Lovely evening at dear friend Connie’s home to commemorate Jeff’s passing…

Mark, Sandy, Tom, Micheal, Connie, and Nina sat around the outdoor table on the veranda of Connie’s Lake Minnetonka home.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of our dear friend Jeff passing away at our holiday home in Marloth Park, South Africa. Connie, his wife, was thrilled when she read in our posts that we’d be in Minnesota during the anniversary date so she could plan a special dinner for a few select friends to acknowledge Jeff on the anniversary of his death.

We hesitated when she extended the anniversary since September 21 is the same date as our grandchild, Mad, and grandson, Nik. Madighan’s birthday, which we didn’t want to miss. But we worked out another plan for the birthday without a problem, and all was good.

The blue pot contained tender, delicious beef with mushrooms in a flourless gravy.

Yesterday afternoon, we stopped at a liquor store to pick up a bottle of red wine for Connie. I brought a bottle of low-alcohol dry rose that I miraculously found a few weeks ago. Low-alcohol wine is not easily found in the US. Once we return to South Africa, we won’t have any trouble finding low-alcohol wines. I have no idea what we’ll find in Ecuador at this point.

Connie had made a fantastic dinner with several items I could eat, which was thoughtful of her. As a professional chef, she’s obviously an excellent cook and moves through the process of cooking and serving food with ease and finesse. The spread was not only pleasing to the eye but also mouth-watering and delicious.

Connie made this delicious chicken and prune dish. I tasted a bite of Tom’s but couldn’t eat it due to the sugar in the prunes.

If I hadn’t eaten so much of my favorite cheese, she served with the starters, Belton Farms Cheddar, which has a crunchy texture and amazing taste. I’d have had more room for the dinner. But, I had a little of everything I could eat and was full and content. Tom enjoyed everything as well, especially the garlic-buttered French bread and the pot-roasted meat, reminding him of one of his favorite dinners I’ve often made for him when the proper cuts of beef were available.

I was able to eat everything here except the potatoes and the bread.

The group of guests were enthusiastic sailors, and the conversation flowed on this topic as well as many questions from the group on our world travels. It was fun to share our varied interests. Michael asked if we’d ever be interested in sailing around the world. No, we are not. One, we aren’t sailors, and two, neither of us would be interested in all the work required to sail long distances.

Connie found these napkins to remind her of the time she and Lindsey spent in South Africa with us one year ago when Jeff passed away at our house.

Nor would we ever be interested in a non-sail boat, or as we’ve often been asked, traveling in a motorhome. Long ago, we considered that possibility, but after considerable research, we aren’t interested in that lifestyle either. What we’ve been doing these past almost 11 years suits us just fine.

Everyone’s tastes and desires are different. Most people cannot imagine giving up everything they own and leaving a familiar lifestyle to do what we do. Interestingly, more often, men say they could do it, but women can’t imagine living out of one suitcase and parting with their beloved belongings. We certainly understand that. Sometimes, we shake our heads, unable to believe that we did it.

Last night’s half moon in Minnesota.

Today, we’re meeting several of Tom’s family members at their usual Billy’s Bar and Grill in Anoka, where they often meet on Fridays at 3:00 pm for drinks and dinner. When we were here in the past, we’ve always enjoyed this special time together with his sisters and other family members in the fun and busy establishment.

The time before we leave at 2:15 will be spent on various projects we’ve been working on in order to be prepared to leave the US in a mere 19 days.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 22, 2013:

In Diani Beach, Kenya, our property owners, Hans and Jeri, invited us for dinner at their house next door. The table was set on the well-manicured lawn. With the balmy breeze and the fire roaring, the mosquitoes stayed away, although we were well armed, wearing our BugsAway clothing. For more photos, please click here.

A special dinner with my granddaughter Maisie…

My sweet granddaughter, Maisie, is heading to school in Wisconsin. Last night was a special time for us to get together before she had to leave today. We had a fantastic time.

When we knew we were coming here, we were aware that Maisie would be attending school in Wisconsin, and we wanted to spend as much time with her before she left. We planned last night as a special time for just the two of us to chat and commiserate as granddaughters and grandmas often do.

The time passed quickly as we chatted and ate our dinners while situated in a comfy booth at the familiar restaurant we often visit when we stay in Eden Prairie. Tom had perused the menu before I left and picked out his “dinner to go,” which I ordered for him during the last 20 minutes in the restaurant.

When son Greg dropped me off at the hotel with Tom’s dinner, he hugged Maisie and wished her well on her new experience. Gosh, our grandkids are growing up fast. Fortunately, we’ve returned to Minnesota many times over the years to see them and see how much they’ve grown and matured.

Maisie enjoyed her pasta but couldn’t eat all of it and gave her dad the leftovers when he came to pick us up.

Back in our room for the remainder of the evening, we streamed the last episode of The Lincoln Lawyer, a great show, and began watching a series recommended by our friends Marylin and Gary, who visited us in Henderson, Nevada, about a week ago. The show is on Netflix entitled Formula One, a docu-series with five seasons to watch. We got into the show right away and look forward to many other episodes.

Thanks, Marylin and Gary! I apologize for spelling your name wrong in past posts. I recalled something unique about the spelling of Marylin’s name, but I looked up a past email to see if I’d been spelling it wrong. Sorry about that, dear friend. I will get it right in the future!

Speaking of dear friends, in a few minutes, my friend Chere will arrive at the hotel for us to visit. We saw each other about a year ago when we were here, and it will be fun to see her again now. We’ve been friends for about 25 years, and conversations with her are exciting and delightful.

Later today, Tom and I will head to Costco, just around the corner from the hotel, to use some of the gift cards we received from booking one of our last cruises through their travel department. Plus, he had a few other Costco credits from buying gas using the Costco credit card and another bonus we received. Overall, we have about $500 in Costco gift cards.

My Cobb salad from Champps was good but not great. The chicken should have been cut into small pieces and tossed into the salad. Otherwise, it was good.

We’re going to Greg’s home tonight to watch the Minnesota Vikings game at 7:00 pm. We’ll bring some ready-made food from Costco, so we don’t have to cook and make a mess.

After a wonderful get-together with my friend Chere, I just returned to the room. As usual, she and I sat at a table in the hotel lobby area and enjoyed chatting. Hopefully, she and I will figure out other times to meet again before our month in Minnesota ends.

On Friday, at 1:00 pm, we’re meeting Tom’s old friend Charlie and his wife Pat for lunch in Albertville. He and Charlie were pals for decades while working on the railroad. It will be fun to see them both once again.

That’s it for today, dear readers.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 14, 2013:

Ten years ago today, we booked our first safari adventure at Sanctuary Retreat, Olonana, in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, one of the most fantastic safari locations in the world. For more, please click here.

Day 2…Henderson, Nevada…Posting photos from Norway starts today….Comfortably situated in the fabulous Green Valley Ranch Resort…

Tom’s Rueben sandwich and chips, a favorite dinner, last night at Lucky Penny in Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, Nevada.

No words can express how relaxed and at ease we are now that we’ve arrived at the beautiful Green Valley Ranch Spa, Resort and Casino in Henderson, Nevada. Last night, I slept for about 11 hours. I fell asleep at about 7:00 pm and awoke a few times during the night but for short times only. Gosh, that feels good today!

Tom is doing great, and he, too, is happy to be at this beautiful resort with fun get-togethers planned over the next nine days until we depart on Saturday, September 9, to fly to Minnesota for one month. The time is flying by quickly, but we are savoring every moment in front of us.

Delicious Cobb salad is one of my favorite dinners.

Last night and again this morning, we ate at the Lucky Penny Restaurant located in the resort. We love their food, and as Expedia VIP members, we get 20% off on food in the resort’s restaurants. Plus, we are entitled to early check-in and late check-out.

I managed to get the resort to reduce their nightly resort fee of $50 to $25 a night, which puts a dent in the cost of meals we eat in their restaurants. We’ll have breakfast here each morning but most likely dine out several nights with Richard and our friends in Henderson. It will all be quite enjoyable.

Sample of colorful cakes the resort will make for special occasions.

It’s great to catch up after all the late nights out on a month of cruises. We often didn’t get to bed until 1:00 or 2:00 am, getting up early for coffee and breakfast. I only ate lunch and dinner since the breakfast options on the cruises were limited for my way of eating. Lunch had many excellent options I enjoyed, but I often ate a little too much and wasn’t hungry for dinner.

Fortunately, neither of us ever gained an ounce on the cruises, which we strive to accomplish each time we cruise. It would feel awful to gain ten pounds cruising and then trying to fit into our clothes. For us, with our limited wardrobes, that could be a serious problem.

Fresh bakery items are offered in the restaurant each day.

In a few days, after Labor Day weekend ends, we’ll head to a local laundromat to wash our clothes. We won’t do it again until we get to Minnesota, where we’ll have access to coin-operated laundry facilities at the Hyatt Hotel in Eden Prairie, where we’ll stay once again.

Today, when the housekeeper comes to clean our room, we’ll head out to our bank to get cash and change and then make our way to a pharmacy for a few items we need before we head to Minnesota. We won’t buy much since our luggage is already overweight and we don’t want to add to the weight. We’ll reduce our load by taking some items to Goodwill while we’re here.

More pricey but delicious-looking baked goods, averaging about $5.50 each.

In reviewing the photos we hadn’t been able to post, it appears it will be very time-consuming and complicated to return to each post and add the photos we couldn’t post. As a result, we are posting some of the photos under the heading of each town over a period of days, which can be found after each new day, listed as Part 1, Part 2 Norway, for example.

The new post with the photos is located here:

Part 1…Unpublished photos from the Azamara cruise to Alesund, Norway…

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, September 1, 2013:

The dissipating smoke from the fireworks set off for a wedding. Both sets of bells in the bell tower rang simultaneously. Tom timed the bell ringing at 20 minutes! We giggled when saying that the bells were ringing as a goodbye to us! For more photos, please click here.

Day 4…Greenland Cruise…Sea day…Unusual events on the ship…Cruise food photos

My dish from two nights ago consisted of various seafood on a bed of steamed cabbage.

This morning, the ship’s captain announced that an ill passenger was being airlifted off the ship by a helicopter. Since the helipad was located at the bow of the ship but from our cabin’s location, we couldn’t see it and take a photo. Sadly, a passenger would have to go through such a frightening ordeal.

It’s a terrifying thought to be lifted from a basket (Tom heard the basket was used in this case) onto the helicopter to be airlifted to a hospital somewhere in Iceland. Hopefully, such patients will have suitable travel insurance. Otherwise, the cost can be prohibitive, often hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Next story…a man aboard the ship stole another passenger’s “sea pass” card, which is linked to a credit card in every case. The thief used the woman’s card to make massive purchases in the jewelry shop aboard the ship. When the woman encountered the man she was told was the perpetrator, a fight ensued, and she slapped him.

Cobb salad was made for me on the Azamara cruise only days ago.

The thief and the woman who hit him were removed from the ship. We don’t know what happened after that. But what an odd thing to transpire on a cruise. It’s been interesting to hear the varying opinions on how this occurred and the subsequent results.

Last night, again, we dined at a “sharing” table by heading into the main dining room by 6:00 pm. That’s a bit early for us to eat, but we love sitting at a shared table with other passengers, some we may have met and others new to us. Invariably, In most cases, the conversation is entertaining and lively.

The food on this ship isn’t as spectacular as it was on Azamara, but it’s been fine, and we have no complaints. The menu is less comprehensive than Azamara, but the taste and presentation are good, and the restaurant manager pays special attention to ensure my food is prepared correctly.

The issues I often experience are too much butter on everything and not enough seasoning. For some odd reason, the cooks think seasoning is out of the question for my way of eating, which is hardly the case. Last night, I stressed the importance of reducing the amount of butter I don’t need or want and the addition of seasonings, as long as they don’t contain starch, fillers, or wheat. That simply means spices are in their natural state, not highly processed.

Tom’s chicken rigatoni pasta was reminiscent of his lockdown dinners in India of chicken penne pasta in 2020. He said this version wasn’t as creamy and good as he’d had then.

Today is a sea day. Seating around the ship is limited right now, but we got a good seat at Cafe al Bacio and enjoyed a few cups of their fantastic coffee drinks, sugar-free for me and regular for Tom. It’s a pleasure to sit there when passengers often join us at our table for four minutes to engage in lively chatter. It’s pretty enjoyable.

We are having a great time. We are undoubtedly enjoying this cruise as much as the Azamara. I asked Tom which one he preferred, and he said they are equal in the amount of fun we’re having and the amenities we’re experiencing. I agree. Life is good.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, August 21, 2013:

Three-legged lizard in the house. For more photos, please click here.

Easy and safe food prep…Repeating meals over and over again!…Wild weather, but we still ventured out last night and again tonight!…

The eyedropper bottle is a mixture of liquid stevia and sucralose. Unable to consume any form of sugar, it is a staple for me to use in moderation. You can easily substitute other sweeteners that you prefer to use.

Ten years ago, on this date, I posted the recipe for our favorite sugar-free coleslaw, which can be found here. In that post, we also wrote about how most of us home cooks tend to repeat the same ten meals repeatedly, meals that don’t require looking at a recipe or spending lots of time in the kitchen, chopping and dicing and prepping ingredients.

In that old post, I wrote:

“Let’s face it; food is fun. Dining is an integral part of our daily lives. It sustains us. It gives us comfort. It gives us joy. It brings us together. It inspires memory and emotions. If done correctly, it can provide good health, renewed energy, and a sense of well-being.

Suppose you were coming to dinner at our home in Tuscany tonight. In that case, we’d be having a string-tied grass-fed beef roast wrapped in fresh herbs from the garden, served with natural au jus, roasted carrots, onions, and mushrooms, stir-fried seasoned eggplant, tomatoes, and basil (from our garden) and, course, a side of Jessica & Tom’s Repetitive Coleslaw Recipe for World Travel.

Repetitive meals are comparable to a happily retired couple being together daily, night after night. It’s looking at the same face, hearing the same voice, and hugging the same less-than-a-perfect aging body, and it still feels good.”

Green cabbage and carrots that we prepped most days for our repetitive coleslaw recipe, a favorite while traveling the world with the ease of finding and keeping the vegetables fresh. Lately, since we’ve been in the US, we’ve been eating lettuce salad instead of coleslaw since we can get romaine lettuce here, which isn’t always available in other countries.

Here we are, ten years later, and nothing has changed. We still eat the same meals repeatedly during the usual five nights we cook dinner since we dine out twice a week. Breakfasts are also routine, consisting of bacon and eggs, bacon and omelets, bacon and scrambled eggs, or as of lately, an egg, mushroom, sausage, and onion casserole that I cut into portion sizes and freeze, taking out enough to defrost in the refrigerator each day for the next day.

As for repetitive dinners, it was fun to look back and see what has changed for our list of “ten things” that “they” say most households repeat repeatedly. Here is our list, posted ten years ago today…

Our meals are made using local ingredients, grass-fed, free-range meats, and organic vegetables when available.

1. Pizza with a side salad, cooked vegetables
2. Italian meatballs with sugar-free, wheat-free pasta sauce, topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Side salad and cooked vegetables.
3. Chicken breasts or whole chicken with a side salad and roasted vegetables
4. Steak with sautéed mushrooms (this could include various cuts of steak, prime rib, filet mignon) with a side salad and cooked/steamed vegetables
5. Pork which could include pork chops, pork roast, baby back ribs (rub type seasoning, no sauce), side salad, and cooked/steamed vegetables
6. Pot roast/roast beef with roasted carrots, onions, mushrooms, with a side salad and additional roasted seasonal vegetables
7. Mexican taco salad with chicken, shrimp or leftover pot roast, olives, tomatoes, onions, grated cheese, sugar-free/wheat-free taco sauce (no chips, no shell) topped with sour cream, avocado, or homemade guacamole
8. Seafood to include crab legs, shrimp, salmon, and cooked fresh fish or crustaceans with a side salad and cooked/steamed vegetables (mainly me since Tom isn’t a huge fan of fish)
9. Hamburgers topped with nitrate-free bacon, sautéed onions and mushrooms, cheese with a side salad, and additional cooked/sautéed/steamed vegetables.
10. Chicken salad, tuna salad, or seafood salad made with onions, celery, and mayonnaise atop a bed of fresh greens with a side of coleslaw and cooked/steamed vegetables

In going over this list, there have been some changes but not that much. As for #6, we can’t always get the cuts of meat to cook a pot roast, but we’ll substitute a beef roast of one type or another, whatever we can find; some require slow cooking, and others can cook more quickly for medium-rare doneness.

This morning I did a Kroger order which will arrive on Monday morning, and we’ll make one of our favorites; a copycat bread-free subway-type sandwich called an unwich at Jimmy John’s. However, we only “real” sliced meats and aged cheese rather than highly processed deli meats and cheese. It is much more expensive this way, but we go for the more healthy version whenever we cook anything. I’ve written several posts about how to put together these “unwiches.”

We posted a repeat of these instructions in this post in 2020 while we were in lockdown in a hotel in India for ten months when we were dreaming of eating these fun “sandwiches.”

Most of us don’t change our menu preferences that much in ten years. We’d love to see some of your lists. Please feel free to post in the comments section!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 8, 2013:

This knife was part of the kitchen equipment available for our use in the house in Boveglio, Italy. It’s sharp and with two hands on the handles, making it impossible to cut oneself. That fact, in itself, makes it a must for me. The bonus is the ease with which it cuts and chops almost anything. For more, please click here.

Using perks and points from Expedia…Interesting photos from a very old house in 2013…Head banging?…

In Tuscany, this yet-to-be-baked homemade low-carb, gluten-free, grain-free, starch-free, and sugar-free pizza was made with “real” mozzarella (often referred to as buffalo mozzarella in the US) and locally grown ingredients. The stringiness factor was tripled from the pizza we’d made in the past using “manufactured” bagged shredded mozzarella, which we hope never to use again. It was our best pizza ever! I’d cut double the ingredients to make another freshly made pizza for tonight with no microwave for reheating. Nothing like two nights of freshly made pizza!

Today’s photos are from the date in 2013, in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, which we posted here.   

How quickly we forgot the nuances of the 300-year-old stone house in Italy. From today’s re-shared photos, you can easily see how much we had to adapt to living in this very old house. It was sometimes challenging, especially when the WiFi signal was so poor.

The electrical wiring throughout the house is exposed, using cloth instead of the conduit most of us are familiar with as a code requirement in the US and other countries. We doubt that building/code compliance inspectors travel around inspecting these centuries-old properties. As shown above, the primary lighting source in the kitchen is these two fixtures over the kitchen table, encased in glass globes. Energy-efficient as the “curly” energy-efficient bulbs we’d used in the US, this particular style takes approximately five minutes to light up the area, which can be a little tricky at night.

Ten years ago, we rented a device from a company in the US called MiFi. This company still exists but can’t do much business these days when good WiFi signals are available worldwide, even in some remote locations. Even in the bush in South Africa, we had no problem getting a good signal.

Sure, some parts of the world are so remote that a signal isn’t possible, but over the years, we haven’t continued to experience issues being online. When renting a hotel or holiday home, we always check to ensure they have free unlimited internet access.

Cloth-covered wiring over the sink in the kitchen.

Today, we rented a car for one day from the Expedia link on our site, found here. When our ship arrives in Boston on August 30, we needed a means of transportation from our hotel to Stoughton, where my cousin Phyllis lives, so we could all go out to dinner near her home.

Again, cloth-covered wiring near the shower in the main bathroom.

When researching transportation from our hotel to Stoughton, a 40-minute drive, we found the cost of taxis, Uber, or transportation companies to be as much as $400 for the round trip plus tips. Instead, with points we’ve accumulated and hadn’t used lately at Expedia, we could rent a car for a good price and drive ourselves to meet with Phyllis.

We both had to duck to go down the long hallway to the bedroom. We got used to saying, “Don’t bang your head.”

As it turned out, we had enough points left to use on Expedia to offset the cost of a car. This morning we booked the car, and all we had to pay after using our points was $9.88 for the one-day car rental. We couldn’t get this done quickly enough! once the details were paid and booked, we added the information to our free Cozi Calendar, as we do with all of our bookings.

Tom also had to duck his head when heading out to the tiny veranda from the guest bedroom.

We now have peace of mind knowing we completed one of the few remaining tasks necessary for our upcoming trip, as listed in a post two days ago here.

Also, we’d like to ask our readers to kindly consider using the links on our page to compare travel costs and perks. We make a small commission that helps cover a portion of the expenses for the maintenance of our site, and you’ll pay no more using the links than if you went to them on your own. Also, you may find you can save a lot of money using these links and accumulating perks and points.

This doorway to the main bathroom was cut to fit the low frame, requiring that we also duck when entering or leaving.

We figured out an easy plan to get the rental car when we’ll be coming from the port on August 30, not the airport, where we’ll have to go to pick up the car. We’ll get an Uber or taxi from the port to drive us to the airport.

Tom will jump out and leave me with the driver, who will drive me to the hotel with our bags. That way, we won’t have to take the bags to the airport. Then, Tom will pick up the car and drive to the hotel. Later in the day, we’ll make the drive to Stoughton to meet my cousin Phyllis for dinner.

This hole was cut on the outside of the house to allow for the water meter.

I asked Phyllis if she’d like us to pick her up. She’s about ten years older than me and may prefer to have us pick her up so she won’t have to drive home in the dark. If so, we won’t mind at all. It will be wonderful to see her. It’s been several years since we’ve seen Phyllis, and she and her two daughters are my only living relatives on the father’s side. As it turns out, I am the oldest living relative on my mother’s side of the family. How did that ever happen? Where did the time go?

Tonight, we’re heading to Brownwood Paddock Square for the evening. It’s been raining off and on all morning, but it looks like it will be clearing by the time we leave at 5:00 pm.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 7, 2013:

The heating elements in the 300-year-old stone house in Tuscany. The radiators are behind these hanging curtains in the long hallway. Hmmm…For more, please click here.

Fabulous night out…Finally found an excellent restaurant with good food…

This was my delicious salad with eight grilled scallops grilled to perfection, without oil, and with sour cream for dressing on the side. I only used half of one of the little containers of sour cream.

With all the company and get-togethers we’ve had since we arrived in The Villages two months ago, we hadn’t gotten into a routine of our nights out with just the two of us. In Marloth Park, we went to Jabula on both Friday and Saturday nights and loved the routine of it. We always had a great evening, with good food and socializing with owners Dawn and Leon and the many patrons that arrived during the evening.

That scenario is challenging to duplicate. Instead, we’re now enjoying somewhat of a routine of going to Brownwood Paddock Square, the closest and most accessible town square for us in The Villages. The other squares are much further, and riding in the golf cart for the over 90 minutes round trip hasn’t appealed to us.

The atmosphere in Cody’s Original Roadhouse is cluttered but fun and festive.

In essence, the squares are very similar in their design. We’ve carefully perused the menus of all the restaurants in the three main village squares and concluded that Cody’s Original Roadhouse is the best restaurant for our tastes and my dietary restrictions.

Not only is the festive environment appealing to both of us, but the vast selection of menu options is particularly appealing. However, I am so enjoying their entree salads; it will be hard for me to select other options, especially after last night’s salad, as shown here, with eight decent-sized grilled scallops, were delicious.

Customers seemed to enjoy their food, as we did.

We started the evening at the bar at City Fire American Oven and Bar. We’ve dined there about three times and weren’t impressed with the options for my way of eating and Tom’s tastes. We decided we won’t eat there again, although the atmosphere indoors, seated at a booth in air-conditioned comfort with excellent service, is quite good.

This coming Wednesday, we’ll try again to go to bingo at City Fire at 3:00 pm. We wanted to go the past few weeks, but when it rained heavily each Wednesday, we decided not to chance it and drive the golf cart in the wind, rain, and lightning.

We lucked out and got a booth. We had a great time chatting, as always.

Last evening, while seated at the bar at City Fire, we met a lovely real estate agent, Poppy. We talked at length, and I explained that we’d like to do a story about real estate for sale in The Villages. We asked Poppy if she’d show us some houses enabling us to take photos and write about our observations in a post.

Tom couldn’t resist eating these warm squishy buns but wasn’t keen on the cinnamon-flavored and sweetened butter. A bottomless salad accompanies most entrees, but he only ate this portion of salad with his entree.

We also explained we were not interested in buying a house and our motives for looking at a few homes, and she was totally fine with this concept. After the Fourth of July holiday, next Tuesday, we’ll hopefully hear from her and set up a time to visit a few homes. Hopefully, she’ll contact me soon to set up an appointment.

We also chatted with a man whose wife passed away over a year ago and was going on his first date next Friday. We encouraged him to have a great time as he asked for a few pointers. I suggested he take off his wedding ring, but some may disagree with this idea. We hope to see John again before we leave and hear how his date went.

Tom ordered this chopped sirloin steak in a mushroom gravy with mashed potatoes. He thoroughly enjoyed it.

By 7:00 pm, we headed to dinner at Cody’s, and as mentioned above and shown in today’s photos, we had an excellent time, and by 9:00 pm, we were back at the house. They roll up the sidewalks by 10:00 pm in The Villages, with most bars and restaurants closing between 9 and 10 pm, even on the weekends.

We’re off again tonight for another evening out. We’ll see what Saturday night brings in The Villages.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, July 1, 2013:

Today, on an exploring and invigorating walk, we found ourselves closer to the larger two clock towers for a better view of the cemetery on the church grounds. For more photos, please click here.

We have our passport renewals in hand!…Summer solstice today…

Photo from one year ago today from this post. When Bad Ear walked along the dirt road, as soon as I call him, he makes a sharp turn and came to visit. It only took him a few days to learn the sound of my voice and his name.

Our passports arrived last week, but preoccupied with topics on past posts; we hadn’t mentioned we had received both passports by FedEx. What a relief! It’s good that we came to the US to accomplish this task, and now we’re good for another ten years. We’d considered ordering second passports while here; however, the amount of paperwork left us anxious for a break.

Sometime in the future, when we return to the US for an extended period, we’ll tackle that job. Next, we will renew our driver’s licenses in Nevada in September, as mentioned in past posts, and we’ll have these two big tasks out of the way.

Today, again, we’ll review all the countries we’ll be visiting beginning in August to ensure we don’t need to apply for any visas while we’re still in the US. Once that’s out of the way, we can sigh with relief and know that almost everything is in order. The only additional task is to sign up for travel insurance a week before we depart since the cruise line requires it, and we feel more at ease having emergency insurance while sailing and visiting other countries.

We’ll only sign up for the insurance a week before departure. I have our Cozi Calendar marked to remind me. Also, since we’ll only be outside the US from July 29 to September 1, we’ll only order the insurance for that period since the insurance doesn’t cover our time in the US, and we’ll be visiting family for about a month.

Then, when we head to South America around October 1, we’ll order the insurance again in three-month increments while we’re there. At this point, our goal is to return to South Africa on June 15, 2024, but we may decide to return sooner, depending on how much we’re enjoying the time in South America.

Big Daddy kudus and impalas in the garden, one year ago today.

As always, when possible, our plans are fluid. We love having the option to make changes if we desire when a location isn’t fulfilling our goals and objectives. We can do so now that airlines are more flexible about allowing flight changes. When it comes to booked holiday homes, there are penalties for cancellations in most cases.

As a result, we plan only to book a few months at a time while we’re in South America and remain able to book the unique locations that appeal to us the most in between holiday home rentals. This way, we don’t have to pay for a holiday home while on other adventures.

Again today, we planned to drive the golf cart to Brownwood to play bingo at City Fire American Oven and Bar at 3:00 pm. With stormy weather predicted all day, we don’t feel it makes sense to drive with the prospect of rain and winds, especially when the golf cart doesn’t have windshield wipers. It’s been raining in the past 24 hours, pretty hard at times.

Instead, we’ll stay in and order Chinese food for tonight and tomorrow. I love the steamed dishes and egg foo young, while Tom is a big fan of sweet and sour dishes and fried rice. Today, we ordered off the lunch menu and reheat the food at dinner time. Doing so saved almost $30 when ordering enough for two nights.

Chinese food is such a treat for us when it hasn’t been available to us for the past several years, except for the few times we’ve been in the US. We also like Mexican food, but it doesn’t seem easy to order it appropriately for my way of eating unless we dine in a Mexican restaurant. I can easily explain how it should be prepared for me, which we’ve only done once since we arrived here.

We’re fine staying in again today during the inclement weather. We’re as content as we could be. Today is the summer solstice as described here: “The summer solstice, also called the estival solstice or midsummer, occurs when one of Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere.”

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 21, 2013:

There were no photos posted ten years ago, but there is a post about an earthquake we experienced in Italy ten years ago on this date. Please click here.

Rained out…Photos of Istanbul…Ten years ago…

Note: Due to some unknown WiFi issue today, I cannot properly format captions and spacing in the text. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Last night, we’d planned to go to dinner at Havana Country Club, but when it was raining with lightning and high winds, we realized it wouldn’t be safe to make the 15-minute golf cart ride in such awful conditions. Instead, we decided to order takeaway from the Chinese restaurant we love, Sunrise Asian.

Yesterday, I received a  coupon as an Amazon Prime member for free delivery from Grubhub for the next 12 months. What a deal! I’d signed up for the coupon but didn’t realize we’d be using it so soon. After placing the order, as shown below:

Roast Pork Fried Rice Quart $8.70+

Sweet and Sour Pork Quart $10.85+

Shrimp Egg Foo Young Omelet with shellfish. $13.95+

Steamed Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables $16.95

Total cost: $64.03

This seemed expensive for getting takeaway, but we’d ordered enough to last two nights. My steamed dish was small, so I ate all the prawns and left half of the vegetables. This morning I cooked eight jumbo prawns that I had in the freezer and added them to the leftover vegetables to have plenty of that dish with the other half of the egg foo young (I don’t use the sauce). Tom eats pork fried rice and sweet and sour pork.
 Today is easy when I only have to wash and dry the bedding. Tom always helps re-making the bed. We didn’t walk this morning since Tom likes to watch CBS “Sunday Morning,” it was sweltering outside after the show ended. The temperature is only about 88F, but the dew point is 80, higher than we’d experienced in South Africa, and the pollen count is high today.
Yes, the Covid headache returned after I stopped taking that drug that caused me to have Afib, only days before we left South Africa and ended up in hospital. After another incident on the plane, lasting six hours of sheer terror on the 17-hour flight, I went on a rampage trying to figure out what caused the Afib.
What a view of Istanbul! For more photos, please click here.

Having a fabulous time with friends visiting from Boca Raton..

Ten years ago today…Normally, big cities don’t appeal to us.  Dubai is unique with its opulence, its wealth, its excess, and its clean, safe streets. See the post here.

Note: New photos coming tomorrow. Thank you for your patience.

I met my friend Carol in 1985 in a bar in Bloomington, Minnesota, the same bar where I met Tom in 1991. No, I wasn’t a barfly, but I occasionally went out with friends after work to this fun establishment that is now long gone. On that particular night, I was there with several female friends.

When I went to the bar to order a drink, I noticed a woman standing there, appearing alone. I asked her if she wanted to join my friends and me at our table. Oddly, we became fast friends under those circumstances and have been in touch since then. She was a commercial airline pilot before she retired about the same time as Tom, over ten years ago. I loved her independence, daring nature, and enthusiasm for living life to the fullest.

We visited her in Florida on a few occasions, where she eventually made her permanent home in a beautiful house on the intercoastal waterway. Once I met Tom in 1991, coincidentally at the same establishment, she also became his friend.

Over the years, she visited us at our home in Minnesota, and since we began traveling, we had an opportunity to meet up with her twice, once when we first began our journey, staying at her home for a few nights, and again in 2017 during a short stint in Florida, while awaiting a cruise.

We could see the entrance to our 91-story building, Elite Residence, in Dubai, UAE, but couldn’t seem to get to it due to construction on all sides. Finally, we found the entrance.

When we knew we were coming to Florida this time, we definitely planned to see Carol and meet her boyfriend of the past three years, Mark, who is a great guy, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed his company as well. Since we don’t have a car here regularly, we planned for them to visit us in The Villages, a two-hour drive from their home in Boca Raton.

It was delightful to see them drive up yesterday afternoon when they arrived before 2:00 pm, and the afternoon and evening hours flew by as we sat around the house, enjoying lively conversation. At happy hour, we sat outdoors on the lanai with a few snacky items and drinks, finally heading indoors for dinner around 7:30 pm.

Luckily, I had prepped most of the dinner the previous day and was able to put everything together, cook the meal, set the table, and be ready to serve when they all came indoors. Again, the conversation flowed easily while we enjoyed our chicken stir-fry dinner with fluffy white rice.

I’d decided to make a stir-fry again since it worked well when friends Karen and Rich were here over a week ago. When guests visit, it’s an easy meal to prep when all the vegetables and chicken can be cut in advance, letting the chicken marinate in Asian spices overnight. Once again, the cake was a big hit.

Tonight, we’re heading to Brownwood Paddock Square for the late afternoon and evening. We’ll be dining at the Bluefin Grill and Bar in the town square after we check out the live band in the square starting at 5:00 pm. From there, we’ll walk to the restaurant, a short distance, for our 7:15 reservation. Of course, we’ll take photos of our evening out and begin sharing them in tomorrow’s post.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago, May 21, 2013:

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, which we’ll visit soon. Our cab driver showed us a video on his phone of the 40-second elevator ride to the observation deck on the 124th floor. For more photos, please click here.