Back to my old ways…Inspired by Khaya Umdani, a look inside the cupboards…Food photos…Visitors…and more…

Hand carved African decorator items are tastefully displayed in Khaya Umdani.
Vegetation native to South Africa grows freely without little care or maintenance.
There in the side yard, outside the master bedroom door, was this lovely Bird of Paradise that had bloomed since we arrived on Thursday. This morning we noticed a second bloom.
Less than 48 hours ago, we temporarily moved into this exquisite six-bedroom, five-bathroom home in Marloth Park, known as Khaya Umdami (houses are named in Africa and some other parts of the world), and instantly I fall back into my old patterns of thinking, “Shall we invite company for dinner?” and, “What shall I wear?” These are two questions that haven’t crossed my lips in a very long time
Besides, I don’t have enough clothing left to make what I wear ever an issue. I wear what is clean and available. Style is out the window!
When Louise and Danie renovated Khaya Umdami, this sixth bedroom was a part of the renovation. During the construction period, baby warthogs entered of their own volition and slept in the en suite bathroom’s shower at night. In the morning, they’d have to scoot them out. Thus, the name of this bedroom accessed via the veranda.

The warthog room as all of the other five bedrooms has its own unique décor and stone en suite bathroom. Amenities include its own refrigerator as shown in the far right.

In our old lives Tom often referred to my “linen napkin lifestyle” which obviously, I’ve let go since the beginning of our world travels. Not only have I let it go but I’ve found myself content with the dishtowel on my lap as we dine on the same 10 things we cook for dinner, over and over again. 
Nope, there were no hippos visiting this room. But, at night one can hear the gurgling sounds of the hippos emanated from the nearby Crocodile River.
Mosquito netting  as shown in the hippo room is commonly placed around beds in Africa. Although, after two months in Marloth Park we’ve yet to use the netting. Keeping the bedroom door closed during the day prevents insects from entering. Plus, the bedrooms have air conditioning, which further reduces the presence of mosquitoes.  I recall being concerned about mosquitoes when booking with Louise and Danie for Marloth Park. They haven’t been an issue, using a bit of repellent each day, even for me, a mosquito magnet.
This soaking tub in the hippo room is appealing after a bush braai (fabulous food!) which includes a game drive in the late afternoon, hosted by Louise and Danie. We know from personal experience!

My lifetime interest as a “foodie” has all but disappeared as we’ve discovered that special ingredients conducive to my way of eating become more and more difficult to find as we’ve traveled the world. A former dessert baking aficionado, I’ve since given up grains, starch, and sugar, leaving few options for desserts so we stick to nuts, nuts, and more nuts, which are prolific in Africa, some of the best in the world.

The Kingfisher room is named for the frequent sighting of the Kingfisher bird, often seen through the window of this room on a nearby tree. Our eyes are peeled in that direction.
The Kingfisher room has a bathroom with a stone shower a few steps outside the door which may be used as its own private bath or shared with guests while mulling on the main floor.

With planning last night’s dinner imminent, it didn’t take long for me to search the cupboards and drawers in Khaya Umdami in search of linen napkins, suddenly no longer content with a dishtowel in place of a neatly pressed linen napkin.

The well-stocked kitchen was calling me as I began searching through cabinets and drawers to enhance last night’s dinner place settings.
The only mess in this cupboard is our stuff on the middle shelf which we brought over from the smaller house.
The beautiful dinnerware made an attractive place setting possible for our dinner.
This organized cupboard holds a wide array of wine and beverage glasses.
With little access to plastic containers for over a year, this tidy cupboard held particular appeal.
More pots, pans, and baking and cooking supplies, more than we’ve had anywhere we’ve lived since leaving the US. Look! There are even two graters!

So, last night, we grilled the two chickens we’d brought with us on the spit of the traditional, non-braai, gas grill so readily familiar to us for a wonderful nostalgic dinner on cloth placemats with linen napkins, proper place settings and the peculiar knowledge that here in Khaya Umdami we need not even wash our own dishes, leaving them for household staff to handle the next day. How decadent!

Our simple place setting fulfilled all of my expectations for a dinner outdoors last night. 
There is was our first outdoor grilled dinner since leaving the US. None of our past vacation/holiday homes had outdoor grills that we’ve found suitable. This was a rare treat. Wrapped in foil on the side grate is the chicken gizzards and livers which I’ll eat with tonight’s repeat dinner. Tom only eats white meat and I like dark meat, making a whole chicken perfect for us. Zeff cleaned it this morning and, did all the dishes! Oh, good grief!
This was Tom’s plate of food.  Mine was identical except piled high with the various bones and dark meat parts. We’d cooked the chickens for 90 minutes, on high for the first 20 minutes, and on low for the remaining time. The chicken was moist and delicious. As usual, we had our favorite low carb, sugar-free coleslaw, a daily staple which we love.

Soon, we’ll return to the smaller house, and once again, we’ll return to using dishtowels as a linen napkin and to my bigger concerns expressed to Tom dozens of times each day, “Did you hear something?” or, “Did you see something?” Of course, these questions revolve around our intense interest in seeing more wildlife, any wildlife actually! Pigs, striped horses, or poop rolling beetles! We love them all!

This was a first for us, a mom warthog with long brown hair. She was kneeling to eat after I tossed some pellets. Their knees are particularly calloused so they can easily kneel when eating. Their snouts make it difficult for them to eat fully standing.

For now, as we languish in this special property, we revel in its stories, its amenities, it’s a magical way of being incorporated into the bush, its lush vegetation and, its wildlife, offering a cocoon of comfort and wonder that only Marloth Park, South Africa can offer.

A young male impala checked us out before venturing to Khaya Umdami‘s private watering hole.

Yesterday afternoon, Danie stopped by offering that he and Louise teach us to braai on the open wood fire here at Khaya Umdami, the true South African way, a lesson we must learn before departing in 27 days. We heartily agreed with considerable enthusiasm and an abundance of appreciation for yet another amazing experience in the bush.

We held our breath waiting for him to take a drink, not to disappoint.

Ha! It looks as if company may be coming for dinner after all!  Get out the linen napkins! And, if only for a little while, take me back to my linen napkin ways!

Note Tomorrow, the unbelievable master bedroom befitting a king and queen, the “outdoor” bedroom, and more wildlife photos we’ve taken in the past few days at Khaya Umdami.  Our driver, Okee Dokee, is out of town for the weekend. But, we’re so content that we have little desire to leave.

Food?…Problematic for me…


I stayed behind while Tom enjoyed the water slide.  We especially enjoy the quiet time outdoors by the pool and in the shade when many passengers went ashore. Many returned with sunburns from the ride on the tender or the time unprotected on the beach.  With years ahead of us in sunny climates, we are careful to avoid overexposure.

Without a doubt, we knew that my strict way of eating would be an issue to some degree as we traveled the world. In Belize, it was a non-issue, buying and cooking most of our meals. 

Aboard the Carnival Liberty, it’s a huge issue at dinner.  Breakfast is easy since I can have eggs,
non-starchy vegetables, meat without sauce or fillers, and hard cheese. Mostly I order real egg omelets as opposed to the “processed” mixture that is full of chemicals and gluten with a side of bacon. It holds me all day until dinner. 
The view of the tip of Half Moon Cay, the Bahamas, a small mostly man-made tourist attraction, owned by Holland Cruise Lines and shared with other cruise lines to enhance their revenue.

Protein eaten with few carbs tends to keep a person full, comfortable, and satisfied all day. I never feel hungry or am tempted to eat off the endless tables of sweets, burgers and fries, tacos, burritos, and wraps. Free
food. Everywhere you turn.

Our first two cruises on Celebrity, the Century, and the Equinox, dinner was a breeze. They had all the gluten and sugar-free items carefully marked on the menu. Once I made choices to be low carb, grain, and
starch-free, I was home free, able to enjoy a number of options. On the Equinox, the pastry chef made me a
special dessert, a sugar and flour free Creme Brule. 

The Carnival Liberty has no such options, no indications on the menu, few cooks with knowledge as to gluten-free. Last night they brought my usual cheese plate for dessert, the cheese atop a pile of bread. Anyone with a gluten issue cannot have bread “touch” their food since the size of a grain of salt of gluten, can trigger a response. They didn’t understand when I graciously asked them to throw the entire plate away and
start anew with just the cheese.
The tenders, preparing to take passengers to the manmade beach.

Moments later, they return with the cheese and fruit. I can’t eat fruit. It has sugar that has carbs. For 20 years, I had excruciating pain. Now, for almost 20 months since I began eating this way, I have no pain.  It’s a no brainer for me.  I’m never tempted to “cheat.”  I consider anything not included in my plan as poison. Why
would I eat poison? 

Am I specific enough with the restaurant staff?  I think so. They have noted our “folio” number that I can only eat meat, fish (any type), poultry, eggs, butter, hard cheese, and non-starchy vegetables.

The tender returning from the small island filled with sunburned passengers. Again, hanging over our balcony as we began to sail away from Half Moon Cay, we were able to get this photo of the officers on the bridge only eight doors from our new quiet cabin.
If one knew food at all, they put a plate of grilled fish, a large salad, and a large side of vegetables in front of me every night with a plate of nice hard cheeses for dessert.  I’d be content. 

But, it’s like pulling teeth, drawing way too much attention to my “condition” making me uncomfortable, treating me like an annoyance and a “freak”, as if I were some picky eater that was eating this way “for fun.”

Once we began this cruise on April 9th, they required that I placed the next night’s order each night at dinner.  What??? This lovely well-meaning young woman, Julia (pronounced Yule-e-a), approaches our table (often we’re seated with other passengers), handing me the next night’s menu, waiting while I place my order. Trying to be considerate of her time, I quickly place the order of salad, meat, and a large side of steamed vegetables along with a plain cheese plate, no fruit, now “no bread”.

Invariably, my dinner arrives with rice, potatoes, corn, peas with the meat unseasoned and overcooked.  Last night I ordered the flat iron steak, rare. My plate arrived with a pile of fried potatoes, a 3 oz. well done rubbery steak and two pieces of overcooked cauliflower. 

The Caesar salad with no croutons was a tiny plate of huge pieces of romaine lettuce, dressing on the side which I had requested since they’d previously smothered no less than 1/2 cup of dressing on those few lettuce leaves. (I can have small amounts of low carb dressings, usually blue cheese and Caesar).
We can see the bridge from our balcony.

So, last night, I asked them to remove the potatoes and bring more steamed vegetables. They
returned the plate minus the potatoes with the same tiny piece of leathery meat with the two overcooked clumps of cauliflower having added a single flower of broccoli. Oh.  I ate all of it.

Thank goodness for the cheese or I’d still be hungry after each

A short while ago, we heard that an option for tonight’s formal night dinner is lobster tail which I can have and love. I wasn’t told this last night. It wasn’t on the menu. If I want it, we’ll have to go to the restaurant soon and order it; a plain lobster tail with butter, a side of veggies, a salad. How hard is that?

Most likely their lobster tails have a bread crumb topping. It may be too late to accommodate me. They
cover all of their meats in flour laden sauces and coatings. This way they can hide tough, overly cooked,
unseasoned cheaper cuts of meat with what may be tasty, creamy, or chunky sauces.

Today, we will be contacting Norwegian cruise lines in advance, unaware at this time if they are as skilled as Celebrity was in accommodating dietary restrictions with such ease and finesse.

The pained look on the face of the servers we’ve had when reading the “notes” on me has been more annoying than the food. They keep referring to “your food allergies.”

Through all of this, I remain calm and considerate.  I am not a difficult customer.  In each case, I’ve smiled and kindly asked for the items to be added or removed, without a negative tone in my voice.

We thought that if perhaps I had a small late lunch, I could get by with less in the evening.  As we perused all of the items in the lunch buffet, there wasn’t a single piece of fish, chicken, or meat that wasn’t swimming in sauces or flour coatings. Not one. The only items I could have had were the slices of cheese, lettuce, and a
few raw veggies. Not worth it.

After a lifetime of being a dessert fanatic, having something sweet every night after dinner, most of which I baked with fresh ingredients, I have since let this go.  No longer do I crave something “sweet” or snack at all after dinner. 

Perhaps, I need to rethink my current expectation of an enjoying meal at dinner and focus more on my enjoyable companion, my hubby, and the “table mates’ often sitting with us. Of course, there’s the big glass of ice water to savor since we can’t ever get a server to come to the table to take a drink order.

All in all, we’re content. We can sleep at night.  We have our vitamins back. The shower and sink drain properly (although this morning I had to pour water into the toilet to get it to flush). More importantly, we’re safe, we have our health, we’re staying on track on our budget, we continue to meet wonderful people, we have the world in front of us and, we have each other.

Its all in the details…

Our crab cracking and dining tools 

As a person entrenched in the details, it’s not unusual to me that I have six tools one could use to crack crab legs: two types of crackers, two types of crab scissors, a pick and a small fork, service for eight. It’s not coincidental that I have service for eight.  Who would want to “shell out” (couldn’t resist) enough crab legs for more than eight people? 

This came to mind yesterday when I recklessly spent $48 for two bags of king crab legs plus $28 for the accompanying grass fed New York strip steaks.  

This is for three of us for Sunday night’s dinner; Tom and I and our friend Sue, who comes for dinner every Sunday night since the passing of her dear husband and our beloved friend Chip. She’s a trooper. Our hearts break for her. They were our role models as a happy, retired couple. Now, we are witnessing the depth of the loss of a beloved partner, excruciatingly sorrowful, a double whammy.

We laugh, we cry and we tell endless stories of our 26 years here on the point. (You can read about Chip in my post on June 1, 2012 found here in the archives).  We three deserve steak and crab.  

The combined cost of the meat at $76, plus the veggies and the salad, it may prove to be a $90 dinner at $30 each. We seldom eat in a restaurant.  However, each of the past two Saturday nights we did, first at Osaka in Coon Rapids with daughter and family and then at Biella In Excelsior with son and his wife.  

Dining in those restaurants, the average cost per person was in the $40 range. This justifies my $30 per person cost dining at home on this special night. After all, this is one of five remaining Sunday nights we have left before we leave for our world wide adventure.

Around the 15th of October, the processing of the estate sale begins leaving us no longer able to cook while everything in the cabinets and drawers; the dishes, the silverware, my gadgets and the pots and pans will be marked for sale. Ouch. My gadgets. Bye, bye, gadgets.

So today, while Tom is off to our oldest grandson’s football game, I’ll stay behind and begin the process of going through my many cookbooks.   

Most of my favorite recipes have been scanned, leaving hundreds we’ll never enjoy again due to our low carb, gluten free, grain free, starch free and sugar free diet.  

This diet gave us back our health, evident in the amazing blood test results we each received this past Thursday after Monday’s final doctor appointment.  Best results ever.  Everything perfect. The diet worked.  We’ll never fail to remember that we wouldn’t be able to travel the world for the next number of years if we hadn’t greatly improved our health by eating in this restricted manner. A small sacrifice in the realm of things.  

However, king crab and steak is no sacrifice, allowable for our way of eating. Besides, I can’t wait to set the table one last time with those six crab utensils before some crazy detail orientated fool such as I, buys all eight sets for a ridiculously low price. 

Hum, could I fit two sets of crab tools inside a shoe in one of the six orange suitcases?  Or perhaps, four sets in case we have company.