Major pruning

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 74

STEPS:  12,346
CLASSES:  Chair yoga and 2 water aerobics

I felt lethargic in the AM and just could not make myself play pickleball.  Perhaps my lack of energy was a reaction to the Covid vaccine.  So, instead of pickleball, I enjoyed a class of yoga…..a good stretch.

When I got back home, I found George’s legs hanging from the ceiling.  He was in the attic checking out the A/C system.  It is a good thing he is thin, as he had to wriggle around pipes and boards.  All looks good…..another check-off on our to-do list before we leave for the season.

He also made himself a tasty and nice-looking lunch — blue crab and avocado salad.  It was a lot of work….this small amount of crab meat came from 3 blue crabs!  We need to thaw the rest of the crabs before we go and pick the meat out, so we will have a small container of the crab (instead of the big bag of whole crabs hogging the freezer).

The lawn service are here whacking down dead branches from our shrubs.  We can see some green popping through, so hopefully most will come back.  I spoke to the lawn guy in Spanish saying “how sad” and he replied “that is a good word to describe this situation”. 

Now that most people here in our Retama Village community have had both Covid shots, people are coming out more.  The Friday night pot-luck grill/pot-luck get-togethers have been reinstated.  We went up for the happy hour and had a nice time reconnecting with some friends.  We didn’t stay for dinner, though, as I need to use up a lot of leftovers ASAP.

DINNER:  George grilled a tuna steak – just perfectly – brown on the outside and pink in the center.  Sides were okra and rice. 

Frittered the day away…..

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 78

STEPS:  17,646
CLASSES:  2 water aerobics

I really played poorly at pickleball today, but the game  gave me some additional steps!  It was a good workout.

They say opposites attract and it is certainly true for George and me.  These Facebook memory photos popped up today when we were fishing 2 years ago on the Gulf.  This is George fishing…

And this is my idea of fishing…..

And, this says it all…..probably our biggest difference/ bone of contention….

We had some friends over for drinks.  I made a platter of bruschetta, each different…some with salami and goat cheese, some with salami and cheddar, some with sour cream and lox, and some with goat cheese, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes.  Fun to put together!  Darn – I forgot to take a photo!

DINNER:  Palatable, but nothing more….Zucchini and lentils fritters.  I had zucchini to use up and lentils to use before our trip next week (hate to have dibs and dabs taking up space).  So, I found this fritter recipe.  I made the dough with lentils that had soaked all day, parsley, zucchini, and spices.  After getting it into a paste in the food processor, I fried them.  The saving grace was the raita sauce – plain Greek yogurt with diced cucumber, chili oil, diced fresh mint, garlic, and turmeric.  Very tasty

We got shot! …..With Covid vaccine, that is

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  Sunny,  High 75

STEPS:  9118

The big highlight of the day was getting our second Covid vaccine.  YAY!!!!!!!!

What a difference between our first shot experience and today’s…..

1.  There was excellent signage today about parking.  The location was the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which is a big campus.  For the first shot, there were no signs and we drove aimlessly around (until we saw a line of old-looking people!)

2.  College security men greeted us today,  asking us if we were getting first or second dose, then instructed us to get in the (short) line.  Last time, there wasn’t anyone around to ask for assistance.  For the first shot, we stood in the cold for about 1/2 hour until another “customer” told us we were in the wrong line.

3.  We waited about 5 minutes outside until we were ushered inside to register.  For the first shot, we waited about 2 hours with mindless, repetitive paperwork.  Most of that wait was outside in the cold rain.

4.  For the first shot, we came poorly attired.  Since we hadn’t known that we would have to stand in line outside, we had not worn warm clothing.  We froze.  Today, we were prepared – gloves, 2 jackets, long pants, and a wind-breaker.  Ha!  It turned out to be sunny and about 75.  And, we were only outside a short time.

5.  The registration process was quick, in person, and friendly.  The first time, we were seated in a big, noisy computer room and had to register via a Zoom call which we could not hear well.

6.  We waited about 2 minutes for the shot.  The guy who “shot” me last time was a novice and it hurt.  Today, I didn’t even know she had finished with the needle. 

7.  Including the 15-minute wait to see if we had any reaction, the entire experience today was about 25 minutes.  This compares with the 3- hour “ordeal” last time. 

It was a totally different experience. Even if we had had a repeat of the first experience, I wouldn’t complain, because now we are vaccinated!!!

We will continue to follow Covid guidelines, wearing a mask and social distancing.  We fear for our state, as the governor lifted Covid precautions; masks are no longer required.  This is   We just hope that there is not another spike.

On our way home, we took some back roads, passing by lots of citrus orchards.  How sad…..they are all brown and the fruit is lying on the ground. 

We celebrated by going to Loretto’s, our favorite bistro, to sit on their patio and enjoy Wine Wednesday with our friends.

Besides the wine, we shared a flatbread and some wings.

DINNER:  George grilled bison burgers, from ground bison we had received with our Imperfect Foods shipment.  He mixed it with some ground pork so it wouldn’t be so lean.  While he was grilling, we enjoyed a bonfire.  It almost got out of control when the wind picked up!

He learned this new technique…..after making the patties, he made an indentation with his thumb, and placed an ice cube in each. 

This kept the burgers from burning, and gave them some nice moisture.  Really good!

Side was a baked potato. 

Paint job complete!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Cool.  High 65

STEPS:  7880.  I just didn’t feel like my regular walk
CLASSES:  Chair yoga and 2 line-dancing

Classes took up most of the morning, then I did computer work all afternoon in the clubhouse, trying to plot our way north after we leave Louisiana in April.  We don’t want to go too far north too early, due to weather.  I am trying to find combinations of Army Corps of Engineer Parks with Harvest Host sites in between.  I’m as far north as Missouri, right now, in my planning.  I’m just planning, and not reserving, as we are “on hold” for a possible trip to Newfoundland.  If that trip comes to fruition, we will zip up north, rather than meander. 

While I was doing all of that, George spent the entire day painting.  He only had the front side of t he house to do, but it took hours to do all the trim work.  He was really beat. He did a fantastic job.  Alas, I did not help at all.  (It would have looked awful.)    We are happy with how the color came out….

BEFORE –

AFTER-

I really like the way the front doors open up, so when we have parties we can go inside and outside easily.  (We had the doors open for the paint to dry).

We went to our local Mexican meat market in search of quail, for one of the last recipes I have left in Jacques Pepin’s cookbook.  They didn’t have any quail, but have a beautiful array of meat and chicken, including some unusual stuff like marinated intestines, pig ears, and pickled pork rinds. 

DINNER:  I had planned on the quail, so had nothing thawed with which to cook.  So, I made a fall-back recipe that is always tasty.  I sauteed some mushrooms and onions, then added some white wine and cream cheese to make a light cream sauce.  I boiled up some good papperelle pasta.  To serve, I poured the sauce over the pasta, and then topped it all  with smoked salmon and capers.  Sides were leftover vegetables – acorn squash and stir-fry zucchini with onions.  Too much food!

March came in like a lion!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Lousy!  Cold, rain, and wind.  High 70 (in early AM) then sinking to 40s

STEPS:  14,500
CLASSES:  One water aerobics

I was pleased to see the little dog waiting for the farmer on my morning walk.  The Border Patrol helicopter was hovering on top of me, and it was so loud that I could not hear my podcast.  As I stopped at the farm entrance to turn off the podcast, the farmer happened to drive up.  It was so heartwarming to see their morning reunion. 

The weather today was crazy.  It started warm and humid.  When I played pickleball, I became drenched in sweat. 

Then, two hours later, I halfway decided not to do water aerobics as it was looking like rain.  Temperatures were predicted to drop.  However, George was at the clubhouse and told my friend that I would be joining her at the pool.  Right at noon, the skies opened up and started to pour.  Winds came up.  A gradual decrease in temperature turned out to be a severe drop instead. I didn’t want to let her down, so I drove up to the clubhouse, ran through the cold rain, and jumped into the pool.  The water actually felt ok as it was warmer than the air temperature.  We managed to make it through one class, as the temp continued to drop,  then hit the hot tub.  After class, I checked the weather and the temp had fallen to about 50.  That plus the wind and rain was not very comfortable for swimming!!! 

Our wine club shipment arrived today.  Now,  we will be leaving soon with Joy with a full pantry, freezer, refrigerator,… and wine cellar!  (aka the shower)

Someone sent me this photo of my mother when she must have been in her 20s.  People commented that there is a strong resemblance between her and our younger daughter.  Here they are, side by side.  I   DO see similarities.  Both very pretty!

Our friends came over to finalize our trip to the Gulf Coast.  We are planning to go as far east as the Florida Panhandle.  No state parks have any availability.  We finally found a commercial park on the coast….not cheap!  We are staying in a combination of state parks, commercial parks, and several Harvest Host sites….a brewery, space museum, antebellum plantation, and winery.  It will be fun!  I served my home-made hummus with baguette slices.  We do not have any good bakeries around here, nor does the grocery store sell good bread.  On my last shopping trip, I found frozen mini-baguettes and baked one to eat with this stew.  What a good find!

DINNER:  I made a recipe that my brother (a great cook) sent me.  I substituted fish for the shrimp.  This is the last of the fish that George caught on fishing trips this spring.    It was easy and really good….

LEMONY SHRIMP AND BEAN STEW (New York Times)
Serves 4

1 tsp lemon zest
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves grated or minced
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp pepper, divided
1 tsp paprika (Hungarian sweet or smoked Spanish)
1 lb raw, peeled, deveined shrimp (tail on or tail off, large or medium)
4 tablespoons butter (½ stick)
2 medium leeks, dark green part removed, sliced horizontally (from bottom to top), rinsed, then sliced into ½ inch thick half rounds
1 can (15 oz) white beans (cannellini, white kidney, great northern), drained and rinsed
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
Parsley garnish (optional)
Serve with crusty bread

Combine shimp, lemon zest, paprika, garlic and ¾ tsps of salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.  Toss to coat shrimp.
In a large cooking pot (Dutch oven), melt butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add shrimp and cook about 2 – 3 minutes.  Remove shrimp from pot using a slotted spoon and put back in the bowl. Set aside.
Add leeks to pot.  Season with remaining salt and pepper (if desired). Cook leeks over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for 4 – 5 minutes or until the leeks start to brown slightly.  Add broth and beans, bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer for 8-10 minutes.
Add shrimp and any juices to the pot, turn up heat to re-warm shrimp.
Place shrimp and stock in 4 warmed bowls. Sprinkle with lemon juice and parsley.
SERVE IMMEDIATELY

Notes from my brother….
I tried it with the smoked paprika and there were complaints that it overpowered everything, so I will stick with Hungarian sweet.
I have done everything through step 3, and held until time to eat. Just threw in the shrimp, warmed it all back up, and went from there. Worked great.
Serve with salad. I roasted some asparagus pieces and tossed them on top, but again I got some complaints.
I used a Dutch oven, but a high-sided frying pan would work I think.
I did not add the remaining ¼ tsp salt and pepper to the leeks and I thought it was plenty salty. Canned beans and broth vary a lot in saltiness.
You can substitute a firm fish for the shrimp.

Scurrying around on Sunday

LOCATION:   In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Mostly sunny.  High 83

Sundays are supposed to be my lazy days, but it didn’t work out today.

We enjoyed watching “CBS Sunday Morning” with George’s grits and eggs.  This time, he scrambled the eggs and added some unusual mushrooms that we had received in our Imperfect Foods shipment.  Tasty!

Instead of relaxing after the TV show, I went to play pickleball with another woman who is learning, too.  We only played a bit, as the wind kept blowing our ball in the wrong direction.

After that, we decided to wash all of Joy’s curtains.  George did a great job unhooking them, then putting them back together.  It was quite a trick.  They do look a lot better.

Then, feeling industrious, we worked on our taxes.  We were able to finish it up without a divorce!

I decided to do some cooking to use up dibs and dabs of things before we leave next week.  I made some hummus in case friends drop by,  to use up the tahini.  Then, I made a taboullah salad to use up some couscous and mint.  After doing all of that, it was time to prep for dinner!  Never a slow moment!

While I was busy cooking, George went to our local brewery where they were having a vintage car show. 

The brewery has recently added IPAs, so I will go with him next time.

I learned a new word today – aquafaba .  It is the liquid from a can of chickpeas.  Since I had made hummus, I had opened a can of chickpeas earlier in the day.  I preserved the aquafaba for a recipe I had found that looked very unusual…..

Aperol Whiskey Sour

1.5 oz whiskey
1.5 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz aquafaba
1 oz Aperol

Combine everything in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Garnish with a lemon slice.  It was surprisingly tasty! 

DINNER:  I have only a few recipes left  in the  Jacques Pepin’s cookbook.  Tonight’s was a stew made of short ribs, mushrooms, and potatoes.  Side were sauteed carrots with dill.  Pretty darn good! 


Celebrating Saturday…

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Mostly cloudy.   High 82

STEPS:  15,006
CLASSES:  2 line-dancing and 2 water aerobics

I really enjoy line-dancing classes.  There are a few dances that we all know quite well, and it is fun to do a nice job together.  And there are others – tricky ones and ones that are new to us.  I think it is a good excercise – both physically and mentally.

Yesterday, when it was sunny and hot, there were a lot of ladies doing water aerobics.  Today, cloudy and breezy, there were only the 3 “strong” core of us.

I had to do more laundry today – getting Joy’s bedding, etc ready for our upcoming trip.  By the time 5:00 rolled around, I was pooped!

We had a special happy hour.  First we made Aperol Spritzes.  This is a drink we enjoyed when we were in Venice.  The flavor brought back fond memories.  It is aperol, prosecco, and selzer water.  Here is George popping the prosecco…

It was worth the effort!

Then, we had some delicious oysters on the half shell with the rest of the prosecco

DINNER:. Pumpkin soup.  Seems a little strange, but I am trying to finish up the recipes from the Jacques Pepin cookbook.  I used baked butternut squash instead of canned pumpkin puree.  I topped with roasted walnuts.  Side was sauteed zucchini, since we have a lot of zucchini from our Imperfect Food shipment. 

Gone with the wind?

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot and breezy.  High 88

STEPS:  11,988
CLASSES:  2 water aerobics

I played pickleball again this morning.  Some of the players say that I am improving.  I just get lucky once in awhile, I think.  We took this photo of ourselves….

George is coming along nicely with the painting.  Two walls finished already.  I realized that the color is similar to the Airstream and our pick-up.  Nice!

He is working on a propane heater that he bought a few months ago.  We got it for our (hopeful) trip to Newfoundland this spring.  If we are camping somewhere without electricity, and it is cold, we can use this instead of our built-in propane heater.  This would save on Joy’s battery.  He was able to get a replacement part and got it working.

The strangest thing happened to me on my walk back from the swimming pool this afternoon.  It was a bit windy, and as I walked by a friend’s RV, I noticed that their awnings were flapping dangerously.  I stood there a moment thinking that I should alert them, when the wind morphed into a mini-tornado. I could see it barreling down the street right in front of me.   It spun me around and I did a complete 360. My hat and swimming bag went flying.    Compost from their flower garden lifted up and flew into my face.  The wind pulled up a light fixture in their garden and smashed it on their patio.  The owners came out to hold onto their awnings.  Then, as suddenly as the wind came up, it stopped.  Wow!

We went to our friends’ house for dinner and trip planning.  Our plan was to go to Big Bend National Park, visit some state parks along the way, then head slowly toward Louisiana for a Gulf road trip.  BUT….We found that everything was already booked.  I called 10 RV parks around Big Bend; all are full for the month of March.  The state parks were also completely booked.  So, we went to Plan B…..we will meet up in eastern Texas and head east along the Gulf.  We made quite a few reservations, and felt that we accomplished a lot.

DINNER:  I took peppers stuffed with a cream cheese/goat cheese/bacon mix for an appetizer.  They were easy to make and are a handy appetizer.  They grilled steelhead trout for the main course with steamed asparagus and mashed cauliflower/parsnips as sides.  Lovely! 

Day #1 of Painting

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot and sunny.  High 90

STEPS:  16,201
CLASSES:  2 Water Aerobics

Only 4 of us ventured out to play pickleball.  The winds were gale-force!  The ball never went in the direction it was supposed to go.

George started painting the house.  The paint color is called Pewter Tankard….kind of a blend between gray, beige, and sage green.  In this photo, you can see the old paint (what we fondly called Baby Shit Brown)  and the new…

Here is George at work.  You can see our neighbor’s bougainvillea bush that they are chopping down.

We did our biweekly trip to the supermarket.  Whenever we go together, I give George a list of about 5 things to get.  Invariably, he picks up more than he is supposed to.  Such was the case today.  Without constant supervision, he bought some frozen blue crab, raw oysters, a huge bag of clementines, and a lot of other fruit.  He is now in the dog house, as I am trying to pare down our supplies before we hit the road.  With the food we received yesterday from Imperfect Foods plus his shopping today, we have an overstuffed freezer,  refrigerator, and countertop!

DINNER:  I made gumbo with shrimp and sausage.  George added a crab to his bowl.  It was a big serving!  It turned out well.

Perfect? Imperfect?

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  More summer-like weather.  High 90

STEPS:  15,132
CLASSES:  2 water aerobics

We played pickleball in the morning, even though it was very windy.  Today we had 16 players – a record, I think.  I was not the only newbie for a change.

George is prepping the house before he paints it later this week.  We got approval to paint the house a different color – sort of a beige/gray/sage green color.  He caulked and put spackle (?) in the cracks and over the nail heads. 

I got my hair cut.  I always feel like I lose 2 pounds or so after she has cut and thinned out my hair. 

We decided to try out Imperfect Foods, a food delivery service that is supposed to offer fruit and veg that do not look perfect.  Two big boxes arrived this afternoon.  In addition to fruit and veg, we ordered some different cheeses, bison, lamb, and sausage.  I think the packaging on the meat and cheese is what makes them “imperfect”.  It seems like a pretty good deal.  We will continue ordering food from them until we start traveling again. 

The perfect highlight of the day was Wine Wednesday at our favorite bistro, Loretto’s.  We joined neighbors for wine and appetizers.  It was beautiful out on the patio (except for the dead-looking plants.)

DINNER:  We may be hitting the road for the start of our spring/summer/fall road trip soon, so I need to use up food in the freezer, especially now that we have some of the Imperfect Foods in there.   So, I thawed the leftover bouillabaisse and added a chicken thigh.   Served it with a salad, from the Imperfect Foods shipment.  So far, so good.