It is time to "pack" away 2023 and look through the windshield of life at a brand New Year! Folks are out buying champagne, cabbage, black-eyed peas and all of the other traditional New Year's delicacies to celebrate another trip around the globe! As the year closes I took time to reflect on people, places and things that had an impact on my life over the past 12 months. I encourage you to make a personal list and view it as a gratitude practice! Here's a sampling of my favorites! There are just too many to list!
An Unexpected Surprise!
December has been one of the most thoughtful months of 2023 for me. It has set the standard very high for how life can be and I am all in! Imagine my delight when my sweet little neighbor, Clara (age 9) brought over a coffee cake for Alan and me to savor. She and her grandmother had spent some quality time together over the holidays and made us a scrumptious cake. (I am going to ask for the recipe)! So Clara gets my vote for one of my Favorite Young people. I am honored to be able to watch her grow up into a beautiful human being. She exhibited poise, maturity and pure joy in giving to others. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Hats off to her parents, Daniel & Christine and Grandma Janice for giving her such a loving home.
Meeting Meg McDonald
Never doubt the power of plants! This little cactus was delivered to me by boss partner, Jessica Zoltek and her mother, Meg McDonald. They were out "playing Santa" spreading joy everywhere that they went.
The lovely gift of the cactus was quickly overshadowed (in a good way) by the gift of a kindred spirit. Jessica's mother, Meg McDonald is one of the most talented artists and poets that I have encountered in my life. She shared her artwork with me and I was speechless. I felt an instant connection to her and what she is doing.
Have you ever met someone and felt in all of your being that they were meant to be know internationally? That is how I feel about Meg.
She is teaching a class in intentional art (Circle of Healing) designed to help participants cope with an array of emotions that all humans experience. The Arts Alliance of the White Mountains in Arizona is fortunate to have her as an instructor. I am hoping that upon her next visit to Mobile, she can be persuaded to teach a session or two! Meanwhile, I will follow her work closely and let you know about her next gallery event and book publishing. If you are out West anytime next year, look her up at the link above! Thank you to Jessica for making this introduction to my Favorite Artist of 2023!
By the way, Jessica is a licensed insurance agent specializing in Medicare Supplemental Insurance. You can learn more about her services at www.jessicazoltek.com .
Farewell to Osman's Restaurant
This month we bid farewell to our favorite fine dining restaurant in Mobile. I have written about my affection for Osman's in previous blogs. We joined Jim & Monica Wesson (owners of The Joint Chiropractic in Mobile & Daphne) for our "final" supper at this beloved restaurant. My husband and I ate countless meals at this local eatery over the 8 years that we have called the port city home.
Our fondest memories include having Osman & Mickey's daughter, Sabina as our waitress. That was the beginning of our love and loyalty to this family. Imagine having a standing reservation for Saturday night! That was us for at least a year.
We wish them all the best in their well-deserved retirement and thank them for all of the beautiful memories they created for us. I'll be dreaming of Bosnian Cream of Wheat Cake, my favorite dessert baked by Mickey! Definitely my Favorite Fine Dining Choice and one of my favorite families in Mobile.
RedBar Espresso & Market
Redbar Espresso is my Favorite Place to meet friends, family & clients. The warm and welcoming atmosphere is perfect for getting some work done or for relaxing over a killer cup of java! I tend to skip the national chains and seek out local spots to fulfill a need. This has been a destination that is at the top of my list in West Mobile. Owners Dr. Mike & Jennifer Bucknell have put their heart into this restaurant, coffee shop, market & happy hour spot! I have fallen in love with this incredible family and feel fortunate to call them friends. RedBar is located on Old Shell Road, just one block off of Schillinger Blvd. Look for the red boat in the front of the building!
Favorite Book(s) of 2023
If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I enjoy reading. I wanted to share two of my favorite non-fiction books that I read this year. Autobiography of a Yogi is one book that has had a lasting impact on my life. It is the story of Paramahansa Yogananda and how he brought meditation and yoga to the West. It is filled with insight into Indian Hinduism; a culture accepting of gurus and mystical practices. He moved to the United States at the young age of 27 with a goal to bring unity and understanding between Western & Eastern cultures. I finished this book realizing how little we know of the power of our soul. I am forever thankful that I took the time to read about this incredible man of peace. It will remain on my bookshelf and will be revisited often.
The second book that made a serious difference in my life is Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations with God. There is a reason that it stayed on the New York Times best seller list for 137 weeks. It is a very personal account of someone reaching the depths of his human journey and surrendering to God/Source/Creator. It is not a religious book; it is a spiritual one.
It would benefit anyone who takes the time to read it. The love of humanity pours out of the pages and leaves the reader feeling profoundly peaceful. The author asks the hard questions and the answers are recorded for all to read. I am going to read book two in January!
Favorite Recipes I made this year!
Many of you have been "cooking" along with me on my YouTube channel. I have found some incredible dishes that will be reappearing this year in my kitchen. Here are a few of my favorites!
This Broccoli, Cheese & Ham Quiche was a great use of leftover holiday ham from Thanksgiving and a truly delightful meal. I've got a ham ready for New Year's Day with this quiche in the back of my mind. Click here to watch the episode!
Of all the countless desserts that I made over the month long holiday season, these Peanut Butter Cookies were my favorite. They were simple to make, bake and take places! I am a huge peanut butter fan, so this was a natural fit for this "Cookie Monster". Click here to learn how to make them in your own kitchen.
For a quick lunch, this recipe for Tuna Salad is my go-to. It is an unadulterated version of Martha Stewart's original recipe. The combination of tuna, crisp apple, celery and seasonings is the ideal mixture for a satisfying lunch. Click here to watch!
Thank you for helping me reach my first YouTube milestone. I appreciate everyone that has been commenting and cooking along with me! Click here to watch my channel and please subscribe!
Favorite Trip of 2023!
We've been visiting New Orleans on a regular basis and Atlanta as well. The vibe of these big cities is invigorating to me. It was on our most recent trip to Atlanta that we discovered a new favorite and made some lifelong friends.
Atlanta Drum Shop is a drummer's paradise. Owner, Mike Eckert, is a drum collector and an expert in restoration and repair. He opened the store in September of 2023 about a week before we visited. My husband spent decades of his life as a professional jazz drummer and continues to play every day. Finding a store dedicated to his passion was heaven on earth.
While there Alan found a custom made snare drum handcrafted by Pi Drum Company and fell in LOVE. In our entire marriage, I've never witnessed him pine over anything like this beautiful snare. Sadly, we left the shop with a new cymbal but no snare.
Once we returned to Mobile the "Secret Santa" mission began with numerous folks becoming involved. I reached out to Mike, the owner and friend to tell him about my idea. I wanted to buy the Pi Snare for Alan without him knowing about it. We concocted a plan that involved shipping the drum to my sweet neighbor, Larita Nelson's house and hiding the payment from him so that it would be a surprise. Larita and hubby, Mark were delighted to help so we pulled together and surprised Alan! Finally on Christmas Eve he opened his gift and was SPEECHLESS!!! Half the fun was playing Santa! So if you are in the Atlanta area and have a drummer in your life visit Atlanta Drum Shop. The selection and staff are remarkable.
This blog could go on for days, however I know that time is valuable so I will close with this little message for you!
I urge you to love deeply and let the people around you know that they are valuable to you. Take a moment every day and appreciate this beautiful planet we call home. Take good care of her, for she supports us. Welcome 2024 with expectations of truly remarkable things to happen in your life and they will! Happy New Year! ~ Charlsie