The action packed days continue...Tom's at it today!...Last night's special "chef's" dinner with friends...


As we quickly drove over the Gray's Bay Bridge on our way to Connie & Jeff's home.
Yesterday was another whirlwind day for me while Tom was able to kick back and unwind a little while I was out and about with Maisie.  Today will be my day to stay put while he and Tammy pick up Vincent at camp, attends a gun safety clinic and then takes Vincent to lunch and to see Wonder Woman.

Tammy arrived at our hotel around 11:00 am to pick up Tom, leaving me with a free day and a vehicle.  Wow!  That's a first.  I have a few errands to attend to and will return long before she drops Tom off at the end of the day.
This cheese is the best we've ever had.  It can be purchased at Amazon.com.  Click this link if you're a cheese enthusiast and curious about "Belton Farm Red Fox."  It's pricey but is a five-pound block and could be shared with others. Although once you taste it, sharing may be out of the question.
The three of them are headed to Chipotle for lunch and then to Plymouth Grand 15 movie theater to see Wonder Woman at 1:10.  Hopefully, it all runs smoothly and the timing works out.  Vincent's is chomping at the bit to see Wonder Woman.

Had I not seen the movie last week with Maisie, I'd go with them but I have my day planned with the errands and to work on Tom's new clothing, removing tags, folding and packing, as I'd done for mine last weekend when there was a lull in my schedule.  
Tom, sitting at the table at Connie and Jeff's table on their veranda.  Oh, I guess you call that a "deck" here in Minnesota.
Today is the halfway point in our six-week stay in Minnesota.  We've been so busy the time has flown. However, we feel we've had a lot of quality time with family and friends with much more yet to come.

Speaking of friends, last night we visited the home of friends, Connie and Jeff, whom we met 25 years ago when we all joined a gourmet club.  The club lasted about a year but the friendship with Connie and Jeff continued over the years resulting in many good times together, laughing, talking and sharing good food and drink.

As mentioned in yesterday's post here, Connie is a Cordon Bleu trained chef and with the utmost of ingenuity with husband Jeff they made a fantastic, perfect-for-my-way-of eating meal that was absolutely delicious. 
View of the lake from their veranda.
It was the first time in a few years we had a steak that wasn't grass-fed and I must admit the flavor and tenderness surpassed that of grass fed meat we'd purchased in a variety of countries.  We've found grass fed meat generally to be less flavorful and less tender.  We've accepted these facts due to it's added nutritional value and safety of my diet.  Thus, last night was a bit of a splurge.

On the recent cruises, some of the beef was purchased in countries that produce grass fed beef as a matter of course.  But, in the US grass fed beef is expensive and not a staple for most meat-eating households.  Of course, we're not cooking now so it's of little concern. 
Look!  You can see Tom's hands flying while he talks to Jeff.  That's my guy!
It was wonderful to see Connie and Jeff in their lakefront home located in the highly desirable and prestigious Deephaven area of Lake Minnetonka.  It was the first time since we arrived that we drove through my old familiar area of Lake Minnetonka where my two sons grew up. 

As we passed over the Gray's Bay Bridge I felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me for the first time since we arrived three weeks ago.  I'd been thinking and focusing on people we love, not locations. But that drive left me grabbing for the camera.
This is Candy, a sweet Staffordshire rescue dog that is one year old and very well trained.
I wasn't able to take many good photos as we moved along in the busy construction zones in every direction.  I'm determined to return to that area to take photos in the next few weeks which we'll post here.  Tom grew up in the city but I was always a suburban kind of girl.  I guess those differences have ultimately played a role in the mingling of our different ways that have proved to be a vital part of our outstanding connection to one another.

We dined on Connie and Jeff's veranda overlooking a gorgeous bay of Lake Minnetonka while their adorable one-year-old rescue dog, Candy, couldn't get enough attention from both of us.  At first, she barked at both of us but within minutes was all over Tom for attention. 

With a few of my choice high pitched voice sound and a bit of nuzzling, she was mostly mine for the remainder of the evening, nudging my hand, raising a paw and sitting on my feet.  Periodically, she approached Tom for more of the same keeping her eyes on me all the while.  It reminded me (not that I needed reminding) how much I love animals and how well they respond to me.
The table was set with a nautical theme and the most fabric-like paper napkins we've seen which Connie purchased in Provence.  Note my little bottle of liquid chemical-free sweetener, a few drops of which I add to sour cream to make my favorite salad dressing.  The meal was exceptional.
Of course, there's the companionship of old friends and...the evening, along with the exceptional food flowed as one would expect with "Chef Connie" and "sous chef" husband Jeff as the ideal hostess and host. 

As usual, when invited to a friend's home, we picked up a good bottle of wine on the way as a host gift.  Luckily, I selected a good French Malbec that they seemed to enjoy during the dinner. 

With Connie's vast experiences in Provence, France, a French wine definitely was in order.  I never tasted it although my mouth literally watered over the prospect.  As my gastrointestinal issues continue to improve, there was no way I'd risk a relapse by drinking alcohol in any form.

We arrived shortly after 5:00 pm and didn't head out until 10:00 pm with a "doggie bag" with some of the finest cheese we'd had to date, Belton Farm Red Fox.  Its quality reminded us of the caraway cheddar we'd purchased in Tasmania last Christmas but its flavor surpassed the intensity and texture of the caraway cheese.
Seasoned, roasted cauliflower with grilled sirloin steak cooked medium rare/rare to perfection.  Dinner was served after the cheese and other appetizers.  The side dishes included a green salad with a variety of add-ins, potato salad, and a heated-on-the-grill baguette.
Note the name of the cheese in the above photo which can only be purchased online.  Perhaps, someday when we're settled somewhere we'll have a giant chunk shipped to us.  It's beyond compare if you love cheese as we do.

Earlier in the day, was spent with Maisie.  She went with us for Tom's first US haircut since 2014 before Christmas on the Big Island of Hawaii.  After a quick trip to Michael's for a craft activity to do with Maisie, we dropped Tom off and Maisie and I spent a busy rest-of-the-day.

That's it for today, folks!  We'll be back tomorrow with more new photos!  Have a day filled with your favorite activities!
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Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2016:

What a sight this was in Bali!  What a resourceful biker, hanging his laundry to dry on a stick and his bike.  Resourceful, eh?  For more photos, please click here.

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