Life in Winter Park, Florida

Life in Winter Park, Florida

When Paul was informed by his employer that he would be going back to an office after several years of working “from home”, he decided on the Orlando branch. That is how we ended up here in Winter Park, Florida. The plan is for us to stay here until Paul retires. Neither of us know when that will be exactly, so we are making ourselves comfortable and settling in to this great little community.

Our Winter Park Apartment Complex

Our Winter Park Apartment Complex

Florida is the tenth state we’ve lived in since becoming Caretaking Couple back in 2009. Our rental lease is up in January and I am keeping an eye out for a local long-term sit. We are very happy where we are, so if an opportunity doesn’t present itself by then, we will stay put and rent month-to-month until one does.

Chamber Ribbon Cutting

Winter Park Chamber Ribbon Cutting

In the meantime, I have joined our local Chamber of Commerce and am enjoying various leads groups, networking events and educational programs. This Chamber is very active and I am loving being a member!

Aside from Caretaking Couple, I am keeping an eye out for other meaningful work of the paying and volunteer variety.

Winter Park Toastmasters

Winter Park Toastmasters Goes Well with Coffee!

Another organization I am proud to be a part of is Winter Park Toastmasters. I joined this summer and can’t believe how much I’ve learned in these past few months. My main goal was to simply be more comfortable speaking in front of groups, but Toastmasters is so much more than that. I am learning how to become a much better communicator and meeting some great people while I’m at it.

Orlando WordPress

Orlando WordPress Meetup

I’m also very excited to say that I have found a thriving blogging community here, thanks to Meetup. I recently joined WordPress Orlando, which is how I met Carol Gann of Orlando Web Wizard. She is helping me fix some website stuff I broke (oops) and I am helping her to get Winter Park Bloggers and Social Media up and running. Also, WordCamp Orlando 2016 is this weekend and I cannot wait!

There are so many other things going on that I am excited to share, but my aim is to post short and sweet updates more often versus long, rambling catch-ups like I have in the past, so please stay tuned!

As always, let me know if there is something you would like me write about. Central Florida life in general? Favorite locals and their pets? All of the great restaurants we’ve discovered? Maybe even an interview or two? Questions and comments are welcome. I’ve missed my bloggy friends and am thrilled to be up and running again.

Summer 2015 in Fairhope, Alabama

I’ve lost track of how many people asked us if we were sure we wanted to commit to a long-term sit in Alabama. So glad we decided to go for it.

This was a fairly simple assignment. We had only one critter in our care, along with a very well-kept property. Kiwi isn’t an overly affectionate cat, but she did enjoy our company (typically from a few feet away). She only jumped onto our laps every now and then. Her preference was for Paul, which I tried not to take personally.

We were walking distance to both Mobile Bay and Downtown Fairhope and spent many a morning and evening (when it was the coolest) on the water. It was an unforgettable summer full of new adventures and friends. You can click on any of the photos in the gallery below to make them bigger.

I am still processing our time there and will most likely add to this post in the coming days. For now, I wanted to get these photos out (like I promised a few weeks back). Also,  I am not currently on Facebook but will be back soon. In the meantime, you can find me on LinkedInInstagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Paul and I are now in Orlando, Florida and will be renting an apartment in Winter Park as of November 1. We plan on staying here until Paul retires. Winter Park is gorgeous and we are smitten. It is going to be a fantastic fall! We miss all of our friends, old and new, so please keep in touch until we see you again. XO,

Valynne & Paul

PS I’ve been having some technical issues with the blog. At present, your comments are not being displayed (along with all kinds of other quirks). Please bear with us as I have found someone who is going to help me rebrand Caretaking Couple altogether in the coming weeks. Exciting!

Six Months in Southern California

Six Months in Southern California

Most of you know that I (Valynne) spent a good twenty years of my life in Southern California. I was born in Connecticut, but did most of my growing up in Ventura, CA. Paul and I had visited CA together a handful of times (mostly Northern as the company he works for is headquartered there) and we both liked the idea of living somewhere along or near the coast, if only for a few months. It took us a while to get here, but we are happy to say that we are officially California residents (tempted to post my driver’s license pic as it is that bad…Nope. Can’t do it).

 

Sharing my old stomping grounds (Main Street, Ventura) with Paul

Sharing my old stomping grounds (Main Street, Ventura) with Paul

 

Surfer's Point in Ventura, CA

Surfer’s Point in Ventura, CA

 

Paul and I came here on a long term sit for a friend that I used to petsit for back in my early twenties. We’ve just spent four months in her sweet little ranch on the outskirts of Ventura with no less than eleven animals (two horses, two goats, four chickens, two barn cats, and one loving and lovable little whippet named Giselle).

 

Momma and Daughter Goats Happy and Mocha

Momma and Daughter Goats, Happy and Mocha

 

Giselle the Whippet

Giselle, taking a quick break on her favorite chair after running around outside (hence the grass on her bum)…

 

During that time, we did some local research and decided to find a rental in the neighboring town of Ojai as soon as our homeowner friend returned from her travels. Ojai has a small village vibe and was love at first wander for Paul. We recently found a great place and are now in the process of making it homey.  Can’t wait to get our books and art out of storage in New Mexico!  For now, the rooms all echo.  We’ve been having fun finding household items here and there via local shops and yard sales.

 

Our New California Digs

Our New California Digs

 

We will be here for at least a year, and most likely longer. The cost of living is more expensive in California than most states we have lived in, but there are ways to balance it out. I have found a job as a Client Services Manager here in town, and Paul continues to work from home, so we don’t have to worry about the time and money associated with commuting. We can walk or take the trolley just about anywhere and our plan is to leave the 4Runner in the carport as often as possible.

 

Ojai Farmers' Market

Ojai Farmers’ Market

 

There are so many community events here, and we love that we can walk to just about all of them. My Ventura family and friends are fifteen or so miles away (see photo below of my adorable niece with her momma at Arroyo Verde Park on her first birthday for reference) and my mom and I get to catch up in person almost every week now. This is a pretty big deal for me, as we’ve gone years without seeing each other in the past.

 

I'd say her Dora the Explorer Birthday cake was a hit...

I’d say that her Dora the Explorer Birthday cake was a hit…

 

As for house and pet sitting, we are taking a little break. It’s been a good (almost five year) run and we are enjoying having our own place to call home again and coming and going as we please. For the first time in what seems like forever, we have no travel plans, other than a quick trip to New Mexico to pick up our stuff in storage. We will be planning another England trip soon (he’s not going again without me!), but there are other things to consider first, like the budget and vacation time with my new job.

There is so much more to say, but I am going to keep this post a simple update and get more specific in future posts. I have taken lots of pictures, and will add a photo gallery again here soon, as well. We love keeping in touch with everyone and would be thrilled to get an update from you as well, either here in the comments box or via your communication method of preference. Feel free to post any questions/comments/requests here, as well.  Happy Spring, wherever you may be!  Lots of Love,

V&P

Creative Caretaking Ideas

Creative Caretaking Ideas

Next month marks our four-year anniversary as Caretaking Couple.  Last week we visited Evergreen, Colorado, where we met back in 2006 and moved away from in 2009.  Evergreen is a beautiful place.  I recently asked Paul if he was ever sorry for leaving it.  His answer was no.  It is always good to be back, but becoming Caretaking Couple was one of the best things we ever did.

Evergreen Lake House

Evergreen Lake House

Several of my blog posts here are in response to questions I receive from friends and strangers on a regular basis.  A lot of you want to know how we find those people or organizations that are looking for us and what it is we do, exactly, once we find them.

I have addressed this before (click on this link about finding house and pet sits for a good place to start), but it has been a while and I just want to reiterate that there are many ways to go about finding caretaking and/or house and pet sitting gigs and there are opportunities out there for just about everyone.

For us, caretaking is a lifestyle versus a paycheck.  We focus on long-term sits (6 months to a year) across the US and typically exchange our services for a lovely place to live.  For others, it is a career.  It is not unheard of to make six-figures in this field, but those positions usually require a longer-term commitment and more work-hours/expertise than we can provide at this point.

This may very well change once Paul retires.  Ideas we have tossed around include substitute innkeeping, staging and caring for homes for sale, cultivating organic farms/gardens, vineyard management, yacht-sitting, becoming tour guides for historic properties (lighthouses/museums, etc.), working for the National Park Service…

Tending the Community Garden (Run by Estrella Del Norte Vineyard) During our New Mexico Sit

Tending the Community Garden (Run by Estrella Del Norte Vineyard) During our New Mexico Sit

These are just off the top of my head, and every position I mentioned was inspired by a “help wanted” ad or a face-to-face conversation with someone in need of this type of service.  I would love to know what your experiences have been with creative caretaking, or what kinds of gigs you would be interested in if and when you decide to become a caretaker.

Feel free to leave us a comment here.  I respond to every comment and look forward to getting a conversation going!

 

 

 

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