Selling most of my jewelry, precious or not!…

Jewelry displayed on our 60″ square table

A simple pair of sterling silver, minimal dangling earrings are my only accouterments these days.  For some odd reason, as I have aged, jewelry feels heavy and cumbersome.

I’m annoyed by the feeling of rings on my fingers difficult to get over my slightly swollen joints, then feeling too loose once in place, necklaces with the clasp invariably finding its way to the front of my neck and bracelets or watches flicking at my somewhat bony wrist.  

This disdain for jewelry started in my 50’s after an obsessive period of making jewelry, trendy at the time.  Working 12 hour work days, I somehow found the time to seemingly spend countless hours perusing beads in various bead stores, almost getting a high off the selection of beads from around the world.   

With Tom working weekends at the time, I busied myself with a professional sized lighted magnifying mirror content to sit for hours, eyes squinting to create an endless array of what I considered at the time, to be uniquely designed necklaces, bracelets and matching earrings.  Surely, there was a career as a jewelry designer looming there!  Ha!

Upon completion of a “set,” I’d leave them out for days on a meticulously folded piece of black velvet with the intent of frequently admiring my handiwork.  

As a result of my job at the time, we were often invited to fancy affairs, resulting in an opportunity to wear the fruits of my labor.  A piece of my jewelry served as the inspiration for my outfit fit for the night, sending me to shop online for a great deal on a dress.

It was 1998, eBay’s early years, and I relished in the opportunity to shop online to find the perfect designer dress at a fraction of the retail cost.  Always easy to fit, it wasn’t unusual for me to find a dress for under $25 to which I supplemented my selected jewelry pieces for a finished look.  

Tom, dressed to the 9’s as the proverbial penguin (albeit, with a degree of disdain), looked polished and handsome at my side.  We enjoyed the ambiance of elegant venues, the experience, the gourmet food and the idle conversation amongst ourselves and our table mates.

Five years and 100 or so necklaces later, I left the company for greener pastures along with the experience of the elegant occasions in tow.  I stopped making the jewelry, placing them in an oversized wooden jewelry box, where they remained for the past nine years, seldom to be used, never to be displayed, subsequently resulting in little, if any, emotional attachment.

Yesterday, I began the painstaking process of preparing the handcrafted jewelry and my many years-of-accumulation other jewelry including a little gold, a little silver and a few diamonds, to be perused by the jewelry guy Bill, recommended by our estate sales guy, Jim Anderson of Caring Estate Sales, coming to visit on Thursday. 

Of course, while polishing and preparing my handmade pieces, I discovered a few that called my name, to travel along with us, to occasionally adorn a colorful summery outfit. Not too many, just a few, none of which would be sufficient bounty for a thief, of which we’ve been warned over and over again.  

No rings, no gold, no big silver pieces will travel with us and draw attention to us as likely prey.  Over the past several months in an effort to get used to it,  I stopped wearing my wedding ring, placing it in a safe deposit box.  Tom, never wore a wedding ring, fearing injury at work nor anything other than a watch that he swears to “throw away” on his retirement date!

Eventually, when we are unable to continue to see the world, we will go the bank, retrieve the ring, perhaps to be worn again if I can get it past the burgeoning ring finger knuckle.

I will update you on the results of the upcoming visit by the jeweler, unlikely to purchase any of my “costume” jewelry which ultimately will be offered for sale at the upcoming estate sale at the end of October, three months away.

Months ago, I wrote about our purchase of four old fashioned ice cube trays. We love ice in our drinks, but in several locations the water won’t be fit for our consumption. Thus, each day we will freeze the four trays with bottled water  to maintain a steady stream of ice.

Iced cube trays packed with smaller jewelry items to be sealed with plastic lids for traveling

When discussing our desire for ice with Tom, I suggested an alternate use for the four trays and filled the little cups with my jewelry, covering each tray with the accompanying plastic lids.  

Today, while separating the jewelry I’d like to bring for our out-on-the-town nights, and dress up nights on the cruises, I went ahead and filled the ice cube trays.  With the trays, lids and jewelry, it was a total of two pounds including a few larger pieces that needed to go into a plastic bag.

Bye, bye jewelry.  Hello, world.

Broken yolks…

In an effort to practice cooking differently, this morning I made sausage, eggs and coconut flour pancakes in a large nonstick non toxic skillet. I had previously posted this pancake recipe, but here it is again:

Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Coconut Flour Pancakes

Entire recipe: 1700 calories, 35 grams carbs, 20 grams fiber,

These pancakes are surprisingly pancake-like and delicious when one considers how little carbohydrate is in them. And, of course, they’re gluten-free.

Jess’s Gluten Free Coconut Flour Pancakes

(Better than regular pancakes. Low carb. Doesn’t spike insulin). Use sugar free syrup and real butter if following a low carb diet. 35 carb grams for entire recipe that serves 4-6)

8 eggs
½ cup coconut oil or melted butter
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (may need more for consistency)
4 tsp sweetener
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup coconut flour (No need to sift. Stir well)
1 tsp baking powder (I use GF, aluminum free)

Blend together eggs, oil, coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Combine coconut flour and baking powder and thoroughly mix into batter. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet. Spoon batter onto hot skillet, making pancakes about 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter. Batter will be thick but will flatten out when cooking. Makes about 8 pancakes.

Usually, I make this yummy breakfast on our Viking single surface 24″ wide griddle with an electronic 1500 CFM downdraft. Cooking everything at once at the perfect temperature, medium-high, results in fluffy pancakes, golden brown sausage links and “over easy” eggs, seldom breaking a yoke.

As the time to leave nears, today was the day to test making breakfast sans use of the griddle, instead using a large skillet.

The owner of the house in Belize suggested we bring our own skillet. Apparently, there isn’t a pan to be had in the house or at a nearby store in the remote area of Placencia, where one might find a safe non-stick pan. Odd? Perhaps. But, we’ll bring an eco friendly pan. With little space in our luggage for a large pan, I must learn to cook breakfast in a small pan.

Considering myself an experienced and reasonably good cook, I expected this process to be a breeze. With the 12″ skillet in hand, a touch of coconut oil melting on the bottom, I started with the sausages which take the longest to cook. There was no room in the pan for the pancakes at the same time. If I removed the sausages, poured the pancake batter, I could reheat the sausages returning them to the pan, when I finished making the eggs.

In concept, this was a great plan. The sausages nicely browned, I removed them from the pan to awaiting paper towels on a plate and proceeded to make the pancakes. This pancake recipe is a little delicate but cooking on the griddle has been no problem since we started our low carb, gluten free, sugar free, grain free and starch free diet almost a year ago.

In an enthusiastic attempt to see how the pancakes were doing, I tried flipping them too soon. They all fell apart, resulting in a huge pile of tasty clumps. The eggs, not so good either. I broke the yolks, again flipping too soon.

Watching Tom attempt to butter the one inch pieces of pancakes made me laugh. In a sincere voice, I apologized to him for screwing up his one breakfast at home this week. He mumbled something sweet, as he often does.

Observing him maneuver the overcooked, rubbery broken egg yolks on his plate, all stuck to the pieces of overly browned sausage pieces, I chuckled to myself once more.

I’ll get this right. All I need is a little practice. After all, I do have three months and two days to practice. Breakfast anyone?

Luggage carts…practical or foolish?…

We deliberated over buying luggage carts. Would they simply add additional weight to haul around the world?  Would we be charged extra baggage fees to store them on the plane?  Would they serve as a invaluable resource to make the transportation from location to location more manageable?

After spending several hours researching baggage restriction on flights and after analyzing and weighing our load, thus far, we came to the conclusion that we must take the risk and buy the carts.  Restrictions on cruises are only a “per bag” limit weight of 70 pounds to avoid injuries to their handlers. There are no restrictions on the number of bags on cruises.

What if we could place each of our two 50 pound suitcases, our 40 pound carry on bags, our computer gear and my handbag on each of our carts? (No money, passports or important papers will be in my handbag. The allowed space for handbags will be utilized for clothing, shoes, etc.)  Important items will be tucked away in our carry on bags with an exterior zippered pouch for our easy access to our travel documents.  Our wallets will be secured under our clothing. 

We purchased two of these luggage carts each with a
250 pound capacity at Global Industries

The potential total weight for each of our luggage carts is anticipated to be approximately 180 pounds, an amount impossible to wheel and carry at one time without a cart.  Buying a cart with a capacity of 250 pounds would ensure a more stable structure, enabling each of us to be able to wheel our own carts.

Our cart, folded for easy placement under the seat on an airplane

Researching airline baggage restriction, we found that most airlines will allow any wheeling or carrying devices aboard as long as it will fit under the seat. After investigating the folded up size of the carts we chose and the size of the space under the seats on most aircraft, we determined that the carts will fit.

The thought of easily wheeling our bags to cruise ships, through airports, on trains, ferries and in and out of our vacation homes, provides a great sense of relief. Recently, some family, friends and followers of this blog have asked why we don’t just throw some stuff in a suitcase and take off without all this planning.

In our minds, the answer is clear. Most people, when traveling for a few weeks or months have a home to which they return to at the end of their travels. We won’t.  We will continue on. Since we aren’t considering this a “vacation” but rather “living” (as Tom describes it), we need to bring things with us that we need, want and use.

Under no circumstances, do we want the burden of finding a mall, a drugstore, or a post office. Neither of us enjoys going to stores, although I enjoy grocery shopping which we will obviously need to do wherever we go. Whether an outdoor farmer’s market or a tiny little shop on a corner, we will enjoy shopping for local meats and produce.

Neither Tom nor I would enjoy wearing the same items day after day. We tend to wear an item once and then wash it, sloppy that we both are when dining (mostly me)! We make a point of trying to look nice for each other.  It’s a part of the attraction we both fell for each other so many years later; fresh smelling, clean, attractive clothes, well groomed, and for me; some makeup, earrings, manicured nails and polished toes (I have always done these myself). 

Currently, through instructions online for how to cut a man’s hair, I will strive to cut Tom’s hair to his liking. We don’t want to have to spend time looking for a barber or Tom feeling frustrated with a peculiar cut. A few nights ago, I suggested that he grow a beard and a wear a ponytail. Here again, he wants to be “himself” and wasn’t interested. We’ll figure this out together.
None of our quirky traits will change when we’re traveling the world or when and if we ever settle down. It is part of who we are individually and, as a couple. For us, it is a part of the magic. (We accept that we are giving up so much to gain this experience together; seeing our loved ones, drinking coffee, enjoying familiar foods, my kitchen gadgets, watching US TV, reading the newspaper, our home, our friends and neighbors, the 4th of July, having a dog, access to a health club, and on and on.

Thus, this reality adds greatly to the packing. There’s “stuff” associated with feeling “put together.” We are willing to bear the consequences of our picky choices, by wheeling our carts, paying extra for baggage on the fewer flights we’ll experience and for packing and unpacking the “stuff” each time we reach a destination.

This weekend we’ll load up the carts with the two already pack bags, adding several more items to get the feel of wheeling around 180 pounds. If it doesn’t feel great, I will up the weights at my workouts and build more muscle.

After all, we still have three months and six days until we walk out the door!

Sometimes it hurts…

Awakening at 5:50 am after a fitful night, feeling exhausted from “running” in one confusing dream upon another, a wave of sorrow ran through me.  

This past Sunday was the memorial service for our beloved friend Chip. I wrote about him in my June 1, 2012 post (please see the archives) and was honored to be asked by his wife and our friend, Sue, to share that post during the service, with the many devoted family members and friends in attendance to say their last goodbyes to this very fine man. 

Lying in bed, thinking about Chip no longer being four doors away, that involuntary rush of tears filled my eyes. Deciding to distract myself, I ventured to “read my phone,” a habit I’ve acquired since first owning a smart phone; read my email, peruse last night’s texts arriving after we’d gone to bed, check out my newest Facebook blurbs and scan through Engadget‘s daily updates for the latest advances in technology.

Spotting a lengthy text from my dear younger sister Julie, a Hollywood TV producer, I breezed through the usual, saving her message for last. She plans to make her last visit here soon to once again celebrate her birthday. I was touched by her words, “Your home has been my haven, my peaceful place to go to recoup, to recover, to celebrate so many times in my life.” The tears flowed freely.

I was reminded how hard it must be, not only for us, but for all of our loved ones, to no longer have access to this comfortable home, surrounded by water, abounding with the gifts from Mother Nature and often overpowered by the aroma of loving prepared home cooked food.

It wasn’t perfect. It never is. But, it was our home for many years. We did our best to make it “home” for a little while to whomever graced our door, to send them home with returnable containers filled with food, always hoping they’d return soon to fill them once again. And they did.

While I allowed a little sob to escape my lips, determinedly I jumped out of bed, anxious to tackle the day’s tasks, so many of which lately revolved around the “preparations,” a seemingly endless list that must be accomplished in 3 months and 8 days from today, the day we leave.

WorldWideWille, a fine dog 

Scurrying around the house, bath water running, I emptied the dishwasher, filled and fired up the tea pot (still not drinking coffee!), neatly made the bed, and stopped to take a deep breath while staring out the window.  

My eyes fixated on the tiny headstone, a gift from a dog loving friend, where our little Australian Terrier WorldWideWillie was laid to rest only 15 long months ago. 

(If you are a dog lover, click the above link to his blog, written from his perspective, over the last days of his life. Please scroll the archives to get to the beginning). 

The tears, not quite gone, reappeared with a sob, for a moment, sucking the air out of my lungs.  Willie was named for our interest and love for the wealth of information provided by the Internet so long ago, as this blog was named as a tribute to him, for our interest and love for him. 

Ah, life is so complex, yet so simple, so joyful, yet so sad. We lose the ones we love, both human and animal, maybe now, maybe later, grasping each moment as a gift, as a memory that we behold wherever we may go for however long we may have.

The house and the things in it, the ambiance created by its warmth and charm, the breathtaking views surrounding it, is merely the tools that we used to build the memories. When the tools are gone, the memories will remain, forever in our hearts and minds.

A half hour later, ready for the day, my tears dried, a second cup of tea in hand, I heard a knock at the door. There stood my next door neighbor and friend, smiling from ear to ear, just in time for me to whip up a low carb breakfast of gluten free, Portobello mushroom, Vidalia onion, and spicy pepperoni omelets laced with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Life is good.

No bed bugs for us!…

These ideas just pop into our heads.  We research.  We discuss the options.  We consider price, shipping costs, quality, weight, and most of all, how badly do we need it.

Both Tom and I cringe at the thought of bed bugs.  Who doesn’t?  

We currently have a dual king Sleep Number bed, for us, the most comfortable bed in the world.  The fact that the head and foot of each side of bed raise up by two individual remote controls (as well as adjusting the degree of firmness), resulting in the necessity of two separate mattresses and box springs. 

The only drawback has been the difficulty of the cuddling, being divided by a crack between the two mattresses.  We have managed to compensate for this quite well, thank you.  Use your imagination. 

Giving up our bed is not easy for me.  It is the only piece of furniture to which I will sadly say goodbye. Suffering with a painful spine condition, the bed has been a lifesaver for me over the past 9 years since we made the pricey purchase.  Tom could sleep on a bed of nails!  He won’t miss the bed.

As we wind down here, the topic of bed bugs has come to the surface. Will our vacation homes have more or less risk of bed bugs as opposed to a hotel?  We’ve decided that we would rather haul around a solution than haul around several thousand bed bugs in our luggage.  

As a result, we will need zippered high quality bed bug proof mattress, box spring and pillow covers!  Yes, we’ll now be hauling an extra 9 pounds (approximate weight. We will weigh them when they arrive).  This may sound foolish and overly paranoid.  But, I ask, have you seen photos of bed bugs or the risks to one’s health?  Yikes!  

Yesterday at noon, laptop in hand, frosty iced tea beside me and parked in my comfy chair, the online search began for the zippered high quality bed bug proof mattress, box spring and pillow covers.

A new dilemma, entered the picture.  What size do we buy? A few of the houses we are renting, have a king sized bed, some are queen while others are simply old fashioned double beds (talk about cuddling).  It would be impossible to haul varying sizes.  

Most king-sized beds have a split box spring.  After much research, we discovered the importance of covering the box springs as well as the mattress.   

Solution: purchase two zippered queen-sized box spring covers in the event of double box springs on the king beds and, purchase one zippered king-sized mattress cover, although too big for the smaller beds, can be tucked in under the mattress.  

After searching through ten various bedding sites, to determine full retail price, quality brands that we also allergy proof, bed bug proof and comfortable to sleep on (no vinyl, no latex), I found my way back to eBay for some serious bed bug free shopping.

This was not the easiest item to find. The quality and pricing was all over the place. After a good hour and a half of searching, I finally found what we needed, the king mattress, the two queen box spring and the two king pillow covers, all meeting our criteria. Grand total $173.17.  

Each time we will arrive at a property, before unpacking our bags, we will have to cover the mattress, box spring and pillows of the bed we will sleep in.  We may be exhausted from traveling, may have been flying for 24 hours or more, may want to fall on our faces on the bed.  

Then again, when we leave for the next location, we’ll have to remember to take them off of the bed early enough to wash and dry them, and fold them properly to fit into our luggage.  Not an easy task.  If we have an early departure with no time for laundry, we will be bringing an airtight sealed bag that we will carry on in order to keep it separate from our luggage until we can launder them when arrive at the next spot.  Not an easy task.

We console ourselves for this daunting task by reminding ourselves: no more lawn to mow, no weeds to pull, no windows to wash, no hauling patio furniture, inside and out, no carpet to shampoo, no cars to wash, no hatches to batten down in winter, no more utility bills and on and on and on.  

Life is filled with trade-offs.  Yes, we are trading one load of tasks for a whole new world of tasks, in a new environment, with new people around us, with new scenery to enjoy.  But one thing remains the same, we will have each other. And that, dear readers, is how and why we do this; to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with our lover, our best friend and our favorite companion with whom dreams are made and ultimately realized. 

So, one more item is knocked off the list, that will give us peace of mind, reduce stress and add to the enjoyment of “living in the world” for no less than three years and maybe, health providing, many more years to come.

Be well.

Final decisions on prescriptions dilemma…

In my post of June 12, 2012 (please see archives), I discussed our concerns for bringing our medications with us while we live about the world, often in remote areas, far from a post office.

We’ve discovered that in certain areas, the receipt of packages is not only risky due to potential theft, but also inordinate delays. The thought of worrying every few months about receiving our refills will be an infringement upon our level of enjoyment.  What me, worry?

In the June post I explained that we had sent our prescription plan a comprehensive package of personal information, our itinerary, lists and reasons for medications, doctor’s information and a completed litany of forms, along with a detailed letter explaining why we wanted to take no less than 12 months of prescriptions with us.  

Thus, we began the wait for approval for our “vacation request.” Three to perhaps 10 years is hardly a vacation, as Tom often reminds me saying, “We will be living, not vacationing.”

In speaking with our doctor, we discussed an annual Skype appointment with him whereby he could “see” us in order to meet his ethical criteria of an annual appointment in order to write refills for yet another year. This was satisfactory to us.

I weighed the package, loading it with postage and left it for the mailman almost six weeks ago.  With no response, it was hovering in my mind to call and check on the status of the request.  Friday, I called.

An hour later, after explaining the story to five different employees, none of whom could find a record of my filing for the request, my temper began to flare. It is seldom that my feathers get ruffled.  But, I knew remaining calm would get better results than to expose my ire.

In a firm, yet pleasant voice, I explained to rep #5 that I needed to be sent to someone who would be able to find the file.  I was sent to the supervisor of the “vacation request” department, explaining a very shortened version of what we needed and focused more on the location of our file.  I looked at my cell phone. I had been on this call for one hour and five minutes.

The supervisor left me on hold, returning a full four minutes later to explain that she had found the file and our request was denied! “Where’s my denial letter?” I inquired.  No response. Finally, she stated, “Your insurance plan doesn’t allow for vacation requests.”  

“Why, may I ask,” again in a calm voice, “didn’t the agent tell me this was the case after I spent an hour on the phone in June asking them how to handle a vacation request and if we were potentially qualified?”

Why did he send me a packet of no less than 10 pages, explaining the process requiring me to include information they already had in their system, asking me to hand write in the forms on the few lines provided?” 

(No, I didn’t hand write in the forms!  I printed the 12 pages of information using our printer and paper, directly from their system!)  She apologized for my inconvenience. I hung up trying to mumble some sort of a thank you. (Can’t escape my ongoing effort to have good manners, I guess.)

Inconvenience? Ha! Doesn’t incompetence sound more like it? Usually, I am a very calm person. My heart was racing. I paced around the room, adrenaline thumping through my body, heading directly to my brain for a solution. I paced. I ruminated. I paced some more. I poured a fresh glass of iced tea. 

I had an idea! Why didn’t I think of this to begin with?

My simple idea was to pay for our own prescriptions out of our pocket! Forget the prescription plan!  Forget the co-pays! Find the best possible prices for a one year’s supply (the maximum time for which the doctor can ethically write)!

The comfy chair was calling me. Sitting down, with the frosted glass of iced tea in hand, I grabbed my laptop quickly bringing up our prescription plan records to determine the co-pays we had paid in the last 12 months. The total was $1542, the new number to match!

Now, the challenge was to find a way to buy all of our prescriptions for one year for as close as possible to this number, thus justifying buying outside of the plan.

My phone in hand, I looked up the phone number of the local Cub Foods Pharmacy and had the honor of speaking to Pharmacist Renee, a breath of fresh air after that grumpy “supervisor.” She confirmed that “yes” we could buy any amount of medications for which we had a prescription. She priced 365 days of each of our combined seven prescriptions. (Numbers coming here in a minute).

Next, I called Walmart Pharmacy. What about their $4 per month prescription? Wait a minute! The $4 theory went out the window when I received the pricing from their pharmacist for the seven drugs. Our drugs were not in the $4 plan.

Here are the cost comparisons for the two locations:

Cub Foods Pharmacy $2445.80

Walmart Pharmacy:   $3022.48

Hum, not good enough. However, Cub agreed to match the Walmart’s best price on any single medication, only a slight improvement in the total, bringing it down to $2390.45, still $848.45 short of our goal.
Gulp. Gulp. Gulp. More iced tea. Wheels turning. Here we go! 

What’s the commotion among senior citizens, without access to a good drug plan, buying prescription drugs from Canada?  I tried to picture myself bobbing up and down on a bus traveling to Canada with a bunch of seniors. 

Fingers flying across the keyboard, 1/2 hour later, web sites searched, reviews read, to discover that may be a partial solution.

(Please understand, we are not involved in this or any other companies in
any manner, and kindly ask you to do your own research as to what pharmacies/plans may work for you).

While considering the best prices at Cub, based on best prices at Walmart, matching the best prices at, I came to this conclusion:

We will buy some of the drugs from Cub Pharmacy and the better priced drugs from Canada which Cub can’t match. Considering these two combined costs, we are at $1749, only $207 more than we’ve been paying for co-pays on our current plan, now to pay in full for each drug out of our own pocket, no insurance plan involved.  (I won’t get into politics in this blog, but who’s making money here? Are our own seniors being robbed?)

Before leaving Minnesota, we will purchase our last three months of prescriptions, using the plan and then use the 12 months prescriptions between Cub and

We won’t have to worry about prescriptions for 15 months out. Our doctor will write us new prescriptions in a year, while we still have three months on hand, plenty of time to repeat the entire process, while awaiting for the drugs to arrive. Both Cub and will mail to any address.

Moments later I was back at my laptop, sitting in my comfy chair, smiling from ear to ear, freshened glass of iced tea in hand, realizing that the New with Tags, 100% silk designer tie I was bidding on at eBay for Tom’s dressy cruise outfits, was now up to $2.10 with free shipping and, ending in three minutes.

I won.

1000’s of pills to go?…We’re not kidding!…

We take vitamins. Do they work?  For us, yes.  How do we take them with us?

OK, here’s the deal.  Over the past several months I have shortened the list of vitamins and supplements that we have been taking, continuing to use those that credible scientific research has proven to be important for some people in some cases. That’s us.

Cutting out any questionable supplements (for us), we have been able to narrow down the list to the following.  (Please be aware that we are in no way suggesting that you take any of these supplements.  Please see your doctor for medical advice.  Supplements may interact with your current prescriptions).

1.  Vitamin C 1000 mg, timed released – Due to our low carb, gluten free, sugar and fruit free diet, we found that supplementing with this vital nutrient is important.  We don’t drink juice or eat citrus fruits.  Tom doesn’t like many vegetables containing vitamin C.  This was our solution over the past several years.  No scurvy!
2.  Vitamin K2 100 mcg – Good for building bone.  After two years, taking this supplement, my DEXA scan improved, taking me out of the osteopenia range and back to normal.  I am convinced this supplement was helpful. 
3.  Alpha Lipoic Acid 600 mg– An antioxidant with many benefits as we age.  
4.  Magnesium 500 mg – Often deficient as we age 
5.  Fish Oil 1200 mg – Tom doesn’t eat fish. Primary used for heart and blood vessels.  As one ages, it appears this may be valuable.
6.  Probiotics 35 billion live cultures – Probiotics can be helpful in boosting one’s immune system and in the prevention of stomach distress while traveling.
7.  Vitamin D3 2000 mg – Tom tends to avoid the benefits of this vital nutrient due to his Irish heritage and light skin.  We have both been supplementing with D3 for some time.
8.  Vitamin B6 50 mg 3 x day – Kidney stone prevention prescribed by urologist.  Seems to be working!
9.  Vitamin B12 100 mcg – Specific to one’s needs.  Worth reading literature.

Do they work?  Are they worth hauling a few year’s supply with us? The topic of supplements is controversial. As we know, the media rattles us with contradictory information; something is good for us, another is not, to later discover they have reversed the advice.  

How are we to know? Check with your physician.  Read the information provided by reputable unbiased medical sites:  Mayo Clinic, National Institutes of Health, CDC and our ability and choice to try what may work for us.

Yesterday, I placed an order for three years of supplements, considering that we also had enough on hand to get us through the next few months.  With free shipping, “buy 2, get 3 free” plus a 10% discount the total $301.51, a chunk at one time but another task out of the way.

Many will ask, “Why don’t you take the minimum with you and buy them abroad?” There are several reasons:

1. Safety – we’ve been buying from this company for years, feeling comfortable that they don’t contain dangerous substances. Supplement sales is a business wrought with illegal activities and ingredients.

2. Convenience – Every few months we’d be scrambling to restock our supply. We want our travels to be as stress free as possible. We won’t be receiving mail and if we did, we’d be paying international shipping costs from our pre-arranged mail service driving up the cost.

3. Peace of mind.

Next time, I will update you on our prescriptions dilemma for which we now
have a solution. Be well.

No taco salad in the world?…Recipe for low carb gluten free taco salad bowl…

Low Carb (2 grams) Gluten Free Cheese Taco Bowl.  See recipe below.

Every meal I make, I wonder if we’ll be able to enjoy a similar meal when we are abroad.  Will they have the low carb, gluten free, starch free, wheat free, grain free, sugar free items we use on a daily basis?

Last night’s dinner was a perfect example.  We had taco salad that met all of the above criteria.  On yet another hot day, taco salad has a particularly delightful appeal;  warmed seasoned grass fed ground beef, crispy shredded organic romaine lettuce, plump, ripe diced tomatoes, sliced salty stuffed green olives and chopped Vidalia onions.  

For my salad, it was topped it with homemade salsa and sour cream I usually add avocado slices, but none for Tom. Mainly, he likes the meat, onions and lots of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. The added touch of the “bowl” housing all of these goodies, usually made with corn or wheat tortillas (deep fried) is often a very special part of the pleasure. The crunchy, slightly greasy shell allows the diner to scoop and dip the tasty contents while looking forward to the soggy shell at the bottom of the bowl. Alas, a gluten-free, grain free, corn-free, low carb taco salad bowl does not exist in this world as we know it.

Don’t think for a minute that I haven’t looked for one!  If I were to say I have looked online for such an item for as many as eight hours is no exaggeration. The alternative is to go for a pre-made gluten free, corn free, high carb tortilla which throws our low carb, no processed food commitment into a tailspin for a few days.  

Not that I am an expert on gluten-free foods, but I have engaged in some research on the pitfalls of processed gluten free foods to discover that literally all of them are high in carbs and/or sugar. That doesn’t work for either of us. 

After all, we are on a serious mission to be healthy, slim and fit for our upcoming lifestyle. The Internet has a variety of low carb, gluten free recipes, many of which we’ve tried and enjoyed. But, the taco shell bowls left us sorely disappointed.

While chopping the veggies for the salad, I had an idea about the bowls!  Mulling around my head was the little Parmesan cheese bowls I have made on occasion, to be stuffed with some delectable morsels.  They were quite a hit. Also, I contemplated the recipe for the pizza crust I had posted here (please scroll the archives on the right for the June 8, 2012 post for the recipe and photo). 

Melding those two ideas together, I came up with this gluten free, low carb (2 grams), sugar free, wheat free, grain free, starch free taco shell bowl which took seven minutes to prepare.  

Low Carb, Sugar Free, Gluten Free Taco Salad Bowl

1 cup shredded hard cheese (I used 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar, plus 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. You may use only one type cheese if you’d prefer)
1 large non-stick skillet

1 large piece parchment paper (larger than the inside bottom of the pan) 1 large bowl (smaller than the resulting circle of cheese)

Place the large piece of parchment paper inside the pan, pressing flat to the bottom and against the inside edges. Don’t allow excess paper to be outside of the top edge of the pan or it may burn. Keep the paper inside the pan.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese into a circle atop the center of the parchment paper, taking care to create a large circle. (If there are lots of holes, fill them in with a little more Parmesan cheese).

Turn on the heat to medium high, watching while the cheese melts.

When melted, set a timer for 3 minutes. When timer goes off, remove the pan from the burner. Set the timer for 1 more minute to cool.

Gently lift the parchment paper with cheese round out of the pan, carefully flipping over the paper, centering the cheese round on the bottom of the overturned bowl.

Carefully, peel the parchment paper off of the cheese, while the cheese stays on the bowl. This occurs easily without sticking.

Gently press the cheese down to form a “bowl” with the cheese round. Let it cool for one hour. Remove from the bowl, placing it on a large plate for serving later. (The oil from the cheese will prevent the cheese from sticking to the bowl).

The cheese taco bowl may be made and left out a few hours prior to serving. Once filled, eat immediately or refrigerate for a short time.

Oh well.  Here I am finishing this post, reporting that Tom didn’t like the bowl!   He liked the similar recipe for pizza crust, but not the bowl.  Picky! I ate all of mine, loved it and then found myself eyeballing the uneaten bowl on his plate. Shall I eat it, being a piglet or toss it? Tom noticed me looking at his plate, observing my empty plate and said “Go ahead, and eat it, Sweetie.” 

Healthy, slim and fit echoed in my mind along with all the new well-fitting clothes for our upcoming adventure. With a lifetime of weight struggles, a single such overeating event could start me on a path I would later regret.  
I stuffed Tom’s taco bowl down the garbage disposal, listening sadly as it pulverized away.  Back to the LCGF taco bowl drawing board.  Guess we won’t be eating taco salad in Africa!

Hot today! Ouch! Recipe for gluten free fried walleye!

Yesterday morning around 9 am our power went out.  Of course, it was one of the year’s hottest days, hovering in the 90’s.  Mostly, we stayed indoors moving our big fan from room to room in a futile attempt to stay cool.  We didn’t complain.  No AC.  Humid.  Sticky.

Our house, uncharacteristically untidy with bits of fresh cut grass everywhere after a house full of adult kids and grandchildren last week and all day Saturday, well into the evening. 

My plan for Sunday was to vacuum, sweep and clean in the comfort of air conditioning.  I work quickly.  I could be done in two hours including a few loads of my favorite task, laundry.  

Cleaning up after an early breakfast of sausage, eggs and delicious gluten free coconut flour pancakes, I started the dishwasher, the washer and the dryer. While watching the taped version of Sunday Morning, (check out the link if you missed it), we settled into our comfy chairs while we contemplated what items to post for sale on eBay.  Poof!  The power went out.

Jess’s Gluten Free Coconut Flour Pancakes
(Better than regular pancakes. Low carb. Doesn’t spike insulin). Use sugar free syrup and real butter if following a low carb diet. 35 carb grams for entire recipe that serves 4-6)
8 eggs
½ cup coconut oil or melted butter
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (may need more for consistency)
4 tsp. sweetener or four packets of sugar free
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup coconut flour (No need to sift. Stir well)
1 tsp baking powder (I use GF, aluminum free)

Blend together eggs, oil, coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Combine coconut flour and baking powder and thoroughly mix into batter. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a skillet. Spoon batter onto hot skillet making pancakes about 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter. Batter will be thick but will flatten out when cooking. Makes about 8 pancakes.

We each held our breath while we waited for it to come back on, looking back and forth at one another, afraid to speak. After a long silence, we popped out of our comfy chairs running around the house to notice the state of our affairs.

The washer, dryer and dishwasher stopped mid-cycle.  (BTW, an ant just ran up my leg.  I am hot and sticky a half hour after a cool shower and now ants are crawling on me as they would on a dropped cherry Popsicle in the dewy grass on a steamy day)! Do we open the windows or try to retain the cool air? We kept them closed.

Within an hour, a long enough wait, Tom left to load up four of the five gallon gas cans to fill the wired-to-the-house generator we had purchased years ago. Minutes later he returned to fire it up, much to our mutual relief.  The house powered up, the dishwasher resumed its cycle while the washer and dryer awaited my commands but…not AC.  

NO AC!  We were having company for dinner at 5 PM.  Gluten free almond flour battered fresh caught walleye cooked in coconut oil on the hot stove (BTW, the stove started working again yesterday morning!  Go figure). The hot stove and no AC!  Twenty-four dollars worth of fresh walleye in the refrigerator and no AC!  

Determined to continue as planned, we went about our day.  Tom read the newspaper, moved his multiple lake-water pumped sprinklers around the yard every few hours, paying special attention to my flowers that were not looking well on this hot day.

I scurried around the house doing my tasks, occasionally stopping to stand in front of the oversized oscillating fan which we hauled from room to room as we worked.

Strangely, I didn’t think much about leaving in three months. I didn’t attend to the little piles of papers, bins of clothes and stacks of myriad accouterments that I usually mull over on the weekends. My only thoughts were the two new items I posted on eBaya variable speed band saw and a pontoon boat cover; and the preparation of the walleye for the company for dinner in the hot kitchen.

The GF fried walleye, the salad with homemade ranch dressing, the fresh green beans, the raw sugar snap peas with dip and the sauteed GF bread cheese was the perfect dinner, enjoyed by all while the fan whirred back and forth between us.

Jess’s Gluten Free Fried Walleye

2 lbs prepared firm fish filets (walleye, tilapia, cod)

2 cups almond flour, breaking up lumps by hand in large bowl

3e eggs beaten½

cup unsweetened coconut milk, mixed with beaten eggs½

tsp salt½

tsp pepper½

tsp garlic powder½

tsp onion powder

1 cup coconut oil
1 cup olive oil
Begin to heat both types of oil in large non-stick pan
on medium high heat.  Beat eggs, salt and coconut milk in large bowl suitable for dipping filets. Mix remaining  seasoning with almond flour. Set bowl of eggs and milk next to the bowl of almond flour with seasonings.
Dip filets, one at a time in flour mixture, then eggs mixture, then back into flour mixture, patting gently with fingers to ensure fish is covered in flour. 
Place the filets in preheated oil and fry for about 3 minutes, making sure bottom isn’t sticking lifting with a metal spatula.  Do not overload the pan with filets.  Cook in a few batches.
Turn carefully when brown on one side using spatula, not tongs (tongs will tear off coating).  Cook another 3 minutes or longer to brown and cook fully.
Place cooked filets on parchment paper to drain.  Continue process until all filets are cooked.  Since batter flakes into oil while cooking, which slows the cooking process, occasionally spoon off bits and pieces with a slotted spoon or small strainer, keeping  oil as clean as possible.
Serve with favorite sugar free low carb tartar sauce or other sugar free low carb dipping sauce.

Bed was another story. A hot, fitful night of tossing covers, turning over and over, awakening us both many times throughout the night. 

This morning the repair person from our gas company’s appliance warranty plan is coming to fix the stove. Ha! The stove now works but I didn’t cancel yesterday after the stove started working when the power went out and the AC quit.

Our AC is under warranty. Sure, the stove repair person may not know how to fix the air conditioner. We could get lucky. However, with a captive audience, I will try to convince him to get someone here that can fix it TODAY!!!

I can’t tell if this is resourceful or conniving. Whichever it is, it’s going to be over 100 today. Too hot to handle!

Aaahhhh!!! The stove repair guy just called to let me know he’s on his way. I tentatively asked him if he also works on AC. He said, “YES!” Yeah!

One hour later:  It’s back on!  We have AC.  He said all of the components that start up the unit were destroyed when the power went out.  He had the parts on hand and.. it’s already cooling down in here.  

As for the stove, I confessed. I told him that we got the stove to work as long as we unplug the battery charger and room freshener from one of the GFI outlets in the kitchen.  (There obviously is an electrical issue which we will address later.  For now, we unplugged the two items).  

He was thrilled the stove worked. He said he had to go help other customer’s who’s AC is out, in this 100 degree weather.  As he walked out the door he turned, smiled and said, “No worry about the stove, I have other “fish to fry.” 


Fears of selling on eBay?…Gone!…

As a relatively experienced online shopper, I have kicked myself over the years for not attempting to “sell” anything on eBay.  Often running across items I no longer use or like, I have thought “why not put this on eBay and get rid of it.”

Wrongfully, I assumed it would take more time to take the photo, upload it, write the item’s description, find an appropriate box with bubble wrap, prepare the label for shipping subsequently taking it to the post office, to make it worth the few dollars I’d make.

With over three months until our estate sale, I thought, why bother?  

Well, this week, I succumbed to the eBay selling frenzy, selling three items this week for a total of $139 less the $12.65 I paid for the free shipping I offered with the “Buy It Now” prices.   
The “handling” of entering the three items to eBay’s website, the packaging and postage prep required a total of 18 minutes of my time. With a  few calculations I tallied my average earnings at $421.17 per hour!  

Here are the items I sold:

SierraSil Joint Formula 14 180 caps NEW – Promotes joint health and mobility,
End time: Jul-13-12 12:05:52 PDT
Sale price: $45.00
Quantity: 2
Quantity sold: 2
Quantity remaining: 0

Coleman LED Quad Lantern — Battery Powered Outdoor Camping/Emergency Lantern
End time: Jul-13-12 20:42:16 PDT
Sale price: $49.00
Quantity:  1
Quantity sold: 1
Quantity remaining: 0

Here’s how they sold so quickly:

  1. The pricing for the items was determined by checking recent sales of the same items on eBay that were also “used.”  I decided to go slightly under these prices and offering “free shipping.”
  2. Researching the items at the manufacturer’s websites, I copied and pasted the photos and descriptions to ensure I accurately represented the items.  
  3. In a matter of a few minutes, the items were uploaded and active.
  4. The next morning, I received an email from eBay telling me the “Buy It Now” items had sold and was paid by the buyer of course, for the prices I had asked.  (Why didn’t I let the items go via an auction?  Simple, I wanted to spend as little time as possible paying attention to an ongoing auction, and I wanted to sell the items for my competitive asking price).  In the email from eBay, I was able to follow a link taking me directly to the printing of a mailing label.  All that was required of me was to weigh the items on my kitchen scale in the packaging materials and posting it online.  EBay subsequently calculated the price of the postage using USPS, my preference. My PayPal account was debited the cost of the postage with no mark-up.
  5. Printing the label on plain white printer paper, I taped it with shipping tape to the boxes I happened to have on hand, sealed the packages and took them out to my mail.  When I listed the items, I had arranged with my mail person to take the prepaid packages thus avoiding a trip to the post office.
  6. Within three days, I received another email from eBay stating that the total funds of $139 were now available in my 
    PayPal account. 

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