A return to tradition

For many years Spence and I enjoyed Scallops Chambord on New Years Eve with a chilled bottle of Prosecco, a roaring fire and a great movie. We looked forward to this decadent meal with the anticipation of kids on Christmas morning.

That changed after I lost Spence in 2017. I put the tradition on pause, it felt too sad to continue it. I hoped I’d feel differently one day and this year I did. The passage of time, gratitude for good health and so many blessings in my life allowed me to embrace our tradition once again. It was fabulous!

I’m adding a link to the recipe from an earlier post in case you’re inspired to try my recipe https://spencesgirl.com/2015/12/31/scallops-chambord/ and I wish you all a Happy New Year!


A year ago I was beginning preparations for the annual Wolfe family Christmas Eve, a tradition that Spence and I started years ago. For my grandkids, it’s the only Christmas Eve they’ve known. With the house decorated, delicious food, surrounded by family, laughter and gifts galore in front of a roaring fire, the tradition continued even after we lost Spence. This year the house is decorated but the Christmas Eve festivities had to be cancelled due to Covid.

So you might be asking, isn’t this post titled gratitude?

In a year fraught with crisis, chaos and isolation for long periods of time I make a point of reminding myself that I’m okay when staggering numbers of people are not.

I’ve lost no one to Covid.

I have my health, a warm home and no worries about where my next meal is coming from.

Tipper and Biscotti, (my cats) are my roommates. They entertain me, snuggle endlessly and don’t seem to mind that I talk to them…a lot. I may be the only human in my home but I’m never alone.

I’m grateful that I moved Mom to my home for six weeks when the Covid crisis was in the first surge. She loves my cooking. We played games and had non-stop quality time together while remaining safe. I introduced her to the Gilmore Girls – a favorite of mine that I’d recommended countless times. She was hooked and it seemed fitting to share a show featuring a mother and daughter with my own mom.

Home delivery of groceries is something I hadn’t imagined I would ever do but that changed in March of 2020. It was a godsend during those early months.

I’m grateful for my garden. It got me out of the house and into fresh air and sunshine creating beauty that surrounded me all summer.

Puzzles, countless puzzles kept me entertained for hours while shifting my focus away from the worries of the outside world.

I’m grateful for knowing myself enough to take breaks from the news. While I want to be informed, watching the news felt like being bludgeoned for most of 2020. Sometimes a girl needs a break.

Music and books have always been things I love. They became an essential and integral part of coping during long stretches of alone time.

Streaming took on new meaning in 2020. I’ve discovered fascinating documentaries and series that captivated me. I’ve watched critically acclaimed movies that I’d always intended to watch.

After postponing a road trip to my beloved Wears Valley in May, I was able to go in September. Having traveled here many times, I sought out activities that avoided crowds and would be safe, which brought me to the Great Smoky Mountains Art community. I took classes in pottery, glass blowing, fused glass and painting with alcohol ink. It was transformational and something I might not have done if not for Covid. From the number of blog posts, it’s clear to see that painting is now a hobby/passion/obsession of mine for which I’m grateful.

I’m grateful for the scientists who worked tirelessly to find vaccines that will eventually eradicate Covid.

I’m grateful for the return of hope I feel for our country as we approach inauguration of qualified, compassionate leadership in January 2021.

Thank you to my followers, you have my gratitude as well. I wish you a Merry Christmas, good health and a Happy New Year. Be safe.

My first 24 tiles

I’ve been sharing my tile art through various social media accounts and garnering lots of positive feedback. One question (likely due to the number of posts) is “what’s the plan for these”? That’s a great question….for now I’ve been enjoying them displayed like this!

Creating beauty and focusing on art rather than the sadness, uncertainty and stress of 2020.
I pop in my AirPods, select my favorite playlist and start painting, like a spa day for my mind.

Self Care, part thirteen & my second solo trip


In my last post I talked about my first solo trip since losing Spence and how empowering it felt to reconnect with my love of travel and regain the confidence to do it alone.

The winter of 2018 seemed longer, colder and drearier than any in the past.  Spurred on by the successful trip to Scottsdale I asked myself “where next?”

My next hurdle was to return to a place where Spence and I had many fun times, Laughlin Nevada.  I needed find out if I could go back and create new memories.

By now, I’d passed the one year mark since my loss, had one solo trip under my belt and knew that the time was right.  I felt Spence’s presence at every turn as though he was sending me good luck.

Just a few of my slot winnings over the course of my stay!

Situated along the Colorado River with Bullhead City Arizona across the way, Laughlin was a balmy and beautiful respite from the cold and snow I’d left behind.  The hotel pool and the riverwalk were perfect breaks from the casino as was a spa day at Laughlin Ranch.

Of course I had to post a few fine dining photos……

They say “you can’t go home again”.  They would be wrong –  my trip to Laughlin made me realize that it’s all about timing, readiness and a desire to reclaim my happiness.

Self Care, part twelve – and my first solo trip


Having been with Spence for 26 years, it was a shock to the system to find myself alone.  It’s taken a lot of time to figure out who I am without him.  Part of self care involves getting comfortable with navigating all aspects of life successfully by yourself.

I took my first of two solo vacations in early 2018.  Travel was a passion for Spence and I whether a spontaneous road trip or an international vacation, we were utterly simpatico. I needed to know that could travel alone and find myself along the way.

For the first trip I chose Scottsdale, somewhere I’d never been. I stayed at the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Montelucia. It was a magical escape from the bitter cold Michigan winter, with daily spa treatments, fabulous meals, hikes and a few visits to a nearby casino. I had nothing but time to be alone and reflect on my life.  The true test was the last night which fell on Valentine’s Day.  I’d thought I might be sad seeing happy couples celebrating over dinner and considered ordering room service. Instead I put on a pretty dress, jewelry and makeup and went to their fanciest restaurant where I enjoyed an amazing meal and attentive service.  I took a long walk after dinner, enjoying the beauty surrounding me and realized, I was okay. In fact, I felt happy.  It was empowering to feel that spark reignite.

A few scenes from the resort and spa.

This hike was on a warm, breezy day and allowed me to immerse myself in new surroundings, nature, silence and reflect on all the good things in my life.

Long before I started blogging, I was photographing (and journaling about) food.  Spence always found this funny and would title our trips, “Laura’s Eating and Drinking Vacations”.  That said, I had to include a few pics of the delicious food and adult beverages I enjoyed on this first solo vacation.

Self Care, part nine


It’s human nature, for women in particular, to be harder on ourselves than others.  With  family and friends, we support their choices and are non-judgmental of their mistakes.  We accept their imperfections because we know their worth, in other words we provide unconditional love.

In contrast, we hold ourselves to higher standards and our inner voice can tear us down if we don’t manage its volume.

Self care isn’t just about getting through a crisis – it’s an ongoing awareness of our inner critic who makes us feel we’re not meeting every self-imposed expectation.  Call it changing the lens or flipping the script and try to imagine that same internal voice consistently offering up positive affirmations and encouragement instead.

Fitzgerald’s quote exemplifies that level of self-care that is essential to changing how we view ourselves.

It includes you believing  in yourself – you’ve got this!





Self Care, part eight

There was a moment during my journey that stands out, what Oprah would call an “aha!” moment.

It came from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network.

For months I hadn’t been able to focus on a book, movie or tv show. I had no appetite nor interest in food or cooking which had been passions of mine.

I’d lost my mojo.

Enter The Barefoot Contessa. I’d tuned into her show out of a need to fill the silence with a familiar voice but then found myself engaging. Ina’s on-screen warmth drew me in and whatever she was cooking (though I can’t recall what it was) had my full attention. Her joy of cooking ignited a spark in me and at that moment I felt a shift as my inner foodie began reconnecting with my heart. It was a big step forward. Though she’ll never know, just by being herself, Ina Garten helped me on the path to healing myself.