Healthy Recipes Free of Gluten, Dairy, and Soy for Serious Eaters

What A Way To End The Year!

What A Way To End The Year!


This has been one heck of a year! So much has transpired with family and friends, but the biggest surprise is how we traveled to the USA without Johnny and Cash, our truck, and our fifth wheel that we sold last year. We’ve been looking forward to a new way of traveling, and it has been amazing, to say the least. Look out rental car companies and Airbnb’s; here we come!

Last month, I shared our trip through Florida, catching up with dear friends and part of our stay in Naples. During our last week in Naples, we visited a few more preserves.

Still, we had no luck finding alligators, but we saw some beautiful birds in the wild (that little white thing in the middle of the picture)!

We decided to take off and visit Ft Myers and the Edison/Ford Museum.

Both Edison and Ford had homes on the bay next to each other. The views were incredible.

Edison’s workshop looked like Lutz’s garage if he had one!

Hitting the beach for a sunset dinner on Sanibel Island was a treat. What once was a very “cheeky-meeky” resort area was left devastated by the last storm and apartments and hotels look abandoned. But we did find a cute restaurant trying to make ends meet.

The dinner was great, and the sunset was perfect, except I was attacked by no-see-um and itched for two weeks! I forgot these little critters love my ankles!

We enjoyed walks on the beach in Naples. Lutz just couldn’t resist scaring off the birds!

And people-watching!

Axel, Lutz’s cousin, who generously shared his condo with us, arrived the last three days. Back to the beach for a sunset drink! I could get used to this!

We bid farewell to Axel and returned to Tampa with the rental car to catch a flight to San Diego. Still, before we took off, we made a quick surprise stop at The Renaissance International Hotel to visit one of my favorite students from Sure Start 20 years ago, Allyson Durham! Her mother, Lisa, was my assistant, and what a hoot we had. I miss those days and the kids. It’s wild how time flies! She is still as beautiful as I remember.

We arrived in San Diego for a quick hug from granddaughters Albert, Jericho, and my son Jarrod. After three days of catching up, it was time to head to Brookings, Oregon, to visit my 93-year-old mom, my sister Melissa, and her husband, Steve.

We took it slow up the coast and made a stop to visit my brother Boe and spend the night. He was a state lifeguard in Malibu and is now retired and living in Camarillo, California. A trip to the beach was in order to watch another amazing sunset. This event was followed up with a delicious fish meal in town.

The next morning, we headed to our dear Borrego camping friends, Cathy and Larry Berg, who had moved back from Idaho to California in Nipomo. Larry made us homemade beef tacos, and we were off again the next morning.

We took our time up the 101 Highway and visited some of our favorite spots; Pismo Beach is one of the most funky and fun beach towns to visit.

Next stop, Avila Beach.

This is a must-stop for those who love small beach communities. Great hotels and super restaurants to satisfy the pickiest eater! I love this hotel spot right at the pier!

Our next stop was in San Louis Obispo. While my mom lived here we were introduced to Kitty and her husband, Kevin. They graciously offered us a bed for the night and lots of catching up. Dinner was a super home-cooked steak, sautéed mushrooms, and a delicious salad. What a treeat.

 The next day, we stayed in Calistoga near Napa, California, for a night. This hotel was so cute and reasonable.

We hit the town, which was only a block long but still held the quaint character of times gone by.

Breakfast was a delicious spread of homemade goodies, fresh coffee, and juice with fresh fruit and yogurt.

The rooms were clean, and the bed was amazing after a long drive.  Want a fire? No problem. They had one going in the family room, all cozy and warm.

The next morning’s drive was easy, and the sun was out as we headed toward Oregon. Entering the town of  Brookings, the clouds arrived, and the drizzling rain was endless, but…

The sea and views were extraordinary.

Despite the weather, we had a great time catching up and enjoying meals together. My sister has become quite the cook, and her husband quite the fisherman. The smoked salmon was delicious.

In fact, Melissa made me a gluten-free sourdough loaf of bread! It was so good.

Mom is still feisty as ever and always ready for adventure. So, when the sun decided to peek through, a day out with the girls was in order. We all headed to Crescent City, including my long-time friend, Janet, who has been my mom’s “best” friend. “Tuesday with Mom” is a set date for them both; Taco Tuesday and “Movies with Mom.” Today’s lunch outing was delicious, and fish was the main course at the harbor.

Lutz spent his time walking the beaches with Steve while I enjoyed a painting class with Mom at her residence apartment.  I failed the tree painting class. This place is quite active, and from what all the residents say about Mom, she is the life of the party!

One of the greatest sights in Brookings is during the holiday season. The local park is decked out with lights and scenes from local businesses trying to outdo themselves for the season light displays!

Walks in the state parks were always a treat.

These trees are crazy big and incredible. Check out the roots of this redwood tree that had fallen down.

We even got to watch a salmon protect her babies only to return the next day and find her dead. Such is life, and often short for many.

The sunsets are always the best from my sister’s front porch. The sea and sun!

The visit was wonderful and ended too soon. We were on a mission to return to San Diego before Santa came and took off bright and early on our final day. The weather and views were gorgeous during our first day’s drive!

We spent the night near Santa Nella and headed out the next morning for another eight-hour drive to San Diego, which turned into a ten-hour drive due to traffic in Los Angeles! I felt like I was on the freeway near Frankfurt!

We rented an Airbnb around the corner from my daughter’s home. This place was so cute and quite reasonable for the location. Plus, my granddaughters could walk over at any time.

Christmas Eve was fabulous, as always. Albert’s dad Enrique and his wife Alicia went out of their way again and made red and green pasole with all the fixings. His salsa is the best, and Marci, Albert’s brother’s wife, made the best flan with a chocolate cake baked on top. I’m waiting for the recipe and am going to make it gluten-free! Unfortunately, Marci was not with us. She was locked in her room with the flu.

Christmas was a hit, and we all received everything we had ever dreamed of! Lutz and I took the girls shopping for the family at the Dollar Store, so some of us received more than we dreamed of!

Breakfast was our family’s traditional Eggs Goldenrod.  These are a must! I’ve posted the recipe for you all to enjoy. It makes an amazing New Year’s breakfast, so check it out. You can eat this delicious meal all year long!

Our days with my kids were filled with several events. Breakfast out was a great break for the cooks!

Ruby turned twelve on December 28, and we made a trial run to prepare her for her ice skating party. Jarrod, my son, had to show his skills…with a little support from his nieces, he survived. Ruby and Eva were pros by the next day’s party! Which was a great success.

Since we are foot-loose and fancy-free, we decided to try our luck with an Airbnb in Borrego. We were on a mission to visit the sun and our camping friends. We scored! Yes, that’s me squinting in the sun! This Airbnb we found is perfect. It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a full kitchen, a pool, a jacuzzi, and the ideal location for hanging out for a few days until we return to our Airbnb in San Diego to wrap up our visit to the USA.

Well, that’s it for now. We look forward to our stay in Borrego to bring in the New Year surrounded by peace, beauty, and friends and relaxing in the warm sun!  My daughter and the family will be camping nearby with a visit from my son. I’m sure more activities are in store. Thanks for taking a peek at our travels this month. I hope to see you back next month to hear about how this amazing year ends! Until then, please check out my new recipe and resource below!

Happy New Year to you all, and may your lives be rich with family, friends, and health!

Fave Recipe:

These Eggs Goldenrod will be the hit of your New Year’s breakfast or any breakfast this new year. Easy and delicious, plus I bet you have all the ingredients!

Fave Resource:

9  New Year’s Ideas To Celebrate With Your Children:  help your students or children celebrate the new year in meaningful ways. This resource is for all my teacher friends and families with children. The ideas are unique and easy to create with school supplies. Check these zany ideas out for the new year, or tweak them a bit to adapt them to your needs.

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