Mother’s Day Brunch at the Homestead

Jenn and Me sharing a moment

When I visit Vermont to see the family, one thing I can always count on is great tasting and healthy food. Since I have chosen to be more proactive in seeking local and organic foods, I have a challenge in dining at many restaurants because I can’t control the ingredients used.

But when I am in Vermont, we patronize dining spots that utilize local, fresh, and seasonal food. Over the next several posts, we will look at some of the restaurants in the Burlington-Stowe area where we ate. I did a lot of eating up there. Interestingly though, with all the good, healthy foods, I didn’t gain any weight which delighted and surprised me to no end!!

The first though that I do have to mention is the wonderful Mother’s Day Brunch lovingly prepared by my daughter Jenn, aka The Leftover Queen at their home Thistlemoon Meadows.  ( To see more pictures and get her recipes, then click on the link.)  She and Roberto made ME feel like the queen.

Roberto doing the honors

Jenn setting out the goodies

We started the meal with a Proseco and pear juice cocktail. So good. Then we had home grown organic eggs from their own chickens combined with mushroom, chives, and feta cheese with a drizzle of truffle oil. YUM. Along with that we had organic sausage patties, roasted fingerling potatoes and the most wonderful and surprising coffee cake made with white beans. Who knew you could do that!! And to top it off, was much coffee with cream and a dish of her homemade yogurt and berries.

I was ready for a nap by then, but they whisked me of to a craft show. I hadn’t done one of those in years. It was a big one, the Champlain Valley Expo.  We just went to the craft side but there were antiques there as well in a different area for those who wished to see it.

We ended our day taking a drive and walk through the New North End in Burlington. Could be a place to move to one day?? Big thing to think about going from the deep South in Florida to well Vermont. Not a big fan of cold and snow but the healthy lifestyle of Vermonters is a big draw.

More good eating to come. See you next post.



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My “Free” Cruise


We are back from our “free” cruise. All in all it was fun to get away but as in all things it was a mix of good news and bad news.

It was free and that is always a good thing. Well, almost free anyway. We did have the travel expense, but as we drove from Ocala to West Palm Coast that was a nominal shared expense. And we did have to pay the port tax for the Bahamas. Beyond that, we opted for an upgraded room for an extra $75 each. It allowed us to have this room rather than one that was on a lower level with bunk beds and no window. So it was worth it.

The weather was great. The water was that wonderful blue. The people were friendly so we had a good time making new acquaintances. We did encounter a little rough water about an hour out that lasted for a couple hours – just enough to make my best friend get a little sea sick. ( I hope she still is my best friend after getting her sea sick!! :) ) But after that one episode we had smooth sailing the rest of the way. The Bahamas Celebration is an older vessel and not as grand as say the NCL or the Royal Caribbean, but nonetheless, it offered all the services and activities. There were several dining places, the RIO and THE CRYSTAL ROOM with free seating, although we did need to select a time. Several other casual eateries were also available as was the gourmet, THE COVE, for an additional $25 per person. It suited us to dine at 6 pm rather than 8 and this freed us up to go to the nightly entertainment in the club. There was a nice variety of entertainment and the evenings there were a lot of fun. They also had a duty free gift shop, a spa and a casino.

Margaret and I usually ate our breakfasts topside at the breakfast buffet which was quite extensive. It lacked the ice carvings and elaborate presentations that I found when cruising on NCL or on the smaller ship, the DOLPHIN, but the food was plentiful and good. This was also the site of ongoing dancing, contests, bingo, steel drum bands, etc. going on day and night all through the trip.

The staff was courteous and helpful in every way. Whether we needed an extra blanket to ward off the chill from the AC, a little TLC for my seasick friend, or to bring us endless items to sample at the dining tables, they provided everything with a smile. It occurred to us how hard the staff works on a cruise line.

We had only one port of call on our 2 night, 3 day cruise to Freeport but I will save that for another post.

All in all, it was a nice little getaway. I probably would not pick that cruise line again and would opt for one of the larger lines with more ports of call, and would go for one that was longer than two nights. It felt like we were coming back before I really got into it. Yet, we got more than we paid for and it was worth the two hour time share presentation I suppose.



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Horse and Carriage

Have you ever read the comic Family Circus and watched little Billy go for a quick walk?  He would circle around and crisscross his way all through the neighborhood just to cross the street.

Well, as you know by now, Jenn and Roberto are moving to Vermont.  As is sometimes the way of things, there are those places or activities that you vowed to do while you lived somewhere.  You seemed to have all the time in the world to do them and then one day you realize, “Hey, I’m moving and I never…” In this case the place is St. Augustine.  And the something is a horse and carriage ride.

The town is teaming with them.  Always looking so quaint.  And fun.  And something that we said we would do.  Today we did it with days to spare before their move.

And, like Billy, we didn’t take the most direct route.  We did have to fortify ourselves so we took a little detour to the pub for a quick fish and chips lunch.

Then we worked our way down to the water’s edge and had our choice of carriages.  We picked a great one driven by John and led by the coolest horse, Gary.  John chatted away the whole time showing us every nook and cranny and regaling us with tales of old and giving us a great tour, all the while Gary was just pulling us around, into alleys, past cemeteries, old churches, B&B’s.  He was amazing the way he took charge of the route so that John could look our way and talk!!  Smart horse. :)

Eventually our tour came to an end and after posing for one last picture, we felt a little peckish and once more we detoured over to our favorite gelato spot for a little treat before heading home. I did say little, but as you can see, Roberto was ready for a HE-MAN sized dessert.  See the regular 2 scoop dish next to his sundae?  I think he looks worried that he has bitten off more than he can chew. :)

Well, it was a fun day and we were happy to say that we had that carriage ride in St. Augustine.



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Something’s Coming




Something BIG is coming to Travel Up Close Up. Christmas is past for this year but Santa (Roberto) and his elves are already hard at work creating their artistic magic. And since he said I was on his “nice” list, he has one more surprise up his sleeve as long as we can wait just a few days longer.


On NEW YEAR’S DAY you will see something new and exciting here on Travel Close Up. So keep watching as we count down to the big reveal!!!










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