The Wonderful Italian Diet

We had been to the doctor in Orlando before flying off to Italy! Yes…we had heard what the dr said! If it is animal based…stay away! If it is plant based….eat with great taste!

It was hard to think like that knowing we were headed to the land of pancetta, parmesan, and gelato! Did the Doctor realize that he was causing me possible high blood pressure trying to resist all the great Italian delicacies? Yes, if I followed his advice my cholesterol would probably go down, but now I was so high strung trying to stay away from all the foods we were coming to Italy for!

Well…we showed him! Ok maybe we arent showing him but we certainly have figured out how to have our cake and gelato too!

The last several days we have noticed that we dont even have to unzip our pants to pull them off. They slide down on their own! WHAT? We are in Italy for Heavens sake! How can this be? Do people really come here and loose weight? Well Guido and I are living proof that it happens! Here is our story!

It all began April 18th when we landed in Florence for a month. We had just arrived from Rome where we had stayed for two days trying to adjust to the 8 hr time change!

Our taxi delivered us to the door of the apartment that we would call home for the next month! The host greeted us and unlocked the front door to the building! We saw a group of stairs leading to another door that was in front of us…..no problem, there were just 5 stairs. We are old but no problem, 5 little stairs are nothing. Even with our 5 bags. Then the second door is opened snd there before us are more stairs! Randy looks at me and says, “did you check with the listing page to be sure there is an elevator?” Oopsie! No didnt do that! Laura, our host says, ” no worries, it is just on 4 th floor!” What….we have to climb up to 4th floor every time we come home! And carry groceries up 4 flights of stairs! But we need one hand to hold on to the hand railing so we dont fall and break a hip or ankle! This is crazy!

We began the ascent! Im proud to tell you that we made that first trip up in less than 10 min. We kept having to stop and catch our breath at each landing. Laura had felt sorry for us and told us to leave the bags and she would have her brother bring them up. If she had not done that i was ready to admit defeat and tell her to just shoot me. There was no way neither of us would be able to carry the bags up! As Laura was showing us the apartment and everything we needed to know I ask her if there was a hospital near by in case we had a heart attack climbing up! She laughed and said,”oh you are funny, you will get use to them by the second day!” Apparently she didnt realize what she was saying to Ms Butter Queen who has butter running through her veins

After she left us to get settled, Guido just looked at me and shook his head! He said, “lets sit down right now and, after our breathing returns to normal, check our other places we have reserved for the next two months and be sure that if they are higher than the ground floor that there is an elevator! Should we actually not die from a heart attack this month and be able to continue on i dont want to push our luck by moving to another place without an elevator!” After all, we both had read somewhere that hearts only have so many beats before they give out. And right now, ours was using up alot of those allotted beats!

Well Laura was right. By the end of two weeks, we didnt collapse by the time we got up to the second floor. By 3 weeks we didnt have to stop after 3 floors and have a nap before going on up to the 4 th! And my oh my, by the 4 th week, we were able to climb all the way up to the 4 th before our hearts beat out of our chest! Then we left for Rome! Just when we were getting this stair climbing down!

We looked back over the 4 weeks in Florence and realized why we had lost weight. Not only had we exercised but we had eaten less than we even dreamed. By the time we would come home from sigh seeing and exploring, we would just look at each other and one of us would say, “lets just eat soup or toast tonight, i just dont have the energy to make one more trip up the stairs today!”

And that my sweet traveling friends who are dreaming of coming to Italy but afraid that you will come here only to go back home a size larger is a fool proof way to loose weight when here! Oh…one (or two) more secrets to loosing weight! When out exploring a favorite town here, just order off the menu with pride! Try to make the food servers think you know Italian! I got cocky and ordered a pizza thinking that the word acciughe was a cheese! It wasnt. There before me sat a pizza filled with all the cutest little anchovies you have seem! I tried to pick them off and eat the pizza but i just could not. Ended up having breadsticks for dinner.

And last tip is this! When you know that you are allergic to milk, do not buy the statement “oh everything in Italy is different. Not as much processing and you probably wont have problems with the milk there!” So i went on a gelato spree! Guess i went a little over board having gelato 3 times in 3 days. I wont bore you with the details but lets just say that i probably lost a couple pounds that week alone!

So there you have it! The medical advice you must have to loose weight in Italy!

The walking alone burns so many calories that you can have a plate of pasta without guilt. Taking the subway in Rome is hard on your knees snd Lots of stairs going down and up but the calories burned allowed us to enjoy a dish of cacio peppe, my new favorite dish! And yes, i know what it is now ( pasta with cheese, pepper and pasta water) and can actually pronounce it….with a Southern draw!

You might not recognize us when we get back to Texas! We are almost skin and bones now! But we are going to really try hard the next two months to put some of our weight back on . We are only staying in bldgs with “lifts” and riding the buses! We dont want to scare our friends and family into thinking we have lost too much weight. So we are eating as much as possible….because we are just that type of people….caring, giving and thoughtful of others! Arrivederci

Seeing Italy In A Round About Way

This week should prove to all our adult children that we are still of sound mind and able to take care of ourselves! We survived the over 1,378 round abouts in Florence, Bologna and the AutoStrada! Actually i think the 1,378 turned into 2,756 by the time we turned in the rental car on Friday! Since our GPS was in the beautiful Italian language with street names that none of us could begin to pronounce much less see fast enough as we went around the “round abouts” we did our fair shares of playing ring around the Rosie, by car!

Just as we were starting to get the hang of following our sweet Italian speaking GPS lady we named “Lucia” we came to the toll booths! All I can say is that the man yelling at us from the speaker to “just go on” 15 times, needs to go to anger management class! We were doing our best to count out $8 worth of Euros from our purses! We had no idea it would cost that much. We thought we had plenty of change out before driving up to the arm that would not lift even though we had thrown in 8 Euros. Our 8 euros apparently didnt add up to $8 so the man in the window began shouting for us to go on so all the cars behind us would stop honking!

Bonnie and I were about to die laughing when, after a few more miles, excuse me Kilometers, down the road, we had to repeat the process! This time, Arnie drove past the machine that takes the ticket to see how much we owe and had to back up! Cars began honking once again as we began to dig for change as we quickly noticed we were in the credit card lane only!

We drove off finally realizing that we felt good about learning some new Italian words coming from the drivers behind us!

Exploring Italy for 3 days by car was not only an adventure but it proved once and for all that our minds are still working pretty well! As we drove up to our airbnb in Bologna for the night, we were a little irritable that the host was not there to meet us and let us in! When we began to text him, we let him know that we had been at the front door for 30 min and were tired and hungry and was ready to get out of the car we had been in all day! He quickly responded that he was standing outside the door to the apartment we had rented but we werent there! We were at the wrong address. Apparently there were two exact same address! one was in Bologna the other was in a little neighborhood 5 miles away. We put our bags back in the trunk and 35 min later, drove up to the correct place. By now we were starving. We were too tired to get back in the car and try to go find a place to eat so we asked our Airbnb host if there was a neighborhood restaurant that we could walk to. He graciously told us about a place about two blocks down! We sat down at the table to which we were led and opened our menus. Of course it was all in Italian and the waiter spoke no English. When Arnie ask about several menu items it became apparent that the restaurant specialized in fish! None of us actually received the food we thought we had ordered! But the laughter and the experience was certainly worth our first dinner with fish that was looking at us from our plates!

As we left Bologna the following morning, we smiled at the first “round about” which allowed us to drive yet around and around trying to find the exact exit that would once again take us to the AutoStrada! We had learned our lesson….we had the change ready and waiting in the cup holder! Plus, after having a whole fish, eyes and tail included, we had learned a few new Italian words ourselves!

Falling In Love

We truly have fallen in love with Italy. We came here with so many intentions of seeing as many of the tourist attractions as possible, never thinking about what would actually capture our hearts.

Waking up each morning here in Florence has opened our eyes to so many new things!

We are able to look out and see beautiful hills and cypress trees as we listen to the church bells ringing, seeing the church in the distance! We watch housewives hanging clothes out on the lines as some of them look up and wave to us, as we stand on the balcony wishing we had learned some Italian and could carry on a conversation with them.

Yesterday was such a precious experience for me. Our landlord invited me to come over and watch her mom make tiramisu! As I sat in their kitchen, Paulo, Laura’s sweet mom began whipping cream, slowly stirring egg whiles in the mascarpone mixture and then allowing me to dip the biscotti biscuits in the prepared coffee before placing them over the smooth rich creamy mixture! What a treat. But then as i rose to leave, they handed me the beautiful bowl of tiramisu and told me it was mine to take home so we would have a great dessert for our friends flying in today!

It is experiences like this that have made us stop and give thanks to God allowing us to be here! Yes, the beautiful old buildings are amazing to see! The art that lines the museums is so beautiful it brings tears to your eyes! But once again it is the people who touch our hearts that gives us our most amazing memories. Will we remember going thru the Vatican? Of course! Will we look back and brag about learning the bus system, navigating the trains and being able to actually order in a restaurant where no one speaks English? Absolutely! But my most favorite memories will be the days that Randy and I walked to the grocery store almost daily! The afternoons when we stopped in to our favorite coffee/pastry shop down the street and got so excited when the owner began to kid with us because he now recognized us from being in there so much! The mornings when we hung out clothes on the line as pigeons flew over, landing on the roof next to us, just daring us to leave the door open so she could fly in or nest under the sink on the balcony. Randy and I have had afternoons when folks stopped us, asking directions and we could actually answer them. If they knew English or we could point to a map for them!

The month is going so quickly, but the memories are becoming already so dear and special to is both! Today the sun is shining, the doors and windows are open as we await our sweet friends! We are excited to not only to show them some tourist attractions but the heart and soul of Florence….the people!

Florence Fiascos

Well, to say yesterday was an adventure is saying that the Pope is Catholic (sorry but since we are in Italy i had to use that saying)!

We arrive at the train station in Venice and took the 4:30 train back to Florence. We had already decided that when we arrived back here, we would just take a bus back to the apartment. After all the more money we save not taking a taxi we get to buy gelato!

We sometimes (sometimes?) get cocky and think we have mastered things, when in reality we just “think” we have mastered it. Yesterday was one of those days. We had just talked on the train about how proud we are that we have learned how to navigate the trains here, learned the euro, how to call a taxi and give them our address in Italian and two of the bus routes; we thought!

We walked out of the Florence train station and headed for the bus terminal. Randy says so confidently “ok we know we have got on bus #13 and #6 by our place so surely if we catch either of those we should make it home”! So we hold our heads as high as we can carrying bags and backpacks (plus his cane and big umbrella) and cross a major street heading for the buses! Oh forgot a very important detail. We leave the train station with me needing to go potty but too tired to walk upstairs to go so i just told randy i will hold it until we get home. After all, should not take more than 30-45 min. We walk to the sign that tells us the buses (remember its all in Italian) numbers and how long before each bus will be before they arrive. Hot Dog, there is #6 bus coming in 8 min. Bus 13 never was listed so we knew it did not service this stop. But we r good. We, along with 15 others hop on. No seats are left and we find out what canned clams must feel like. Randy grabs a bar to hold on to still holding his cane and a bag. I cant get close enough to even think about holding on to anything but it was so crowded that actually i didnt worry about falling. A few folks get off as the bus stops so i make my way closer to randy so i can hand him our tickets to validate so we are riding legally. As i try to hand him the tickets, the bus takes off and i fall over head first to the floor! I feel an arm of someone helping me back up to a standing position and am able to give Randy the tickets. After another 15-20 min Randy ask me if anything looks familiar! I told him the only thing that looks familiar is the floorboard of which i have almost fallen completely face first not being able to sit or hold onto anything. People have continually crowded on to the bus at each stop. They just kept coming. After about 45 min we come to a stop and everyone gets off except the two of us! Yea…we can sit down now! The bus driver turns to us and tells us to get off, we are at the end of the line and he gets off the bus and goes and smokes a cigarette! When i tell him “No. we cant be at the end of the line because we havent come to our stop yet! he ask me (I guess that’s what he has me I don’t know , he could only speak Italian but I pulled out my little picture of my bus stops on my phone and pointed to the one where we get on and off, “he said no”and motioned for us to get off the bus and take the next 6 bus it will get us there! So we (i still have not gone to the potty) wait about 10 min and i get on bus and show him the stop we need and he shakes his head yes! Ok we are good to go. This bus is crazy. So crowded that now even randy has nothing to hold on to and when the bus comes to a stop, he fell into a mans lap. The man yells because it scared him, but i started to laugh just watching randy try to get up holding his cane and backpack. After 30 min we see our stop and get off! This is when we remember that the next day is a holiday in Italy and we have absolutely no food at the house. Many of the stores and cafes close soRandy tells me he thinks we should walk to the little restaurant by one of our grocery stores and eat and go to the grocery store and get a couple things for the next day. I remind him I’m still needing to go the bathroom but I’m afraid that if we don’t go to the store then we will be stuck here at the house with no food and the cafés will be closed when we wake up in the morning. So we walk over to the cafe and they are closing and the grocery store has already closed. We notice that a little outdoor hamburger stand is still open so we decide that even if my dr has said that im not to eat beef or animal products we are going to get a hamburger. If i die, at least i died full and not from hunger! (This little stand only makes hamburgers and has a table and 4 chairs and is about a block from the apartment in the middle of the park ) We ordered and proceeded to eat when Randy says, “do u have the keys?” Do i have the keys”? Of course i have the keys. This is italy and you have a key to get inside the building then the key to unlock the apartment door! So i begin to look thru my bag and my backpack. I start to panic and start unloading both onto the table. No keys! There in the middle of the park (it is now 8:30 pm) i am throwing everything out of both bags onto the table. The guys cooking hamburgers am now looking at us like we are homeless. I began to think about our order. We had ordered one hamburger and ask them to cut it in half and one coke for us to share. After all i figured that if my dr in 3 months wasnt pleased with my cholesterol numbers going down i could at least tell him that we now shared a hamburger instead of eating a whole one by myself!

Because im needing to potty so badly, (remember we got out of train station at 6:30) my next phone call will be to our financial advisor to buy stock in Depends!

I gathered all my stuff and began to just stuff it in the bags. Was so embarrassed thinking about what the guys cooking must be thinking. But we didnt want to have to unload the bags on the sidewalk in front of our outside door to look for the keys! Plus now it was dark. We decided to just walk home and try to call our landlord to see if she could come let us in. By this time im thinking of ways to pee in my pants and not stink when Laura comes to let us in. We finally find Laura’s number on our new Italian phone, which is so much less user friendly than an Iphone and ask her to come please let us in. She just lives around the corner. In 5 min here she comes. She brought the keys and we ascend up the stairs. As she leaves, I race to the bathroom. Then as i come out, here is Randy holding the keys saying, “look what i found in MY backpack!”

I think i remember seeing some mafia guys in the park by the hamburger joint! Wonder if they speak English?

Think i know some new vows that need to be added to wedding ceremonies!

Italian Wannabes

We, along with thousands of people who have passed thru here, dream of living here or at least want to look Italian! With my milk of magnesia lilly white skin I dont stand a chance. Dressing all in black or gray trying to fit in as we walk along the streets of Florence, we still stand out like the typical tourist. Maybe its that I stop every 10 min trying to snap pictures of someone leaning out a window singing and waving to all of us standing waiting for bus #13 to show up! Maybe its that we have to stop at every little market to just look at all the beautiful fresh produce or that I’m yelling Caio when everyone else is yelling Bonna sera! Or maybe its the fact that we continually pull out the map while pointing to the walls of the buildings trying to figure out where in the world we might be and how did we get there when we intended to be on the other side of the river!

Whatever the reason that we look like tourist, i really dont care. We are just thankful to be here. Today i thought it would be fun to list some of the reasons we love Italy! So hang on and if you have some reasons that you would love to share, please do so!

The scenery is gorgeous

The gelato is just, well, how do you describe it? Im sure it will be on the banquet table in Heaven

The people are so precious

Love that you never see anyone wearing jeans that are so low you see more of their underwear than you want to see

The food is incredible

Makes me use my mind trying to read a Italian labels and if im washing our clothes in dish detergent or clothes detergent

Did i mention that the food is incredible

I feel healthy even eating everything with olive oil

Even love the bread without butter (and for those of you who know me, that is saying alot)

Have loved walking ( and for those of you who know me, that is saying alot)

No screens on windows plus able to hear church bells ringing so the sunshine as it pours in the windows

It has been fun to use clotheslines off our back patio to hang up clothes to dry. If i did that at home, they would think I’ve lost my mind or had spent all our retirement money on chocolate and butter and couldnt afford a dryer…but here its fun!

Since we dont speak Italian we dont watch much tv so have begun to read more and get out and walk more to just explore. Why dont we do that back in Texas??? Maybe because we think it might be dangerous walking on the Tollway? And there is no gelato shop on every corner!

We love traveling by train which allows Randy to rest while i snap pictures of the gorgeous countryside

I will end todays post with just one more reason we love Florence…..

The food! It is just incredible!

We are taking the train on Sunday after church (yes we are going to try to get there again) and go to Venice for 3 days, then back to Florence to await some dear friends who are coming to visit us from California! We feel that we have learned a few out of the tourist busy places to show them! Am so excited to have them here! Ciao or Benne Sera or Arrivederci….or toodles (for those of you who dont speak Italian like us)!

Easter In Italy

Oh we had so many plans! Plans that included us worshipping with other Italian believers in a church where many different people from so many different places would be joined together! I had even imagined that hopefully someone from church might invite us over for an Italian Traditional Easter meal! I know, i get carried away so often with my thoughts! But this Easter was going to be so very special as we had never been away in a different country for Easter! I had even written the church on FB to tell them how excited we were to be joining them today! We left the apartment an hr early to walk to the taxi stand two blocks away! We knew the church was a little over 2 miles away so we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to hail a cab! Because we had been told that taxi service would be a little restricted today because of so many drivers were off, we prayed, asking God to please send us a cab so we would be able to go to church. You would think that that would be one prayer that would be answered, but to our dismay, we were not able to get any taxi! We left after 45 min with a discouraged heart. Why had we not been able to get a ride? we had waited just knowing a cab would arrive, so we knew we would never make it in time if we walked by the time we gave up. Sounds silly but i kept thinking, we are staying at this taxi stand in faith knowing God would provide!

What happened to our perfect Easter plan? We walked away from the taxi stand with a sad heart. As we walked, it would be so easy to allow this disappointment to get me in a bad mood but as we continued to walk an old hymn came to me…

“At the Cross, at the Cross where I first saw the Light and the burden of my heart rolled away! It was there by faith I received my sight and now I am happy all the day.”

As i sung that song to myself I thought about those words “and now I am happy all the day!” But i wasn’t feeling very happy at the moment. But shouldnt I be? Today was Easter, Jesus Christ is Risen! Should any circumstances cause me to not be happy? Because He lives, we have hope! Because He lives, we can face uncertain days! Because He lives we have eternal life! Shouldn’t these give us cause to have unspeakable joy! We continued to walk and came upon a little pastry/coffee shop where we went in and sat down! We were the only ones there that was not from the neighborhood and the only ones who spoke English! We ordered a coffee and pastry and as we sat there watching and listening, my heart turned to gladness! These were precious people who Jesus died for also! He had put it in my heart, even before we arrived here last thurs, to pray for folks who crossed our paths! In the afternoon Randy and i were walking back from dinner about 7 and we encountered one of the sweet ladies we had seen in the coffee shop. We stopped and talked to her! It was then that i realized that maybe we were suppose to be in that coffee shop this morning exactly when we were! God has laid it on my heart to pray for this lady who we ran into again this evening! Sometimes it takes us not being in church to “be the church”! I am committed to pray for her and ask the Lord to give us another opportunity to talk with her! So I am praying for boldness to share the Good news. She spoke a little English and was such a delight! My heart was full as we walked home! Easter had indeed not been our normal routine, but as we all know, Gods ways are always perfect and maybe, just maybe, God sent our taxi to someone else trying to get to church that needed some hope and encouragement today! Yes Easter was different from our normal Easter, but it was so very special!

And we had delicious Italian Pastries! God is good all the time, all the time, God is good!

10th Floor View

As we come to the close of our time here in Orlando, we have so many precious new memories, not only with our kids who live here, but with each other and with dear friends who we had almost lost contact with in preceding years.

This morning when I was looking down to the view below and commenting to Randy that I will greatly miss waking up and looking down on the lake which is on one side of the condo, but also the Orlando skyline which is on the other side. When standing outside this morning looking across at the different scenarios of the peaceful feel that you get looking at the lake, as opposed to the feel that comes from watching cars race by headed to work or activities, this thought came into my mind…..”is this all I want?”

This question was posed to us last Sunday in church where we attended several times with our kids while in Orlando. I hadn’t thought much about that question until this morning. As the preacher was talking to us on Sunday and told us to turn to someone and ask them, “is this all you want?”, he went on to talk to us about the Christian life. Is just coming to church on Sunday, sitting in the pews and singing some songs, listening to a message all the Christian life we desire. Or do we want more? Do we want to live the abundant life that Christ has promised us? Do we want to live to glorify Him? Do we want to love Him more than anything we know or have. What is our reason for wanting to be a Christian?
We read Luke 7:43-50 where Jesus is giving us the story of the women who washed Jesus feet with her tears and hair. She didn’t worry about what others thought of her. She surrendered herself and her heart to Him in a way that none of the religious men in the room had done. Probably at the time when she was on the floor, bowing before Jesus, where her tears fell upon Jesus feet did she even realize that she was indeed washing the feet of God.
The service last Sunday was ended with listening to “My Alabaster Box” and as we heard the words of the song, it convicted my heart of the question that was ask of us at the beginning of the service. “is this all I want?” Do I want more of Jesus?
This morning as I stood out on the balcony looking below at the different views, that questioned lingered. Yes, it is easy to stand 10 floors above and look down upon the quiet, peaceful lake across the street and think, “wow, what a great life it would be to have everyday tranquil, peaceful with no ripples to my day.”
Then walking around the corner looking below at the cars rushing to wherever they are going, I start to think about the people in those cars. Do they ever think about God? Do they ever ponder what their lives are about? Do they question why life is what it is? Is there a purpose to my life?”
As I stood there this morning, thinking about this, it dawned on me that yes, I do want more. I want to be used by God to tell others the Good News. I want to fall in love with Jesus more every day and fulfill the purpose of why He allows me to wake up each morning. I want to live each day desiring to be His Heart, HIs Hands and live in such a way that others see “Christ in me.”

As the days grow closer to Easter this year, we will be in Florence, Italy having the blessing of attending Easter services there. Lord, help me to have greater desires to be used by You and that others will see Your reflection when they look at me.

Alabaster Box (Written by Janice Sjostran)

I can’t forget the way life used to be
I was a prisoner to the sin that had me bound
And I spent my days
Poured my life without measure
Into a little treasure box
I thought I found
Until the day when Jesus came to me
And healed my soul with the wonder of His Touch

So now I’m giving back to Him
All the praise He’s worthy of
I’ve been forgiven and that’s why
I love Him so much

And I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him like oil
From Mary’s Alabaster box
Don’t be angry if I wash His feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His loving arms around me
And you don’t know the cost
Of the oil in my Alabaster box

Lord, please help me not to be satisfied with just sitting in a pew on Sunday mornings, but to be out there, living for You and being surrendered, that You will use me to share Your love and Good News with whoever You bring into my life.” Help me to get off the balcony of life and onto the streets.

Green Chile Chicken Casserole

Tonight we took dinner to our kids. Tuesday evenings are pretty hectic in their household so it has been so neat to cook for them and have them walk in to their house to dinner.
They like chicken so I always try to think os something that will be easy to carry over there and yet something that everyone likes. Today I decided to make this casserole because it is so easy and they loved it.

1 can of mild green chile enchilada sauce (10 oz can)
2 chicken breasts cooked an diced (save some of the chicken broth that you cooked the chicken in ”
1/2 cup onion
1 oz package shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 oz package of cream cheese
3 tables butter
18 yellow corn tortillas
garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste
1 tables corn starch stirred into 1/3 cup water or chicken broth.
Oil for searing tortillas

Spray a 7×11″ baking dish with Pam.
In a skillet, melt the butter and add the diced onion. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until onion is clear and tender. Add the garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir. Add half of the can of the green chile sauce to the onion mixture. Pour about 1 cup of the chicken broth into this mixture. Stir in softened cream cheese. Mixture will be thin, cook over low heat for a few minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in the corn starch mixture a little at a time stiring continually until mixture thickens. If it thickens to much, add a little more chicken broth or more green chile sauce from another can. (I always buy two cans for this reason.)
Set this aside.

In a separate skillet heat oil. Taking the corn tortillas one at a time, drop in oil for 2-3 seconds per side until all 18 have been heated in oil. Drain on paper towel.

Pour other half of remaining sauce that is in the can in the bottom of the baking dish. Layer 6 of the tortillas on the bottom. Sprinkle 1/2 of the chopped chicken over the tortillas. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over this. Layer 6 more of the tortillas,now the rest of the diced chicken and another 1/3 of the cheese. Layer the remaining tortillas on top. Pour the sauce from the skillet over the entire casserole and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes or until casserole is bubbling and cheese is all melted and lightly browned around the edges.
We served this with a pot of pinto beans and Spanish rice.

Seniors On the Run

Bonnie & Clyde, Guido & Gina, running away from so many different things. So much difference between the two couples. Bonnie & Clyde were running from the law. Guido & Gina are running from everything that is familiar, family and friends. Even though we are leaving for Italy in the month of April, we are not trying to escape tax season. We are just trying to run to someplace which will grow us as seniors. We won’t have Walgreens on every corner. There will be no Walmart to run for heartburn meds or Geritol.
We won’t have familiar faces driving down the street, stopping to engage in conversations about government or the latest neighborhood gossip. Yes, it will truly be a whole new experience for us both. It is different when you travel overseas with tour groups. Safety in numbers, right? Well, there is just the two of us, with the exception of a couple of weeks when we will be blessed with some of our kids and friends coming over to stay with us. This trip has been a dream for us for a long time. Why is it that these bucket lists possibilities are never a possibility until we are old. I am sitting here thinking about what we are going to be doing and what it would have been like going when I was 25 or 30. No fear, no thoughts of “oh my gosh, what if one of us falls and breaks a hip while trying to take a selfie at the Trevi Fountain?” What if we get heart burn so badly that we can’t tell if it is just heart burn or a heart attack? Can we really carry our 50 lb suitcase up 4 flights of stairs? What if we loose our passports? Will we get on the wrong train? What if we get lost and can’t explain to our Italian friends where we are trying to go?
Thoughts like this never enter young peoples minds. They just go and enjoy the ride.
After my doctor told me last week that unless I gave up certain foods that I would certainly find myself having a heart attack or stroke, I thanked him for giving me something else to worry about. Now, instead of walking the streets of Florence with a gelato in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other, I will now be afraid to eat anything other than a piece of dry crusty bread or a sliced tomato. Gelato? Forget it, the closest thing I will get now to that is a frozen slice of banana. Young folks, listen to me….steal, beg or borrow and go travel before you spend your nights preceding the trips, practicing getting out of small cars without looking like you will be bent over for ever. Guido and I are already practicing each evening how to say in Italian, “where is the closest emergency room?” We have sewed pockets in our shirts for extra Tums and ID cards in case one of us looses our memory while we are gone and get separated in the crowds.
Just this morning, when I was tempted to stop at Chick Fila to buy a new Key Lime pie flavored shake, Guido looked over at me and says, and I quote, “No, remember what the Dr said and I can tell you right now, if you have a stroke, I will put your make up on you so heavily that you will look like Tammy Fae Baker. I will not keep your face shaved, or your hair done like you like. Also,you will be laying there with a unibrow. So let that be an incentive for you to enjoy those bags of lettuce we just bought at Trader Joes.” Bless his heart, God love him….he is so caring.
Yes, in a couple of weeks, we will be seniors on the run, praying that we will return 3 months later with memories which will prove that oldies can go, grow and explore new places even loaded down with heavy suitcases, purses filled with meds and snacks that would make my doctor proud.
Trust me, I’m not leaving Italy before having coconut gelato, pizza or limoncello….even if I end up with Tammy Fae makeup being applied to my face!