Part 2, Graduation party last night…What is a “Walking Taco?”…30 food trends from the past decade…

Vincent and his two moms, Tracy on the left and Tammy on the right were at Vincent’s graduation party last night at a regional park.

Everyone enjoyed last night’s party for Vincent’s graduation. The food was plentiful, delicious, and catered by “We Cater to You,” a local company that may be found here at this site.

They did an excellent job preparing (and cleaning up) beautifully presented food that included the typical taco fixings, bags of chips, a fruit salad, and a colorful green salad with blackberries that I topped with the chicken taco meat, which was perfect for me.

There were party gifts, root beer on tap, canned beer for the adults, and plenty of added decor to highlight the graduation theme. Most likely, about 60 people joined in on the festivities, including several Lyman family members, Vincent’s birth dad and family, and other family friends.

This is a “walking taco” in a large-sized Frito bag. Everyone seemed to enjoy them.

Minnesota’s notorious barrage of mosquitos attacked me a few times, but when I didn’t have to be concerned about malaria, I didn’t think about it much. I wore socks to protect my vulnerable ankles, long pants, and a shirt with sleeves. Alas, the nasty little buggers bit my hands, my only exposed skin.

We arrived promptly at 5:00 and headed out around 8:30 to return to our hotel to spend the remainder of the evening relaxing before retiring for the night. I awoke at 5:00 am to the sound of hotel room doors slamming as guests were checking out, stayed awake for about an hour, and finally drifted off again, somehow managing to sleep through a lot more noise in the corridor, which continues now as I write here.

Getting back to food trends from the past decade, here are the remaining items from the story we started yesterday for Part 2:

Latte art made a splash as coffee culture intensified. Latte art, or art made using espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk to create images in foam, took over social media for a spell in the mid-2010s. 

Latte Art
Latte art. Not our photo.

Hard seltzer will go down as one of the biggest trends of the 2010s, with consumers flocking to the lower-calorie boozy beverage. The summer of 2019 was the summer of hard seltzer. The boozy beverage was so beloved that there was even a national shortage of White Claw, the most popular hard seltzer brand. 

The fast-casual explosion hit its stride with chains such as Sweetgreen and Shake Shack. Fast-casual restaurants lie somewhere between fast-food and full-service, meaning they usually don’t offer table service with a waitstaff but are generally regarded as having higher quality food than the average fast-food restaurant. 

Soylent and other meal replacement shakes got a face-lift in the late 2010s. With its modern, minimalist branding and marketing, Soylent caters to a younger crowd looking for quick, on-the-go meals. 

Though they’ve been around for hundreds of years, macarons were popularized in the States in the 2010s. The French cookies use whisked egg whites and sugar to make meringue, the main ingredient in macarons. 

macarons french
Macaroons are still popular. Not our photo.

Food trucks have become hotbeds for chefs who might not have the resources to open a brick-and-mortar kitchen. The mobility of a truck allows entrepreneurs to reach a large audience and announce their location on various social media platforms. 

Kale, a nutritious leafy green, became a popular smoothie on social media. Leafy green became so popular that Beyoncé was even seen wearing a “kale” sweatshirt stylized in the collegiate format of Yale University. 

Edible gold leaf has become a widespread decoration for fine-dining dishes. From a $2,000 gold-covered pizza in Manhattan to an Australian burger made with 24-karat buns, the fancy ingredient has become an over-the-top addition to various foods. 

Natural Wine has both divided the wine community and spurred various young enthusiasts. Natural wine, a broad term for wines produced with minimal intervention from the winemaker, has become popular in recent years. 

Juicing fruits and vegetables has become a popular trend in the wellness scene. Juicing vegetables, including celery, carrots, and beets, made raw vegetable consumption cool and easy. However, home juicing has lost a bit of steam as many fast-casual restaurants and grocery stores have started offering pre-juiced vegetables in bottles. 


A juicing machine churns out some kiwi-lemon juice. Shutterstock. Not our photo.

Cold brew coffee is everywhere nowadays, as iced coffee lovers flock to the highly caffeinated coffee beverage. Cold brew is made by steeping ground coffee with highly caffeinated, creating a coffee “concentrate” that often has more caffeine than your average cup of joe. 

Negronis made a comeback as cocktail lovers have embraced the bitterness of various Italian liqueurs. The Negroni is made with gin, vermouth, and the bitter Italian liqueur Campari. It’s also the staple cocktail of the world’s best bar of 2019

Though smoked and cured meats never go out of style, charcuterie boards dominated the 2010s. Charcuterie boards often feature a selection of smoked or cured meats, various cheeses, and a sweet component — whether it be dried or fresh fruit, honey, or sweet vegetables. 

jamón ibérico and charcuterie platter
Charcuterie board. Not our photo.

Session beers, or beers brewed to have a lower alcohol content, are becoming popular for their dri. Low-ABV session beers are meant to be enjoyed in larger quantities. The lower alcohol percentage allows people to drink more of them in a “session” without getting too intoxicated. 

Mocktails and nonalcoholic beers, such as Heineken’s 0.0, also made a sober splash in the 2010s, as more consumers sober-curious” or give up booze altogether. Mocktail bars are also opening nationwide to cater to customers looking for a way to socialize at bars without alcohol.

Untitled 2019 11 20T112128.817

Founder’s All Day IPA, a low-ABV session beer. Founders. Not our photo.

Fermenting foods made a significant impact on small and large restaurants. Fermenting food, or allowing bacteria and yeast to break down carbs to preserve food, became a huge trend in the 2010s as fine dining establishments and mom-and-pop locations went into practice. The Noma Guide to Fermentation, a guide to fermenting pretty much everything, was also released by the team at Noma

Farm-to-table restaurants, or those aiming to shorten the distance between ingredients’ sources and the restaurant, were popular. Though its actual meaning is often hard to define, farm-to-table became a popular phrase in the 2010s as consumers tried to eat more locally-grown, organic products.

Zero-waste cooking has become a trend as professional chefs and home cooks try to lower their carbon footprints. Cooking with as little waste as possible — leftover food or plastic packaging — has become a goal for many restaurants as the industry becomes increasingly conscious of its environmental impact.”

Thanks to Business Insider for this great article, which can be found here.

Thanks to Tammy and Tracy for Vincent’s fantastic grad party!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 8, 2014:

A long set of stairs, without handrails, up a steep hill in Madeira. For more photos, please click here.

Another beautiful day in the desert…Busy cooking for tonight’s family dinner..Convenient routines…

An odd combination made for me by Madame Zahra, our household cook in Marrakesh, Morocco, consisted of calamari rings, white sauce, and ground beef tagine. It was delicious!

I’ve been in the kitchen all morning, preparing tonight’s dinner to bring to the family. (our place is too tiny for all seven of us). It’s one of our favorite all-in-one dinners: Low Carb Sausage, Mushroom, and Chicken Casserole. Now, it is in the refrigerator, ready to be baked at about 6:00 pm, and ready for the arrival of the fourth of Tom’s six sisters, Rita, who is flying in early this evening.

To go with it, I prepped a huge salad to toss with homemade dressing before serving. There will be enough for the seven of us tonight and plenty of leftovers for everyone for the next few days. Hopefully, they all like it. I feel pretty confident they will. In addition, I froze an uncooked extra pan for the two of us for another dinner that we’ll savor some time in our remaining 17 days until we head to California to see my sister Julie.

Amid my busy morning, I walked, hoping to get in all my daily scheduled steps and yoga exercises. Getting up and out of bed by 7:15, I had plenty of time to do everything, leaving ample time to do today’s post. Yesterday, I cooked and diced the Italian sausages and chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces to include in the dish.

Preparing the meat ahead was a time saver, making this morning’s prep considerably easier. Now, I’m waiting for the washed lettuce to drain in the strainer in the sink and will soon wrap it in a bath towel to dry further in the refrigerator before adding it to the other ingredients in the salad.

It’s funny how we all have little cooking routines, hoping to make the final dinnertime preparations at a minimum. I do not enjoy chopping, dicing, or preparing other ingredients just before dinner. Prepping all the ingredients well in advance makes the final preparation easy.

Once we decide we’re hungry and ready for dinner, the longest it ever takes is to cook a steak, burger, pork chop, or piece of fish and Tom’s white rice, which cooks for 20 minutes in a pot with a lid on the stovetop.

When we did the laundry a few days ago, we folded everything while in the laundry room rather than dumping it into the basket to become wrinkled. This way, we never have to iron, which I’ve rarely done in our travels. Besides, most of our clothes are “wash and wear,” but even those can become wrinkled if not appropriately handled after coming out of a dryer.

This morning on the Garage Logic podcast, Joe Soucheray mentioned how long we stay at new locations, saying, “Boy, when the Lymans come to visit, they sure stay a long time.”

So true. At this point, Joe and his staff have no idea what we’ve been doing in the US for so long due to my current medical issue and planning for the future. Daily, when Tom sends “This Year in Minnesota History,” Joe mentions the ‘traveling Lymans,'” our website, and where we are at any given time. It’s fun that he mentions Tom’s five-day-a-week contribution and our location daily. At some point in the next few months, we’ll explain why we are in the US for so long.

If you haven’t heard this mention of us, click this link, any day of the week, and scroll to the podcast’s last seven or eight minutes to hear Joe mention us. It’s been such fun for us when we listen each day.

That’s it for today, dear readers. Now, I’ll return to walking and soon do the yoga routine which changes daily for 28 days. It’s a good plan at BetterMe.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 13, 2014:

The winding roads through the Atlas Mountains caused me to get queasy, an uncommon occurrence for me. For more photos, please click here.

An exciting birthday surprise!…Wow!…What a thrill!…

The four of us at our table last night. What a fantastic time we had with the two of them.

I know why Tom pushed me so hard about dining out last night. No more than five minutes after we sat down at our favorite window table at Luna Rossa and ordered our drinks, I heard a familiar voice. Gingerly, I turned around to find our dear friends, Rita and Gerhard, standing there with wide grins on their faces and moments later embraced in hugs between. Tom was aware of the surprise and did great keeping it from me.

They flew all the way from the state of Washington, a two-hour flight to arrive on time for our 5:00 pm reservation at Luna Rossa restaurant, down the one flight of stairs for my birthday dinner at our favorite restaurant. Amid giggles and enthusiasm, we all sat down, thrilled to be together one more time. The last time we’d seen them was in September when, again, they came to visit us for dinner and then turned around and flew back to Washington only a few hours later.

Gerhard ordered the delicious lamb shank.

Last night, they had exactly two hours until they had to head out to catch their flight back to Washington to their home. They travel extensively but occasionally spend time with their adult kids and their house near Portland. They recently returned from a cruise to Antarctica, and it was fun to share our mutual experience, although we’d recently chatted at length on the phone.

I’m not one to spend much time talking on the phone, although occasionally, I do so with friends and family. After all, staying in touch and hearing their voices is terrific. We often text back and forth on the phone or via WhatsApp.

Yesterday, I couldn’t have been more delighted to hear from many friends, family members and readers. There wasn’t a single person I didn’t hear from to wish me happy birthday.

Rita had the red snapper with scallops and prawns with veggies on the side.

But, the surprise of seeing Rita and Gerhard was over the top again. They have surprised us on several occasions. A few years ago, while we were at a New Year’s Eve party in 2021 hosted by friends Flo and Jj at their bush resort in Marloth Park, Rita and Gerhard suddenly appeared to surprise us. We couldn’t stop squealing with delight for the rest of the evening. They’d come halfway around the world to be with us and enjoy the bush together for several weeks.

Then, in September 2023, they called to tell us they would join us for dinner only 24 hours before they arrived. They couldn’t surprise us that time since we had to ensure we had a good table at the Green Valley Ranch Spa and Casino and were available that night. They stayed for about eight hours that time, and we cherished each moment.

Last night, Rita and I sat next to each other with Tom and Gerhard at the opposite side of the table. The ambiance, the food, and the service were impeccable. Of course, Tom picked up the tab, and we ate and drank to our heart’s content. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

I ordered the sea bass. Rita and I tasted each other’s fish, and they tasted similar. Both dishes were delectable.

When it was time for them to go, and Gerhard needed to contact Uber for their ride back to the airport, we had time for them to come up the one flight of stairs and see our place. It was fun to show them this lovely condo and all it has to offer.

On top of it all, they gave me a fantastic birthday gift. It’s a new version of a digital insect repellent that they used in Marloth Park, and it works better than any others. I couldn’t have been more thrilled with this gift. They both know how much I love anything electronic and, in the past, have given me several devices of one sort or another. They are so thoughtful.

When they left, we walked down to the lobby with them and waited for their Uber, which arrived in time for them to make their flight back on time.

We walked back to our condo and settled in for the evening, streaming a fun series and enjoying the remainder of my birthday together. How fortunate I am! I am grateful and humbled by the wonderful people in our lives.

I must get ready to go down that same flight of stairs to the nail salon for my first pedicure since we arrived on December 15. Tonight will be another exciting evening; we’ll share photos and details tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 21, 2014:

Nomsa and Zeff sing Happy Birthday to me in Zulu. The sign behind Zeff’s head says, “Take risks. If you win, you will be happy. If you lose, you will be wise.” So true. For more photos, please click here.

Nuances of dining out that remain with us years later…

This was a meal that hits all points as listed below. While on the Antarctica Cruise in 2018, the chef served lunch outdoors. What a fabulous memory!

We probably dine out in restaurants more than the average couple. Like some other couples, we’ll occasionally order food delivered or buy a meal at such locations as Costco, which only require oven or microwave heating. For the purpose of today’s post, we are focusing on dining in restaurants, memories of which have stayed with us many years later.

For easy recall, we’ll only refer to restaurants since we began traveling the world. In our old lives, we seldom dined out, most often when we planned to get together with friends. When it came to family, they often came to our home for Sunday brunch, dinner, or holiday celebrations.

Although dining out for lunch with my friends was reasonably frequent while I was still working and later, after I retired. When we visit Minnesota since we began traveling the world, I often go to lunch with friends and, most often, my son Greg. In our old lives, while I was still working, Greg and I often got together for lunch at a favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Kindhu, which closed during the pandemic, which was the case for many favorite restaurants throughout the world.

But, as mentioned above, today’s post is regarding dining experiences since 2012, when we began traveling the world. Except for the time we spent in Marloth Park, we dined out an average of once per week. Per the online app, “Date to Date Calculator,” I calculated how many weeks we’ve dined out in the past 11 years and three months, discounting the many times in Marloth Park where we dined out at Jabula twice a week, especially during the last year.

On average, it was 587 times we dined out. Could we remember all of those restaurants, all of those weeks? Of course not. And keeping in mind that we are the type of people who will often return to a restaurant we particularly love. Thus, if we narrow it down from there, let’s say for the sake of illustration, we’ve dined at 300 different restaurants in 11-plus years, including dining on cruise ships after 33 cruises since 2012.

So, to finally get to the point, what features stand out most in our minds after all those experiences? Of course, the first considerations were the food quality and the service. If we had to list those two factors, we could still recall every restaurant.

But other nuances left a good or bad taste in our mouths (no pun intended) that we can easily recall all these years later, and here’s our list, not necessarily in order of importance.

  1. Food
  2. Service: friendliness of staff and knowledge of food on the menu
  3. Ambiance, decor, and pleasing environment
  4. Choice of menu selections, including options for my way of eating and Tom’s picky tastebuds. (There’s never been a restaurant where I couldn’t find anything to eat, except one local “dive” in Kenya in 2013 and the awful offal restaurant in Buenos Aires in 2018. (See, we do remember!)
  5. Cleanliness of restrooms, restaurant, and food prep
  6. Noise level
  7. Accepts credit cards
  8. Convenient location
  9. Scenery (if dining outdoors)
  10. Comfortable seating: Availability of booths (which we prefer) or appealing seating in pleasing locations within the venue. We prefer not to sit in the middle of the room or close to a service area with high staff traffic.
  11. Cost: We are happy to pay more if the food, service, and ambiance are in accordance with the price
  12. Wine glasses* – see below

What prompted this story was an article Tom sent me this morning regarding how the wine glass impacts the flavor and enjoyment of the wine. See the article here.

For the first few years of our world, I didn’t drink any alcohol. It wasn’t until 2016 that I began to drink red wine once again after a 20-year hiatus. I didn’t quit drinking due to any alcohol-related addiction or problem. I quit due to a lack of taste for it. But on that cruise in 2016, I tried a glass of cabernet sauvignon and again fell in love with red wine.

Now, I only drink one glass at any time, whether staying in or out to dinner. I must admit that the wine glass I’m served in a restaurant is a significant factor in my enjoyment of the wine. I can recall every glass I was served since 2016. Recently, we dined at the restaurant at the bottom of the steps here, and they served me a regular glass instead of a stemmed wine glass.

I asked for a stemmed glass; all they had was a champagne glass, which I accepted. I didn’t enjoy my one glass of Merlot, not because of the wine itself but because of the glass. If we dine there again, I will bring a lovely stemmed glass I’ve been using in the condo, which is the perfect wine glass. There are only two such glasses here, so I will be extra careful not to break it, as I’ve been when I have wine when we stay in.

I won’t do this, but I remember every restaurant since 2016 where I was given a short, stubby glass filled with wine with no other options available.

Of course, all of this and the other points are subjective. We all have personal preferences. It might be fun to list your preferences, which will make you more aware the next time you dine out. In any case, enjoy!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 31, 2014:

We could hardly turn her down when Louise invited us to stay at the Khaya Umdani house for a few weeks in 2014. We’d write about the house, and in return, we wouldn’t have to pay any additional rent, while the Hornbill house would remain our primary rental while we were there. This veranda is where we’ll spend our time for easy viewing of the massive grounds, a combination of the dense bush with a few open spaces for wildlife to run. This shot reminds me of a scene in the movie “Out of Africa,” which we watched a few months ago while in Kenya. For more photos, please click here.

Great evening out at Luna Rossa…Short attention span?…Pigs are smart…

My entree consisted of grilled barramundi, one of my favorite types of fish we discovered in Australia, with scallops and shrimp. Divine!

It was a lovely evening last night when the four of us had a drink in our condo after we gave them a tour of our condo, then walked down that one flight of steps for the short walk to Luna Rossa. We love that restaurant, the quality food, the ambiance, and the service. It couldn’t be better.

Plus, the conversation at our table was lively and animated, with a seemingly endless stream of laughter. The evening passed too quickly, and before we knew it, by 9:00 pm, we said our goodbyes. In no time at all, we were situated comfortably on the sofa, me in my PJs and both of us watching the first episode of Season 4 of True Detective after struggling through Seasons 2 and 3. Season 1 was fantastic, but it went downhill from there.

My side of roasted vegetables.

Tom is way more patient than I am. I want to change to something else if I am not engrossed in a series after the first episode. Tom, on the other hand, will stick it out to see if it improves. When I don’t like it, I play games on my phone and do not pay attention. Admittedly, I have a short attention span.

Once I get bored, I tune out and search for something stimulating to keep me entertained. I’ve never been one to sit patiently in one spot when I have lost interest in the situation at hand. No, I won’t be rude to those engaged in a dull (to me) conversation and will make every effort to appear engaged and interested and pay attention.

When in school, the teacher often yelled at me if I was distracted by a boring topic. I was a straight-A student through high school, but I often felt like I “skated through” by studying well for tests and diligently completing my homework. By doing so, I was able to tune out when I wanted. Also, I always enjoyed writing essays, and good scores on those always added to my final grade.

Tom’s lasagne.

No wonder I have no trouble writing a new post each day. When we do what we love, it’s not complicated.

Since I am this way, it’s not hard for me to spot others who also may have a short attention span, and on occasion, l find myself making eye contact with them, smiling in acknowledgment that we are the same.

Last night, there never was a moment that I lost interest in our lively banter. I was so engaged I was using my hands too much when talking, a habit more frequently seen from Tom, that I spilled the balance (a small amount) of the wine left in my glass. I felt terrible to have sprinkled our guests with red wine.

Richards’ chicken piccata with roasted vegetables.

Today is a low-key day. I am making baby back ribs for Tom, and I’ll have something else. I don’t often eat pork, mainly since I love pigs. Due to my necessary low inflammation diet, I’d never be able to give up meat entirely, but pigs…well, that’s another matter.

We love pigs (warthogs) and look forward to seeing them again.

Tom always makes fun of me for a Facebook site I always follow, “Arthur’s Acres Animal Sanctuary in Parksville, New York.”  Todd, the owner, is a fantastic guy who loves animals, mostly abandoned and mistreated pigs. He has devoted his life to the pigs and animals he rescues that their former owners grossly neglected. Check out his site for a chuckle and some heart-warming entertainment. Go to search on Facebook and type in Arthur’s Acres. This site instantly picks up your mood if you feel out of sorts. It always makes me smile.

Pigs are listed as #5 of the top smartest animals worldwide.

Be well.

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

On either side of the face are two hanging red-tipped hanging pieces of skin. When the helmeted Guinea fowl moves about, these swing around like dangling earrings. For more photos, please click here.