2017 in Glover Gardens: Looking Back to Look Ahead

It seems like yesterday that I was creating this post, Happy New Year! and looking ahead to 2017, and now here we are again, at the brink of yet another new year. I look forward to sharing and connecting with you all in 2018 via the Glover Gardens blog, and looking back at what you liked here in 2017 is giving me some ideas for the days ahead.

Popular Posts and Themes from 2017

You Read My Heartfelt Poems

My brother Steve

The #1 post, by far, was My Brother’s Suicide: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light.  The poem honors my brother, who left us in 2013. It was hard to write and share this, and yet so cathartic and restorative. Your response uplifted me.

Dad and me in 1970

Four other poems were in the top posts of 2017, two of which reflect the unexpected loss of my Dad: you, amazing you / footprints on our heart-sands (another poem for Dad from a grateful daughter) and memory-honey (another poem for Dad) .

I was so grateful that I wrote this one about my childhood while Dad was still with us, and he commented on it: my days by the water.

Haiku for My Dad was a Father’s Day tribute to him just three days before he died. What a gift we had, Dad and me; when my husband took the early morning phone call that Dad had died and conveyed it to me, my response was: “I’m ok, we had no unfinished business.” I didn’t remember saying that until he reminded me later, but it is so true, and I am so incredibly blessed by the honesty and mutual regard of our relationship. And its awesome that you read my raw writings that tried to express this incredible blessing, and found some value in it.

Hurricane Harvey Captivated You

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The #2 and #4 posts in 2017 were about Hurricane Harvey: Houston is Paralyzed by Flooding and How You Can Help Texas Right Now.  You were interested in what was going on down here in the wetlands. And you didn’t just read the posts, you went to sites where you could help – there were 62 click-throughs on links I shared for donating to help Texas recover from Harvey, from the food bank to animal shelters to the Red Cross and the fund created by Houston Texas JJ Watts.  Thank you; we are grateful for your empathy and support. Harvey was horrific for Houston.

You Shared My Travel and Restaurant Experiences

Two of the posts in the top five in 2017 were essentially restaurant reviews, a retelling of amazing meals that I had while traveling.

Edinburgh’s Hipster Food Court and the Butcher Bad Boy Burger was the #3 post.

Butcher Boy Burger

Close behind at #5 was Comfort Food Alert: The “Best Gratin in Paris” (or maybe anywhere).

Bistro Des Augustins - Bistro Gratin Up Close
Amazing Gratin at Bistro des Augustins in Paris

Another restaurant outing that was quite popular with blog readers was Simple Dishes: Venison Casserole at the The Ensign Ewart in Edinburgh.


fullsizerender-3I did a series of posts looking ahead to a trip to the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and two were in the most-read category: New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: The Importance of Hats (and Bandanas) and New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Bayona is a Foodie’s Delight.

A haiku celebrating a marvelous cemetery in London also caught your interest: Haiku for Highgate Cemetery.


The final travel-related post that piqued your interest was our September 30 experience in Colorado, Blizzard on a Train!


You are Interested in Stories about Our Next-Gen Family Members

Thomas Wenglinski Cool Background
Photo by Mallory Frenza

Our kids were featured in a couple of top-viewed posts. Our Milennial Musician and one of his original compositions is the subject of this one: A Little (More) Music for a Sunday Evening. (Another of his compositions was the subject of the #1 post last year: A Little Music for a Sunday Evening.)

Our other milennial, The Best Eater, got married this year to The Girl Who is Always Hungry, and you liked this post about the newlyweds a lot: Our Next-Gen Couple (Now Married!) and Their Glover Gardens Aliases.

Photo by Dreamy Elk Photography

Three Recipes Make the Top 20 Posts

I posted lots of recipes in 2017, and these three were the most popular.

Comfort Food Alert: Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread was a post that originated with a friend’s Facebook post of a picture of his Mom’s meaty cornbread.


The Chipotle Chicken Salad recipe is something I’ve been making for years but hadn’t documented until now.


I like to experiment and create new recipes, and this one caught your interest this year: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and Bacon-Jalapeño Jam.


I Like Taking Requests – and You Like Reading the Results

One of my readers asked how to make an antipasto platter, so I answered with a post about it and included a long reminiscence about my Mom’s approach to antipasto.  I loved getting the request, and you liked the post enough to make it the 12th most viewed in Glover Gardens in 2017: Antipasto Advice from Mom and Great Tastes from the Texas Coast.

My Mom and me in her kitchen, waaaay back when

A New Name

As I hit the 2-year anniversary of the Glover Gardens Cookbook blog earlier this year, I realized that I was talking about much more than just recipes, my original intent.  I asked your opinion about the name of the blog in What’s In a Name? Seeking Your Input.  You gave me great feedback, and one of the suggestions was simply to call it Glover Gardens.  A couple of months ago, I made this change with no fanfare, and changed the tag line to reflect the multifaceted nature of the topics.

What’s Next? Authenticity, Curiosity, Empathy

I don’t make specific New Year’s resolutions these days because I don’t really believe in them, but I do want to move in these directions in my life in general, hopefully reflected in the blog:

  • to be courageous and speak more with my own authentic voice, as I did with the poem about my brother’s suicide.
  • to be more in-the-moment-mindful and curious about the world – and to share what I learn.
  • to listen more and practice “cognitive empathy”; to truly understand others and learn from their truths.

You Matter to Me

I have learned a great deal in 2017 through my interactions in this blog, spanning a huge spectrum. You validated my beliefs and ideas and added context and color to them. You challenged me and provided a different lens for viewing life and love of all kinds. You gave me interesting perspectives on photography, travel, spices, recipes, mindfulness and your own challenges. I am inspired by you!

The Collective Muse

Although I started the blog to capture my recipes for our sons and their (eventual) families, I actually thought my muse for this blog was my Dad. Then he died. He died. He died. He died. I probably haven’t accepted that – he died.

I wrote about Dad being my muse and losing him: Mourning the Loss of My Father and Muse.  Especially during his last year when he had a mysterious illness, I wrote most of my posts hoping to inspire Dad and ignite him.

Reality: Dad died. I have to have a different muse. What a hard truth to absorb.

I kept on writing.

Maybe I’m my own muse? Maybe the muse is this vast expanse of strangers who read, and “like” and comment?

I kept on writing.

IMG_2025I wrote about Dad. Here’s one: you, amazing you / footprints on our heart-sands (another poem for Dad from a grateful daughter) . If you read this, you’ll understand me.

I wrote about Mom. Here’s one: Labor Day: Cherries and Empathy at the BeachThe Real Nancy (1)

I wrote about Steve: Looking Back and Finding Joy: Happy 51st, Dear Brotherfullsizeoutput_1a25

I wrote about death, and loss, and grieving.

I wrote about joy. I wrote about frustration. I wrote about travel, the world and food. I created haiku for silly things, and profound happenings. I shared recipes.

I kept on writing. You listened.

A marvelous thing happened. One of my nieces said, “I read every one of your posts, and if I’m with my friends, I read them out loud.” She mentioned a specific post about her Dad (my brother) and referenced a phrase or two from it. Oh. My. Gosh. She’s a living, breathing muse. She is part of me, and someone I can write these memories for. So are my other family members.

And, in addition, so many of you reached out. You said that you had lost a loved one and felt something similar, or you liked a silly haiku I wrote, or a recipe looked delicious, or a family memory stirred an emotion. You shared an approach for editing a photo, or using a special spice in a recipe, or a trick you use to stay sane in a crazy world. You empathized with me. You cared.

I kept on writing. You let me know you were reading, and you became my muse / the source of my inspiration. My family, my friends, my special set of strangers – you are my muse and inspiration. Thank you. Here’s to a great 2018!

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens


Happy New Year!

It’s New Year’s Eve!  I’m looking forward to 2017 and all of the opportunities, challenges, connections and blessings it will bring.  And I have to acknowledge that one of the big opportunities and blessings for me in 2016 was sharing a few thoughts, recipes and haikus with you in this blog – and the interactions and connections that spawned.  Thank you!

There’s no time to create a compelling post at the moment – the Christmas tree’s undoing beckons!- so I will wish everyone a safe and happy celebration tonight, and simply repost a New Year’s Day Brunch menu from last year.

Pampas Grass Cocktail
The Pampas Grass is a very light sparkler to brighten up your New Year’s Eve or brunch

My recommended New Year’s Brunch Menu (which can also be a lovely New Year’s Eve menu if you’re having a party):

I got all into New Year’s traditions last year and wrote about the traditions that accompany it – click here if you’d like to read the full post.

Happy New Year!  And don’t forget to be safe.


Copyright 2016, Glover Gardens Cookbook



New Year’s Eve in Vegas

There’s no place like Las Vegas.  It’s glitzy, and plastic, and neon, and fun.

We went to Vegas for New Year’s in 2013 to celebrate my bonus son’s 21st birthday (“bonus son” = stepson, with a more positive connotation; it means I’m “bonus mom”).  It had always been a plan since he was a small boy.  It was a blended family trip, with my husband and me, my bonus son and his college roommate, my bonus son’s real mom and her fiancé (now husband), and my 16-year old son.

What to do on New Year’s Eve in Vegas when you’re celebrating a milestone birthday?

We figured that watching the fireworks from the bar in one of the tallest buildings was the way to go (minus the 16 year-old, of course).  The fireworks on New Year’s in Vegas are truly spectacular; click here for this year’s show summary.  There’s still time for you to get there! 🙂

The fireworks on New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas are deployed from the top of  a half-dozen hotels and can be seen from everywhere on the strip.  We chose the roof bar at The Palms because the Grill-Meister had been there for a work event a few months earlier, and it was indeed an experience.  Getting through the security there was more stringent than the security at the airport.  We didn’t know what bottle service was (click here if you are just as naive), but it was the only option.  The music was SUPER LOUD, and the patrons were rowdy. The evening was a fun learning experience, something to remember for a special birthday, and not something we need to do again.

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If I was in Vegas for New Year’s this year, I’d go to the Golden Nugget.  It is owned by Tilman Fertitta, a Galveston native and the man Forbes Magazine called “the world’s richest restauranteur” in 2012.  Along with other entertainment options, across the Golden Nugget, he imports a  top-notch jazz group from Houston each year.

During the rest of the week, we did all the typical campy Vegas things:

  • A magic show:  Criss Angel Believe – NOT RECOMMENDED; we don’t believe.  In spite of being associated with Cirque du Soleil, this show didn’t live up to the hype.  The reviews on TripAdvisor bear this out, including mine, in which I said it was “flashy but fluffy”.
The Criss Angel “Believe” Show:  we don’t believe.
  • A music show:  Blue Man Group.  This show was fantastic. There was never a dull moment, and everyone in our party, ranging from 16 to 50+, was equally enthralled. It is a captivating, interactive, all-ages experience, and very, very funny. There is also a fair amount of “hmmm, that makes you think” social commentary that goes down easy (isn’t preachy). The crowd’s energy adds to the fun, and the audience participation component is delightful, simply and invigorating. Don’t miss this if you go to Vegas – take your family, take a date, or go alone. You won’t be sorry.
  • Walking the strip.  The people-watching is wonderful.


  • Staying at the Bellagio.  It’s like a cruise ship; it has everything:  restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries, gambling, dancing fountains, and more.

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  • Checking out the other hotels.  It’s like a tour of over-the-topness.

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  • Gambling.  Didn’t spend much, didn’t lose much, didn’t win much.  It’s not my thing.

Overall, New Year’s Eve in Vegas was great, but once was enough.  This year, we’ll be with family in Albuquerque, traveling there from our cabin in central Colorado.

Need more Vegas? Click here to read my Vegas haikus, from a different birthday trip – my mother-in-law’s 80th.

New Year’s Brunch

I’ve always felt that the way I spend New Year’s (Eve and Day) foreshadows my experiences for the rest of the year.  And it usually does:  we’re either traveling with family, having a special outing with family, or spending time at home with family, celebrating the beginning of a great new year with a great meal.  Last year at year’s-end, we were at our cabin in the Rockies and spent a fantastic New Year’s Eve in Breckenridge watching the fireworks, which we highly recommend.  There’s a Torchlight Parade, with skiers coming down the mountain adorned with red lights on their ski poles, which is a marvelous spectacle.  Then there are the fireworks, which are spectacular.  Even in sub-zero weather, which last year was about -15 degrees.

New Year's Eve in Breckenridge
Photo courtesy of Megan Rehm Photography.
We had a spicy egg and sausage casserole for New Year's Brunch in 2015, complimented by mimosas.
We had a spicy egg and sausage casserole for New Year’s Brunch in 2015, complimented by mimosas.

My Facebook post on New Year’s Day of 2015 read:  “We had a great time in Breckenridge last night but couldn’t last ’til midnight when we got back to the cabin. No worries, New Year’s Eve champagne makes great New Year’s Day mimosas.”  We had a throw down spicy sausage and egg casserole and mimosas for our brunch here at Little House in the Rockies, which really hit the spot.  By the way, I saw Anthony Dias Blue of Wine Spectator on Good Morning America about 25 years ago, and when asked about champagne for mixing in drinks like mimosas, he advocated using inexpensive but decent champagne (like Korbel).  He said that the finer champagnes were wasted when they were mixed with juices or other liquors.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Back to New Year’s Brunch.  There are certain requirements for the menu.  Being a southerner, I was raised on the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for luck on New Year’s Day.  The trouble is, I don’t like them very much.  My parents found a recipe called Texas Caviar years ago that solves this problem:  the black-eyeds are masked by yummy pico de gallo-like ingredients in this a spicy, fresh dip.  I don’t have their recipe, but found one in another blog that looks very close:  click here.

Basically, you have to have lucky foods, which can include pork or fish, both celebratory and extravagant foods, greens, for the color of money, coin-shaped foods, or food that is the color of gold, like cornbread (click here for a neat blog post about lucky foods for New Year’s).  You also need very hearty foods, if it’s a morning-after kind of situation.  And make-ahead foods are always handy if you’re going out on New Year’s, but having guests or a special family meal on New Year’s Day.

So here’s my recommended New Year’s Brunch Menu (which can also be a lovely New Year’s Eve menu if you’re having a party):

My final recommendation:  have fun!  New Year’s is a holiday without the burden of huge expectations or gifts.  Just go with the feeling and start out the new year in a happy and joyful way.