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. 

juicer

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.

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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.

Part 1…Graduation party tonight…What is a “Walking Taco?”…30 food trends from the past decade…

Avocado toast.
Avocado toast. AlexPro9500/iStock. Not our photo.

Tonight is our grandson Vincent’s graduation party. I can’t recall the last time we went to a grad party. But a lot has changed since we left Minnesota almost 12 years ago, including food trends, many of which we haven’t been exposed to in our worldwide travels.

As always, the US is a trendsetter in many ways. We thought it would be fun to explore some of the changes we’ve encountered the longer we’ve been in the US, especially when dining out and attending events.

Vincent’s grad party is no exception when the primary food offering will be “walking tacos.” I giggled when I asked Tammy what was being served to see if I needed to bring something that would suit my way of eating. Since it is an outdoor party at a park, it wouldn’t be weird if I packed something for myself.

matcha green tea

A matcha latte. Pixabay. Not our photo.

Of course, I wouldn’t embarrass myself by bringing my food to a restaurant or someone’s home other than family who don’t care what I bring. Besides, most restaurants can accommodate me when I eat meat, chicken or fish, vegetables, and salad. Every restaurant can serve these without sauces and crumbed coatings.

After Tammy described a walking taco, I looked it up online to find it’s a popular item served at parties in the US that has become popular in the past decade. What is a “walking taco.” I found this perfect description that explains it better than I would have:

“So-called for how easy it is to wander around with them in hand, Walking Tacos are bags of snack-size Fritos—and/or Doritos or any kinds of chips, really—that are garnished with a variety of taco or nacho toppings. The garnishes, ranging from meat to cheese to guacamole, are added right in the bag.”

I don’t suppose the meat and garnishes are added ahead of time since the chips would become very soggy. Also, I imagine they are served with a fork since it would be too messy to tip the bag’s contents into one’s mouth. Nonetheless, I will take photos tonight and post them tomorrow. It’s quite a cute idea for casual events.

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A smoked cocktail at a bar in Portland, Maine. Portland Press Herald / Contributor. Not our photo.

Here are food trends in the past decade found in this article:

Rainbow bagels and pastries changed how we eat desserts. Instagram and other social media platforms have opened the doors for more photogenic foods — nothing is more photogenic than a rainbow-colored bagel.

Avocado toast has become synonymous with the 2010s and millennials. Avocado toast is exactly what it sounds like — simply smashed avocado spread on toast. It often comes with eggs and spices. 

Milk alternatives such as oat milk, soy milk, and various nut milk have spiked in popularity.

Acai bowls topped with granola and fresh fruit became a popular wellness trend. Pronounced “ah-sah-ee,” the acai bowl craze spawned the popular chain Playa Bowls, which now has 65 locations. 

Kombucha has cemented itself as a popular health drink. Kombucha is made by fermenting tea, often infused with other flavors. In fact, because of the fermentation process, kombucha is slightly alcoholic, coming in at less than 0.5% ABV. 

Activated charcoal turned everything from ice cream to cocktails black. .At one point in the 2010s, foods made with activated charcoal began to replace those popular rainbow items. Everything from ice cream to cocktails was made with the ingredients, and it was even the center of the “50 Shades of Charcoal” festival in the summer of 2018. It has since been banned as a food additive in New York City. 

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Milkshakes from Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer. Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer. Not our photo.

Matcha, a specific kind of green tea, is known for its health benefits and vivid green color. Matcha has been around for centuries, but the fad food began taking over menus and Instagram feeds around 2016. The flavor was soon incorporated into everything from candy to baked goods

Poke bowls usually feature raw fish, rice, and various vegetables. The dish was everywhere in the summer of 2016, with Hawaiian restaurants all over New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and several other cities. 

Elaborate cocktail creations, including smoked cocktails, also hit the scene across the country. Many mixologists impart a smoky flavor into their cocktails by burning different herbs and wood chips in or around the glass. 

Meat alternatives, such as the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Meat burger, have turned the fast-food industry on its head. Burger King’s Impossible Whopper and Dunkin’s Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich are examples of fast-food companies shifting to plant-based meat alternatives due to increasing consumer demand. 

Coconut oil — as a cooking ingredient and as a wellness cure-all — became a popular alternative to other cooking oils. Though coconut oil contains lots of saturated fats, it has roughly the same amount of calories per tablespoon as olive oil and is often found in moisturizers and hair-care products.

poke bowl
A poke bowl with red onion, cucumber, salmon, masago, edamame, and sesame seeds. Not our photo.

Wild, over-the-top desserts also made a splash. Massive milkshakes, giant sundaes, and elaborate waffle creations made waves in the 2010s. 

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

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. 

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with the next 15 food trends of the past decade and photos of a “walking taco.”

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 7, 2014:

There were puffs of fog on the road to Funchal, Madeira, as shown in the left lane. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening with old friends…More shocking prices…

We were out to lunch in Ribeira Brava, Madeira. Looks like Tom needed a haircut! We had a lovely lunch in this oceanfront restaurant.

Last night couldn’t have been more fun, having dinner with Mary Kay and Frank at the Cheesecake Factory, who both worked with Tom on the railroad and whom we hadn’t seen since we left Minnesota in 2012. We had a lot of catching up to do. Three hours later, we finally said our goodbyes with warm hugs and plans to get together again while we will still be in Minnesota.

Back at the hotel, still reeling from the wonderful time, we settled in for the remainder of the evening, streaming and finishing a good series on Netflix, Godless, a riveting western we both enjoyed. Finding a good new series on streaming services has been challenging due to the pandemic and last year’s writer’s strike.

Tom’s club sandwich with fries, which he said was very good. (I need a new phone since my camera is shot, but I don’t feel like buying one right now).

If any of you have suggestions for newer series on Netflix, Hulu, and Prime, please let us know. We’ve watched many of the older series made before 2020. Tom doesn’t care for science fiction, and neither of us enjoys fantasy, super hero-type shows. Another limitation is that neither of us cares to watch “dubbed” or subtitled shows.

This morning, we didn’t bother to go downstairs for the hotel’s breakfast. We both were tired of the lack of options and the less-than-healthy choices.

We don’t have any big plans for today. I’m waiting for my granddaughter Maisie’s reply to see if she’d like to go for “girls’ lunch” today. Tom and I will pick her up and he’ll drop us off at the restaurant we choose and then pick us up after we’re done. If Maisie and I go out to lunch, I will bring something back for Tom for dinner.

My chopped salad, minus croutons, corn, and beans. It was excellent, nonetheless.

As mentioned, I don’t feel comfortable driving right now. My reflexes aren’t as good as they were a few years ago, and with my heart condition, I don’t want to risk something happening while I am driving.

A few nights ago, Tom stopped at Wendy’s for a bite to eat when I still had something in the fridge in our room. He ordered a chicken sandwich and a plain single hamburger with fries and a Coke. The total was $20. For that much, I can order dinner to go for him. We can’t believe the prices of fast food.

Mary Kay and Frank each ordered this chicken dish, which they said was delicious.

Last week, I picked up a Chipotle Bowl, minus corn and rice, which was a small portion for $13. Plus, it didn’t taste as good as I remembered years ago. Maybe our expectations are too high. Last night, Mary Kay and Frank insisted on picking up the bill at Cheesecake Factory, which was over $250 with very few included drinks. When we insisted on at least paying half, they suggested we pay the tip.

Tom tipped the excellent server 20%, which is expected in the US, which was $50. Our bill for dinner, drinks, and tips at Jabula in Marloth Park was never over $50. Things are different here. We are trying to adapt to these higher prices and have plenty of time to do so while we spend so much time here.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, May 19, 2014:

This morning’s view from the kitchen window in Campanario, Madeira. Washing dishes is not so bad with a view such as this. For more photos, please click here.

Recycling old laptops…A pleasant day and evening with the sisters…Five days and counting…

Tom’s pork tenderloin sandwich on a bun with homemade potato chips, which he enjoyed.

As we wind down our time in Apache junction, Arizona, we’re wrapping up a few details before we take off in five days to head to California. An important task on our “to-do” list was to recycle two old laptops. We’d intended to do this while in Nevada, but time got away from us, and we didn’t have a rental car for a very long while in Lake Las Vegas, which prompted us to get this done while we were here.

Tom will take off to the recycling place in a short time and then head to Great Clips for a needed haircut. I will stay here while he goes on these errands and continues working on today’s post and other projects to prepare for leaving on May 1. We’ve yet to pack but will do so soon.

My chicken fajita salad was excellent, even without the tortilla chips, corn, rice, and beans.

Yesterday afternoon at 3:45, we picked up the sisters for an early dinner at a wonderful restaurant about 15 minutes from here, JJ Madison’s All American Grill. The sisters talked about the excellent pork tenderloin sandwiches, reminding them of a popular restaurant in Minneapolis, Tony Jaros, where they had the best pork tenderloin sandwiches in years past.

Tom, Rita, and Colleen ordered the sandwich, but although they liked it, it wasn’t as good as they’d hoped. Maybe when we get to Minnesota, we’ll head to Tony Jaros so he can have the pork tenderloin sandwich he remembers from his youth. But you know how that goes. Often, our expectations exceed reality, and the “old” flavors aren’t as good as we recall. Our taste buds may have changed over the years, and we remember the food being better than it was at the time.

Margie’s grilled Minnesota Walleye with tartar sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, and sauteed vegetables. She said it was delicious.

Nonetheless, we had a nice lunch, and everyone enjoyed their meal and drinks, as shown in today’s photos. Tom had a Margarita, and I had one glass of Pinot Grigio while the sisters ordered their favorite drinks. The food was good, and the conversation was lively and animated.

When we returned to the RV park, we dropped off the sisters and headed back to our place to collect and return items we’d borrowed from the sisters while here and to pack items for the upcoming evening’s card playing. For the first time since we arrived, I finally won a game. A few days ago, I realized I was playing too conservatively ever to win a game. I changed my strategy and won a game. Whether we win or lose, it’s fun playing.

By 9:30 pm, we were back at our place and spent the next hour enjoying a delightful series to stream, recommended by our friends Marylin and Gary, whom we’ll soon see in Utah. The series “Anne with an E” on Netflix is utterly enchanting. We’re looking forward to watching more episodes, which we may be able to do at night in a hotel room, after dinner, or during our upcoming road trip.

This was Rita’s pork tenderloin with crispy French fries.

No, I haven’t heard a word from Cleveland Clinic. The scheduler/nurse originally stated it could be two to three weeks before I heard about an appointment. When my UPS-sent file was lost on April 2 and not found until April 8, I am assuming my three week waiting period began at that time. Thus, at the moment, it’s not quite three weeks. I have sent two email messages but haven’t got a response. I will call and check on the status if I don’t hear anything by Monday.

I’m assuming I don’t have priority scheduling since I’d be paying using Medicare and supplement benefits, compared to celebrity and wealthy patients worldwide who’d pay cash. That’s the reality of the world we live in. Money talks! But I will persist and hope nothing bad happens between now and when we arrive. I am still holding my own with only a few symptoms.

Tom just left for the recycling store and haircut while I continue to work on today’s post, interrupted only by my walking routine every ten minutes. At noon, I usually have the walking completed and can begin doing the yoga exercises I have been doing for the past two months.

That’s it for today, dear readers.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, April 26, 2014:

Orange trees are often growing in the center courtyards of restaurants in Marrakesh, including where we dined, Arabe. For more photos, please click here.

Dinner out with family at a fun restaurant…Food photos…Cooking for family today…

Tom enjoyed his Reuben sandwich with onion rings.

It was a lovely afternoon. The family wanted to leave for Fat Willie’s for dinner at 3:00 pm. That was a little early for us, but Tom hadn’t eaten anything all day, and I’d only had Greek yogurt with berries early in the morning, so it all worked out well. Plus, it was “happy hour,” and drinks were mostly $5 or less. Tom ordered a beer, and I had one small glass of Pinot Grigio.

We were surprised when our bill was only $56.78 with tax and tip (the service was excellent). That was the lowest bill we’ve had dining out since we arrived in the US in December. We will return to Fat Willie’s at least once more before leaving Apache Junction in ten days.

My steak salad at Fat Willy’s. It was delicious!

When we returned to the park model, we relaxed for a while, then decided to stay in for the remainder of the evening. We watched a good show, A Gentleman in Moscow (on Showtime), which entertained us throughout the evening. Finally, I headed to bed around 10:00 pm. The night’s sleep was excellent, and I awoke feeling rested and ready to start the day.

I deliberated over what food to bring to Collen’s late this afternoon and decided on making a recipe I found online, Keto Tuna Melt Patties. If the recipe is good, I’ll post it tomorrow. It was easy to make. I put together all of the ingredients in a bowl with a lid and place it in the refrigerator. Before we head over, I’ll bake the patties in the oven and toss the already-prepped salad with homemade dressing. While the patties are baking, I’ll make a mustard dipping sauce.

Colleen and Margie each ordered the Berry Chicken Salad. They both loved it.

Later today, Tom will head to Colleen’s home to pick up uncooked ground beef that he’ll cook on the gas grill, another item for the afternoon meal. As Colleen and Margie approach their departure date, they try using their frozen and perishable food. We are doing the same with many ingredients still in the refrigerator. We’ll only grocery shop for a few needed items here and there as time approaches for our departure.

As for the rest of today, we don’t have any plans until we leave for Colleen’s around 3:30. Tom is working on his new laptop, content with the set-up and the new device. We’ve already watched CBS Sunday morning, and I am halfway through my daily walking.

Rita ordered this “small” pizza, comparable to a medium pizza.

In about an hour, I’ll do the yoga exercise I’ve done daily for almost two months while also walking. On the days I wasn’t feeling well, I still did the exercises, not wanting to miss a beat. The walking hasn’t improved much, but I’m noticing some added strength in my arms and legs.

Yesterday, I got an email from my sister Julie. She’s been able to coordinate a “cousins reunion” for our last day before departure in Los Angeles. We’re meeting at their favorite restaurant in Los Alamitos for lunch on May 3. It will be exciting to see my cousins after so many years. As mentioned, I am the matriarch of that side of the family. When I think of matriarchs, I can’t help but think of elephants we’ve often enjoyed, seeing the matriarchs in Kruger National Park helping their herd cross the road.

Brother-in-law Tom ordered potato skins, taking three in a doggie bag.

Of course, I am disappointed we won’t be going to South Africa in June. At this point, I have no idea when we’ll get there, but hopefully, no later than next April, May, or June 2025. It all depends on when I have the surgery in Cleveland.

That’s it for today, folks. Have a lovely Sunday!

Be well.

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

That’s our laundry on the clothesline, which Madame Zahra washed every few days. 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.

It was a lovely anniversary!…Pizza night!…An exciting addition to Marloth Park!!!…

Off-putting to some, I was intrigued by all the parts of the fresh fish used in cooking in Morocco from this post here. As mentioned in the ten-year-ago photo, I managed to sneak a few pictures before being caught by the photo police.

It’s been a busy morning. I did half of my walking and prepped the pizzas for tonight, consisting of one sizeable three-night pan for Tom and two small pizzas for me, made with less cheese and chicken instead of sausages that will also be enough to last three dinners. Also, I made a salad, as always.

Tom’s pizza is made with a cheese and egg crust, baked atop parchment paper in the oven before adding the toppings, which include Italian sauce and sausage, onion, mushrooms, sliced green olives and mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

My pizza is made with coconut flour, baking powder, and egg-white crust, cooked in a non-stick skillet to resemble a giant pancake that I top with sauce, sliced baby bell peppers, onions, olives, mushrooms, and a lesser amount of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Mine is about 60% less fattening than Tom’s and easily fills me up with a few slices and a large salad.

Then, I made two cooked eggs topped with Wholly guacamole, Pace Hot Picante sauce, and a dollop of plain Fage Greek yogurt for breakfast. Lately, I have been having this same breakfast each day. It’s a great way to start the day. All of the above is all I will eat today. If I’m hungry after dinner, I will have a bowl of keto-sweetened plain Fage yogurt topped with ground flax seeds.

Keto meals can be as enjoyable as any meal one may prepare using starch and sugars, keeping one’s blood sugar in check and preventing weight gain. I can’t believe I’ve been eating this way for over 12 years, and love every meal I make. On the other hand, Tom craves sweets (donuts) and desserts (popcorn or ice cream). He doesn’t eat breakfast other than two plain cake donuts with coffee and then doesn’t eat anything else all day until dinner.

Yesterday, our 29th wedding anniversary was a quiet day. We stayed in, had a great dinner and streamed a new show on Netflix, “The Gentlemen,” which was very entertaining. There are two seasons to keep us busy over many evenings when we wind down from our busy days and relax on the sofa until bedtime.

Since I quit drinking coffee about a month ago, I’ve mostly been drinking water at room temperature. Never much of a fan of plain water, I’ve found I feel my best without any other beverages other than my one glass of red wine at happy hour that I finish during dinner, followed by water throughout the evening.

Oddly, I haven’t been able to find any decent low-alcohol wine while in the US. When we return to Marloth Park in three months, I will enjoy the many options of delicious low-alcohol wines readily available at the grocery store.

Speaking of grocery stores, we can’t wait to see the Spar Market opening very soon in Marloth Park, only a three-minute drive from our holiday home. I can’t imagine it will be large enough to have everything we use, but we could drive to the further away Spar in Komatipoort (25-minute drive) once a month to stock up and supplement weekly at the MP version.

May be an image of 3 people and text
Yesterday, this photo of a Spar delivery truck was on a Marloth Park Facebook page. It was exciting to see that this is happening!

This is very exciting for all of the residents in Marloth Park, more so than short-term holiday renters who don’t cook as often, mostly buying meat, potatoes, bread, fruit, and snacks. But for us long-term visitors and the locals, this will be a considerable time and petrol saver.

We’ll head to the new market within hours of our arrival, buying enough for a day or two since we’ll be too tired to shop for enough for a week. Then, after resting, we’ll return and have a better perspective of what’s available. We’re both looking forward to this convenience.

That’s it for today, folks. I have to return to my walking and exercises in the app BetterMe. This is going so well; I couldn’t be more pleased.

Be well.

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

I managed to sneak a few pictures in the market to avoid being accosted by the photo police in Marrakesh, Morocco. These are steaks with all of the fat removed. In South Africa, fat is a delicacy left on the meat. That is not the case in Morocco, where all beef appeared lean and free of visible fat. 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.

Great memories from years past…

When we “babysat” the pregnant alpacas while the owners were away on the farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand, in 2016, this precious little girl was born. For my birthday, along with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, the owners named this little girl “Miss Jessica” after me. It was the best birthday gift ever! For the post, please click here.

As another birthday approaches, I can’t help but reminisce and appreciate past birthdays, especially since we began traveling the world. The birthdays before that time seem to blur in my mind., except perhaps my 50th birthday in 1998 when we had a big party at our house.

At that time, I spent days cooking and preparing for my own party. Now, 26 years later, I have no interest in cooking and decorating for my own party. Then, of course, since we began traveling, my most exciting birthday was last year, celebrating my 75th birthday, which Louise and Danie hosted at the fabulous Khaya Umdani house and prepared all the food and drinks to perfection.

I will repost the photos from last year’s birthday in tomorrow’s post. This year, on the actual day of my birthday, we don’t have any big plans other than going out to dinner, at Tom’s insistence since he doesn’t want me to cook. Tom rarely cooks, so we would unlikely go that route.

But I am content with tomorrow’s easy plan to go out to dinner. Then, the next day, February 21, we have special plans hosted by Richard, which we’ll share with photos and the story the following day, February 22. I suppose at this point in life, birthdays are as important as when we’re young, but in a way, I see them as an opportunity to be grateful for one more year of our lives. That, in itself, is worth celebrating, isn’t it?

In any case, I don’t have a lot of expectations about my birthday. Texts or phone calls from family are meaningful. And, of course, the many well wishes and messages from family and friends mean the world to us.

Today is laundry day. Amid my walking schedule this morning, the sheets and dark clothes are in the dryer in the laundry room down the hall, and the whites and towels are spinning in the washer, which we’ll hang on the drying rack soon. Tonight’s dinner will be coconut sauteed cod, the one time Tom will eat fish.

To make the fish, I put about ½ cup of coconut flour in a bowl and then two raw scrambled eggs in another bowl. I well-season the flour with garlic and onion powder, Himalayan salt, and coarse ground pepper. First, I dip the patted dry fish in the coconut flour, then into the eggs, and then back into the coconut flour while three tablespoons of coconut oil are heated in the non-stick skillet.

The fish cooks very fast at medium heat, so I keep an eye on it, never leaving the stove for a moment. In the meantime, we will have cooked Tom’s rice, steamed the broccoli, and tossed the salad with homemade Keto dressing. Everything gets done at once to ensure it is all hot.

It only takes about ten minutes to prepare the fish, making this an easy dinner, although it gets the stove top messy, requiring cleaning the glass top as soon as it’s cool enough. Earlier in the day, I’d prepped the salad and the broccoli while Tom put water, salt, and butter in his small pot for the rice. We have an excellent system that works well for us. We have great meals with little prep time for most of our meals.

I am heading back to the corridor for my next round of walking now. It’s a good day.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, February 19, 2014:

The “girl’s lunch” to celebrate my birthday. No one was handy to take a photo of the three of us, so Linda and I were in the first photo. The Buhari Lodge was located on the Crocodile River.
My wonderful friends Linda and Kathy (left to right) lived part-time in Marloth Park. The three of us stay in close touch regularly. 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.