On friendships

You know how sometimes you have to ask yourself that question, really honestly, about your relationship with somebody?
“Does this friendship make sense?”
Maybe it made sense once, but it doesn’t now?
Maybe one of you has changed too much?
Maybe one of you hasn’t changed enough?
It’s a tricky question. But an important one. Our lives are short and who we share our time and energy with matters.

By Author Elizabeth Gilbert

Funny when you see a quote that just speaks to you. My yoga/life coach Jules and I recently discussed these very questions. I’ve always been blessed with wonderful friendships. Retirement has brought about changes I expected and new experiences I couldn’t have imagined. With more time to spend with Spence, I’ve also taken my passion for travel, cooking, writing, gardening, photography to new heights. I’ve rediscovered my love of reading. I decided to try yoga and meditation and ended up embracing those practices into my daily life. As a result of those studies, I’ve grown in a spiritual direction.  I’m busy but focused.

Back to friendships. Jules and I discussed the natural attrition that happens over time. Ever wise, Jules made these statements that resonated with me. To paraphrase, “Warrior, (her nickname for me) you are on a new path. Friends may follow you and others, on their path, may no longer recognize you. Don’t step off your path or feel guilty about going your own way. Know that not every friend is meant to be in your life forever.”

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We all follow our own path…….

This presented an opportunity for introspection. Accept that we all change. Whether by mutual interests, proximity or just organically, we meet people who become friends. Some stay awhile, play their part in your life and drift away. Still others are long lasting and even when you don’t see them often, you pick up where you left off.

So for all those friends who’ve been a part of my life, I thank you. If we’ve lost touch, I wish you well and remember you fondly.

And enjoy whichever path you choose. Namaste.

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Passionate about Food

A gift from my life-long BFF that adorns my kitchen!
A gift from my life-long BFF that adorns my kitchen!

I’m a foodie and proud of it.  There are those who live to eat or eat to live. I’m in that first group.  There’s something that nourishes my soul when I’m preparing a meal, the creative process, the aromas.  Then savoring that meal – bliss. There’s a joy that I get from reading cookbooks, food magazines and an obsession for the Food Network that hasn’t diminished over time. I’ve always photographed food that I’ve prepared. I do the same at restaurants and have filled many travel journals with detailed descriptions of what Spence and I’ve eaten as we’ve traversed the globe.  When still working (ironically I worked with foodies) time between customers was filled with talk of food, recipes exchanged, restaurants recommended, what we wanted to have for lunch that day.  It was through a co-worker that I learned of Pinterest which further fuels my passion; I have no less than 10 specific food boards. Since retiring, I’m making more things from scratch as I have that luxury of time.  And though my first from-scratch batch of gnocchi wasn’t perfect (but darn good) with my potato ricer spewing potatoes all over the kitchen, I won’t be deterred.  And I’ll learn to make crepes and tamales within this first year of retirement, my to-do list knows no bounds. Stay tuned for more recipes and stories of my foodie ways…..

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Simple Entertaining Charcuterie

Spence and I recently had a dear friend staying with us who, among her other great qualities, is a fellow foodie.  I pulled out all the stops (and more than a few bottles of vino).

On our final night, I decided to go with a lighter charcuterie “buffet” style meal and hope sharing it might inspire you on these hot summer evenings.

Pictured: Shrimp Ceviche, Prosciutto, Cappicola, Calabrese Salami, Rosemary & Sea Salt Marcona Almonds, Dijon Mustard, Aged White Cheddar, Fontina, Manchego, Brie, Pickled Okra, Cornichons, Herbed Boursin, Fresh Pineapple, Multigrain & Flatbread Crackers, Strawberries and fresh Italian bread
Pictured: Shrimp Ceviche, Prosciutto, Cappicola, Calabrese Salami, Rosemary & Sea Salt Marcona Almonds, Dijon Mustard, Aged White Cheddar, Fontina, Manchego, Brie, Pickled Okra, Cornichons, Herbed Boursin, Pineapple, Multigrain & Flatbread Crackers, Strawberries & Italian bread

For my Ceviche recipe, click here:

https://www.spencesgirl.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/2015/ceviche

Keepin’ it real (or why I blog)

Since retiring I’ve found myself busier than I could have imagined. My mission when I began blogging was to document what life is like after a frequently stressful career, track new experiences and accomplishments as I check items off my bucket list and other goals.

By blogging, I can share my passion for writing, cooking, travel, cats, gardening and photography as well as reflecting upon my life from childhood to present with humor and poignancy. I choose to keep my blog upbeat. My blogging mantra, “no rules, just write”.

My expectations at the onset were that my audience would be those who know and love me. The reality is that only some of my family and friends are reading what I write – and that’s okay.

What I didn’t expect it is that I’ve reached an audience spanning 38 countries, from teens to seniors, crossing genders, sexual orientation and whose blogs are similar but often wildly different than mine. I’ve engaged with authors, photographers, students, comedians, professional chefs, doctors, fashionistas and world travelers. That’s been thrilling for me – and validating. After all, blogging puts your authentic voice and point of view out there for the world. And that world has been kind and encouraging.

My lifelong BFF and I attended a day long blogging class at Interlochen last weekend. We came away with insights that can’t help but make us better. Over the weekend, we brainstormed how to implement what we learned, generating numerous ideas for content and “best practices”. All while enjoying her fabulous log home on a lake, a sunset cruise on the pontoon, wine tasting at area vineyards, delicious meals and reflecting on nearly 57 years of friendship. This post was inspired by the class and events from last weekend.

59 Candles, 59 Things – Part Eleven

Seventeenth thing:  As I continue along on my series of 59 things that make me happy I have to address the perfect tomato.  Two of my three step kids (the boys) think tomatoes are evil.  Well, I love my step-sons but they are just wrong.  There is something magical about a perfect ripe tomato that is both a thing of beauty and deliciously refreshing. Once the home-grown and fresh local tomatoes begin appearing at farm stands and markets, I’m all about making gazpacho, ceviche, bruschetta, caprese, BLT’s or simply slicing them with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. When in season, they are perfection. You can find my Ceviche recipe on this blog and I promise to add my gazpacho and bruschetta recipes this summer.  In the meantime, please join me in celebrating the tomato!

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From a farm stand in Tennessee just this week. Yum!

Eighteenth thing: I have a lot of great pictures of Spence but there are two that are particular favorites of mine.  They always make me happy and both are framed and hang in our home.

These are the original Three Amigos. Taken awhile back by the wife of the man in the middle when all three guys sported ponytails and shared a love of fishing, travel and general mischief. Nick, Mustache and Spence - a favorite buddy picture.
These are the original Three Amigos. Taken awhile back by the wife of the man in the middle when all three guys sported ponytails and shared a love of fishing, travel and general mischief. Nick, Mustache and Spence – my favorite buddy picture.
Captain Spence with his daughter. Taken many years ago, priceless.
Captain Spence with his daughter, taken many years ago, priceless.

Nineteenth thing:  Is kindness a thing?  Maybe not tangible but as an action don’t we feel better when we are kind to another being? Isn’t it the best feeling when someone is kind to us? Or when we see or read about an act of kindness?

I periodically (and increasingly) find I need a break from watching the news.  There is so much sadness, tragedy and cruelty in our world that I find myself overwhelmed and unable to shake it off.

I always think that kindness, whether intended or a random act, is heartwarming, reaffirming and something we can practice every day. And along the way, make the world happier, a moment at a time.

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Painting Party at Picasso’s Grapevine

This is what the teacher painted

For those who follow my blog, you’ve seen references to my lifelong BFF who has been integral in injecting fun into my retirement life.

Yesterday, she gathered a group of family and friends for a painting party which is a new trend but the first time I’ve attended one.  Held at Picasso’s Grapevine, the hostess brings in wine and snacks, the venue provides ice buckets, cups, corkscrews and the like.  As we signed in we were given our own easel and canvas.  She’d pre-selected our subject for painting which was on display – a kind of Van Gogh-esque Sunflower scene.  In front of each easel were smocks, a large, medium and small brush, a cup of water (to clean our brushes) and a paper plate palate of acrylic paints in white, black, royal blue, burnt sienna, yellow, orange, red, green and purple.  Our instructor, Heather, started us off with a toast and as we raised our glasses, she explained the process.  At first we were all very quiet as we gripped our brushes with precision, getting the feel of painting.  As time went on and wine was consumed, we loosened up. The painting became more intricate and the laughter ratcheted up as our group walked around to look at how others were interpreting the same instruction.

Our group, lifelong BFF and I are far left.

Over all, it was a blast and even though I don’t think I’m ready to start selling my art, I felt a sense of accomplishment by doing something outside of my comfort zone.  It was fun, relaxing and I have a memento of our painting party as a bonus.

C'est Magnifique, no?
C’est Magnifique, no?