All posts by newthingsat50

About newthingsat50

I am celebrating my 50th birthday in August 2014! It is time to make discoveries, try new things, and do the things I have talked about for years.

Amelia Island

Previous “new thing” posts have reported about girls’ weekend, one of my original 50 new things.  This year’s trip is to Amelia Island, Florida which is a new destination city for me although I have been to Florida many times. I fly to Atlanta and meet my friend who lives in Atlanta so we can fly together to Jacksonville, Florida. 

The Omni Plantation Resort has all the ingredients for a wonderful girls’ weekend: warm weather, ocean views, walking paths, shopping and great food.  We have the added bonus this year of ocean front property so we can walk on the beach.  The weather is so gorgeous and it feels good to sleep in. 

I am grateful for any time I can walk on the beach. I love Island colors and seashells. 

You can’t beat doing next to nothing with a dear friend in 80 degree sunshine!!! What a great, fun and relaxing weekend. 


Donaldson’s Chocolates

This is a quick “new thing” post to encourage you once again to stop by those spots you drive by hundreds of times, thinking that you will stop and visit another day.  I’ve driven by Donaldson’s chocolates on I-65 in Indiana literally hundreds of times for years.  I love chocolate and have wondered about this small business but never stopped.  Usually we are in a hurry to get home or it is past closing time.  

On Valentine’s Day, I was in Lafayette for work from 9:00 – 12:00 and had a few minutes to stop on my way back to the office.  This was a quick stop to select a small box of chocolate for my husband and sons. The friendly staff gave me a sample and I picked my favorite – coconut haystacks. Yum! 

What attraction or business have you driven by a hundred times in curiosity?  Make a stop!

Virtual Reality 

I have an unexpected “new thing” this week.  Our department has a staff retreat every year at the community room of a property funded by our Affordable Housing Program grants.

After continuous improvement, team building, goal setting, naming our new online portal and lunch, we end the day with a fun activity courtesy of our database manager – we get to experience virtual reality.

I intend to pass on the activity.  I don’t want future staff retreats to include comments such as, “Remember when our department head threw up on us after virtual reality?”  But one of our analysts convinces me that the ocean diving experience does not make you feel motion sick so I decide to play along.

This is fun and cool and amazing!  I had no idea you could turn 360 degrees and see images all around.  I’m in a diving cage descending the ocean with fish and sting rays and colorful jellyfish.  I feel brave enough to peer over the edge of the diving cage. 

Very fun!  What have you done recently to get out of your comfort zone?

Turkey Meatloaf in Baked Beans

So I’m stretching the definition of “new” this week just to have some type of blog post.  It’s been a while since I posted anything (an Indy car ride at the office Christmas party) and I noticed that I’m not looking for new recipes or ingredients or thinking about trying new things. 

Two years ago when I challenged myself to do 50 new things my 50th year, the months I really struggled were in January and February. In the Midwest, these are months to stay cozy inside and eat warm comfort food.  It’s not the time to go outside doing new things or searching for unusual ingredients. 

I’ve made this recipe before and it’s a family hit.  I’m calling it a “new thing” because the combination of meatloaf and baked beans is new to me and I was intrigued enough to try the recipe. I found the recipe in Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine. 

Start by cutting 4 strips of bacon into pieces and crisping the pieces in a skillet.  Chop 4 scallions and add them to 2 cans of baked beans in a casserole dish.  Stir in the crisped bacon and a spoonful of the drippings.

The meatloaf is made with ground turkey and several other ingredients. Whiz 1 cup seasoned stuffing cubes in a food processor. Put them in a large bowl and add some milk to moisten. Add the turkey and mix in 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1 egg, 3-4 Tablespoons ketchup, 3-4 Tablespoons finely chopped onion, 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tablespoons spicy mustard, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar and 2 large cloves garlic, chopped.  The recipe also calls for fresh thyme and sage but I have challenges using up fresh herbs and only used fresh parsley. 

Lightly form the mixture into 4 loaves and nestle them among the baked beans. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.  

Even with a long list of ingredients, the recipe is ready to serve in under an hour.  Winter comfort food with a twist!

Indy Car Ride

My next “New Thing” is unplanned and unexpected.  I ride in a street legal Indy car. 

I am fortunate enough to work for a company that holds a nice holiday party for staff and guests. We all get dressed up and enjoy a nice meal together with some door prizes for fun.  Our 2016 event is at the Dallara car factory in Speedway, Indiana.  Did you know the Indianapolis 500 is technically in Speedway rather than Indianapolis?

The venue has some Indy 500 race displays and racing simulators.  There is also the opportunity to ride in an Indy car.  I know that my husband really wants to do this so I try to be a good sport.  Then I try to back out and sacrifice my spot for the sake of the long line but I don’t get away with that.  The staff puts a helmet on my head and  buckles me into the car!

We drive a few blocks and through a roundabout before returning to the party center. It’s not as bad as I expected, in fact, not bad at all!!  The hardest part is getting out of the car in a dress and heels…

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!!

Sausage-Apple Dutch Baby

My next “New Thing” comes out of desperation to use up shipments of Harry and David pears from my generous father-in-law.  The first box contained 12 pears and then we received a treat basket with 5 more…

What to do with so many pears?

This recipe from Midwest Living magazine caught my eye since I’ve never made (or had) Dutch baby pancakes before.  The recipe calls for apples but I figure pears will work when one has a surplus.  

  • 3 ounces fully cooked smoked chicken-apple sausage, sliced crosswise
  • 3 1/2 Tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium red cooking apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup 


Cook the sausage in 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter using a cast iron or oven safe skillet.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs well.  Add flour, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon, whisking vigorously. 

Pour the pancake batter over the sausage.  Transfer to an oven preheated to 425 degrees and bake for about 15 minutes, until browned and puffy.

While the Dutch Baby is cooking in the oven, cook the fruit, pears in this case, in the remaining butter.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the fruit is browning on the edges.  Add brown sugar and maple syrup, cooking 2 – 3 minutes more.  

Serve the Dutch Baby topped with the cooked fruit.  The finished product is so tasty.  I would definitely make this again.  Any recipes for the rest of the pears??

Clare’s Wheaten Bread

If you’re going to be inside on a fall day, it’s nice to have the kitchen feel warm with the smell of baking bread.  For my next “new thing” from Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite, I try Clare’s Wheaten Bread.  

The ingredients are:

  • 5 Tablespoons cold butter
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

I build on a previous “new thing” by finding another recipe using buttermilk. 

The bread mixes up fairly easily into a sticky dough.  You sift the flours and baking soda together, mix in the sugar and rub in the butter with your fingers.

Add the buttermilk.  The recipe says you may need to add more liquid or more flour but I find the recipe measurements work well.  Bring the dough together with your hands and put it into a loaf pan.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and oats and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

With oats sprinkled on top, the bread is attractive enough to make a hostess gift.

I enjoy some with afternoon tea.