Morikami Japanese Garden and Museum

On my last full day in FL, I decided to take a Lyft to the Morikami Japanese Garden for the day.  My driver was a nice enough guy but did not speak any English so we had a bit of a language barrier.  He wasn’t sure where to go, found the garden, but entered on a service road where we almost got creamed by a semi truck coming out. That was fun!  He dropped me and I had to climb under a fence to get into the main building.  But no worries, all was well in the end!

The sun was shining and it was a lovely day wandering around the gardens.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and finished it with a stroll through the museum and great lunch in the cafe.  I was interested to see that it is rated one of the top museum cafes in the nation!  I can see why–the food was amazing.  In fact, I wanted more! Read more about the garden here.


My driver back to the hotel was a reasonable white guy so I told Rich that his team was redeemed after the other night. haha

Kathi and I went back to the Atlantic Ave area for dinner at a place called 32 East, where we had some pizza and arugula salad, both delicious.  We enjoyed chatting with our server who was from Haiti and had the most positive attitude!


On one of my Lyft rides, I had seen a train speeding by and asked my driver where the train went.  He said “lots of places.” I asked if it went to the Fort Lauderdale airport and he said yes.  So I looked it up and found that there was a station very close to the hotel and it was only $5 to get to the airport. Score!  Much better than paying another $40 on Lyft. I made arrangements with the hotel to take the shuttle over to the train station the next morning.  Kathi and I had a pleasant last night in the hotel and then said our goodbyes the next day as she still had another half day of training and I had to leave in the AM to catch my plane. I’m really glad she invited me and had such a nice relaxing time!

The shuttle took me to the station the next morning and I purchased my ticket for the train.  As the departure time approached, we started hearing messages over the loudspeaker that the train was delayed 35-40 minutes.  I had allowed several hours but certainly did not count on any big delays!  I eventually asked one of the transit officers what I should do and he seemed to think I would still be “okay.”  He gave me an 800 number to call, which I did, and was told the train was on its way and should be at our station in a few more minutes so I stuck it out.  It did arrive soon after and we all loaded up. Another thing I didn’t realize was that the train did not go right into the airport but to a station about 15 minutes away and we all had to get on a shuttle bus. By then I was a little anxious but thought I still had plenty of time.  Thankfully, this was true and I made it through security with time to spare; even had time to get a tea and a snack before boarding.  The flight home was good and Rich was there to pick me up.  It’s always nice to get back home!


Where did February go?

I have been slacking off, apparently!  Lots going on, as always.  Here’s a little catch-up for February.

First off, our son in law Corey had a birthday on the 2nd.   He’s a great husband and dad and one of the hardest working guys we know. He’s also a lot of fun and can tell some funny stories, which is pretty much a requirement to be in our family.  We have lots of interesting conversations and always enjoy hanging out with him. AND despite leaning toward the metal category, he is surprisingly versatile at Song Pop Party, kicking most of our *&#$%es in many genres.  We love you, Corey!

Next up, granddaughter Elle’s 10th birthday. Yes, another one hits double digits. Man, the time is flying by!  She is sweet and sassy, kind and thoughtful, funny and silly. She is a great reader and writer and I can’t believe the long passages she can memorize and recite! She excels at soccer and volleyball and gets more skilled every year. She still beats us at board games and likes our after-school slushie treats, visiting Ajax, and “arguing” back and forth with Grandpa. We love you, Elle!

We babysat the boys overnight while Elle was in a soccer tournament and while she had a birthday sleepover.  Beck was a little upset because he didn’t get to go to the birthday slumber party so we made our own party at the Studio Movie Grill where we ate pizza and watched “Peter Rabbit.”  Then just the usual fun and games at our house. They are great kids and we always have a good time with them.

Found this little oasis of Philadelphia in Dallas while driving to Elle’s volleyball games.  Tastes pretty darned close to a Philly cheesesteak and we’ve been back one more time when I had an Italian hoagie that was almost perfect.  Hurray for a little bit of home!

Okay, maybe February needs more than one post!  To be continued…

More Eating and Wandering

We had a brunch reservation at Brennan’s, another well known local restaurant not far from our hotel.  It was a short walk over and we were not disappointed with the fabulous food.  First off, they brought us some delicious bread and sea-salted butter while we waited for our order. Who can resist bread any time?  Not me!  Then I added to my bread intake by ordering the vanilla scented French toast with a cherry-apple compote, pecans, and Steen’s cane syrup.  Rich had the Eggs Hussarde: house-made English muffin, coffee cured Canadian bacon, poached eggs, hollandaise, marchand de vin sauce, and chives.  Needless to say, we were stuffed for the walk back to the hotel.  🙂

Later we decided to walk around the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood right next to the French Quarter.  It was very colorful and interesting.  We walked back under a light rainfall but it was warm so no big deal!

We are political nerds so we walked to a deli to get some muffulettas and sides for dinner to eat back in the room while we watched the Presidential debate.  I am not sure why we torture ourselves so, but we just cannot seem to turn away.

We continue eating our way through New Orleans

We slept in a little bit the second day, then walked to Canal Street to catch a trolley to our lunch destination, Shaya.  Seriously, we left our room before 10:30 for an 11:30 reservation but we didn’t realize just how long it would take. First we walked several blocks to the trolley stop and then it took a good little while for the trolley to arrive.  We got on with a whole bunch of other people and it was slow going with all the stops along the way.  We finally got off at Napoleon St. in the Garden District, but then we had to walk 7 more blocks to the restaurant and it was already 11:30 when we exited our ride. Rich called to let the restaurant  know we’d be late and to make sure we could still come; thankfully they said it was no problem and they weren’t super busy.  Whew! We were a little hot and sweaty by the time we got there!

Shaya serves modern Israeli food created by James Beard Award winning chef Alon Shaya.  Not only is he a great chef, he also supports kids in need with his former Home Ec teacher through the Shaya Barnett Initiative.  How cool is that?

Lunch was fabulous–wonderful freshly made pita straight from the wood fired oven, baba ganoush, king trumpet mushroom hummus with braised greens, black harissa and gribenes, pickled veggies, roasted brussels sprouts, and lamb kebobs all shared between us.  So good!

We walked around Magazine Street and the Garden District before catching our trolley back to the hotel.  While Rich rested, I sat out on our balcony enjoying some iced tea and watching the world go by.  Later we walked to a Vietnamese place, 9 Roses Cafe, and had some bahn mi and pho.  Another lovely day in New Orleans!


Little Trip to NOLA

Months and months ago, I received an email from Southwest Airlines about a sale they were having. Usually I look and don’t find anything near the sale price they’re quoting on an itinerary we’d like.  But I decided to browse and sure enough, there weren’t too many REALLY good deals but New Orleans was the cheapest at $56 one way from Love Field in Dallas.  I looked at our account with Southwest and I had enough points for three one-way tickets, so between my points and the sale, we purchased four one-ways for $56 plus fees.  Quite the bargain, huh?! (Frugal retirement 101!) I put the dates on the calendar and it seemed very far away at the time but suddenly it was upon us during what turned out to be the super busy month of October.

We flew out yesterday morning–the first time I’ve flown since our last trip out of Unalaska almost a year ago.  I have become more and more nervous about flying and try to avoid it if I can.  Imagine my delight when the flight attendant announced they were taking up trash early and getting seat-belted in because we would have some turbulence approaching NOLA.  I had to laugh afterwards because it was hardly noticeable. Either they expected worse that never materialized or they’ve never flown in the Aleutians.  🙂


We arrived a little before noon and decided to take the $2 bus to the French Quarter with the regular folks rather than paying a fortune for a taxi (Frugal retirement 101)…we like to take public transit when we can, and we had packed light with that in mind.  We caught the bus, no problem, and had an uneventful ride into town.  I really wanted to take photos of people on the bus and interview them a little bit but I was too intimidated and thought they wouldn’t take too kindly to it.  I really am curious about their lives in a social worker sort of way.  🙂

Then we had a fairly long walk from the bus stop to the hotel–longer than either of us expected.  Rich had the hard part, carrying his backpack and our one bag, but he wasn’t complaining.  We both needed the exercise, of course.  🙂  Eventually we made it to the Place d’Armes Hotel where they nicely allowed us to check in early.  It’s an older hotel on St. Ann St., right in the French Quarter.  Our room is quaint and cute and we’re within walking distance of lots of sights or to the trolley on Canal St. if we want to go elsewhere.

We had reservations for dinner at Restaurant R’Evolution so we didn’t want to fill up too much in the middle of the afternoon.  It was around 2 PM by the time we set out from our room to wander around the streets nearby and the French Market, with a stop at Central Grocery for a yummy muffuletta.  We had eaten there last time and really liked it, plus it claims to be the home of the original muffuletta…who knows how many places make that claim but theirs is definitely a good one!

Later we walked to Restaurant R’Evolution and had the best dinner!  It was our big splurge night and we filled up while sharing a baked pear salad, crab beignets, peaches and cream foie gras, triptych of quail, bread pudding and grapefruit-rosemary sorbet for dessert, plus wine–oh, my.  The service was wonderful and the food was amazing.  Thankfully, we had a Visa gift card from AT&T for signing up for internet at home (Frugal retirement 101).  🙂

One thing that bothers me about New Orleans is that there are lots of homeless people on the street.  I mean it bothers me that they don’t have a place to live.  Walking back to the hotel after dinner, I talked with one guy who had a sign saying he was an Air Force vet–Rich and I are both AF brats and I felt bad for him, wondering if he has PTSD from one of our conflicts.  He said his wallet had been stolen with his ID in it and he can’t get a job without ID.  I gave him some money with hopes it will help him get where he needs to be.

We didn’t return to the hotel till 10 PM and conked out pretty early after a busy, full, fun day.  We’re only here till Thursday night and mostly plan to take it easy, plus lots of eating (that’s what happens when you’re married to a chef).  And, yes, we joined a gym in Dallas and need to get back to working out if we are going to eat so much!!

Busy Days of Summer

We’ve had lots going on!  Rich and I both have birthdays in June–mine is first, on the 13th, and his is on the 21st.  We were born 8 days apart in the same year.  🙂  The grandkids don’t quite get this age thing yet.  Recently Beck asked how old we were and I said we were both 61.  Of course, I am sure he thinks that sounds VERY old.  I then asked him who he thought was older, Grandpa or me.  He immediately said “Grandpa.”  We said no, Gigi is 8 days older.  He could not wrap his mind around it and asked, “How can you be older if you are not as tall as Grandpa?”  He then wanted to know if I was going to get taller than Rich.  🙂

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been wanting to go to Cafe Momentum so Rich and I celebrated my birthday there on Saturday night.  I loved seeing the program in operation and knowing that these young people are getting a chance at a more positive life after having some challenges in the past.  I especially liked the shrimp and grits beignets and the local veggie platter. On the way out, I asked the staff member at the register if they use volunteers but he seemed a little unsure so I guess I will need to follow up with someone at the office later.

Monday night Sarah and Miles took us to a birthday dinner at a place called Filament in Deep Ellum; Bonnie and David also contributed to the meal even though they don’t live here and couldn’t go with us.  We had a DELICIOUS dinner and lots of fun hanging out with Sarah and Miles.  Apparently we were having too much fun because we failed to get any food photos!

Elle made me a sweet bday card; Bonnie recorded her kids singing happy birthday, I had phone calls from all the kids and my Mom, lots of Facebook greetings, texts and messages from family and friends.  It was a good day, though I cannot believe I am 62 and it bothers me a little more than I want it to.  :O Continue reading “Busy Days of Summer”