"If you are tempted by the awakening of your own long-dormant wanderlust, Going Gypsy can serve as a primer. . . . The questions [Veronica] poses about 'what next' are relatable ones for all empty nesters." —PBS's Next Avenue
Are you sick of leftovers yet? We love them, but once the kids are gone who’s gonna eat all of this?!?! CONTINUE READING >>
Are you sick of leftovers yet? We love them, but once the kids are gone who’s gonna eat all of this?!?!
Pretty much everything about life changes when that last kid walks out the door.
Veronica and I think we should make the most of these adjustments, that’s why we started GypsyNester.com, to celebrate life after kids. Most of the changes were easily anticipated but as always, some things are unforeseen.
Over the past few years, we have had to relearn how to shop and cook for just the two of us. That fell into the unexpected for me. I don’t know why, but it was not something that I thought of before the clearing out of the nest.
Throughout our over three decades of marriage I have been the primary cook in the house. One of the kids calls me about once a week to ask things like “how long do you cook a chicken?” or “what’s in that stroganoff you make?” or ” what was that stuff you made that one time that was so good?” About two hours, cream of mushroom soup and carbonara.
I like to eat, so early in life I figured out how to cook the things that I wanted to consume. A natural offshoot of cooking is shopping, so I learned to do that too. I’m such a hunter-gatherer. With three kids, I had to be!
Usually, a trip to the grocery store involved multiple shopping carts and severe wallet damage. By the time the three bottomless pits were teenagers it required a small truck and a second mortgage. Should The Spawn choose to come along, only perfect weather, no traffic, fast driving and sheer luck could get half of the provisions home before ingestion.
One red light and there would be nothing left but empty wrappers, paper products and canned goods… but that’s only because they didn’t like to eat paper and I had learned to check them for can openers before we left.
On one of these homeward sprints, I’m pretty sure they were trying to start a fire in the back of the van. Luckily I pulled into the driveway right as I started to smell smoke and they were tearing open the meat. After that, I learned to check for matches, lighters, flint, sticks, charcoal, grills, skewers, and long-handled forks… even if we were just going to the Kwik Sack for gas.
So there’s been a bit of an adjustment from shopping for a ravenous pack of teenaged wolves to supplying two middle-aged wandering gypsies. Even more so when the eating habits of said gypsies are completely different.
I like meat. Almost any meat. If it squeals, moos, gobbles, baaas, swims, pinches or clucks, I’m all over it. Skin it, pluck it or scale it and lob it on the fire. Veronica calls herself “a meat avoider,” not a vegetarian, an avoider. As near as I can tell, that means “Let me try a bite of that pork chop, it looks way better than this salad.” She claims that it’s my fault that I never get a carnivorous dish to myself because I make things look so good while I’m eating them. I can’t help it, I like food.
But back to the point, it’s hard to find foods sized for just one or two people. We are now punished for not buying the “family pack” of half a cow. I used to celebrate finding 27lbs of grade A beef on sale for pennies a pound. Now I get to buy the one strip steak for tonight’s dinner at $27.00 a pound, what a deal!
Yes, I could break up the giant bargain packs and freeze the portions but how long will it take for me to go through a side of beef all by myself (and of course Veronica’s bites as she avoids the stuff)? The answer is…. longer than it takes frozen meat to turn into that strange crystallized cardboard space-food product it becomes in your freezer. The bargains may not be available, but these days the final bill is certainly less of a shock. Dozens of dollars instead of hundreds, I’ll take that and like it.
Still, my transition from vats of spaghetti, cauldrons of soup and Fred Flintstone slabs of meat to dinner for two is far from complete. I know there are only two of us and I know that Veronica hardly eats any of the same things that I do (sneak attacks from her fork notwithstanding) but sometimes I can’t help myself. I must have burritos.
Then I have to buy the whole can of green chiles, tortillas come by the dozen, there is only one sized can of refried beans and nobody sells less than a pound of meat or cheese for one or half heads of lettuce… so… I either eat burritos for three days straight or we get a really cool science project going in the back of the fridge.
I’ve found that there are some things can help. First, cook different things. No more big pots and whole chickens, now it’s grilled or broiled meat and a smaller side dish. No more striving to fill bottomless bellies with massive amounts of starches.
I bake a couple potatoes instead of mashing several dozen. I cook a small pan of rice, not a washtub full, a small bowl of pasta with tuna instead of literally pounds of the stuff with gallons of red sauce. Pasta and rice are great because I can cook just the amount needed for today and the rest keeps almost indefinitely.
Tuna is one of the few things that actually comes in a can the right size for one or two people. Not so much with the crushed tomatoes.
It also helps to plan ahead a bit. I try to think about a second meal when I’m shopping. A small roast makes great sandwiches the following day. Fish goes into a salad. That extra steak or pork chop is mighty good with eggs the next morning. Most anything can be tossed into a can of soup to dress it up or mixed together with other leftovers to form a new meal. To me cooking is all about experimenting anyway.
Oh, and by the way, there are a lot of fates worse than eating burritos for three days straight… no doubt I’ll do it again soon.
T’was the night before Thanksgiving and all through New York everybody was stirring in every apartment and house.
As I rounded a corner on Columbus Avenue what to my wondering eyes should appear
a festively dressed elf, face down sticking up his…. CONTINUE READING >>
T’was the night before Thanksgiving and all through New York
everybody was stirring in every apartment and house.
As I rounded a corner on Columbus Avenue
what to my wondering eyes should appear
a festively dressed elf, face down sticking up his rear.
Certain this odd sight needed more inspection,
I turned on 81st to check out more balloon’s inflation.
While there were no tiny reindeer anywhere to be found,
a huge Dino the dinosaur was hanging around.
With no help from Santa these giants would soon fly,
after being filled with helium from a nearby semi.
As the sun began setting in the far western sky,
I thought about turkey, potatoes and pie
for our feast on the ‘morrow after the parade.
We wish all Happy Holidays and a great Thanksgiving day.
With Thanksgiving just a week away we take a look back at the history that brought us our favorite holiday.
Turns out that almost everything we were taught in grade school about the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving was a complete fairy tale. CONTINUE READING >>
True story: On our pilgrimage to Plymouth, Massachusetts we hit the visitor center to ask directions to Plymouth Rock.
“Hope you guys brought a magnifying glass,” snarked the lady with the welcoming smile behind the desk as she pointed down the road. Ah sarcasm, we had to like her.
Without fully grasping the gist of the lady’s statement we headed across the road, past the replica of the Mayflower, toward the attractive ancient- Greek-esque monument that houses the famous rock where the first Americans landed.
Giddy with the exhilaration that can only come from setting one’s eyes on a truly epic piece of history, we leaned over the rail and peered down into the hole where Plymouth Rock is displayed.
Holy crap! The thing is TINY!
Only one pilgrim with REALLY GOOD BALANCE could “land” on this pebble! Call us gullible, but we always figured that Plymouth Rock was towering cliffs, or at the very least, hefty enough that the Mayflower could tie off to it. We were flabbergasted, felt duped.
Thankfully people had thrown pennies at it, for luck we suppose, giving us
some perspective for a photo.
Turns out that almost everything we were taught in grade school about the
pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving — while we were drawing turkeys from the outlines of our hands — was a complete fairy tale.
The “friendly Indians” were actually just so emaciated and weak from the
smallpox they had contracted from previous European visitors that they had no strength to fight off the Pilgrims who were busy raiding their food supplies, digging up their graves and squatting on their fishing grounds.
Wait a minute, previous visitors?
Yup, the Pilgrims were no where near the first settlers in New England. Europeans had been tromping around stealing food and spreading disease for decades — centuries if you count
At Plymouth, a few leaders of the depleted remnants of the local tribe of Wampanoag people decided to employ the old “if we can’t beat them, join them” strategy in the hopes of surviving.
Not quite the “hey, welcome to America, here let us show you how to grow corn and eat turkey” that we were taught as youngsters while sporting our construction paper feathers and headbands.
However, the indigenous inhabitants had not been wiped out by viral onslaughts from previous pioneers and were not real big on having their buried food stores dug up and stolen, so they were decidedly unfriendly and sent the Pilgrims packing.
Just a dad-blame second there hoss, first landed?
Everyone knows the Pilgrims first set foot on North America at Plymouth! We’ve seen the pictures. There they are, stepping out of the boat right onto Plymouth Rock.
Wrong again, fact is there wasn’t even such a thing as Plymouth Rock until over a century after the Mayflower’s landing. It wasn’t until 1741, 121 years after the Mayflower landed, that 94-year-old Thomas Faunce claimed he knew the exact rock that the Pilgrims first trod upon. A few years later, in 1774 the townsfolk decided that the rock should be moved to the town meeting hall.
For no apparent reason, the good people of Plymouth decided that only half of the rock needed to be relocated, so they split it in two. For the next century, the rock was moved hither and yon as chunks were hacked off of it for shows and souvenirs.
Finally, in 1880, with only about 1/3 of Plymouth Rock remaining, the famous stone was returned to its original spot on the waterfront in Plymouth. It was at that time that the number 1620 was carved into it.
Not surprisingly, Native Americans don’t tend to hold Plymouth Rock in high regard. Twice, in 1970 and 1995, activists have buried it on the National Day of Mourning or what is more commonly known as Thanksgiving to us nonnative folks. Seems that the folks who wrote our grade school history books and the original inhabitants of this country don’t quite see things eye-to-eye.
Across from the Plymouth Pebble Monument, near a statue of Massasoit
(one of the “friendly, helpful” Native Americans), is a plaque commemorating the National Day of Mourning. Given by the town of Plymouth on behalf of the United American Indians of New England, it states, “Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture.”
It’s not fancy, but it is a nice gesture.
Scattered around the charming little seaside town of Plymouth are various statues and fountains, pretty parks, seafood based eateries and crap shops (GypsyNester slang for fine souvenir emporiums) selling the ever zany pilgrim-pirate-patriot humor t-shirts, lobster bibs, mugs and ships-in-a-bottle.
Once finished with our tour of revisionist history, we relaxed at an outdoor café — sharing a lobster roll — as the ocean cast friendly breezes to tussle our hair. The fake Mayflower shared a bay dotted with sailboats and pleasure cruisers. We stretched our legs and tilted our faces to the sun.
It’s no wonder the Pilgrims and Indians loved this place so much.
We had a great time with Karen Byars, along with a fantastic group of experts, on The Magic Of Travel Summit about the amazing benefits of travel. Thanks again for inviting us to be a part of the fun! CONTINUE READING >>
We had a great time with Karen Byars, along with a fantastic group of experts, on The Magic Of Travel Summit about the amazing benefits of travel. Thanks again for inviting us to be a part of the fun!
We also thank Karen for the kind words about our book:
GOING GYPSY One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All
Meet Karen Byars. She is a Travel Agent who is passionate about travel and helping people understand the physical, mental & emotional benefits of travel. One way she has chosen to do this is to host a virtual event called “The Magic Of Travel Summit”.
She has pulled together an amazing team of speakers who will share their stories and expertise to help you learn how to enrich your relationships, experience exciting places, and truly enjoy your life!
I am pleased to say that I am one of those speakers! I am also excited to extend a free invitation to you to participate in this seminar. You can grab your spot by clicking here: http://bit.ly/David-VeronicaJames
You will come away with a bundle of information and a renewed excitement to get out and experience the beautiful world we live in. We will also address some of the most current safety protocols and what is happening right now in relation to travel and how things will look moving forward.
As a special bonus, well known Magician Alex Ramon will be performing on the first night!
I hope you will take advantage of this awesome free opportunity!