59 Candles, 59 Things – part twenty nine

Thirty seventh thing: My next entry in the 59 Candles series (of things that make me happy) is my maternal Grandma’s china, which I inherited when she moved into a small apartment years prior to her passing.

As a child, I fell in love with this lovely set of china as much for it’s beauty as for the many delicious family meals enjoyed at my grandparent’s table.  She’d purchased this set as a young woman, prior to her marriage to Grandpa.  With twelve place settings and multiple serving pieces, these dishes were packed up and moved countless times over the course of Grandpa’s career. When she offered them to me, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.  Her only request – could she keep two cups and saucers? Of course.

She lived in Florida and wasn’t up to travelling to Michigan but I would write her, describing meals I served to family and friends using these special dishes.  She always told me how happy this made her and that I likely used her china more than she had over the years.

When Mom sold her home in Florida and moved to Michigan last year, she downsized. A few months ago, she asked me if she might borrow a few cups and saucers from Grandma’s china.  She’d met new friends and wanted to be able to offer a lovely cup of tea when they visited.

“Of course” I said with a smile, reminding her that Grandma had once made the same request.  Grandma would be happy.

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The china was made in  Czechoslovakia

“59 Candles, 59 Things” is a series I began last May to commemorate my 59th birthday celebrating things that make me happy.  If you’re interested in this series, check out “59 Things” under Categories.  There is also a series I did last year called “Moving Mom” detailing the weeks spent helping Mom pack up her home in Florida and our road trip back to Michigan, one of the best experiences of my life. 

 

 

 

Steamed Mussels with White Wine

Spence and I love Mussels and can make a meal of them – which we did last night.  They were so good that I had to share this recipe; I hope you’ll try it!

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Steamed Mussels with White Wine – serves 2

  • 2 lbs mussels
  • 4 large garlic cloves – coarsely chopped
  • 1 small sweet white onion – chopped
  • 2 lemons – quartered & seeded
  • 2 c dry vermouth
  • 1/2 c water
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 T sea salt
  • red pepper flakes – to taste
  • 2 t Trader Joes 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 2 T chopped flat leaf parsley

In a large pan add garlic, onion, lemons (squeeze the sections into pot, then add the lemon quarters), vermouth, water, butter, sea salt, red pepper flakes and 21 Seasoning Salute, turn pan on low until butter is melted into sauce.

Turn pan on high. Add the mussels to the pan, stir and cover. During 6-8 minute cooking time, stir twice.  Mussels are done when they open.  Remove from heat, add chopped parsley, a sprinkle of sea salt and red pepper flakes. Discard any unopened mussels, they aren’t safe to eat.

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I served this with fresh italian bread, butter and Prosecco. Amazing!

 

 

59 Candles, 59 Things – Part Twenty One

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Twenty-ninth thing: I can’t write about the 59 things that make me happy without unabashedly giving a shout-out to the best hotdogs in the world. Right here in Genesee County, Michigan, the family owned Koegel Meats produces Koegel Viennas which are famous and deservedly so.  They are unlike any other hotdogs, just ask anyone who’s lived here and moved away. People weep, realizing after they’ve moved away that they can no longer acquire them. In the past, I’ve been known to freeze them and transport them to family and friends when I go to visit them. It may well be the reason that I’ve lived in the same county my whole life. In fact, come to think of it, it is the reason!

Yesterday, for the 4th of July, we invited Mom for a cookout with Koegels on the grill. OMG! Can I just say, Spence hit a home run with his grilling skills. He grilled extra dogs so that Mom could take a few “to go”.  You make recall from the “Moving Mom” and “Settling Mom” series in the blog, that Mom recently moved back to Michigan from Florida. She may tell others that she wanted to be closer to my sister and I, but I know that Koegel Viennas factored heavily into her decision.

Koegel Viennas are equally delicious steamed if the weather isn’t right for grilling. In a natural casing, there is a distinct “pop” when you bite into them. I can’t describe the joy they bring – it’s foodie nirvana.

If you are in search of that perfect hotdog, now you know where to find them!

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If you’d like to read more of my series, “59 Candles, 59 Things”, click on the “59 Things” category or search box.  This series was started to commemorate my 59th birthday (in May) and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing about these things that make me happy! 

2015 Mid-Year Assessment

The BUGS (Blogging University Graduates) bi-weekly prompt is to track our 2015 New Year’s Resolutions at mid-year.

  • FILING: Starting after the New Year, I combed and sorted through countless boxes, piles and bags of paperwork that have accumulated for more years than I’m willing to admit. A supposed “priority” upon retiring in 2014 – until I committed to “just do it” in 2015, it seemed overwhelming. Once started I nearly burned up our shredder, found things that were important (and ridiculous) even discovering a little black velvet drawstring bag of quarters ($20).  For someone who is a control freak, this felt out of control but once completed, I felt euphoric.
It's liberating!
It’s liberating!
  • MOVING MOM: Not a resolution per se, but a significant commitment for three weeks in March was flying to Florida, helping Mom pack up her home of 26 years and share the drive north to her new home in Michigan. Having my MacBook in tow and the blog established, I chronicled this in my 20 part series called “Moving Mom” (I’d be honored if you wish to check it out).  It was a once-in-a- lifetime experience and I’m glad I documented it since in the moment, it was a blur of activity. What could have been contentious and stressful was in fact exhausting but a bonding experience unlike anything I can imagine. I’m so glad we took that journey together.

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  • NEW BED AT LAST: I bought a bed after at least six years of bitching about my too soft bed. Procrastination and misconceptions had kept me from even starting the process, prolonging my insomnia, aches and pains. In my series “59 Candles, 59 Things – Part Twenty” I wrote about this experience. What I learned is “you don’t know what you don’t know”. I’m grateful I took a rainy day with nothing on the agenda and DID IT ALREADY.
With a good night's sleep, I now awake with pretty thoughts in my head.
With a good night’s sleep, I now awake with pretty thoughts like this in my head.
  • FIND ALTERNATIVE HEALTH SOLUTIONS:  I finally sought out alternative treatments for my aches and pains after realizing that pain meds were simply a bandaid. Besides my yoga and meditation practice, I recently found a doctor who is an osteopath, acupuncturist and physical therapist. At 59, a lot of my “structural” issues can’t be fixed but can and do seem to be responding with better flexibility, toning and some improvement with pain. At 59, I’ve accepted that “we’ve all got something” and feel blessed that any and all health challenges I’ve had are just part of living this long. And given the alternative, I’ll take living any day.

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  • GARDEN – DONE AND SCALED BACK (well sort of) Completed my garden for 2015, and scaled back on my typical annual expenditure. Yes, I’ve given myself tennis elbow (which incidentally is very painful), strained my back and both shoulders from what I called “extreme gardening” pushing to the point of “feeling the burn” then usually 30-60 minutes more to finish up. But hey, the garden looks fabulous and from here out it’s just weeding and dead-heading.
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Good for the soul.

I still have the following things to complete be they resolutions, goals or simply my to-do list:

  • Lose weight
  • Perfect my gnocchi recipe
  • Learn to make crepes
  • Learn to make tamales
  • Learn to make “bath bombs”

I’d love to hear how you’re doing with your resolutions…….leave me a comment!

59 Candles, 59 Things – Part Seven

Twelfth thing: This random happy thing is something that nearly everyone in the world has on their list.

The sound of the ocean, the feel of sand under your feet and between your toes and the waves as they hit the shore and suck the sand back into the ocean. All this while standing under our glorious sun, balmy temps with a bluer than blue sky. They say “life’s a beach” and I agree. I captured this moment when I was on Sanibel Island while moving Mom in March 2015 (check out my “Moving Mom” series if you’d like).

I posted this video then but it was so cool; each time I watch it and hear those waves, I’m transported back to that day. It instantly makes me happy and since I’m doing this series on 59 Things, it made sense to share it again.

And yes, those are my feet at the end and my pedicure peeking through the waves!

Moving Mom Part Twenty – or The Last Leg of the Road Trip

March 20th – part 2 – We checked out of our hotel at 10:00 fairly certain that we’d waited long enough for the heavy fog to burn off.  By and large it had but as anyone knows who’s driven through the mountains on I-75 in Tennessee or Kentucky, fog is serious.

About the time I noticed my ears pop, we’d reached higher elevation and I had to drop our speed as the fog created pockets of no visibility as the cars and semis in front of us seemed to disappear.  As had been our rule on this road trip – no talking if we hit 1) rain 2) heavy construction 3) fog or 4) heavy traffic.  Once through the fog, the roads were drier than we’d expected and traffic was not too bad until we neared Cincinnati.  Never a fan of driving this stretch of intense traffic, multiple bridges and exits while crossing the Ohio River, Mom had volunteered (as she did with Atlanta) to drive this leg of our road trip.  As mentioned, she’s a very safe driver and while I could have done it, it is her car.  We arrived at our third Country Inn and Suites by closer to 4:00 (this night in Dayton) and dragged our stuff into the hotel (this part was getting old for both of us).  My plan for tomorrow is to rearrange so that everything of mine will be in the backseat making for easier unloading tomorrow.

I set up our now-traditional cocktail hour:

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We chilled for a bit and then headed to The Chop House for a celebratory dinner.  At 2:30 my iPhone had gone off (Bruno Mar’s Uptown Funk ringtone does get one’s attention) and I handed it to Mom. We expected a call from her realtor and indeed, the closing had happened, giving finality to the sale of the house.

With Rocky as our server, we ordered more wine – a Pinot Grigio for Mom, Malbec for me.  Lots of toasting – to the closing, to the last night in a hotel, to being home for me and to the move into her new home for Mom.  And to Peggy – her realtor.  And to family, dry roads (you get it right – lots o’toasting)

I ordered the appetizer Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes for my meal having had this before and recalling that it was a big plate of food.

Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes  with chipotle mayo, pico de gallo and avocado.  Amazing.
Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes with chipotle mayo, pico de gallo and avocado. Amazing.

Mom ordered the small plate Crab Cake with Sugar Snap Peas:

Mom proclaimed this,
Mom proclaimed this, “Delicious”

Served along with these plates was a half loaf of crusty bread, hot from the oven, and honey butter. It was a perfect place and meal to celebrate.

Back to the room, we were exhausted.  Tomorrow, we’re home!

March 21st – After rearranging the car and checking out, we got on the road with about four hours to go.  Traffic not bad, little bits of rain but mostly dry roads.  We turned into my driveway at 2:30. Home, sweet home.  I nearly tackled Spence with a hug before unloading the car and then hugged Tipper and Biscotti.  There really is no place like home and nothing like arriving safely, we are blessed.

This is the end of the “Moving Mom” series for my blog.  I’m grateful that so many enjoyed this journey with us.  It’s been a gift to chronicle our experiences; thanks for sharing it with Mom and I.

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