document my adventures here on the blog, but I’d like to start by posting the entire list. The items are listed in the order they occurred to me, not in the order I hope to accomplish them. Also, some of the items will be easier to accomplish than others, so while I hope to do one per week, I may need to be flexible with my scheduling.


1. Visit Scorpion Ranch campground on Santa Rosa Island

2. Visit the Getty Villa

3. Get a power band tattoo

4. Build a really big Lego model

5. Make 50 items to donate to charity (probably baby hats)

6. Sew an article of clothing I can wear out of the house

7. Have an indulgent spa day

8. Get a massage

9. Pet a giraffe

10. Buy a bicycle and start riding regularly

11. Go to a tango milonga

12. Spend a weekend on Catalina Island

13. Eat dinner at Napa Rose restaurant

14. Finish and publish my two in-progress novels

15. Walk a labyrinth

16. Learn to crochet granny squares and connect them to make something bigger

17. Set up a regular altar for year-round use

18. Eat at The Melting Pot fondue restaurant in T.O.

19. Find a fancy chocolate tasting place and go to a tasting

20. Get a facial

21. Do the wine trail in Ventura Co.

22. Visit the olive oil place in Ventura/Ojai

23. Go to The Painted Cabernet and complete a project

24. Stay at the Madonna Inn

25. Visit Palm Springs

26. Go to LaBrea Tar Pits

27. Go to the Griffith Observatory

28. Complete a “girlie” mud run

29. Go to Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor and eat something big

30. Donate $50 as random acts of kindness (pay it forward, leave money at vending machines, etc.

31. Walk/hike 50 miles all at once (okay, maybe over a long weekend)

32. Take a helicopter ride

33. Sail on Hawaiian Chieftain/Lady Washington

34. Finish will, advanced directive, body donation arrangements, etc.

35. Have tea at a fancy tea house

36. Do a 24-hour juice cleanse/fast

37. Visit Forest Lawn in Glendale

38. Purchase a piece of jewelry for me

39. Get a mani/pedi

40. Learn to make jelly/jam/marmalade with my canning rig

41. Visit the Time Travel Mart in Echo Park or Venice

42. Take a gondola ride in Seabridge Harbor

43. Visit Rabbit Run Meadery in Santa Clara for a tasting

44. Do the skyscraper stair run in Oxnard in June 2016

45. Visit Meditation Mount in Ojai

46. Visit Tienda Ho in Santa Barbara and buy something

Okay, let’s address some FAQs:

There are only 45 items on your list? Aren’t there supposed to be 50?

Why yes, you are correct. I’m short a few items, but I have plenty to get me started and I have no doubt I’ll think of a few more to fill out the list. If you have any suggestions, post them in the comments!

You’ve never done (insert item number here)?

Either I’ve never done it or I haven’t done it in a really long time and want to do it again. That’s why it’s on the list!

Why is (insert item number here) on your list?/You really want to do (insert item number here)?

This is my list. It may have things on it you don’t want to do. That’s okay. Your mileage may vary, as they say. What is on your list?

Is this your bucket list?

Some of the items are from my bucket list, but this is not my “official” bucket list.