Part 3 (of three parts)…Month by month, emotional and memorable events from our world travels in 2023…Happy New Year!…

Happy New Year to all of our readers, friends, and family. May your new year be filled with wondrous surprises, health, and well-being. We love you all!

Last night, New Year’s Eve was more festive than anticipated. With Tom still not feeling well, we’d agreed to lay low and stay in for the night. Yesterday, when I was in the fitness center working out, I met a lovely woman who told me that at 9:00 pm, there would be music by a DJ and fireworks shot off over Lake Las Vegas.

Thank goodness, it wasn’t as cold as it’s been, and the distance to the DJ stage at the beach was only a five-minute walk after we went down one flight of steps, all downhill and a little more challenging coming back when heading uphill to that stairway. It was worth every step when we were amazed by the crowds, the twinkling lights, the oldies music, and the energy from the hundreds of people waiting for the big event beginning at 9:00.

Suppose I hadn’t been in the fitness center, most likely. In that case, we’d have figured it out when we saw all the people downstairs, eventually hearing all the fireworks blaring into the air. We are glad we went. In a way, it was magical. If only Tom had felt better, we could have celebrated with everyone else.

In any case, Happy New Year everyone! We didn’t quite stay up until midnight and nodded off about 11:30. It would have been difficult not to kiss one another at midnight, which we always do when we were afraid I’d catch his illness. Instead, we wished one another “Happy New Year, Lover,” with the utmost warmth, love, and sincerity.

This has been a busy morning. We slept until after 8:30, and I bolted out of bed to begin making pizza, which took a while. I made a separate pizza with less cheese and more veggies using a new low-carb crust recipe called Paleo Pizza Crust. Here’s the link to the recipe. I took a taste when the crust was done cooking and loved the taste.

For the first time in ages, I burned Tom’s two pizza crusts in the oven, which cook separately from the actual pizzas. It cooked much faster and hotter in the oven here, so I have to start that all over again. Oh well, at least I have plenty of ingredients to start over. I was not about to ruin his favorite dish with burnt crusts.

I’m back after putting the two new crusts in the oven to bake, lowering the temperature and cooking time. I’d instead jump up to check them every three minutes than burn them again.

Today will be a rest day from working out, which I’ll take once a week. I will take plenty of steps by cooking, tidying up, and folding the dry laundry out on the rack on the veranda. Tom’s napping now on the sofa at noon, and soon, I will search for the Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey game starting in two minutes. I love watching these games. It’s pretty fun.

Today will be the final day we post photos from the past year for our “year in review.”  As it turned out, after reviewing the post, we traveled a lot more than we thought. It was a busy year, filled with challenges and health issues, but now we are content to be staying put for the next few months, taking life easier than ever in this beautiful location,

So here are our photos from where we left off yesterday as we wrap up 2023. In many ways, it is “good riddance” for some.

Be well.

September 2023 – Henderson, Nevada and Eden Prairie, Minnesota

With a horrible WiFi connection on the two cruises, one to Norway and the second to Greenland, we didn’t post many photos of the few weeks we spent back here in Henderson, Nevada. Below are some of the friends and family members we saw while in the above two locations, which ultimately are more important to us than scenery photos.

Our grandson Vincent and Tom after skeet shooting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Grandson Vincent, daughter Tammy, and daughter-in-law Tracy joined us for dinner and trivia at Pizza Luce, walking distance from our hotel in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Our granddaughter Maisie when she and I went to dinner for a “girls’ night out.”
My former business partner and dear friend, Theresa.
My dear friend Chere, whom I always manage to see several times when we visit Minnesota.
Our friends and Tom’s nephew Kevin and Kristi, whom we’ve seen a few times in the past year.
Our dear friend Sue, her husband, and our dear friend Chip (who passed away before we left) were wonderful friends and neighbors for many years.
Our newer friends, Gary and Marilyn, whom we met in Marloth Park when as readers of our posts, came to visit us in Henderson while we stayed at the Green Valley Ranch Spa and Casino. They live in Utah. We will see them again in July when they return to Marloth Park.
Tom, on “White Night,” sailing through Norway’s fjords on the Azamara Journey.
Our dear friend Connie, second from the right, invited us to a special dinner for the one-year anniversary of her husband and our friend Jeff’s passing at our house in Marloth Park on September 21, 2022.
Here are long-time friends, also years-long readers of our site, Rita and Gerhard, whom we met in Marloth Park and flew from Washington (state) to see us for eight hours while we were in Henderson last September.

We have been so blessed to make such amazing friends and have such loving family members, and many more not shown here, who have become integral people in our lives over the past years, before and after our world travel.

October 2023 – Eden Prairie, Minnesota ( to see family)

Heather and my son Greg at a Mexican restaurant in Chanhassen, Minnesota. We are so happy they are together and enjoying their loving relationship.
Miles, 15, and Mad,14, two of Greg’s three children and our grandchildren. It’s always wonderful to spend time with our kids and grandchildren.
Tom’s son TJ’s lake cabin in northern Minnesota, where he stayed with TJ and daughter Tammy while in Minnesota.
While on a cruise in The Galapagos Islands, Tom was seated on a bench surrounded by giant iguanas.
Baby tortoises will grow to be giant tortoises, a highlight to see in The Galapagos.

Tom was thrilled to get this photo of whitetip sharks in a channel. Whitetip reef sharks are one of the most abundant Galapagos reef sharks. They can be seen from the surface to over 300 meters under the ocean. Although they prefer shallower water and are rarely seen deeper than 40 meters, they occasionally venture into open water from the reef.
Photo of blue-footed boobie also prevalent in The Galapagos. If you’d like to see more Galapagos Island photos, please check our archives for October 2023.

On October 31, 2023, we celebrated our 11th anniversary of traveling the world while we were already staying in Mirador San Jose, Ecuador, which was not our favorite location during our travels. We didn’t do anything special that evening since there was nowhere to go for dinner within an hour’s drive. It wasn’t safe to drive in the dark on the highway.

November 2023 – Mirador San Jose, Ecuador

We spent all of November in Ecuador at the house on the ocean. We don’t have any particular photos we’d care to share, especially since it was so recent. Please our archives for more photos.

December 2023 – Mirador San Jose, Ecuador – Lake Las Vegas, Nevada

We spent half the month waiting to depart Ecuador and look forward to arriving in Lake Las Vegas at this beautiful location and condo. We couldn’t be more content to be here and spend time with Richard and his SO and relax and unwind after a very busy and complex year.

Have a fantastic New Year that fills your heart with great memories and your mind with unforgettable adventures, big and small, wherever you may be. Tomorrow, we’ll share our photos from New Year’s Eve.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, January 1, 2014:

Last night at Jabula Lodge, bringing in the New Year. For more photos, please click here.

Pizza and nuts…Lots of nuts…

With enough ingredients remaining in our food supply before we leave Italy on Sunday, it was time once again to make pizza, one large pizza for each of us hopefully lasting a few days. 

It may seem that we have pizza quite often, when actually we make it once every three weeks or so, probably not more often than those that have a menu consisting partly of carry-out meals.

For us, it’s always a treat. Tom now confesses that our cheese crust pizza tastes better than any pizza he’s had in any restaurant, including a few here in Italy. 

Often, we’ve received email requests for our recipes, but with the fact that everyone has preferences for their own toppings, we emphasize that our pizzas are made of a gluten-free, low carb, grain-free, sugar-free crust along with a sugar-free marinara sauce along with low carb toppings of choice:  cheese, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, olives, pepperoni, shrimp, ham, non-starchy vegetables and more. 

My formerly all-time favorite pizza was Domino’s Hawaiian which was only a once or twice a year treat. The sweet pineapple has been off of my “approved” list at allowed foods for over two years. Other equally delicious options have replaced it. Tonight my pizza crust is made with cauliflower, cheese, and egg. With a few cups of fresh cauliflower remaining in the fridge, this was a perfect and healthy way to use it.

Jess’ Low Carb Cauliflower Pizza Crust:
Mix 2 cups cooked cauliflower, chopped into small bits with 1 cup grated cheese (any type of hard cheese), and 1 egg in a bowl.  Pour this mixture onto a parchment-lined pizza pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375F degrees.  Remove from oven and cool.  Top with low carb marinara sauce and low carb preferred toppings, finishing off with grated cheeses.

Jess’s Toppings:  marinara sauce, bacon, shrimp, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, basil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with Parmesan cheese

Tom’s Low Carb Pizza Crust:
Mix 2 cups grated cheese (any type of hard cheese) and 1 egg in a bowl.  Pour this mixture onto a parchment-lined pizza pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375F degrees.  Remove from oven and cool. Top with low carb marinara sauce, adding low carb preferred toppings, finishing off with grated cheeses.

Tom’s toppings:  marinara sauce, pre-cooked Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, olives, fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with Parmesan cheese

In the US, there are several marinara sauces with our recommended “less than 6-grams carbohydrates” per half cups, which usually means no sugar. In Italy, we’ve been able to purchase sauce with 3 grams per half-cup. 

Carefully read the label to determine if sugar is included.  In Minnesota, we used Rao’s Marinara Sauce, but it was pricey at US $8.95 per jar. However, each large pizza only uses a half cup.  One large jar will make 3 or 4 pizzas. There are many other options without sugar. Who needs sugar in a pizza?

For those NOT on a low carb way of eating, our pizza is very high in fat and calories (if you count calories. We don’t count anything). Since our diet is a high fat, low carb way of eating we don’t worry about consuming fat. Consuming sugary, starchy, grain-related carbs results in raising insulin levels which results in fat gain. It’s not due to the consumption of fat.  

This scientific fact is outlined in this website, one of literally hundreds of medically based sites supporting the low carb, high-fat concept. Science is finally discovering that it is not the fat we eat that makes us fat. Its the combination of carbohydrates and fat. Eating low carb foods and fat results in weight loss, or in my case, weight management.

To simplify the science, it goes like this, a quote from the above link:

“Excessive amounts of carbohydrates (especially refined carbs/sugar) increases insulin and results in fat gain.”

Also, this way of eating has been highly instrumental in improving our health, in enormous ways, as described in many other posts on this site. I don’t need to lose weight. Thus, I must eat larger portions of what I do eat to ensure that I don’t.  In itself, that’s a challenge but certainly, one that I readily enjoy. 

For Tom, who struggles with a propensity to eat “junk food,” this way of eating has been a lifesaver. When he strictly follows our way of eating (minus sugary high carb snacks) he easily loses or maintains his weight hunger-free. Having quit smoking almost a year ago, he weighs considerably less now than when he was smoking. 

For those considering quitting smoking, adopting a low carb diet at the same time is a sure-fire way to avoid gaining the typical 30 pounds. We’re talking about saving lives here, not a fad diet so one can “look good” and fit into small sizes!

Much to our delight, we can eat nuts, the perfect evening snack. We enjoy low carb nuts, even peanuts in the shell (which are a legume, not a nut). Arriving in Italy months ago at that time I’d been eating cheese for dessert. Without preservatives in cheeses in Italy, it spoiled within days of purchase becoming impossible to keep fresh with our bi-monthly grocery trips. Thus, we switched to nuts, readily available at the grocer. At the bottom of today’s post is a chart with the nutritional content of nuts.

If you take the time to read a profound scientific book written by Gary Taubes, “Why We Get Fat,” available everywhere, it explains the science of low carb and how the world has become obsessed with eating high carbohydrate foods, increasing the obesity rates and diabetes to outrageous proportions. 

A vital factor regarding eating low carb is to commit to it. Your body will only begin to burn fat stores in a totally low carb environment.  It’s not a “mix and match” environment. 

(In no manner am I attempting to provide medical advice nor am I claiming to be a medical professional of any type. Please refer to scientific studies readily available at many university websites and by medical professionals worldwide. I’ve spent well over a year researching this topic).  

If you have trouble finding information, feel free to contact me by posting a comment at the end of today’s or any other day’s post and I will post a list enabling you to do your own research.

Tonight, the amazing smell of our pizzas baking will be wafting through the air.  Add a lofty side salad or plate of coleslaw and a fabulous dinner is to be had.  For dessert tonight? Nuts, nuts, and more nuts as we’ll watch Iron Man 2!

Here’s the chart of the nutritional content in nuts. Refer to the “net carb” since fiber apparently reduces the absorption of the carbs (not proven as yet but being researched on the horizon):

Carbohydrates and Fats in Nuts and Seeds (1 Ounce Unshelled)

Cal Tot. Carb Fiber Net Carb Sat. Fat Mono Fat ω-3 Fat ω-6 Fat
Almonds 161 6.1 3.4 2.7 1 8.6 0.2 3.4
Brazil Nuts 184 3.4 2.1 1.3 4.2 6.9 0.05 5.8
Cashews 155 9.2 0.9 8.1 2.2 6.7 0.2 2.2
Chestnuts 60 12.8 2.3 10.5 0.1 0.2 0.03 0.22
Chia Seeds 137 12.3 10.6 1.7 0.9 0.6 4.9 1.6
Coconut* 185 6.6 4.6 2 16 0.8 0 0.2
Flax Seeds 150 8.1 7.6 .5 1 2.1 6.3 1.7
Hazelnuts 176 4.7 2.7 2 1.3 12.8 0.24 2.2
Macadamia Nuts 201 4 2.4 1.6 3.4 16.5 0.06 .36
Peanuts 159 4.5 2.4 2.1 1.9 6.8 0 4.4
Pecans 193 3.9 2.7 1.2 1.7 11.4 0.28 5.8
Pine Nuts 188 3.7 1 2.7 1.4 5.3 0.31 9.4
Pistachios 156 7.8 2.9 5.8 1.5 6.5 0.71 3.7
Pumpkin Seeds 151 5 1.1 3.9 2.4 4 0.51 5.8
Sesame Seeds 160 6.6 3.3 3.3 1.9 5.3 0.11 6
Sunflower Seeds 164 5.6 2.4 3.2 1.2 5.2 0.21 6.5
Walnuts 183 3.8 1.9 1.9 1.7 2.5 2.5 10.7