Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Key Largo

Definitely a place not to be overlooked for a possible retirement destination! It’s as tropical as you can get without leaving the United States. Starting with the basics: Walgreens, McDonalds, Burger King, Big K. Need I say more? The only thing I found expensive was the liquor prices. The first Church I saw was Catholic, beyond that I didn’t pay any attention.
It took us an hour and a half to get there from the Miami Airport. Known as “Alligator Alley”, Hwy 1 is lined with fences on both sides and has a 45 mph speed limit. If you want to meet a State Trooper, just park anywhere along it. You will personally speak to one in about two minutes. Watch your speed and don’t drive drunk.
The locals are family here. It doesn’t matter what your income bracket is, or your religion. You could be one of the wealthy along the water ways or wait staff at mile marker 88, or a tourist. Everyone of them has to definitely know how to cross sell. The kids just starting out in the Keys usually grew up there, went away to college, then return to help run the family business. These are the people who can guide you to the fun things to do while in the keys. On line booking for activities is not advisable. Go there and talk to your bar tender. We went deep sea fishing for $450. We left the dock at 8am and returned at 1:30pm with Mangrove Snapper in hand (I caught all 3) to hand over to The Pilot House to cook it and build our lunch around it.
Personally, I like to pay attention to tourism prices and real estate. $5 a beer at the bar, $7 for a rail drink. If you go to lunch, plan on spending $15 a person. That’s at a place like The Pilot House. Speaking of which, it the place with the glass bottom deck. That’s sheets of plexiglass in the floor to watch the baby barracudas and other tropical fish at the beginning of the coral reef. Buy chicken wings and give the bones to the fish by pushing them through the little hole in the bar. Unique is the only word I have for this little place with live local music. is a great place to start researching local fare and libation.
We found everyone says they make the best key lime pie. The only thing I can say is I don’t make Key Lime Pie nearly as well as any of them. The same can be said for Conch, pronounced without the H at the end. Everything we ate in the Keys was done to perfection, if not precisely to everyone’s taste.
We obviously went to the keys just before Christmas. After hurricane season, yet we found out it was ahead of the busy season. So everything was in full swing but not overcrowded.
There are a few properties for sale that can fit the middle class. So to move there you would only have to have 2 to 3 thousand dollars to buy a roof over your head, but most properties are in the millions. This is a weekenders paradise. People who live in Miami have their second homes here, their getaways. Considering the low crime rate and the close by stores available for getting basics, and don’t forget the winter temperatures, this place should not be overlooked. The only problem is the wet/hurricane season. If that doesn’t scare you away it could be a very nice destination for retirement.

Friday, December 24, 2010


On this day in 1914, WW I, the following event took place: German and English solders, under orders to fight on the western front temporarily called a personal truce. Risking court marshal, in honor of Christmas sang Christmas carols and played games in the snow for one magical evening of peace.
May everyone have such a magical, diverse, peace, and understanding this Christmas and new year, among all men, of every race, creed and national origin.
Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Travel findings

Where have I been? Traveling. Went to Madison WI. I've been there before. I can honestly say I don't think Madison is a retirement destination. It's a kids town. It's a musicians town. It is a class act but the town is a college town. Fitchberg has probably the last bar on earth you can smoke in. Hemingway's. Up the hill from there is a microbrewery, The Great Dane. Some of the best musicians in the country have come to Madison to teach and play at their music venue in Downtown Madison. I don't know if the arctic air is a great way to spend my retirement. So when we got back home we had one day to prepare to leave for our next adventure, Key Largo, Florida. That's tomorrow.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fine French Cooking?

During the last 11 years of my life I've gone from busy mother raising three boys and somehow holding down a full time job to- A completely different woman. You might say yea, three kids raised and out, you might say yea, no more cooking for the entire herd, you might say yea, this calls for new living room furniture. Well that one was yea, but that's it. The other two were bittersweet good byes. What is all this leading to? Cooking!

I made friends over those eleven years. My kids had friends. Those friends also had parents. Who better to talk to about the trials and tribulations of raising mouths to feed? But while many parents continue to cook the way they always did, just in smaller batches, I turned to anything that didn't remind me of chili for a crowd, or stew and bread for 20. To do that I focus on cuisines. Spanish, Mexican, TexMex, Italian, anything. For some reason I keep getting pulled back to French cooking. Really, the only thing that stirs my soul is a couple of bottles of good wine. Yea!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Money and Retirement

I've been researching people's comments and statements about how much money they will need for retirement. I'm finding out the answer is no one knows! Not Money Magazine, not Forbes, not CNN. You can find links with labels like "how much money will you need to retire". New casts will tell you before the commercial break about the next segment coming up, "How much money will you need to retire? That's our next story, after the break". Every link and every news segment will tell you they know and how you can know too! Then the answer is "we don't know". They will talk about stock portfolios, 401k's, and what kinds of trusts that may be best for you, but that's it! No one knows. A bank will tell you that your home is your go to place for money to fund education. A financial adviser will tell you otherwise. The bank wants to own your house and your financial adviser wants you to invest in what they are selling. Everyone will want you to do what is best for them.

I'm noticing credit card and insurance companies really know how to get as many dollars in their pockets as possible. They have perfected their business because it's much more stable. Amazing, but true.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

The First Grandchild!

The announcement came this weekend! My youngest son is more scared than anything. My oldest is scared for him. I am just sitting back almost laughing to myself. I remember all to well when our first son came into the picture. I too was more scared than anything else. A child is an awesome responsibility. I'm biting my tongue. I'm saying, "Yea! I'm a grandma! Period. We shall see.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Friday, December 3, 2010

How active are retirees?

I just saw a network news segment about the biggest concern when people retire. They talk about the number 1 danger being possible inactivity when people retire. This has to be an east coast attitude! I’ve never known a retiree who just stopped! Correct me if I’m wrong. The only things I’ve ever seen that inhibit activity level are health and finances. Travel becomes restricted and then impossible as ones health declines. Then there are the people who seem to do everything at a walk! You know, those people who started and ran a business and still had time for fun throughout their life. But we know in reality they are really, constantly in motion. Their definition of putsing around and ours is very different. My husband’s definition of maintaining the summer place is very different than anyone else I know. He had to install a filtration system, a new air conditioner, and helps every neighbor with their issue! My idea of relaxing is just that! Give me a recliner and a good campfire and I am entertained! Am I to assume that when I get to retirement my friends will end up sitting in front of the TV with the remote control and a bag of chips?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Smart Shopping For Two At The Members Club

I went grocery shopping this weekend. Because we only cook for two we buy far less than ever before. I love how those numbers add up. I seriously didn’t like having to go through my cupboards after the kids moved out. That poor pantry suffered the most! Being the dutiful mother of three strapping boys I was stocked up to the ceiling with anything that had a really long shelf life. The reality kicked in when the pile of noodles and rice did not depreciate like it used to! When I had to just move it around to accommodate our new cooking needs, enough was enough. First I wanted to ask myself, “What was I thinking”? Then when you think about it there was no time to think about it!  Children move suddenly and they take their friends with them!
I’ve always been a BIG club shopper, and I still am today. Yes I can shop at the club for two! You’ve got to know your club and how to shop it over time. I fit both requirements. The savings in coffee, meat, cereal, even well made household items can’t be beat anywhere! Yes I could buy paper products and cleaning supplies but I no longer need or can store the volume. All the long shelf life products do not fit anymore. That’s the new requirement I have to think about before entering the place. As long as we’re there we take advantage of the low fuel price.
I’m a numbers person. I have the time to compare prices and track expenses. In the end this pays off big time. You have to be careful that you are actually are saving money by going to the club.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is the first Thanksgiving I had problems preparing for our invited guests. The only part of the meal that could not be made ahead of time was the 20 lb turkey! To have the meal on be 3pm I had to have the bird stuffed, and in the roaster by 9:30am. That meant getting hubby out of bed. I can no longer lift 20lbs safely. So here’s my question to you. How do you accommodate loosing strength and agility and still put on a meal for more than 4 people?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Go RVing!

One of the web sites that caught my interest quite a while ago is RV Dreams. In it you can find everything there is to know about living life on the road. It’s a choice many retired folks make, and some who haven’t yet. The tips, tricks and links in there give you an encyclopedia of knowledge. Almost every question is answered. It has a forum for anyone who has an interest on the subject. I found how I can make a living out on the road and I had a great time looking over the recipes.  The website was started by a couple who wrote everything they could about the preparation to begin their journey, quitting their full time careers to purchasing their fifth-wheel. Then they talk about how they occupy their time out on the road. I highly recommend it for anyone with even the thought of it being a possibility in their future.
Talk about a complete life style change! It’s always fascinated me how people can just leave everything behind. There is an immense about of planning involved. However, when you think about it our retirement years are a complete life style change! Planning for it can and will open a whole new way of life, one that you are the master of. Personally, I don’t want to come home to hubby sitting in a chair and me having to clean up after him!  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rethinking Retirement

I bring the subject of retirement up a lot with my friends. Of course I am mainly asking them what they are doing. Whether they’re there or not they are measuring what they are doing and wondering about the ways they can change it up. Even in retirement they look out for change and how they can control it. People thinking about that day looming in the future are very often too busy to think about how they are going to manage that time.
With this in mind it’s beginning to surprise me when people rethink their attitude about retirement and actually ask me my opinion. “I’ve got a whole blog on it”. However, it is because of those very people I dreamed this blog up!
Recently a woman who was just one breath away from retirement told me her biggest concern about that day. Her husband was retired for 10 years before her. She was looking forward to having enough time to keep her house clean and make meals?! She is as independent an individual as I am! She was working a 40 hour week and going home to a house her husband was in all day. She had to cook and clean upon returning home. He did nothing.
A few months after retiring she could be found roaming the neighborhood, cleaning up open areas just to get out of the house and not spend any money while there. What she’s doing with her free time now I don’t know but, I’m sure her house is clean and dinner is in the oven.