Week 21 – Birthday Fun

A Birthday Trip

This week I will celebrate my birthday with a trip to Asheville to see the Chihuly exhibit that is in the gardens of the Biltmore Estate.  A couple of years ago I went to the exhibit that was at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and loved it so much I went back twice.  I have the Chihuly appointment calendar that is filled with photos of the wonderful glass sculptures that he has made.  I love having it on my counter in the kitchen even though I now use, with John, an electronic calendar to keep appointments straight for both of us.  I like to write in it anyway and have done so since 2014 when I got my first book.  What is rather fun to do is to attach invitations that we receive to the page where the date for the event happens to be, or to tuck a photo or a note in there.  It is part of my penchant for A) Saving memorabilia and B) Keeping a diary for many, many years that records special events and more often than not, the weather on that day in any given year.  Great way to keep track of birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.

So, John asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said I wanted to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Biltmore.  We are going to go up for two nights and stay at a B & B that he found through our friends who own the B & B in Camden, SC.  It is called Albermarle Inn and is a member of the Select Inn Registry which so far has given us opportunities to stay at some very interesting places.  We jump at the opportunity when we are traveling without the animals to stay at different inns around the country.  When we leave to head north in 10 days time we will stay at Best Westerns or Fairfield Inns along the way.  They are quite welcoming about animals.    We will have an opportunity to see the newlyweds too, however, Hadley is recovering from having surgery on her wrist after a bad fall on a bike ride a week ago.  We hope that she will be feeling well enough to enjoy sharing the trip to the Biltmore with us.  Unfortunately she had to have a plate put in her wrist as the bones shifted and her wrist was broken in three places.  Lousy way to start off being married but we keep saying that we are very happy she didn’t do this two weeks ago before the wedding.

Speaking of weddings, yes I did get up and watch the one that took place in London this week.  I loved the whole thing and was so pleased that it seemed to have just enough of the traditional as well as incorporating some very different music and homily.  It was a nice mix of old and new.  I did not have tea and scones but I did have half an English Muffin and some herbal tea, hope that counts.  Wasn’t very hungry at five in the morning.  I used to have a friend in North Hatley who loved to get up and watch the Royal Weddings.  She was actually a very good friend of my mothers and died some years ago but I would get up and drive to her house in my pajamas and we would watch together critiquing the outfits and drinking tea or coffee together.  Many of my Canadian friends had parties for the early morning event and a few of my American friends did too.  It was nice to focus on something other than the gloomy news that we seem to have to put up with most of the time.

Almost Too Hot to Walk


The dogs are absolutely not interested in going out for a long walk right now.  And frankly neither am I.  Our weather continues to be very humid and quite warm.  We have managed to get about 2 1/2 miles in most days but they are completely bushed when we get back and happily sleep for most of the rest of the day on the cold floor of the Carolina room.  I have a wonderful water bottle for them and as soon as we get to the first of the rest areas on the island I stop and fill it with ice and water.  We make sure we stop at each area and give them time to rest and to get water and ice.  Wyke prefers to drink out of a cup and he likes to eat the ice.  Bean thinks the whole thing needs to be knocked over but she enjoys drinking the cold water too.  We use the opportunity to try and do some socializing for the puppy, introducing her to other dogs and people.  She is still so little and everybody loves a puppy that we have a hard time keeping her from jumping up on folks but she is very good at meeting other dogs and so far doesn’t seem shy or barks which is a good thing.  I think we all will be happy to get up north where it is a little cooler and drier and we have a lake that doesn’t have any alligators in it, yay!  Don’t know whether the little Bean will be a swimmer, I suspect probably not as I don’t think it is a terrier thing but I know there will be one happy Golden Retriever.  I am anxious to get out and do some good hill walks again.

Packing Up is On-going

Most of the past week has been packing up things to take north.  We got the Thule box down from the attic in preparation of putting it on the car.  Then I organized all the animal travel stuff and it’s a lot of stuff.  Some days were good ones and I got a lot accomplished, other days were just overwhelming.  Most of the kitchen is done except for what we actually need to get by with for the next week.  Since we will be gone for three days in there, I don’t have a lot of time left and am certainly not shopping for a lot of food.  We will continue to eat up what we have in the freezer and supplement with some fresh vegetables and fruit when needed.  I actually found a whole other jar of my favorite soup in the freezer which I was very happy to find.  That will take care of lunch on at least two days.  The rest is slowly disappearing.  Packed up my favorite olive oils and vinegars and put away everything except the spices.  There isn’t much left to do there until we actually leave.  Moving from the kitchen into our room and closet.  Ugh.  Sometimes it is just too much so I was happy to shutdown for a day and watch the television coverage of the wedding.  It was a good excuse.

Keeping it Simple

My new summer potato salad comes once again from Blue Zones.  It is called Pantescan Potato Salad and incorporates some wonderful tomatoes into the dish.  It is wonderful when the new tomatoes come in and they actually taste like tomatoes.  We have some aquaintances here who own a tomato farm and they said they ship all over the United States.  They said they even ship up to Canada so they told me they bet I was eating their tomatoes up there too.  Actually when I am up in Canada I go to our local farmers stalls and markets to get my tomatoes so I don’t think I am eating them but if I bought them in the store I might be getting theirs.  Who knew?  Here is a link to some information about tomatoes that you might be interested to read.  They are good for your heart and they help lower cholesterol and are full of niacin so enjoy them whenever you can.  I have provided the link to the website version but here it is for you.

Pantescan Potato Salad


(Serves 8)

3 medium potatoes, peeled if desired (I like little red potatoes or small new baby potatoes unpeeled and cut in half)
4 cups water
4 large tomatoes, sliced into wedges
½ medium red or sweet onion (Vidalia are great), halved and sliced into rings
½ cup Sicilian olives, (or Kalamata Olives)
1 ½ tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (use the best you can find)
1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano


Place the potatoes and water in a pot, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender but firm, about 25 minutes. Drain, remove, and let cool. Slice the potatoes into large chunks and place them in a large bowl with the tomatoes, onions, olives, and capers. Toss together. Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar and add the oregano. Toss to combine well. Serve immediately. (This salad is good served at room temperature or chilled.)