Loss

Yesterday morning at 10:25 Spence passed away. I’m going to be away from my blog for awhile as I process this crushing loss. My life was forever changed when he came into it and again when he left it. Soulmates, we spent almost 26 years on the best adventure, handling every challenge that faced us together. He was the one true love of my life.

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My sweet Spence

PrivateFly, a truly exceptional company

On February 8th, life took a serious turn. An emergency room nurse called to tell me Spence had been brought to a hospital in Ft Lauderdale where he’d been visiting his BFF for a month. I flew to Florida the next afternoon arriving at 1:00 a.m. February 10th. Little did I know how long we’d be there. As days passed, it became clear I had to get us back to Michigan. I googled “private plane charter” from my iPhone. True of any Google search, the choices were endless but my need was immediate. I chose the first option that appeared. That option was PrivateFly and I believe divine intervention led me to these angels.

Valentine’s Day was my first call to PrivateFly. I connected with Denison, explaining our situation learning he was even based in Fort Lauderdale.  A worldwide company, PrivateFly is world class in every aspect – professional, hardworking and compassionate people that made me feel they cared. When I knew Spence would be discharged Saturday 2/18, it was late afternoon. I feared given the weekend and President’s Day that we wouldn’t be able to  seriously begin the process of putting a flight back to Flint together until Tuesday.

That’s when PrivateFly surprised me as they worked on our behalf 24/7 – all weekend! Denison, Marion, Pierre (who’s based in London) and Jeremiah answered my calls on the first ring, updating me by phone and email as they searched for the right plane and best bid. By Sunday evening, they’d found our flight. In short order I was printing contracts on my hotel’s printer, faxing them back, finalizing everything by 10:30 p.m..  Marion was in constant contact that night, even arranging pickup from our hotel to the tarmac (in a brand new black Town Car no less).  Our flight on Tuesday morning was stress free and pure bliss. Capping a wretchedly stressful thirteen days, these wonderful folks at PrivateFly put smiles on our faces. Denison even came to the airport to meet us. The flight lasted two hours and thirty two minutes from wheels up to wheels down, bringing Spence and I safely home in total comfort, seven newspapers, fluffy blanket included.  With lovely gifts from PrivateFly and refreshments including a delicious fruit and dip platter, we’ve completed another item on our bucket list though not in the way we could have imagined.

Needing to get home quickly under crisis circumstances may not have made us PrivateFly’s typical clients.  I rarely write endorsements on products or companies as you know if you’ve followed this blog.  In a world where we’ve become accustomed to low expectations, I felt compelled to share our experience with PrivateFly.  Every expectation was not just met but exceeded and I’ll be forever grateful for them.

Here’s a slideshow documenting the day we finally flew home to Michigan:

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Safety instructions for our Lear Jet 

 

 

 

 

 

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

I’ve made versions of this salad over time, always with broccoli.  Today knowing that I had both broccoli and cauliflower on hand, I decided to do a twist on my go-to recipe and share it with you.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

  • 2 c broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 – 2 c cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries – add to 1/2 c very hot water for 1o minutes, drain
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 c chopped red onion
  • 1/2 c pecans – chopped and lightly toasted
  • 4-5 slices crisp bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 t coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • red pepper flake to taste (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, cauliflower, cranberries, cheddar and red onion.  Make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, honey, vinegar, pepper, dijon and red pepper flakes.  Dress the salad with the desired amount of dressing – you can always add more.  Add the bacon and pecans, stir to blend. Chill for one hour and serve.

Salsa Red Snapper with White Beans & Gremolata Topping

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Last night I invited Mom to join me for dinner.  I surprised her by making a recipe she’d discovered a few years back.  It’s a showy dish that’s perfect for easy entertaining and chock full of flavor.  Loaded with healthy ingredients, this is only 4 1/2 Weight Watchers points per serving. I sent Mom home with a to-go box and have an ample serving left for myself.  I tweaked the original recipe ever so slightly, using only one can of beans, a bit more salsa and made more gremolata because it’s that topping that makes this dish over- the-top delicious.  If you have gremolata left it would be great with chicken, salmon or even tossed in with pasta, couscous or rice!

Salsa Red Snapper with White Beans & Gremolata Topping             serves 4

4 1/2 Weight Watchers points per serving

  • 18 oz salsa
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained
  • 1 small green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 lb red snapper
  • 1/4 c green onions

Gremolata topping:

  • 1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley
  •  1 1/2 t orange zest
  • 1 1/2 t lime zest
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine 12 oz of the salsa with the beans and green pepper and place in a casserole dish.

  Cut the red snapper into several servings and place over the salsa mixture.


Top the fish with the remaining 6 oz of salsa, followed by the green onions. Cover the casserole dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Mix together the ingredients for the gremolata and set aside.


Remove the casserole from oven and allow to rest uncovered for five minutes before serving.  Top each serving with gremolata and prepare to fall in love with this flavorful, healthy dish.

I served this with roasted garlic crostini, a fresh spinach salad with dijon vinaigrette with a lovely bottle of wine and lemon bars for dessert.

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A Street Cat Named Bob – the movie

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Last year I discovered the most amazing true story of a cat named Bob who saved the life of the man he adopted. The book by James Bowen, made the New York Times bestseller list, was on the bestseller list in England for 52 consecutive weeks and is currently being published in 30 different countries around the world. An incredible story of redemption it explores the bond between a man down on his luck and the cat who found him.  Truly heartwarming it’s a must-read for every cat lover and frankly, everyone else.  One of my all-time favorite books, I blogged about the story last year A Street Cat Named Bob.

At that time, I’d learned a movie was being made and the cat playing Bob was none other than Bob himself.

The Movie
I started following A Street Cat Named Bob on Facebook. Anxiously awaiting the film’s US release date, I planned to see it on opening day – November 18th, 2016.  I’d asked my Mom to go, then looked up showtimes.  I couldn’t find it at any theater yet Facebook posts were announcing it’s release.  “What’s happening?” I thought.

Digging deeper, I found out what countless other had discovered – the movie was opening in only a few select locations around the US – and none were near me.  I was crushed, my hopes dashed.  I logged into Amazon to see if I could pre-order the DVD and set my Watchlist for any news of a streaming release. Then, as we must do as adults, I let it go with the knowledge that I would see it….someday.

Finally, a few weeks ago whilst in the grip of the flu a moment of happiness came my way when I found I could finally stream the movie via Amazon Video. I felt better already.

I gathered Tipper and Biscotti, a pile of pillows and blankets and we settled in on the sofa to watch this long anticipated movie.  It was everything I/we hoped. A beautiful ginger, Bob is not only an incredible feline but is an excellent actor as were the supporting players (after all, clearly Bob was the “star”).

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If you haven’t read the book, I recommend doing so then seeing the movie.

Don’t we all need stories that leave us feeling happy, warm and fuzzy these days? 😸