Welcoming a New Year, Shubin Strong

Welcoming a New Year, Shubin Strong

Happy 2018! Are you elated to be welcoming a new year, too?

I’d like to start 2018 off by sharing some thoughts with you about the last three months and share where the blog will – and won’t – be headed this year.

2017 and Changes

So much happened during the last quarter of 2017. And because of all the changes and chaos, the blog has taken a back seat, as you likely noticed. Experiencing a major disaster – a long, wide-reaching and devastating disaster – made me reevaluate my life, change my priorities and want different things for myself, my future and my blog.

And while I thought our October fires here in wine country had to be the worst, most chaotic and stressful thing I experienced in 2017, my husband left again December 5th for Southern California to join the fight against the largest wild land fire in California history. He was gone 16 nail biting days, thankfully returning in time for Christmas and to say goodbye to his youngest child, Tori, who moved out of state on the 26th. More change for our family!

Photo credit: Marcus Yam, LA Times

Grateful and relieved are words that do not begin to describe how I feel about our house being spared in the fires and having my husband back home safely. When I first returned home after our 11-day evacuation, my gratitude was over-shadowed by survivor’s guilt. Over 50 people I know personally lost their homes and everything in it, including my own stepdaughter Kayla and her fiancé. It’s unreal our small neighborhood escaped, relatively unscathed. I can only imagine the range of emotions and level of stress those who lost everything in the fires are experiencing, especially those who lost loved ones.

Soon my gratitude returned as did a sense of community, connectedness, optimism and hope. I know I am not the only one experiencing deepened friendships, more clarity and purpose, and new sense of belonging.

Shubin Strong

I have come away from 2017 a better version of me and discovered I am a resilient and strong woman when I once thought myself fragile and unable to handle difficult situations. While I had noticed my inner strength over the last several weeks, surprising myself with my ability to generally remain calm and mostly positive throughout some hard days, I didn’t think anyone else had. So when I opened this gift from my friend Jennifer, I was so touched, I immediately burst into tears.

Jennifer surprised me with this leather and metal cuff bracelet she had made for me by Leslie, owner of Urban Refind in The Springs near Sonoma. The cuff reads, “Shubin Strong.”

Having this validated by someone I admire, then seeing it engraved in metal, solidified a belief I just recently started believing about myself. I wear it as a badge and as a reminder that I can handle more than I thought. Thank you so much, Jennifer and Leslie!

What Now?

By now you might be wondering what will change on the blog. My answer is: I don’t know. Unlike previous Januarys, I am not making plans or goals for the blog but I do have some ideas.

Topics making an appearance here include health and wellness as it pertains to being in my 50s, as well as posts about food/cooking, reading for pleasure, home decorating and organization. I have retained and expanded my love for photography, nature, and travel so posts focused on those topics will continue.

Fashion is still of interest to me but not in the way I used to often blog about it. I am striving to own a smaller wardrobe and be much more selective about my purchases this year. I realized during the fires, while frantically stuffing suitcases and bags with piles and piles of clothing, that I own far too much.

From now on, I only want to own things I truly love and that suit my casual lifestyle. I want to make the most of my wardrobe and remember how much I enjoyed – and found useful – posts like this one and this one. Going forward, expect fashion posts to be geared more to making the most of a casual wardrobe without having to buy lots of new stuff.

As I mentioned earlier, Tori has moved away. She now lives in coastal Oregon. We plan to stay connected by blogging about our mutual interests in wellness, food, fitness and overall health. She is 23-years-old and I am 50 so naturally we have different needs and goals.

You may recall our series One Trend, Two Generations when we chose a style or item of clothing or accessory, then created our own looks geared to our generation. We will be continuing our series but with a health and wellness focus, tailored to our own generation. Stay tuned for our first posts coming later this month!

Also on the horizon

It’s a good thing I am Shubin Strong now because this year has got a lot going on!

Bill’s eldest daughter, Kayla, and her fiancé, Forest, are getting married this summer. And so is Bill’s son, Ryan, who is marrying his fiancee, Hayley (date still TBD).

We will be getting new fences that were destroyed by high winds during the fires and we will be taking on a new landscaping project in the front yard, replacing lots of plants and refreshing some landscaping materials.

Since Tori moved, we now have two guest rooms. I’ll be shopping for new bedding, lamps and decor and also turning some of my photos into wall art. We also need to paint both rooms. With not one but two guest rooms, we want to know who wants to come for a visit!

We are in the market for some barn doors to hang on the entryway to our home gym. We need to close that room (which was once our formal living room) off from the living room.

Speaking of living room, on Friday our brand new living room furniture arrives! We ordered an off-white sectional, coffee table, side table, rug and lamp. I can hardly wait to see how it all looks.

We are hoping to fit in that 50th birthday trip of mine to France we had to cancel in October. I still want to visit Provence and would love to see the lavender fields in bloom.

Bill will retire in the next one to three years. I am trying to convince him to retire sooner rather than later but trust he knows what’s best for him.

Thank you for reading.

I hope you and your loved ones have a lovely new year and that 2018 is good to us all!












  1. Sallie
    January 2, 2018 / 5:42 pm

    Hi Adrienne,
    I love this post and I think your direction is great. Everything that you said you will be talking about going forward are things I am very interested in and I look forward to future posts. I especially agree with your fashion direction. I live in Santa Rosa and while my house was spared from the fires most of my neighbors were not so lucky (I so hear you on the survivor’s guilt!) . I did not evacuate with any clothes beyond what I was wearing but did make trips back to the house to get clothes while in temporary housing post-fire. It made me really look at what I have. At the very least, I am re-considering in-season things that I did not feel the need to bring with me to our temporary home. And, like you, just wanting less overall.

    I am also looking forward to hearing about your fence and landscaping projects as we are doing same post-fire.

    Thank you to Bill for all he does to keep us all safe and to you for being such a wonderful support for him. AND, I am so glad you thinking of re-scheduling your France trip!

    Cheers to a better 2018!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 2, 2018 / 6:02 pm

      Hi Sallie – so sorry to hear you’ve been experiencing what we have these last 3 months. It’s a weird process to go through, isn’t it? I never get used to seeing the burned areas like in Glen Ellen or Fountaingrove – it’s still such a shock.
      The first night we self-evacuated (Tori and I) then the next morning, when we tried to come home, we were re-evacuated. Initially I brought about 3 days worth of clothing. Days later, Bill was able to get me passed the barricades so I could pack things for me and Tori. At that point, we were pretty certain we would lose our home so I grabbed as much as I could.
      When I finally came back home many days later, I really purged my closet and drawers. I got rid of so much stuff…great things too. I would have kept them if I wore them..but I figure under the circumstances, others needed them more than I did.
      We have not started pricing out fencing – but we will soon. The house next door will be going up for sale next month and they will need that fence fixed more than we do. I hope we can find someone reasonable. Fences can be really expensive!
      Thank you for your kind words about Bill. I would love for this to be his last fire season but that is up to him. I am going to enjoy the non-fire season weather and hope we don’t see fires again for a very long time.
      Thank you for stopping by, Sallie! Adrienne

  2. Judy
    January 3, 2018 / 1:03 am

    I have read and loved your blog for many years but am hopeless at commenting – have only just figured how to do it (much better on insta!). Just wanted to say I admire you and your family’s strength and what you have had to deal with these past months, and I hope 2018 is a happier one all-round. Looking forward to reading your 2018 posts!
    Judy (@theartyfoodie on insta)

    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 3, 2018 / 8:25 am

      Hi Judy,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I know it can be complicated these days with all the spam prevention steps you have to take.
      Thank you for your kind words. We are looking forward to a great 2018 – filled with change, we anticipate. I am excited about my stepchildren’s upcoming weddings – a nephew also got engaged recently. I guess I need to go shopping for a couple dresses!
      Happy New Year!

  3. January 3, 2018 / 2:34 am

    Happy New Year! !
    I can understand many of you suffering.
    Japan that I live also encountered great difficulties in recent years.
    It occurred in Kobe, East Japan and Kumamoto.
    The event is proceeding with a great determination to restore it in all Japanese citizens.
    (Willingness to thank American citizens is also included)

    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 3, 2018 / 8:23 am

      Hello Ryoma,

      I am sorry to hear about the difficult events but happy to hear your regions are recovering.
      Thank you for stopping by and happy New Year!

  4. January 3, 2018 / 5:07 am

    Hi Adrienne,
    I enjoyed reading today’s post and congratulate you and your family on all your good news …moves, weddings, travel and great expectations for the future.
    I also, want to congratulate you on your personal growth as an exceptional woman. Aware or not each year does bring new beginnings along with endings and some years brings new seasons of our lives. Thus, new needs and interests arise. That’s growth!
    Your blog has been a favorite of mine since my first introduction to blogging.
    I am so looking forward to your new adventures here on “The Rich Life In Wine Country”.
    Keep up the good work. I’ll be reading.


    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 3, 2018 / 8:15 am

      Thank you, Rosemary, for your kind words. I was talking to a neighbor, who is about 15 years older than I, over the weekend about all the changes and she said I was in a “Bubbling Up” period. She said throughout life we go through stages where not many dramatic changes happen (which would have been the last 5 to 7 years) then suddenly everything begins to happen, seemingly at once. I think that is an accurate way to describe life right now. It is thrilling, chaotic, scary and a bit like a rollercoaster ride!
      I am excited for this year and feel more confident and able than ever.
      Thank you again for your support and kindness. Happy New Year and happy blogging! Adrienne

  5. Rosemary
    January 3, 2018 / 10:19 am

    Hi Adrienne, sounds as though you’ve lots to look forward to in 2018! I’m so happy for you after such a difficult few months. Although I imagine Tori moving away will be tough for you all, working together on your respective blogs etc seems a great way to maintain what is obviously a really close relationship.
    Weddings are such lovely family occasions and I imagine looking towards Bills retirement feels wonderful! Great that you’ll both finally get to France … so exciting!
    I find it hard to imagine that anyone who reads your blog sees you as anything other than hardworking, generous and caring… when I contacted you for some advice, this time last year, re our visit to Sonoma, you were nothing short of amazing!! You took so much time and care, advising me about where to stay, visit, eat, shop etc etc 🙂 I looked forward to your emails so much and thanks to you we had an absolutely perfect few days in Healdsburg and the surrounding area. Somewhere that I wouldn’t even have thought about visiting had it not been for your blog and Instagram!
    Lovely also, to realise through Instagram that we both share a love of the Lauterbrunnen Valley!!
    Take care Adrienne …. Wishing you, Bill and your family a wonderful, happy, healthy and fun filled 2018!!
    Rosemary ( Rosie … Loveswitzerlandsnow )

    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 5, 2018 / 9:50 am

      Hi Rosemary,

      First, let me say how happy I am that we have connected. You are such a kind person and I love that we share a passion for all things Swiss!
      Tori is greatly missed but I find each day gets a little less sad and more excited both for her and for me and Bill. We quickly turned her room into a guest room – changed the furniture and everything – as a sigh of new beginnings and to make us less upset. Seeing her empty room every day, multiple times, was just too much for the both of us.
      Your recent Switzerland photos have me reconsidering our France plans. I love Switzerland so much – some of my very best memories were created there. I also ate cheese at every single meal so that’s a pretty big selling point too!
      Happy New Year! Looking forward to more photos on your IG! xo, Adrienne

      • Rosemary
        January 5, 2018 / 1:39 pm

        I’m happy we’ve connected too Adrienne 🙂 I’m glad that you’re enjoying my swiss photos and love that you have many happy memories here, as I do. I almost jump up and down with excitement every time we return!! Definitely my “happy place” it always feels like I’m coming home!

        • Adrienne Shubin
          January 5, 2018 / 1:57 pm

          Rosemary – do you visit once a year? I would love to do that someday. We are getting close to Bill retiring which will mean less disposable income so Europe trips might need to be on a budget and Switzerland is pricey! If we get serious about visit Switzerland again someday, I may be calling on you for travel help! Enjoy your trip – sounds like you may be heading home soon?

          • Rosemary
            January 6, 2018 / 12:28 am

            Heading home today …I’ll send you an email during the week. Have a good weekend! 🙂

  6. Deb
    January 3, 2018 / 1:12 pm

    I have been a long time silent reader and just wanted to say that I loved this post! I am rapidly approaching 50 and find I have a similar mindset as you about a number of things. I am excited to see the changes you make this year. I went through a house fire a long time ago and we lost almost everything except the clothes on our back. As devastating as it was we were just so thankful nobody was hurt. When you were posting about the fires and evacuations I would look around my house and think about what I would bring. It has really motivated me to purge a lot of nonessential stuff. I remember having to clean up and log items after our fire and the thought of itemizing junk drawers or closets full of things we don’t use is very motivating. Blessings to you and your family in 2018. Such exciting changes ahead for all of you!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 5, 2018 / 8:26 am

      Hi Deb,

      I wish I had some sage advice for you as you approach 50 but I didn’t have a chance to really experience the transition with everything going on during that time. Yes, we did celebrate but we were all in a daze…seems like a dream, really, when I look back.
      I am so sorry to hear about what you and your loved ones went through, losing your home and everything in it! That must have been devastating. I have friends who lost their homes and I have heard the insurance part of things is just awful and so tedious. I hate stuff like that so I am sure I would go bonkers.
      I hope your new year is going well! Thank you for leaving a comment. I appreciate it! Adrienne

  7. KSL
    January 3, 2018 / 2:40 pm

    I love this post for so many reasons. First of all, like others, I do want to give a special thank you to Bill and other first responders, and their families who go through so much while they’re away fighting fires.
    We lived somewhere else while our home was going through mold remediation and moved back on the day we didn’t know if we were going to have to evacuate. Like others have mentioned, I really have given a lot of thought to how much “stuff” I have and what do I really need. I did a lot of cleaning out after we moved back in and donated so much stuff to the victims of the Thomas Fire and am continuing to do so – even books.

    I really love the direction you’re considering for the blog – it really resonates with me.

    Very exciting about your living room furniture coming, and also both weddings. A revival of your France trip sounds great and I hope Bill retires soon…but I know it’s up to him.

    What a great bracelet and so thoughtful of your friend!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 5, 2018 / 8:13 am

      Hi K,

      Having to leave your home not knowing if you will see it again in one piece is eye-opening for sure. You quickly realize what is important and what isn’t. That first night, I grabbed the most comfortable and versatile clothing I could find – jeans, a cute sweatshirt, tees, yoga pants, booties, sneakers, Birkenstocks, and a reversible cashmere blend shawl from Stella Carakasi that went with all of it. It bugged me that I had to rifle through SO much stuff to get to what I wanted. When I finally returned home for good, I did a massive closet clean out. Even with that purge, I could still give it another round. It’s like it’s never-ending, the purging!
      I just got a text that the new living room furniture is on its way!! We are SO excited!
      I hope Bill retires soon too…maybe at year’s end?
      xo, A

  8. Kelli Smith
    January 3, 2018 / 5:50 pm

    Love your bracelet and what it represents to you and your family. I especially loved this post and your thoughts about your blog direction for the future. Know that I, and many others, enjoy reading your posts and are so grateful for your updates about the devastating CA fires and your own fears for your family. I especially appreciated your responses to my emails earlier this year regarding a trip to Sonoma. Most bloggers would not take the time to do that.
    Grateful for you and praying for your family during this year of transitions. Hoping you get to enjoy that trip to France!

    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 5, 2018 / 8:21 am

      Hi Kelli,

      Yes, I remember chatting with you about your visit to Sonoma! I do enjoy helping people plan their trips here – it can certainly be overwhelming. Wine Country is not small!
      Bill and I are glad it’s a new year and have lots of things to be excited about – having our home in one piece, friends and family are safe (although some going through difficult times as they rebuild their lives) and we have 2 weddings to look forward to (which has been a motivation for me to get in better shape!).
      I hope 2018 is off to a great start for you and your loved ones, Kelli. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. It’s nice to hear from you! Adrienne

  9. January 4, 2018 / 7:58 am

    Hi Adrienne,

    Happy new year. I hear your desire to make changes, and though I will miss the fashion fun that gave me welcome breaks between one work assignment and the next, I understand why you are moving in that direction. My best to you and your family. I look forward to seeing how your blog evolves.

    I, too, have been hooked into trying to figure out how to do more with less. I enjoyed the posts where you showed how to make several outfits from one foundational layer. Hope there is more of that “capsule wardrobing” in the future, if you choose to go there.

    Also looking forward to the new areas you will tackle, such as cooking and decorating. Much joy to you in the new year.

    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 5, 2018 / 7:54 am

      Hi Joanne,

      Happy New Year! I will still do fashion posts from time to time. Weirdly, I think I lost my personal sense of style these last few years by taking on a lot of promotional posts. Some brands really work with my taste and style – Armadio/Adora bags (LOVE them!), Stella Carakasi, KayandStar – and others, not so much. I want to find my style now that I am 50 and in order to do that, I have to back off the gifted posts. Lately I have been into athleisure looks – they suit my lifestyle and are comfortable. I can’t wear athleisure looks all the time but on a regular weekday, it’s fine!
      I am going to work on a post about how to style athleisure looks soon. I love taking a foundational outfit and tweaking it in several different ways.
      Thank you for stopping by and leaving me a comment. I hope your 2018 is off to a great start! Adrienne

      • January 5, 2018 / 8:35 am

        I would love to see some posts on styling athleisure! Here in our new S. California coastal location it is all women seem to wear during the week, but I’m still trying to find that balance between casual and workout.

        Thank you for all you do, and look forward to following along with you in 2018!

        • Adrienne Shubin
          January 5, 2018 / 9:46 am

          Hi Tamara,

          I am also trying to find that balance. I find if I wear a cute jacket over my yoga pants and top, then carry a nice tote bag and throw on a scarf, I am dressed up enough to pass more for casual and less of a “going to gym” look. I think come summer, this will be harder to carry off as you don’t wear as many layers. Something to think about – but we’ve got quite a few months before summer (thank goodness!!).
          Thank you for the comment and for stopping by today. Happy New Year! Adrienne

  10. Krys
    January 4, 2018 / 10:25 am

    I am so sorry for everything that has happened to you and your fellow Californians – nature really is the boss in unpredictable and very difficult ways.

    One of the reasons we are all experiencing such crazy weather/storms wherever we live is due to our over-consumption and reliance on fossil fuels to produce things we don’t need, value or keep (for very long).

    I applaud your new direction – I too want to look and feel great and do it with way less. Fewer/better may be a good focus for a new direction.

    Wishing you everything good in 2018.

    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 5, 2018 / 7:48 am

      Hi Krys,

      You are so right about Mother Nature and our environment – it’s so obvious with all this crazy weather happening, even as I type this. I am dreading next year’s fire season which I guess will start early and end late again. I wish my husband would retire – I worry so about his health with all those toxins in the smoke.
      I know we are barely 5 days into 2018, but I am feeling hopeful and headed in the right direction. I hope the year is off to a great start for you as well. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment, Krys. Lovely to hear from you! Adrienne

  11. January 5, 2018 / 11:45 am

    Happy New Year! I loved reading this post and appreciate your thoughts on reevaluating priorities after going through such a harrowing experience. During the time of the fires, I reconnected with your blog/IG to learn what I could about what was happening in my home of 15+ years – and I’m glad to be back. I’ve enjoyed your blog since the beginning when my friend Debra told me about it – and I had no idea what a blog was! It seems ridiculous to say that I too feel a survivors guilt – even though I moved from Sonoma County in 2010. Our former home, and entire Fountaingrove neighborhood, was destroyed and our across-the-street neighbor lost his life. I felt fear for my former places of employment – St. Francis and Buena Vista Wineries – and all the wonderful people who work and live nearby. I also felt a need to reconnect on a deeper level with people who I’d lost touch with since our move. I hope it doesn’t minimize the suffering of those who went through the experience to say these things . . . it’s been an eye opening experience to feel how a tragedy like the fires impacts those not immediately in the danger one. I admire your strength to endure not only the evacuation, concern for home, family, pets, etc. but to endure your beloved husband risking his life to save the lives of others. Best wishes to you in 2018 and I look forward to continuing to enjoy your blogging journey.

    • Adrienne Shubin
      January 5, 2018 / 1:55 pm

      Hi Juliet,

      It is painful – downright heartbreaking – to drive by Fountaingrove, Larkfield, Coffey Park, Glen Ellen, and so on and see the flatness, ash, twisted metal, charred cars and trees. I try to avoid the areas if I can – sort of unavoidable here in Sonoma Valley as there are lots of areas right on Highway 12 that were affected.
      I, too, feel guilty for feeling bad (guilt is such a weird emotion – seems to always find a way to sneak in) because here I am with an intact home, my health, the people I love, my pets and my car and others are without so much. But what we went through – even if not physically here – was traumatic. If you have friends, family and memories here, you were affected. I am trying to remind myself it’s okay to be upset about what happened to me and that that does not have anything to do with how sad I feel for friends who lost it all. It’s helping me move on to accept it was hard, it was scary and it has changed me forever. There are so many perspectives on what happened and none of them are wrong, I believe.
      The other thing that is dicey to articulate without sounding like an insensitive jerk is the idea that good things came out of the fires. I wholeheartedly believe I am a better person and have returned to myself – the old me, only new. I can’t speak for anyone else – especially for those who suffered losses – but in my life, some good did come out of it. And as I mentioned, meaningful relationships have deepened and become more solid – that’s a big one for me. Even the relationship with myself has become stronger.
      Very best wishes to you for a healthy and fulfilling 2018. Thank you for coming by the blog today, Juliet.

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