Camping at the lake…

LOCATION:  Corpus Christi State Park, in east central Texas
CAMPGROUND:  2nd night at Corpus Christi State Park – Javalina Loop
WEATHER:  Grand!  Cool evenings and mornings; pleasant afternoon with high of 78

The night was deliciously cool, and we slept with all our windows open. It was nice and quiet, and the sky was full of stars. Lovely!

I took a solo morning walk around the Javalina Loop where we are camped.  The campground is about 1/2 full but it will fill up this weekend.  I spotted a bunny rabbit and several deer on my stroll.

Later in the morning we and our friends took a longer walk to give Trix, their dog, some exercise.  She loves fetching a ball in the lake.  The lake is quite large and not developed. 

George and I walked to a bait shop to buy bait and tackle, as he had forgotten his tackle box at home.  The shop was closed except for curbside service.  We followed the instructions, calling the owner from outside the shop.  George told her what he was looking for, and she came out with samples of things – like hooks, bobbers, etc.  She was VERY helpful.  After he made his selections,  she thanked and thanked us for stopping at her shop.  On our way back, the mailman stopped near us while delivering the mail in his car.  He wanted to chat, too.  I think these people around here are starved for conversation! 

Back at the campsite, I worked on my Spanish lessons and used our friends and George as guinea pigs.  I think my lesson plans have been way too ambitious.  I need to modify them to be short and sweet. 

While I was slaving away on the computer, George took a nap.  This is the life!

DINNER:  Our friends and we are taking turns cooking.  Tonight was my night.  We started with some hummus I had made and crackers   (and wine).   We sat out at the picnic table and enjoyed the evening.

It soon got dark and a bit chilly.  We changed to long pants and jackets, and George built a fire.  We grilled chicken on the fire.  I put part of the chicken directly on the fire – just with a salt and pepper rub.  The other part of the chicken was placed in our iron skillet with some BBQ sauce, butter, and worcestershire sauce.  When I served it, I gave each person some of each kind of chicken.  That turned out well – so not too much BBQ.  Sides were potato salad I had made back at the house, and a lettuce and tomato salad.  All good.  I opened one of our wines from our wine club. This was a Sonoma County red blend.  We are rating all of them.  We gave this a 4 out of 5.

Road trip!

LOCATION:  Near Corpus Christi in east central Texas
CAMPGROUND:  Corpus Christi State Park.  Full hook-ups.  Nice spacious pull-through, paved sights.  Picnic tables (some with shelters)  and firepits.  $25/night.  With Texas State Park pass, second night is half off.  4 stars out of 5. 
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  Sunny.  High 80

We spent the morning hurriedly packing up Joy, our Airstream.  We don’t have duplicate sets of everything, so had to move a lot of dishes, food, clothes, and kitchen gadgets from the house to the Airstream.  We finished up about 11:00 and hit the road.

The state park is not too far from Mission – 135 miles.  The last few miles were in Texas ranch country.  These ranches have not received the memo…..all had Trump signs and flags waving in their yards. 

We are on a 4-night camping trip with friends from our community, Retama Village.  We really enjoy being with them.  He is British; she is German.  They will return after 4 nights, and we will continue camping for 1 or  2 more nights – one in a Harvest Host winery and one night possibly in Padre Island National Park.  We are here in this park for 2 nights.

After we got set up, we all took a walk with our friends’ big schnauzer.  She really likes the lake!

Next to us at the park are 2 other Airstreams.  They are two couples full-timing together.  It is a small world…..  One couple is from Iowa, from a town not far from where I grew up.  They are on their way to Mission and will winter in the RV park that is the “sister” of Retama Village, and right next door.  We are going to get together when they arrive there next week.

DINNER:  We went in to the small town near the state park to a Czech diner to pick up dinner.  Our friends have been here before and were looking forward to their food.  It is interesting to visit small towns around Texas that have ethnic roots – there are several German, Polish, Slavic, and Czech communities sprinkled around the state. We picked up fried local catfish, shrimp, and Polish sausage.  Sides were cole slaw, fries, rolls, and sauted cabbage.  All very tasty.

The Big Reveal!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 80

STEPS:  11,653
CLASSES: Chair yoga, 2 water aerobics

Today’s walk was in the state park next to us.  It was much nicer today than before, as there were no mosquitos.

We saw these chachalacas chasing the beautiful blue jays.

We walked to the “resaca” – an elbow of the Rio Grande River which is now cut off from the main river.   It is a popular fishing place

We rushed back to be home to greet the Mexican workers here to wash and wax Joy.  It was fun to joke around with them in Spanish.

Drum roll here…..The great reveal.  Previously, I told you that there are 4 men that I adore:

1)  My dear husband George
2) Jacques Pepin, chef and TV food star.  I am making all his recipes from his book “Fast Food My Way” and am posting them on this blog.
3) Rick Steves, travel writer and TV travel show host.  We share a love for European travel.

And #4 is Bill Bryson…..

I feel that I have a lot in common with Bill Bryson.  Our birthdays are just months apart.  He grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, about 30 miles where I grew up.  When he was in college, he went to England.  When I was in college, I went to Spain.  He ended up marrying a British woman and has lived in both the USA and England since then.  He now lives near Southampton, where we were last year. 

He writes delightful travel books.  Some of his first ones were tales of his adventures during his first year in England.  Then, after living in Europe for several years, he returned to the US to travel and to write about his strange/hilarious new reactions to the USA and our ways.   His stories are the kind that make you snort and laugh out loud (kind of embarassing when reading among strangers).   He has also written about Australia and his experiences in hiking the Apalachian Trail (later turned into a movie).  These are some of his books:

* Neither Here Nor There – Travels in Europe

* Notes from a Small Island

* The Lost Continent – Travels in Small-Town America

Most recently, he wrote a book called “The Body”.  It is full of fascinating facts and trivia,  and written in a very light-hearted way.  I highly recommend, especially in this era of Covid-19.

Alas, I just read that he has retired so probably won’t be writing any more books.  He has become quite famous in England. 

Speaking of books, I finished another one today….

BOOK:  The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristen Harmel.  Historial fiction about life during WWII – a love story written about various people whose lives interconnect at an apartment on Rue Amelie.  5 stars out of 5.

DINNER:  Another night with Jacques……..


He writes that his mother made this recipe, but with frog legs.  I also did a substitution – I used chicken thighs instead of breasts.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 T Wondra flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 T good olive oil
1 T chopped garlic
5 T chopped fresh parsley
2 T unsalted butter
1 lemon, quartered

Dry the chicken cubes with paper towels and toss them with the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Heat the oil over high heat until very hot but not smoking.  Add the chicken cubes and cook in one layer, turning occasionally, for about 4 minutes. 

Meanwhile, combine the garlic and parsley in a small bowl.  Add the butter/parsley mixture to the skillet and saute for 1 minute, shaking the skillet occasionally.

To serve, divide among 4 plates and add a wedge of lemon to each plate.

I served a large lettuce and tomato salad with the meal.

The chicken was quite good, but the recipe was not up to the normal “wow” factor of his recipes. 

Sushi time!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  A bit cooler.  High 85

STEPS:  11,458
CLASSES:  1 chair yoga, 2 water aerobics

It was nice and cool when I walked this morning.  It was a bit foggy again.  Foggy weather must translate to good conditions for crossing the border.  As I was walking on the highway around the hayfields, I listened to a Border Patrol helicopter hover right above me.  On the ground were about 20 Border Patrol trucks and cars.  I think they spot the undocumented people from the helicopter, then radio down to the agents on the ground, who then go search for them….by truck, bicycle, horse, or by foot in the bushes.  There were about 20 BP vehicles on the road I was walking on.  I saw 5 agents surrounding an undocumented person.  There must have been more in the bushes that they were searching for. 

Here are some more photos of the curio shop where we went on Sunday in search of Mexican glassware.  We were tempted to buy the flamingo as flamingos are the emblem of Airstreamers.  But…..we let the temptation pass…..

I spent the afternoon busily making lesson plans for my upcoming Spanish classes.  I now have 4 couples plus George who will be my pupils!

George cleaned the truck and prepped the Airstream for its washing tomorrow. 

The highlight of the day was an outing to a Japanese restaurant that has been highly rated.  We haven’t had sushi in about a year, this was a real treat.  We went with another couple from our village.  The woman had this sushi platter…

George and I shared a grilled octopus for an appetizer…

Then, we shared a sushi/sashimi platter as our entree. 

Oishikata!  …as they say in Japanese.  It was almost authentic, even though all the waiters and sushi chefs were Latinos. 

BTW – You will have to wait until tomorrow for the big reveal….of the identity of the #4 man in my love life! 

A trip to Mexico….well, almost

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Cloudy and a bit cooler.  High 83

STEPS:  10,733
CLASSES – 0.  No classes are offered on Sundays, and I wimped out on doing any “extra credit”

We had a fun outing today.  Our main goal was to buy some Mexican martini glassses.  We live right across the border from Progreso, Mexico, but with Covid, we are not allowed to cross over, unless we are going to a doctor/dentist or to buy medications.  Before Covid, we gringos would go over there for lunch, a margarita, to shop, and perhaps pick up some cheap (legal) drugs.  They have shops with lovely Mexican ceramics and glassware.  Fortunately, one of the shops has a sister shop with most of the same merchandise, but on this side of the border.  We headed there and bought the glasses.

Then, we checked out a nearby restaurant that looked quite nice.  We sat on the patio and enjoyed all the beautiful colors and flowers.

Of course, there was the obligatory Frida Kahlo photo and artwork. 

George befriended these gals….

We shared an appetizer, which was plenty for lunch – a chalupa, two tacos and one lonche.  Lonche is a Spanglish word for lunch.  It has now morphed to mean a sandwich made with a hard roll filled with ingredients you would find in a taco – beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado. 

Back home, George happily watched the Masters’ Golf Tournament.  We lived in Augusta a long time ago, and enjoy seeing the beauty of the course.

You will have to wait a few days until I announce on the blog who Lover #4 is.  Meanwhile, I made another Jacques Pepin (lover #2) recipe for dinner. 

First course was a steamed, whole artichoke with a lemony mayo dip. 
Second course was a big spinach/arugula salad with ripe tomatoes.
Main course was:


1 8-oz package fresh crabmeat
1.25 cup bread crumbs
2 T minced scallions
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 T mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 T peanut or canola oil

Put the crabmeat in a bowl and add 2/3 cup of the bread crubs, scallion, cilantro, garlic, mayonnaise, Tabasco, and salt.  Mix lightly just until ingredients are well combined.

Put the remaining bread crumbs in a food processor with the almonds and process until the nuts are well chopped and combined with the bread crumbs.  (Note, I crushed the almonds by hand as I don’t normally carry the food processor with us when we travel in our trailer). 

Heat oven to 180 degrees.  Form the crab mixture into 4 patties, then dip each patty into the crumb mixture until each is coated on all sides.

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and arrange the patties next to each other.  Cook for about 3 minutes on each side.  Keep warm in the oven.


1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 T ketchup
1 tsp wasabi paste
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 T water
2 tsp chopped chives

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.

To serve, divide the sauce among 4 plates.  Place a patty in the center of the sauce on each plate, and sprinkle on some chives.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4.  Elegant, but easy

Announcing Lover #3

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  A bit too hot for me.  High 90.  Sunny

STEPS:  10,424
CLASSES:  2 water aerobics

We are on the butterfly migration route and are lucky to be able to watch millions of butterflies fly through our neighborhood.  The National Butterfly Center is about a mile from us, and I pass it on my normal walking route.  This morning, there were a bunch of serious butterfly-watchers walking on the outside of our community.  They tend to look like this, dressed like they are going on a safari…

I think this photo shows a Queen and a Monarch, both very beautiful, and frequently-seen types around here….

Speaking of butterflies, since Mission is a butterfly “hub”, the city has placed these butterfly statues all around the City.  This is the one in front of the library where I went today.

A kind neighbor who knows I like to grow basil gave me one of her cuttings, and I planted it in a Mexican flower pot.  I hope it grows!

George is having good luck with his sugar snap peas.  He is going to try to train them to grow up our back fence. 

Yesterday, I told you about my love life – Lover #1 – my husband George (of course!).  Lover #2 (virtual of course) is Jacques Pepin, the French chef.  Two of his recipes that I made tonight are described below.  Lover #3…… (another virtual one)……drum roll……..Rick Steves, the travel writer and star of European travel shows. 

I just LOVE Rick, and his obvious love of Europe..  One reason I like him so much is that we are about the same age, and share a passion for traveling.  Rick started back-packing in Europe the day after he graduated from high school.   This is what he looked like then….

And, this is what he looks like now. 

He writes that during his first summer backpacking (in 1973) in Europe, his budget was $3/day.  Mine, in 1972 was $1/day plus a pre-paid Eurorail pass.  I lived and studied in Spain for a year, hitchhiking every weekend around the country.  Following my junior year abroad, I backpacked around all of Europe with my brother and his friend.  It was a fabulous summer.

Big hair must have been “in” during those days.  Rick certainly had a lot of hair, and so did I….

Now, my hair is more like Rick’s!

DINNER:  Two more Jacques/Karmen recipes:


This is a refreshing summer soup.  Thankfully, we can still get good tomatoes here.  It is a bit like gazpacho.  It is great on its own, but is sublime with the spinach coulis.  Besides drizzling it on top of the soup, the coulis would be yummy as a salad dressing, or great as a drizzle over poached fish or over pasta.

Tomato soup:

3 # ripe tomatoes diced in small cubes
1 sweet onion, diced in 1″ chunks
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 jalapeno pepper, seed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (we used more as we like spicy)
3/4 tsp salt
2 T good olive oil
1/4 tsp Tabasco

Put all the ingredients in a blender and puree.  Push through a fine sieve.  (Note – I skipped this step as I don’t have a sieve.  Since we live in a tiny house or RV, I don’t have a lot of kitchen gadgets that I would rarely use).  Put in a bottle or jar and refrigerate until cool. 

Spinach coulis:

3 cups loosely packed spinah leaves
1/4 cup oil – half olive oil, half canola
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water

Microwave spinach until wilted, about 1 minute.  Place in blender along with other ingredients.  Pulse until smooth.  Put in a jar and refrigerate until cool.

To serve, ladle about 1.5 cup soup per person.  Gardish each bowl with 1-2 T of the spinach coulis.  This would be colorful for Christmas!  Serves 4


This is super easy and can be made ahead of time. 

1.5 cup pasta shells or penne
1.5 cup diced ham
3/4 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup peas
1.5 cup diced zucchini – about one medium-sized one
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
3/4 grated Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese

For the white sauce:

2 T unsalted butter
2 T all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 T freshly grated Parmesan

Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil and add the pasta.  Boil uncovered about 12 minutes.  Drain and cool. 

Put the pasta in a large bowl and stir in the ham, corn, peas, zucchini, salt, pepper, and cheese. 

For the white sauce – Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the flour and mix it with a whisk.  Add the milk and bring to a boill.  Stir and keep heating until thickened.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

Heat the broiler.   Combine the white sauce with the pasta mixture and place in a shallow baking dish.  Sprinkle Parmesan on top.  Broil about 6-8 minutes until bubbly hot.  You can keep the gratin in the warm oven for about 10-15 minutes, but try to not leave it there longer, as it will become gooey.  4 servings

About my 4 love affairs……

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

STEPS:  13,060
CLASSES:  1 chair yoga; 2 water aerobics

This morning on our daily walk we encountered a mama javelina (also known as a peccary or “skunk pig”) and her 6 babies.  They were crossing the road in front of us. 

We took a different route today.  First we walked past the RV park next door (it is a rental community, not an ownership community like ours). 

Next to that RV park is Bentsen Palm State Park, a world birding center.  Now that we have a Texas State Park pass, we can enter at no charge.  They are building the WALL right at the entrance of the park…

We were delighted to see some beautiful green jays….

The park is a popular route for the the  undocumented people entering the USA .  These are the kinds of thorns and bushes through which they have to scramble.  I’ve heard that when they are apprehended, they are found with ticks, scratches, and bites all over them.  The mosquitos this morning were awful.

Now let’s talk about my love life….

There are 4 men in my life whom I love, one real (husband George) and three virtual.  In the upcoming blog posts, I will describe each.  Scintillating! 

First is George, husband of 44 years.  Although we are very different from each other, we get along quite well. We share a love for traveling, a desire to live frugally, and a passion to enjoy life.   We absolutely have to be compatible, when together 24/7 in a tiny house or in an even tinier Airstream!  The only time we really bicker is when it is time to fill up the gas tank.  Me:  “Now”.  George:  “When the gauge shows empty or below”. 

Now for man #2.  Jacques Pepin, French chef, author of a lot of cookbooks, and a star on PBS.  I just love his style and approach to cooking. 

Do you remember the book/movie “Julie/Julia”?  It is about a woman named Julie who adores Julia Child and spends a year making all of Julia’s recipes from one of her cookbooks,  one day at a time. The book/movie is about the results of her cooking. I’ve decided to do the same.  It will be “Jacques/Karmen”.   Most evenings, I will make 1-2 of his recipes and include them on the blog, hopefully with photos (if I remember to take them).  I hope you will enjoy!

DINNER:  Jacques/Karmen #1 and #2: 



1/4 cup hot salsa (or make your own if you have time)
2 Tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all together in a serving bowl.  At serving time, add the mixed salad greens – 6 cups pieces of  romaine lettuce and radicchio plus 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely diced.


4 Tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/4 cup minced scallions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped white mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 # shelled raw shrimp
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup dry white wine

Mix the butter in a large bowl with the garlic, scallions, mushrooms, salt, pepper and 1 T of the oil.   Add the shrimp and toss.  Divide the mixture into 4 individual gratin dishes or spoon into one large shallow baking dish. 

In another bowl, toss the bread crumbs with the remaining 1 T oil so that they are lightly coated, but still fluffy.     Sprinkle over the shrimp mixture and pour the wine over.

Preheat oven to 425.  Place the gratin dishes or baking dish on a cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes, or until the topping is nicely browned, and the shrimp are cooked through.

Serves 4

We paired dinner with an Italian white wine. 

A winner! 

The Beauty of Retama Village

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot!  High 88

STEPS:  12,311
CLASSES:  2 water aerobics

Our community really is beautiful and many residents have green thumbs..  Today for our morning walk, we walked a bit around our community before heading out around the hayfields. 

This neighbor is especially talented with gardening. 

I don’t know the name of this tree, but it has beautiful flowers..

There are many different styles of homes here, which is nice.  All are stucco, so that gives the community some unity.  This patio home was built while we were away this summer.  When you enter the front gate, you are in a covered area, then into a huge open courtyard/patio. This patio has an outdoor kitchen, 3 TVs, and a bar.  From there, you enter the main house.  It is very nice.

We also have some nice green space which is maintained by a yard service.  They do a nice job. 

Today’s excitement was laundry….:-(  Sometimes I think it would be nice to have our own washer and dryer, but generally we are happy with the openness the house has without the machines.  (The space is better utilized as a bar and wine rack!) 

DINNER:  Homemade broccoli cheese soup with homemade croutons.  Nothing too special, but different. 

An outing to Loretto’s

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

STEPS:  13,683
CLASSES:  1 chair yoga, 2 water aerobics

My mornings fly by.  We have a pretty steady routine…..First we take a walk from about 7:00 to 8:15.  Then, after a quick breakfast I’m off to Chair Yoga at 9:00.  Immediately following the class, I go to the clubhouse to use wifi, then back home by 11:00 to wash dishes, clean a little, and prepare George’s lunch. Then, a dash up to the swimming pool for water aerobics classes starting at 12:00.   They end at 1:30 or 2:00, depending on the day.  Shower, and then finally home to rest and grab a late lunch.  Whew!

This afternoon was special.  We went to Loretto’s, our favorite upscale bistro around here.  We went with some friends from Retama Village, our community.  We shared a flatbread and a charcuterie board.  Wine is half off on Wednesdays, so we shared a very nice bottle of cabernet sauvigon.  A very nice get-together!

After that lovely happy hour, we stopped at our friends’ house to use the internet.  We are going to go camping with them in a week or so, so we booked some campgrounds. 

Back home, I had prepared a light dinner, but we were too full from the good food at Loretto’s.  I will save it for tomorrow. 

BOOK:  “Circe” by Madeline Miller.  It was recommended by someone in an online book club.  It is a book about fantasy – gods and witches, etc.  Not my cup of tea.  I thought it dragged.  2 stars out of 5


LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER: Overcast, but nice.  High 85

Steps:  11,263
Classes:  1 chair yoga, 2 water aerobics

Today’s morning walk brought more interesting observations.  George and I started off together, on the road surrounding our development.  He then took the short-cut back home, and I took the longer 4-mile route.  Later we shared experiences – he heard rustling in the bushes on the short-cut road.  There is a deep ditch with a lot of brambles, where the undocumented like to hide.  Then, a few minutes later, when I approached that same road, I saw 2 Border Patrol trucks and two young men, all dressed in black, sitting on the grass being apprehended.  Later, a bicyclist approaching me from the other way warned me that there was a big rattlesnake along the road, so I kept a watchful eye.  Such excitement!

George invited one of our friends over to play chess.  I have a chess set that I bought many many years ago when I taught in Taiwan.  It has interesting etchings. 

(George lost BTW)

While they were playing chess, I drove to the Barnes and Noble bookstore.  A few people in our community have approached me about teaching some conversational Spanish.  I went to the bookstore in search of a book to use for teaching.  Nothing was quite right.  Most are thick books that start simple then get in to irregular verbs, past perfect tense, etc.  What my neighbors want is basic Spanish that they can use in a restaurant, or perhaps converse a little with a worker.  Plus, the books were about $35!  So, I went to our cute little public library.  I just LOVE libraries.  When we travel, we often use the wifi in a little town’s library.  These days, most are closed, but we can pull up their wifi while sitting in their parking lot.  Today, I found our library closed except for curbside pickup.  The young librarian manning the table in front of the library told me that I could reserve a book online, and then pick it up when it is available.  He said he wasn’t busy so offered to help me.  I told him what I wanted, and he went to  find a few Spanish language books for me.  This demonstrates the kindness of the Latino locals here.  I found 2 books that might suit, but have decided to develop my own guidebook for teaching.  While I was waiting for my books, two ladies came to return devices and get new ones.  I finally figured out that they are some type of modem that they check out (free) so that their children can have access to wifi to do their at-home schooling.  With the poverty in our area, many homes do not have internet, so this is a wonderful resource.  I marveled at the librarian who went back and forth, between English and Spanish, so easily and flawlessly. 

DINNER:  Omelette.  We haven’t had one in ages and I used a lot of ingredients I had on hand – pepperoni, cheese, onions, garlic, broccoli, and mushrooms.  It was tasty.