Little Milestones – August Recap

We just passed the one month mark of our transition to being home free. The first three weeks were filled with ‘fix it’ projects and acclimating to our new living arrangement with my MIL. Both of us have had a moment of ‘I miss this or that’, about the old house, but mostly we are adjusting. This past week we began to restore balance to our lives and find our way back to a normal routine. It feels good.

Around the House

During the past three weeks, Malcolm has replaced the kitchen faucet, replaced both drains and a garbage disposal in the dual sinks, replaced the door handles on both the front and back doors, added a French drain to the downspout from the gutters, changed out the florescent lights in the garage to LED, and repaired two broken cabinet doors in the bathroom. The garage is an on-going project, but we almost have room for one car!

With the interior of the house now sorted, (thank goodness Malcolm is handy), we now get to do the things we want to do, like refreshing the overgrown or non-existent landscape materials in the front yard. We took a few bike rides around the neighborhood, snapping pictures of things we like, then set off to the local nursery. It will be at least one month before we can plant, (Board approval), but here are the South Florida hearty plants we have chosen for the front of the property.

We chose three varieties of crotons for their coverage and low maintenance. They will fill the space nicely and still leave room for a few blooming annuals to add color. The bird of paradise will go front and center and hopefully provide beautiful blooms all year long.


We had a couple of friends over for drinks last week, then the four of us went out to dinner. That went well. Keeping it simple was key. My MIL loved the attention from our friends and the beautiful flowers they brought her. It was very easy to include her for pre-dinner and then have separate time with our friends. We won’t entertain as we have in the past, since that would be unfair to impose, but this was a good compromise.

I made this easy Mango Shrimp Salad and served it in martini glasses as an appetizer to go with our drinks. Sorry, no photos of the presentation, but here is the recipe. This is my nod to Donna’s ‘What’s on Your Plate‘ post for September.

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, cooked (boil with salt), peel and chop into small pieces
  • 1 medium/large ripe mango, diced
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 dozen grape tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño, (or to taste) finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (for riming the glasses)
  • 1 medium avocado, chop just minutes before serving to avoid brown, mushy bits

Mix the ingredients together except the avocado, season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill for at least two hours prior to serving. Use a lime wedge to rim glasses lightly with the juice, then roll the rims of the glasses in salt. Dip the salad into the glasses just prior to serving and top with avocado as desired.

Family Time

Malcolm’s mom has always enjoyed jigsaw puzzles – the bigger the better. More often than not, there is one sitting on the kitchen table. She assembles them on top of a big sheet of poster board so that it can be easily removed and stored at mealtime. At various times of the day, she and Malcolm drop by the table, choose a few pieces and move the puzzle along. Their sorting system is a thing of beauty and intelligence. Sometimes they get stumped and swear that a piece is missing. But, miraculously it always appears. They just finished this 1000 piece puzzle and are already on the hunt for a new one.

With all the disruption to her home and lifestyle, it is nice to see her returning to herself as the dust settles around her.

White Mountain Puzzle Company – Scene from New Hampshire

In case you are wondering, she used to save the puzzles by applying Mod Podge to them and putting them in frames, but when the number topped a dozen, she started breaking them apart and donating them to local senior agencies. Seems like a good way to pay it forward to me.

Out and About

In addition to establishing a daily exercise routine at the community gym, Malcolm and I also managed one scenic bike ride together this week. We loaded the bikes onto the car and traveled to our favorite place to ride – Jupiter Island. We offloaded the bikes at the beach parking lot and road the island for about two hours. Truthfully, I spent much of that time hopping off the bike and taking photographs. It was good for the body and soul. We will do more of that as the days begins to cool and turn into fall.

Folks on Jupiter Island love to create grand entrances! These are just a few of the driveways we passed as we rode the main street down the center of the island.


I have recently read a couple of really good books. The first was ‘This Tender Land‘ by William Kent Kreuger. It is the story of a group of runaway orphans and the experiences they encounter as they set out to find a place to belong. Set in the 1930’s with the Great Depression as the backdrop of despair, it is a compelling and educational read.

The second book I chose to read is ‘The Midnight Library‘ by Matt Haig. It was recommended by Deb at Deb’s World as a part of What’s on Your Bookshelf. She and a few other bloggers have combined efforts to make this presentation monthly. If you like to read and share reviews, please check out her post and follow her links to the others.

This book is based on the fascinating premise of parallel lives. When Nora decides to end her life, she is transported to ‘the library’ and presented with a book of regrets, which is massive, but somewhat unfounded, along with infinite possibilities for alternate outcomes. If you have ever considered ‘what if’, you will love this one.

Binge Watching

This week we watched all of the currently available episodes of Nine Perfect Strangers, now airing on Hulu. The final two will be released shortly. The show has been getting a lot of buzz and being a fan of psychological thrillers, I wanted to see what it was all about. I didn’t read the book (written by Liane Moriarty) and based on most Goodread reviews, I won’t.

From all accounts, the mini-series is not following the book, and I imagine that might be a good thing. Nicole Kidman is perfectly diabolical as Masha, the director of a wellness retreat, and the remaining cast of characters are sufficiently messed up. Can’t wait to see where this one is headed.

We watched all eight episodes of Clickbait, with Adrian Grenier as Nick, a good looking guy with profiles on multiple dating websites. Problem is, he’s married and has two kids. Things get messy, Nick gets dead. With more twists than a Philadelphia pretzel, you will love this series!!


Malcolm and I will move to a townhouse at the beach for one month starting mid-September. This was part of the plan since the day we contracted to sell our home. The idea is to travel and enjoy different environments for both short and long periods of time, while maintaining a comfortable base to come home to.

Also on the list of possibilities is South Carolina, (booked) coastal Georgia, (booked) Nevada, Michigan, Nova Scotia and the Pacific Northwest.

We were optimistic one year ago, when we booked travel plans for our family to visit London and the Cotswolds in November. But, it now seems prudent (based on CDC guidance) to cancel and regroup, which is exactly what we did. We have replaced the UK trip with a week in Nantucket and although disappointed, it will still be the family Thanksgiving we had hoped for.

And there we have it. How was your August?

Sharing with Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share

57 thoughts on “Little Milestones – August Recap

  1. Suzanne, it is lovely to see that your are both settling down well at your MIL’s home. These things take time, but I can see that you will do just fine.
    My MIL is 90 years old and she often comes to stay with us, usually she stays 3 to 4 weeks with us. So I can relate to some extent, although in a very different scenario. Such a shame you had to cancel your UK plans, but sounds like you have plenty of exciting trips coming up. Enjoy 🙂


    1. Hi Gilda, we decided to pull the plug on the UK trip because of the increased likelihood of vaccinated persons contracting the virus. The risk of getting sidelined there was too great. Malcolm and I and the kids would take the risk, but not with his mom. At least we won’t be far from home in Nantucket. The first two weeks with Malcolm’s mom were hectic, but since then we’ve all settled down.


  2. My comment disappeared 😔. Great that you are settling in and my goodness, the puzzle looks beautiful. I just don’t have that patience. I am also looking forward to more bike rides as the weather cools down. I might just try that recipe. It sounds great.


  3. Hi Suzanne – wonderful reading what you’ve been up to and how well you’re settling into this next phase of life. It’s certainly a change for you both, but you seem to be approaching it all with such a positive mindset (even the cancelled travel plans) and I honestly believe that’s the best way to deal with life changes and the added stress of what covid has brought with it. Looking forward to keeping up with your adventures in the days ahead. xx


    1. Janis, Malcolm worries enough for both of us, so I just float along reminding him that ‘everything will be fine.’ It has been a big change, but we are working at making it a positive experience for us all. I think the best thing we have going is the knowledge that we can make a change if we want to. We are looking forward to the next year.


  4. Glad you are settling into your new home with your MIL. Jupiter Island looks like a beautiful place for a bike ride. We stayed at a timeshare on the beach in Jupiter many years ago. Is that the same place? I loved “The Midnight Library”. I’m adding the other book on my to read list. And the shrimp appetizer sounds wonderful!


    1. Hi Beth, the town of Jupiter is just south of Jupiter Island. There aren’t any hotels on the island so you probably stayed somewhere on Jupiter Beach. The island is a short ride, but one of the most scenic in Florida.

      This Tender Land was a good read, disturbing at times, but very good. I hope you like it. The shrimp dish is so easy and great to make ahead. I actually think it tastes better on day two.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dawn, I’m glad I didn’t read the book and am keeping an open mind about the mini-series. It too is implausible, but definitely intriguing. After six episodes I still can’t see where it is headed. August has been very busy, but most of it was tending to deferred maintenance items. Now that all that is done, we get to start enjoying retirement again.


  5. Hi Suzanne, Am glad you’re settling nicely in your new home and soon will be at a beach property. I’d love to job shadow Malcolm to learn more handy skills to fix things around the house on my own. Your Mango Shrimp Salad sounds divine. Jupiter Island looks gorgeous. I’d be hopping on and off my bike to take photos there, too. I have ‘The Midnight Library’ on my e-reader. I’m currently reading and enjoying ‘The Giver of Stars’. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.


    1. Hi Natalie, Malcolm would love to have an apprentice – two brains (and sets of hands) are always better than one! I admire his confidence as he mostly watches Youtube videos to learn how to do things. ‘The Giver of Stars’ was an excellent book. I think you will like ‘The Midnight Library’ also. Thanks for the assist with the link-up and have a great week.


  6. It sounds like a good idea to give away jigsaw puzzles after you’re ready with them. That must be appreciated. I love jigsaw puzzles and if I had a larger house, and no cat, I would do them too.
    Sounds like a good setup with your MIL and then travel to different places. Hope you’ll enjoy the beach house!


  7. Suzanne,
    You’ve had both a productive and busy August. We have a sink to repair and a few other issues. Can we rent Malcolm for a couple of days? Helen loves puzzles and we usually find them in campground game rooms when RVing (usually missing a piece or two). She works them and leaves them at the next campground. I envy your travel plans and would love a return trip to Europe, but I refuse to fly now. Hope your Michigan plans include Mackinac Island–a very lovely place. Enjoy September! Joe


    1. Joe, he’s good, but not that good. Let’s just say we’d starve if being a handyman was his day job. Mackinac Island would be the centerpiece of the Michigan trip for me. I’ve always wanted to go there. I can’t get into the puzzles, but I do understand the attraction. My MIL says it’s what keeps her mind sharp and I believe it. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week.


  8. August I finished my project – sorting and then assembling the family history (on my mother’s side). Hard work but I’m glad I did it. We’re starting to have some nice fall days and so I hoping to plan a few getaways on the coast.


  9. Hi Suzanne, your unfolding adventure of moving and traveling sounds heavenly, well except for the ongoing issues of covid. I wish I knew how this was all finally going to find it’s way into history so we can get back to the cool plans we have, but I gave up trying to nail this down.
    I hope your plans find a way to becoming reality soon.


  10. Well, that was an impressive August! You two got so much accomplished settling in to your new living situation. And I love that you have so many fun trips planned! I’m looking forward to reading about all of them. Speaking of reading, I just finished The Midnight Library and enjoyed it. So interesting to think about all of the different paths we’ve taken in life…

    I’m definitely making your mango shrimp salad. 🙂


    1. Hi Laurel, originally I wanted to move to the beach at the beginning of September, but as it turns out, we needed these weeks to get projects done and settle in. I’m glad we didn’t rush things.

      Travel plans are coming along but trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves. We have never been long-range travel planners and prefer to follow a good deal or impromptu opportunity. We have a list of possibilities, but sometimes the destination chooses us.

      The shrimp salad is a keeper.


  11. Great to hear that you’re settling into your new normal and exploring the area (those driveways!) and are finding some balance. I look forward to following your adventures – it really does sound like the perfect (as far as anything can be so) blend of adventure and structure.


  12. Wow! You have had a crazy busy month as well, Suzanne. I’m glad you managed to settle in play, helped out your MIL heaps, and that she is finding her groove again too. Being married to a handyman has lots of charms. 🙂

    Sharing a house is a balancing act, isn’t it? Nice that you had friends over and then went out with them. These social interactions are exactly what we all need right now. Have a nice time at the beach!


    1. Liesbet, ‘balancing act’ is the perfect term for sharing living space. The learning curve goes deeper than I imagined, but I’m getting the hang of it. We are looking forward to our month at the beach. It will be the first time since the beginning of all this that we can actually breathe…..

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I just heard about “This Tender Land” from a friend. Now I must read it. Have you read “Ordinary Grace” by the same author? If not, check it out. I can’t recommend the “Nine Perfect Strangers” as a book and I’m glad to hear the TV series doesn’t follow it. I was so disappointed as I’ve liked other Liane Moriarty books.


    1. Sometimes I think successful authors abandon their readers and begin to write with a ‘movie deal’ in mind. Based on reviews, Moriarty definitely wrapped things up in neat little packages when there was much more that could have been said. I’ll put Ordinary Grace on my reading list next. Have a great week.


  14. I always appreciate book and TV show recommendations! I second the recommendation for Ordinary Grace. It was one of those books that stayed with me. I had looked forward to reading Nine Perfect Strangers but, like many others, I was very disappointed.

    We are currently traveling but, when we get back, we will probably stay put for a while. Too much uncertainty and people not behaving very well. Besides, I love fall and winter in southern California.


  15. I’ve been watching “Nine Perfect Strangers” and I just got the ebook from the library after waiting on the queue for so long. It does read quite slow…I’m not sure if I’ll pan it.


  16. Sounds like things are going very well with the transition. Love the photos of the plant selection, I used to enjoy gardening when we had a garden, especially creating a new garden or restoring a neglected one. A lot of work but a lot of rewards as well.

    How fortunate Malcolm is so competent with repairs! Nice not to have to outsource that kinda stuff.

    Lots of exciting travel plans! Safe travels and d joy!



  17. Pingback: What’s On Your Plate? The Friendship Edition. – Retirement Reflections

  18. Hi, Suzanne – Thank you for this contribution to #whatsonyourplateblogchallenge. Your Mango Shrimp Salad sounds delicious. And that puzzle looks difficult. Our family usually undertakes a 1000-piece puzzle when our youngest son (33) comes to visit. We just finished one and it almost did my head in! 😀


  19. Hey Suzanne! Just checking in to see what you’ve been up to now that you’ve moved. It sounds like you are staying busy AND adjusting to your new life. Your plan to “socializing” while living with you MIL sounds like a good one without thinking you need to include her in every little thing you do. A “fine line” but a necessary one IMHO. And I loved your bike ride and photos. Thom and I brought our ebikes with us to Canada and we’ve been putting the miles on. I love dedicated bike lines in beautiful surrounding the BEST! Sorry you’ve had to change your travel plans for this autumn/winter but hopefully we can all get out and travel next years more. (at least that’s why I’m planning!). Enjoy your get-away to the beach.

    P.S. I just finished that book “This Tender Land” myself. Small world! I checked it out of our library and had it on my Kindle. I’ve been enjoying novels all summer and haven’t picked up any of my “heavier” topics whatsoever. It was a good book.


    1. Hi Kathy, ‘This Tender Land’ is my book club book for October. I think it will be fun to discuss. I generally like books with multi-layered/flawed characters and this one fits the bill.

      Defining our roles within my MIL’s home has been a bit of a balancing act. There is so much we did not know and/or were not ready to face. Being in her space puts the spotlight on things that we cannot ignore and must work through – gently.

      Had it not been for the move, we would definitely have spent the summer on the road. Canceling the UK plans was the right thing to do since we were traveling with my MIL. We couldn’t imagine putting her through the hoops that one must jump through on each leg of the journey. We are grateful for the plans we do have though and will look forward to our time at the beach. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your road trip.


  20. I enjoyed your update. Those plants are all gorgeous, your photos of everything else were awesome too. I love puzzles, I just don’t get to do them that often. My MIL LOVES puzzles and almost always has one going.


  21. Wow, Suzanne, during my absence from blogging for the last few months, you have been busy! What a huge change in your lives to sell your house and (partially) move in with your Mother in Law. I think you’re very courageous to move forward from a longtime home into an open-ended situation. When I retired four years ago and sold our house and moved to Vancouver Island, we sorted and donated or threw away a lot of stuff, and I found it super difficult, especially getting rid of all my career books and materials. However, our retirement home is another big house, and we still have way too much stuff.



    1. Hi Jude, having the big house was great and we enjoyed all the spaces – especially the kitchen. But, it didn’t fit into the way we want to live anymore. I am grateful we purged a lot of the excess stuff while we are still able. I understand the difficulty of getting rid of favorite things. You will let go when you are ready. Have a great week.


  22. You’ve certainly been busy, Suzanne. I love your photos…so much color and variety. I’ve watched, and enjoyed, both the television series you mentioned. I am also working on a jigsaw puzzle, though it’s downstairs out of the way and I sometimes go a week or more without even thinking about it. Then I work on it for awhile and the cycle starts over. I imagine I will finish it one day. I hope your September is going well. I look forward to the recap!


  23. What a lot accomplished in one month. I’m sure your MIL is grateful for your presence. Here in Canada we put the brakes on any international travel for the time being. Having cancelled some big trips earlier in the pandemic I’m just not up for the uncertainty.


    1. Sue, we were optimistic when we planned the trip, but then the Delta variant became a thing, and we had to hit pause also. I won’t rule out international travel for Malcolm and me, but we will not put my MIL through the hassle. We have heard too many horror stories. Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. I’ve been meaning to read The Midnight Library, so thanks for this reminder. August for me just flew on by, and now we’re in October and I’m kinda worried how fast time is moving, lol. Anyway, thanks for this post!


  25. I’m happy to read that all three of you seem to be settling in to your new living situation in a good way. I’m sure your MIL is very appreciative for all the projects Malcolm has taken on. I know you must have really enjoyed your time away and it was nice that you didn’t have to go far to enjoy yourself. 😊


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