Still going strong!

Sunday, July 9th we celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary.  In our marriage, all occasions are marked with three cards.  Not two, not four.  Always three.  We fill them out, then “hide” them in plain sight.  Yesterday I found one next to my toothbrush, another on the laptop, and the third in the frig beside the Almond milk.

I placed one of Jim’s against the inside of our front door.  He and Bronson go out each morning to gather the newspaper.  Another was next to the Keurig coffee maker and the third was near his razor.

Jim is fancy and buys my cards at actual full price card shops.   Me?  I shop at Dollar Tree.  But since it was a big event I didn’t buy him the two-for-one-dollar cards.  I splurged and spent a full buck for each.   He’s worth it!

anniversary cards
I have no idea where the “BEW” came from.  He said it was for “Best Ever Wife.”  So what was the “F” under that “W”?  Friend?  WFL is “wife for life”


JJP is “Jimmy James Paul” one of my many nicknames for him.

We always gather our cards, then take turns opening them and reading aloud.  Jim is sentimental and saves all celebration cards.  In the garage, we have a big plastic box loaded with twelve years worth of birthday, Christmas, anniversary, Valentine’s day and other random greeting cards.  Our kids will be tossing those in the garbage after we’re dead.

Mom would call my sister and I regularly as she cleaned her immaculate home.  The question was always, “Should I throw this (fill in the blank) away now, or do you want to pitch it when I’m dead?”  I always said, “Now.”  Marilyn opted for, “When you are dead.”  After her death, when the time came to dig out her home, we were both glad she had purged regularly.

Other things we have saved since our very beginning are restaurant matchbooks, cardboard coasters, and business cards.  We each wrote a snippet of information about the restaurant experience, along with the date.  These treasures live in a big lidded jar.


Every year we haul this container along for our anniversary dinner, dump the contents on the table and take turns reading them to each other.  This year I forgot to take the jar into the Tampa restaurant we chose.  It’s a good thing.  It was noisy.  I never would have been able to hear Jim reading aloud.  Instead, we dumped these onto our kitchen island later in the day.  There are lots of matches from Pappadeux where we had our first “not-a-date-just-two-friends-sharing-a-meal” date.  That experience is addressed in Dating at Fifty

This anniversary we had a celebratory late lunch at Tampa’s Ulele restaurant.  This was our first Ulele experience, but will not be our last.  Everything about the restaurant is excellent, from food to decor to views.  Its location on the banks of the Hillsborough River next to Ulele Spring offers a panoramic scene of pleasure boats plying up and down the waterway.

Prior to ordering, we agreed the diet was out the window for this one meal.

I chose a roasted beet, saffron poached pear, and whipped goat’s cheese salad.  It was amazing.  Jim had the waitress Katie’s favorite, gouda grouper with wild rice and green beans.  I happily swilled two glasses of cold chardonnay while Jim enjoyed a spicy Bloody Mary.

We even ordered dessert.  Ulele homemade ice cream.   Jim chose “Ugandan Vanilla Bean”, I picked “Naviera Espresso Chocolate Swirl”.  I wish this photo looked as delicious as the ice cream tasted.  Rich, creamy, sinful.  Everything ice cream is meant to be.


I bragged to Katie that it was our twelve year anniversary and shortly thereafter the manager brought us a box of chocolate truffles coated in walnuts.  I told him we have decided to spend every anniversary at Ulele, to which he replied, “We are open 365 days a year.  Why limit yourselves to anniversaries?”


We were told these truffles are excellent with red wine.  We agreed our dinner that night would be just truffles and wine (me), vodka (Jim).  There remains one lone confection in the box.  I will take it to our neighbor later today.  It’s too tempting to have it here in the house.  The diet has begun again….sigh.

The following photos are of artwork in the hip two story restaurant. We lingered happily after lunch, people watching over the railing to first floor below.  A little granny in a wheelchair, mylar balloons floating from the chair handles was being feted by her children and grandchildren.  Next to them was a table of about twenty, ranging in ages from six months to sixty.  Unique to this experience was that not one group of diners were glued to their phones.


The instantly iconic “gear” Ulele front doors were created by noted metal worker Dominique Martinez and his team at Rustic Steel Creations. Martinez said he wanted to evoke the industrial past of the building, as well set the tone for the Ulele experience. Rustic Steel also created the restaurant table bases, the customized bike rack, the cradles for the bottles in the wine room and the hood for our barbacoa grill.


“The Laughing Horse”
Victor Delfin


8-foot by 4-foot mural “In The Garden”
Erik Renssen
Amsterdam, The Netherlands


The 1789 signed French stain glass panels over the kitchen doors were purchased by Cesar and Adela Gonzmart at a 1972 auction in Atlanta for a house they hoped to build. They eventually designed and built their Davis Islands home around their prized panels. When the house was sold in 2003 after their deaths, the panels were moved to the Columbia Restaurant’s Centennial Museum in Ybor City before their new home at Ulele over the doors to the kitchen.

If you are ever in Tampa, treat yourself to a Ulele adventure.  And be sure to tell your server it’s a special event!  Maybe you’ll get fattening marvelous truffles too.