40 going on 80?

The_VillagesMost of you know that I'm a Cali girl who was dragged here kicking and screaming willingly moved to the Midwest five years ago for love. And while I joke and get surly about the weather, the weather, and did I mention the effing weather? (I will slay you Polar Vortex!), all kidding aside, it was the best decision I've ever made. I now have a beautiful family and a writing career- two things I've always dreamed of having. But back to the weather.

I think y'all know how bad it's been, well, everywhere. To put it in perspective, when it's 21 degrees outside, we now consider that a "good" day.

So when I saw that another Polar Vortex was fast approaching, first I cried, then I told my husband I needed to get the hell out of Dodge immediately if not sooner. And that our destination must be somewhere WARM. Thankfully, he's just as over the snow and ice and cold as I am, so we headed to Florida where we have family. And while even sunny Florida, wasn't as sunny as usual, it was at least 60 degrees warmer there than home. So it was a win. But it was also a win for another reason. It turns out, I'm destined to live in a retirement community maybe sooner than I thought. I discovered I'm 40 going on 80--in a good way! And if you ask me, 80 is the new 40!

The Villages in Florida is a retirement community so large that it has it's own zip code! And as far as I'm concerned, it's one of the happiest places on Earth! And I think I fit in perfectly. Here's why:

1. I drive a mean golf cart!

Lisa_Steinke_golfcartIn The Villages, golf carts are the main mode of transportation. And while I may or may not be known to drive above the speed limit in my regular car, I am perfectly content cruising along at 15mph in a cart. You can take it from your home anywhere you need to go--including to one of several "squares" where you'll find everything from a movie theater (with low sodium popcorn--more on that in a minute!) to Barnes and Noble (maybe we'll be back to do a signing for YOUR PERFECT LIFE?).


City_Fire2. The early bird gets the worm!

I rise early and I go to bed early. Early bird special? I'm your woman! Dinner at 5 and bed by 9? My perfect day!  Not to mention, they have all-day happy hours! And City Fire had great food and awesome live music! Plus, it was refreshing to watch so many couples dancing together. You just don't see that anymore!


Lisa_ shower cap3. I found the perfect shower cap to protect my blow out.

Forget those flimsy caps they give you at a hotel (that's what I'd been using). To really protect your tresses (you know how I milk those blow outs) you need one like I have pictured. A dime a dozen down at The Villages! Maybe a little upsetting for the hubs to look at, but if it extends the life of my hairstyle, I'm willing to deal with his horrified face!


Unsalted_popcorn4. Unsalted popcorn at the movies!

I'm a finicky eater to put it simply. So being able to find unsalted popcorn, lactose free ice cream and gluten free meals everywhere feels like being back in L.A. again (man how I took the healthy food options for granted while I was there!). I was in hog Heaven as I ate my plain kernels while watching Philomenia (very apropos that it stars Judi Dench who is  insanely talented and still going strong at age 79!).


Zumba_square5. Zumba in the sunshine!

Down in the square you can take a Zumba class while basking in the sun (this was the one 78 degree day). For me there is no better combination than sunshine and exercise. I could live here...Hmm...


Puppy Love by Liz

photo-11 My name is Liz, and I'm a animal-aholic.

Yes, it's true. I think I may have an addiction to cute furry things with four legs. (reptiles need not apply!)

I've been bringing home strays for as long as I can remember--whether it was a kitten I rescued from under a dumpster or a dog I chased down a busy freeway while wearing three inch heels, I've always desired to save every single animal. And considering we had two dogs, two mice and three fish, I was already well on my way! (Chickens and pigs, I'm coming for you next!)

In hindsight, the hubs should have known better than to send me solo to the pound with the kids.  I *may* have told him that we were just going to *look* at cats.  We had recently discovered some mice--and not the sweet little ones that ran nonstop on that kickass wheel in their luxury cage, but the kind that had gnawed their way into the rice krispies.  I used this tidbit of information to convince my husband that this meant we MUST immediately bring home the toothless, drooling tomcat that currently resided at the kids' music school. He countered with the idea of simply purchasing mousetraps, but I argued that getting eaten by a formerly homeless cat with no teeth would be a much more dignified way for a mouse to die.

He rolled his eyes. I chose to interpret this as agreement.

But alas, the homeless cat was nowhere to be found that week.  Or the next. So I packed the kids after school one day and headed to the shelter. Apparently, we had stumbled in during Catapooloza--cats were $5 each!  And the second was free!  I texted this discovery to the hubs.  He did not respond.


But as we sauntered down the hallway to Cat Cottage, our eyes were drawn to a crying puppy curled up in her cage.  Most of her hair was missing and her eyes drawn and defeated. We crouched down to get a closer look-- it was clear that she had a terrible case of mange. Our last dog we rescued had also been mange-ridden, but not nearly as bad.  This poor pup was missing over half her fur and seemed severely malnourished. The kids eyes filled with tears and they named her Lily on the spot.

Needless to say, we never made it to Cat Cottage. I bought mousetraps on the way home.

Twenty five pounds and several overpriced vet visits later, Lily is finally starting to resemble the dog she was meant to be--she's transformed from a scared little girl who trembled as she gulped her food to a confident young lady who loves life and other dogs.  Her hair is almost grown back in, revealing an incredible golden coat that feels like silk when you rub her belly.

And we couldn't be happier.  The hubs has even gotten over the fact that I *may* not have officially *asked* him  before bringing Lily home.(Answer your texts, damnit!) And in return, Lily has stopped peeing on the floor each time he pets her.  Last week, our vet whispered in Lily's ear how lucky she is.  But I like to think that we are the lucky ones. (Except for the the two "presents" she left by my bedroom door this week--I could do without that...)

What about you?  Love animals? Have a good rescue story?  Tell me!