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.

Summer camp?

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  Summer-like.  Sunny with 80 high

STEPS:  12,159
CLASSES:  1 chair yoga, 2 line dancing and 2 water aerobics

My friend jokingly calls Tuesdays “summer camp” as it seems we go from one planned activity to another.  It was a busy morning with chair yoga, line-dancing, and water aerobics all back-to-back.

Then, in the afternoon, I stopped by for coffee with another friend to plan a 5-night road trip to the Fredricksburg, Texas area.  This area of Texas is called the Hill Country and also the Texas Wine Trail.  We will stay in 5 different Harvest Host sites  – wineries, a Texas-style saloon, and a dance hall.  Should be fun! 

Here are our seemingly-dead bushes in the front yard….

And, our sad-looking oleander in the back….

We have been instructed to leave the shrubs as they are until our lawn service does a major trimming in April.  This will give the plants time to revive…..if they make it at all.

Thank goodness our vegetable truck came this afternoon, as I am very low on vegetables.  The Mexican farmer drives around the neighborhood tooting his horn, to let us know he has arrived.  Cute!  Then, we all walk (or drive golf carts) up to the clubhouse to see what goodies he has.  I bought a poblano pepper, zucchini, and grapefruit.  A lot of people were buying his vanilla to take back to friends up North.  It is really cheap here (Mexico).

We celebrated the warm weather with my world-famous margaritas out on the driveway.  Then, inside to fix dinner.

DINNER:  I hit this one out of the ball-park.  Really, really good.  I made a risotto with mushrooms, red onion, and some of the poblano.  Meanwhile, I sauteed zucchini and onions as a side dish.  The main course were Bay scallops sauteed in butter and garlic.  Yum, yum!

We were out of white wine to pair with the scallops, so we opened up a bottle of dry sparkling wine.  It goes so well with seafood.  When we were in New Zealand, we gained an appreciation of drinking sparkling wine with dinner, rather than limiting it to New Year’s Eve.  There, it is common in a wine bar to be asked by the waiter….”red, white, or sparkling?”  And, you can get good sparkling wine for about the same price as a still wine.  Here is George, popping the cork…..

Back to summer….

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Beautiful!  Mostly sunny.  High 80

STEPS:  15,355
CLASSES:  1 Water aerobics

I played pickleball for the first time in more than a week.  I made a few good shots and a lot of bad ones!  When I was young, I was always the last kid to be chosen to be on sports teams.  It was very traumatic.  My lack of athletic skills has plagued me my entire life.  I try to think of pickleball as just a fun way to get some exercise.  Another lady new to pickleball joined me today, which was nice.

I wavered about doing aerobics as the temperature was not quite 70 by noon.  70 is our rough cut-off for having the class or not.  The sun came out at 11:45, so I said  “yes!”  I was the only one there, though.  It felt good to do it again.

I took my walk in the afternoon.  Since it was 80, I had to slow down as to not heat up too much.  As I was walking, my phone stopped working.  I was listening to a podcast and it just stopped.  When I got home, I tried to figure out what was going on.  I sent a plea for help to our daughter.  I’m sure this was her reaction….

In the late afternoon, some fellow Airstreamers that live here came over for happy hour.  They are renting a small coach house this season, and found that they like it here.  So, last month they sold their house in Chicago and bought a port home here.  Even with Covid, real estate sales here have been brisk. 

DINNER:  I made THAI SHRIMP CURRY from a recipe that I had clipped from a magazine a long time ago.  It was really good and so easy. 

8-oz package of rice noodles (or rice)
2 T veg oil
1 T finely chopped ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, chopped
Kosher salt
2 T Thai red  curry paste
14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tsp fish sauce
1 T sugar
12-oz bag frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 pound peeled and deveined medium to large shrimp
Fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving

Cook the rice noodles (or rice) as the label directs.  Meanwhile, heat the veg oil in a large skillet.   Add ginger, garlic, scallions, and a pinch of salt and cook – about 3 minutes.  Add the curry paste and stir to coat.  Add the coconut milk, whisking as you pour.  Stir in the fish sauce and sugar.  Add about 1/2 cup water and bring to simmer.  Cook about 8 minutes, until a bit thickened. 
Add the frozen vegetables and cook, another 4 minutes or so.  Add the shrimp and cook just until pink, about 3-4 minutes. 
To serve, put the noodles or rice in a bowl and top with the shrimp curry.  Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

This recipe is a keeper.  You could substitute scallops or firm fish, I think. 

Slow, sunny Sunday

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Winter is over!  Sunny.  High 78

We enjoyed our traditional Sunday morning routine – grits and eggs while watching CBS Sunday Morning. 

My other tradition on Sundays is to be a real slouch.  I didn’t take a walk, and it was too windy for pickleball.  I spent a lot of time reading while munching on popcorn.  I also worked some more on summer camping.  I am not going to make any more reservations/plans until we know about Canada and Europe.  We just learned that Canada extended its border closure through the end of March, so that is not a good sign. 

While I was doing that, George and some friends went to our local brewery.  They enjoyed beers and  some live music on the brewery’s outdoor patio.

I am seriously getting ready for summer camping…..Throughout the year, we save toilet paper rolls and dryer lint.  I make firestarters for campfires by stuffing the lint into the rolls, then adding a dab of Vaseline.  We have been saving a BUNCH of toilet paper rolls, so I made the firestarters this afternoon. We have a summer’s worth now.  So –  Let’s go camping! 

George tried to get the grill going for dinner, but the wind was so strong that the fire kept going out.  A few hours later, our appetizers – stuffed jalapenos wrapped with bacon – were ready…

DINNER:  Grilled flank steak.  George did it perfectly, even with the challenges.  Side was a lentil dish that I found online to use up some of the mint I had from a previous recipe.  It was very tasty – and vegan (Alexis).  Sort of like a tabloulleh. 

BOOK:  “I’ll Keep You Safe” by Peter May.  Our Nova Scotia friends recommended this author.  I am hooked.  This is a bit of a mystery/love story, but the greatest part is the description of the scenery.  This one takes place on a small Island off Scotland. 

Winter has ended!

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Warming up!  Sunny.  High 68

STEPS:  13,409
CLASSES:  2 Line-dancing

We enjoyed learning some new dances today in line-dancing class.  Due to Covid, we limit the class size to about 5 and the class is in a fairly large room.  Our teacher, who fell last year, is being cautious, and is using videos to teach us, while holding on to the counter.  We certainly don’t want her to fall again!

I took an extra long walk today as the weather was so nice.  I don’t know what has happened to the little dog I used to see every day on the farm.  I am guessing that the farmer took the dog home to keep warm last week. 

This is more like it!

Our electricity situation in Texas is a big topic of conversation.  It has become political, of course, with each side blaming the other.  My neighbors are sending messages to everyone urging residents to send our high electicity bills to Biden, as they feel he is to blame.  Others blame the Republicans for the grid set-up here, and are scolding Senator Ted Cruz for jumping ship during the crisis, taking his family to Mexico for a family vacation…. I just wish people could work together instead of making everything a political issue.  Let’s be kind and focus on solutions…to this and to other problems facing our country.

I had hoped to play some pickleball, but it was just too windy.  Pickleball uses a whiffle ball, which is very sensitive to the wind.  Our court is not blocked by any trees  or buildings, so is especially affected when it is windy.

I had some mint to use up from a recipe I made earlier in the week, so we enjoyed a Mint Julep on the driveway, basking again in the sun. 

We took our flower and herb plants out and have assessed the damage (appears total) of our outdoor plants.  The nurseries advise us to leave the outdoor plants alone for a month or so, to see if they come back.  So, there are dead-looking plants everywhere.  Very sad.

DINNER:  Sort of a chicken cacciatore recipe I made up.  I sauteed onion and garlic, then added a chicken thigh.  To that, I added tomato paste, red wine, whole tomatoes, and spices.  I served over pappardelle pasta.  Side was a romaine lettuce/tomato salad.  I always have challenges finding good salad dressings.  Jacques Pepin to the rescue……I watched one of his podcasts where he demonstrated the recipe he says he uses almost daily….

3 T red wine vinegar
s &p
1 T dijon

Put in a jar and shake well.  Then, add 3/4 cup olive oil and shake again. 

I will keep this on hand.  Very easy and tasty.

The end is in sight….

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  We might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Mostly sunny.  High 50

STEPS:  11,959

I skipped chair yoga class in order to be at my computer at the stroke of 9:00 AM in order to reserve a camp site in Michigan where we want that to stay a few days.  I sat at the ready, and after 8:59, I pounced, and entered my reservation request.  So did a ton of other people, I guess.  By 9:01, the campground was completely booked for the month of July.  I managed to snag one night only.  They have rolling dates for these reservations, so tomorrow I will do the same for a different campground.  Ugh!

Meanwhile, a friend and I are trying to get a short camping trip organized to the Fredricksburg area, and another to Big Bend.  We are waiting for the weather, and for our second Covid vaccine shots. 

This little fella came to visit Retama Villlage today (a javelina).  He was quite the hit….

This says a lot about our Texas weather…

Many Texans are getting power back today, but broken/frozen water pipes and low water pressure are causing water issues all over the state.  We continue to be fine. 

I walked Kypsie for the last time.  Since tomorrow night is supposed to be above freezing, she will be returning to the pet rescue center. I hope that she can get adopted soon.   After walking her, I took my longer hike.  I had to start stripping off layers.  Hallelelulah! 

The flowers, shrubs,  and peas that are outside in our yard look pretty dead.  However, people say that we should just cut them way back and that some will come back.  The flowers and basil that I brought inside don’t look too happy, either.  They are missing the sunshine.  Maybe tomorrow….

DINNER:  I repeated a Jacques Pepin fish recipe, using some of the fish George caught in the Gulf several weeks ago. When I first made  it, I had to skip the hazelnut crumb crust as I couldn’t find hazelnuts.  Now that I have some, I made it with the nuts.  It realy made a difference.  Very good, and easy.  You just coat the fish filets in the hazelnut/bread crumb crust, and bake the at a low temperature.  Then, top the filets with a salsa/mayonnaise/sun-dried tomato sauce.  Sides were mashed potatoes and peas. 

Will this cold misery ever end?

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  High 45.  Overcast.  VERY windy

STEPS:  12,456.  Glad I got in my steps, but the wind was brutal.

I hope today is the last day I have to talk about the weather.  I know of people who have been without power for more than 4 days.  The situation continues to be dire.  The latest bad news is that sewage lines are backed up and people are getting sewage in their houses.  People have been told to boil water, but they can’t because they don’t have power.  Our community Facebook page is popping with people asking to borrow eggs, milk, bread, etc.  The store shelves are apparently barren.  People getting their Covid vaccines are having to stand in lines in the cold for 3+ hours.  What a disaster!  For some reason, we have been spared.  We have not lost power, and have a well-supplied pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.  ….and no sewage problems.

In nearby South Padre Island, they have had the biggest rescue roundup of turtles in history.  These turtles are suffering from cold shock, so volunteers have collected them from the beaches and are housing them temporarily in the convention center.

Meanwhile, the birds are going crazy.  I learned a new word….murmuration.  It is the word for the formations that birds make while swarming in the air.  We see a lot like this…

I walked the foster dog Kypsie again.  She is making friends in the neighborhood.  What a shame that no one has adopted her.  Don’t look at us!  We like the freedom to travel too much, and we can get our fix of caring for pets through TrustedHousesitters.com

We heard on TV that today is National Red Wine Day, so we invited several couples over for a glass before dinner.  Everyone was either sick, already busy, or in quarantine, so just the two of us enjoyed  a Syrah with some garlic/jalapeno-stuffed olives and Manchego cheese slices. 

DINNER:  I am in the section of Jacques Pepin’s book that describes very quick and easy light suppers.  Tonight I did his chorizo and cannelini bean soup.  He says it is great to fall back on when you need to just grab something out of the pantry.  You simply put a can of beans in the food processor.  After blending, add it to a pot with diced hard sausage, like Spanish chorizo (NOT Mexican chorizo which is something altogether different).  I jazzed it up with some garlic and onions.  Topped with croutons.  Side was carrots sauteed with wine and dill. 

BOOK:  “The Promise of Ankles” by Alexander McCall Smith.  This is part of his 44 Scotland Street series in which he delightfully describes the lives of people who live there on a street in Edinburgh, Scotland.  He is an excellent writer and I laugh out loud often while I am reading it.  5 stars out of 5 (if you are looking for something light). 

Bread-baking in the cold…

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  A bit warmer.  High up to 50!  Some sun

STEPS:  12,327
CLASS:  Chair yoga

The situation in Texas seems to be in national and international news.  The cold snap continues and most people are still without power, and no one can tell them when it will be restored.  For some reason, Retama Village has been spared.  People here have opened up their homes to let others (without heat) sleep in spare bedrooms and coach houses. 

One of the repercussions of the weather/outages is that Covid vaccine shots have been postponed.  Many of the vaccine sites are without electricity and water.  Others have closed so that people don’t have to wait in line in the cold.  What a mess!

It warmed up today more than the last few days.  It stayed in the 30s most of the day, but the sun came out in the mid-afternoon, and it was quite pleasant.  I seized that opportunity for my daily walk, followed by a walk with Kypsie, the foster dog.  We returned to the dog park and she recognized the dog that she had played with yesterday.  Joy!

I spent another couple of hours plotting our summer trip.  Some of the state park campgrounds’ websites are terrible and it takes a long time to get anything accomplished.  I have decided to just book weekend sites and wing it for mid-week stays.  I have Plan A, B, C, D, E, F, and G!  This is due to not knowing if/when we can enter Canada, and whether we will be leaving in early September for Europe. 

George decided to make a baguette.  Unfortunately, the yeast had expired (Sept 2020) and there was just a bit of flour left.  The baguettes didn’t want to rise, due to the yeast and the cold house, so the baguettes morphed into flat breads….Paul Hollywood would be appalled!

DINNER:  I used one of the flat breads for a Jacques Peppin recipe called Shrimp Burgers.  Per his recipe, I melted some Manchego cheese in a skillet, and topped it with shrimp.  I added sauteed onions and cooked until the shrimp turned pink.  Then, I slid the mix onto the flat breads, adding red onions, cilantro, and salsa.  All was good, except the bread was almost impossible to cut!  It gave our jaws and teeth a workout!!!