Fun day for each of us, separately, that is…Do we go camping?…

While touring Madeira, we encountered this waterfall that landed on the car. How unusual.

Last night, we had a great time. We went out for happy hour and dinner at Pizza Luce, close to our hotel. We were surprised by how few patrons were there when we entered but figured it was due to the upcoming 4th of July holiday and people being busy preparing for the long holiday weekend or having already left town for the festivities.

We had a great dinner of their gluten-free meatballs with sugar-free pasta sauce, topped with shaved mozzarella without added pasta. I had two small glasses of red wine, and Tom had two bottles of beer, each for $5.00. Our total bill with taxes and tips was $41.79, which isn’t much more than buying groceries for one night’s dinner.

With grocery inflation, we can easily spend $280 a week if we cook every night. Thus, eating out for around $41.79 wasn’t much more. However, that was the exception, not the rule. We often spend about $70 to dine out at a mid range restaurant. Most weeks, we dine out at least two times, maybe three.

Even fast food is expensive. Tom spent $25 at McDonald’s when he stopped for a meal, only for himself. I don’t eat at Mcdonald’s or most fast food establishments, except Chipotle, or rarely at Jimmy Johns for an “unwich,” which we now avoid when the cost for two sandwiches is over $40. Unbelievable!

At this point, we still don’t have any plans for the holiday, but we’re fine staying at the hotel if that’s how it rolls out. We’re used to spending holidays on our own while traveling worldwide, often barely noticing that it’s a specific US-celebrated holiday.

In South Africa, we’ve spent Christmas and New Year with friends, but here in the US, we’ve received few invitations from family or friends to partake in their planned activities. We prefer not to invite ourselves. Often, our kids and grandkids are out of town camping or planning to watch fireworks displays.

We aren’t much for camping, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t go. Buying a tent and all the necessary equipment makes no sense when we have nowhere to store it and may never use it again. When our kids were young, we camped occasionally and had everything we needed. But not now. Plus, I don’t think we would sleep well on the ground.

Today, we’re each going out separately. Tom heads to Mary and Eugene’s house in Andover at noon to play Buck Euchre. His nephew Kevin is in town from Florida. The card game is for four players, but there will be five players there without me, requiring one to sit out every few games.

Since they have enough players without me, I am not joining them since I’d already committed to lunch at the Asia Mall with my son Greg and grandson Miles today at 12:30. I didn’t want to cancel on Greg and Miles to do something else. Plus, I enjoy getting together with them whenever possible and would never cancel unless I was sick.

Most likely, I’ll be back at the hotel by 2:30 and spend the rest of the day chatting with friends and watching a few movies. When Tom plays Buck euchre with his family, they rarely get done until 1:00 or 2:00 am. Also, I have trouble staying up that late.

In any case, it will be a good day for each of us, and we’ll be happy to see each other after a short break when we are together all the time.

That’s it for today.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 2, 2014:

An outdoor lawn ornament store in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal. For more, please click here.

Walking again…Bread?…

In Madeira, we encountered several of these pine trees.

With my cough improving daily, I started walking again yesterday. The heart medication I am taking prevents my heart rate from getting high, and it’s a strain on my body to do anything that raises my pulse. Yesterday, I set the timer on my phone to go off once an hour and then head back outside to walk around the building again.

This morning, I started differently. Instead of walking around the building once, I am pushing myself to walk continuously for five minutes six times a day. Right now, a combined total of 30 minutes a day is all I can muster. I was pleased to walk the first five minutes this morning.

I set out my earbuds, and next time I go out at 10:00 am, I will bring my phone and listen to podcasts, hopefully getting my mind on something other than the strain of walking. Today is a beautiful sunny day with only a few clouds in the skies for a chance. The temperature is expected to be a high of 84F, 29C, a perfect day. Rain isn’t expected until Friday.

Yesterday morning, I made all the fixings for taco salads for both of us. I chopped onions, grape tomatoes, celery, olives, romaine lettuce, and grated cheddar cheese. For Tom, I cooked three pounds of ground beef, and for me, two pounds of lean turkey breast. I like spicy food, but Tom doesn’t, so making two batches makes sense.

You’d think five pounds of meat would last several days, but we’ll only get three of four dinners out of it. There isn’t much left once the meat cooks, and we drain it. Once drained, I put each batch of meat back into their respective pans, add one can of sugar-free tomato sauce, and season the beef with keto taco spices from Amazon and other herbs and spices, such as Himalayan salt, garlic and onion powder, and pepper. To add to the Mexican flavor, I add quite a bit of cumin to my meat.

When we had dinner, I made myself a tortilla with all the vegetables, cheese, Wholly guacamole, and Pace Picante sauce. I found the keto coconut flour tortillas on Amazon at this link.

An important point if you buy these is to fill the tortilla with hot meat and vegetables, but do not microwave it after filling it. Otherwise, it falls apart. It holds up well when not heated after filling. Finding a tortilla I can use to make wraps was a delicious treat.

Once the taco meat is gone, I will make shredded chicken wraps for me and grilled chicken breasts for Tom. He won’t eat the keto wrap and has never enjoyed wraps. He prefers plain white bread, which we don’t buy. So, it’s rare for us to make any sandwich. He enjoys burgers with the bun and Reuben sandwiches when eating out.

Often, I long for a sandwich or avocado toast. But I haven’t found any bread that works for my way of eating. I’ve seen a few possibilities, but at $24.99 a loaf, there is no way I’d pay that much. A few years ago, I could buy keto bread in South Africa for one-third of that price. But most keto bread in the US is made with wheat, and I don’t eat any grain, including wheat.

The only other alternative is to make my own keto bread using healthy ingredients. But right now, I don’t feel like baking anything. I don’t have the proper pans and ingredients to make keto bread. Once buying everything needed, the cost can be as prohibitive as the expensive loaves described above.

For now, I’ll be happy with the coconut tortillas. There are two packs of five to get me through ten meals since I’d never eat more than one per meal. Again, I’m looking forward to tonight’s dinner, mainly due to that tasty tortilla.

Right now, Tom is taking a nap. He had a fitful night with little sleep, and hopefully, he’ll feel better soon. He’s still coughing,  along with me, and neither has fully recovered. Hopefully soon.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 25, 2014:

This worm was several inches long. It’s a larger version of those we’ve found in our produce when washing it. No pesticides are used in farming on this island, which we like. After trash pickup, we found this worm on Tuesday’s bottom of the outdoor garbage bin. We set it out on the grass to continue its life. For more photos, please click here.

New hotel differences with photos…

Breakfast here was better than at the Hyatt, with bacon and cheese served with eggs and other items.

This morning, I intended to take photos of this hotel using my new phone’s camera. It turned out that it was raining hard when we walked across the parking lot to the cafe, and I didn’t bring my phone to avoid getting it wet. Instead, I went online looking for images I could use and had trouble uploading them since they weren’t in the proper format, and I couldn’t format them for posting on our site, except for the three photos we’re showing today.

Instead, we had breakfast in the cafe, which was better than the breakfast at the Hyatt, a hotel we prefer in many other ways. This extended stay won’t be as hard as during the lockdown in Mumbai, India, for ten months since we can get out, dine out, shop, and do our laundry with machines instead of hand washing clothes in the shower, as we did then.

We are grateful for all of this. The bed is only a queen, but we did fine last night, and both slept pretty well. The bathroom is enormous, much bigger than it needs to be, but there are no drawers for our clothes, only a tiny closet with ample hangers. The kitchen is good. Having a full kitchen is nice, but since I don’t feel like cooking, it may not be essential for us.

This kitchen is great for our needs, with a full-sized stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave.

Cheryl, one of our dear readers, sent a thoughtful email with numerous suggestions for leisurely meals, which I greatly appreciate. However, these suggestions would require me to do some planning. Thank you, Cheryl, for thinking of us. After Tom and I discussed meal options, the most leisurely meals for me to prepare include a big salad, rice for Tom (he makes that), and some meat such as steak, pork, burgers, chicken with seafood, and fish for me. We can do this.

Since we are heading to Billy’s for dinner with some family members tonight, we won’t be grocery shopping until tomorrow so that we will make our first meal in the new kitchen for tomorrow night’s dinner. We’ve eaten out many nights this past week, and a home-cooked meal would be nice.

Last night, we went to dinner with Greg, Heather, Maisie, Miles, Madighan, and her boyfriend Aiden at an excellent Mexican restaurant in Chanhassen, Rey Azteca. After dinner, we headed to Chanhassen High School to attend Madighan’s choir performance. It was sweet to see and hear her and her classmates perform a litany of songs conducted by their music teacher, who had a lively personality.

This is the layout of our first-floor hotel room.

After it was over, I was anxious to return to the hotel and put my feet up. As my condition progresses, I am experiencing some symptoms I hadn’t had a few months ago. I can only hope it doesn’t worsen over the next few months. I am doing everything I can to stay as healthy as possible.

This hotel has guest laundry facilities, which, in this case, are coin-operated. After breakfast this morning, we did a week’s laundry, folded it, and returned it to the suitcase we are sharing. The remainder of our “stuff,” including more clothes, are still in the car in other pieces of luggage. At this point, there’s no need to get into the other suitcases. We repeatedly wash the same clothes to avoid digging into the different bags.

Once settled in Cleveland, we’ll open all the bags and try to put everything away, if possible. I won’t need many clothes since I mostly wear pajama bottoms and tee shirts once I am out of the hospital. At some point, I’ll purchase the items I’ll need.

We’re staying put until it’s time to leave for Billy’s at 2:45. Only a few sisters will be there tonight since Patty and Colleen are both sick.

Have a pleasant and safe Memorial weekend for our family and friends in the US. We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 24, 2014:

The pink clouds over the ocean in Madeira were quite a vision. For more photos, please click here.

New booking for June…Are we still nomads since we’re staying in the US for so long?…

The beautiful terraced gardens on the island of Madeira, Portugal where we stayed for almost three months, beginning in May, 2014.

Tom’s sister Betty, a retired nun living in a retirement facility for nuns in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will be celebrating her 70-year “Jubilee” since joining the sisterhood when she was 18 years old. At that time, Tom was only 18 months old. Of course, he doesn’t remember that time other than knowing that his elder sister was a nun as he grew up.

The family is invited to attend this special celebration in Milwaukee on June 15. Thus, we’ll make the less-than-six-hour drive to Milwaukee, staying in a nearby hotel to attend a special mass and a dinner. As it turns out, we’ll have to stay in Milwaukee for two nights.

Since hotel prices are high in the area, we thought we’d use some of our accumulated rewards points from one of our credit cards to cover the $617 for the two nights. We booked the same Fairfield Inn where we stayed last time we visited Sister Beth in 2021 while we were in the US for a family visit.

We don’t know yet if any of Tom’s siblings or other family members will attend the event since there are two grandchildren’s weddings they’d planned to attend on the same date, making the trip to Milwaukee impossible.

We will enjoy spending time with Sister Beth and her friends, as several other nuns also celebrate this special date with their family members.

On another note, lately, we wondered if any of our readers may assume we are no longer “nomads” when now, and over the next six months or so, we will be staying in the US. Is our travel site a misrepresentation of who we are at this time? In conducting research as to what constitutes a “nomad,” I found the following:

“A nomad is someone who prefers to travel and move around rather than settle down in one place. The word “nomad” comes from a Greek word that means “roaming about for pasture.”Traditionally, nomads were tribes of people who moved in search of food, water, and shelter. They would often travel seasonally or annually and traditionally used animals, canoes, or walked. Today, some nomads travel by car, air, train, or ship.

A birthday celebration and lovely evening…With a thoughtful gift for me!…

Heather’s daughter Hannah sent these lovely flowers with her mom to give to me last night. I’ve never met Hannah and couldn’t believe this thoughtful gesture. Hopefully, soon, I will meet her. Thank you, Hannah!

When Miles got his driver’s license on his 16th birthday yesterday, it was fun to celebrate his special day at Pizza Luce last night. He couldn’t have been more excited; seven of us shared his enthusiasm at dinner. The food was good, the ambiance was festive, and it was fun to be with family again.

Heather walked in the door holding the above flowers, and I said, “How thoughtful to give flowers to Miles on his birthday!” Heather giggled, “These aren’t for Miles. They are for you!” I was stymied about why there were flowers for me until she explained they were from her adult daughter Hannah, whom I’d never met, who could not join us at Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday.

I couldn’t get Hannah’s number quickly enough to thank her for her thoughtfulness, especially when she hadn’t met me yet. We both feel fortunate, along with Greg, to have Heather in our family with her four children and our six grandchildren in Minnesota.

There’s no doubt in my mind that being away all these years has only accelerated the appreciation of our family members. When we lived in the US almost 12 years ago, we loved and appreciated our family. But there is an added element of appreciating how much our kids, grandchildren, and now Heather’s family mean to us, having been away for so long.

We are so happy that Greg and Heather have found one another and brought their total seven children into their love equation. We’ve been busy seeing everyone since we arrived here last Wednesday and look forward to many more get-togethers over the next few months until we head to Cleveland.

In about 30 minutes this morning, we leave to go to a highly reviewed physical therapy clinic only a few miles from here. I am struggling to be mobile right now, most likely due to my heart condition, and I need some help improving my mobility. My exercise regime wasn’t sufficient enough to affect a change, and I’m willing to admit defeat and accept professional help.

I must improve my strength and mobility before I have the surgery. Right now, I am having trouble getting up out of a chair or out of bed. My walking is difficult and unsteady. Indeed, if I don’t do something right now, I could fall, and that could be a fiasco. We have so many plans over the next few months, and I want to be able to participate in all the activities with family and friends.

Tomorrow, I will report what I’ve discovered at this morning’s assessment. We have no plans tonight, and after the appointment, we’ll head to the market to pick up a few items for tonight’s and tomorrow’s dinner. We try to avoid dining out every night, not only due to huge portions and also not knowing what’s in the food but also to save a little.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 14, 2014:

This creative display is so Morocco, with brilliant colors that are beautifully presented. For more photos, please click here.