LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: Beautiful. Sunny. High 76
Our realtor came over in the morning to take photos of our house, in preparation for listing it. We tried to have everything neat and tidy! We are hoping for a quick sale.
Then, off to do errands. We stopped at our airport to see about changing our flight to Hawaii next week. We are traveling with friends. We booked through Orbitz (due to a Covid 19 refund). They have contacted me at least 3 times telling me that American Airlines canceled our flights, and re-booked us. When they told me to call them back to reschedule, I was on hold for 4 hours! Now our flights are different from our friends’ flights, so I am trying to re-book to get on their same flights. Not wanting to be on hold for 4 hours again, I thought the American staff at the airport might be able to help. Nope. After waiting in line with passengers getting ready to board, I was given a phone number to call. Darn!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here, even though it seems odd with this sunny, warm weather. Several volunteers decorated our clubhouse. It looks quite nice.
We won’t be decorating our house, as we gave away/sold all of our decorations when we retired and went on the road full-time.
DINNER: Simple and good…..A toasted French baguette spread with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon and capers. Side was sauteed bell pepper (so cheap at $.35 each) and onions.
LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: Beautiful! Sunny. High 75
The day started off with a bang – Bloody Marys at our friends’ house. As I have mentioned before, there are a variety of house types in our community. These friends live here year ’round in a “regular” house. Several years ago, they started with a small coach house with an RV, then moved to a port home with their RV, and now have sold their RV and live in a house. We had a great time with them this morning.
The afternoon was spent walking the dog (today is our last pet-sitting), reading, and playing chess and shooting pool (George).
Tomorrow the realtor is coming over to take photos of the house to get ready to list it, so I am busy stuffing things in closets!! 🙂
DINNER: I watched a Jacques Pepin video the other day. It was perfect for our Thanksgiving leftovers: Brussels spouts with sausage. For Thanksgiving, I used only a 1/2 bag (pound) of Brussels sprouts so tonight used the 2nd half. I cleaned, stemmed, and sliced thinly the Brussels Sprouts. I had Italian sausage left from the Thanksgiving stuffing, so this recipe was perfecct. I made patties with the 1/2 pound Italian sausage and sauted them in olive oil until they were about 75% cooked. Then, I added the sprouts and some sliced onions. Cook until the sprouts are tender. When the pan gets a little dry, add some liquid from a can of cannelllini beans. Put a lid on to steam the sprouts. Then, add the cannellini beans, cook until warm and serve with salt and pepper. I jazzed it up a bit with fennel seeds and chili peppers. A nice Sunday night dinner!
LOCATION: Mission, Texas – in our tiny house’ WEATHER: Dreary. Cool. High 58. Overcast, light rain all d
I taught line-dancing again – for 1.5 hours. It is quite a task – counting out the beats, calling the steps, and doing the right steps! I get a bit breathless. It is fun, though. One more class until the regular leader returns.
We worked in our yard, getting the house ready to be listed. In the ceramic pot I bought in Mexico, we planted several cute succulents. I planted pansies all around the pot. Last winter, when we had a cold spell, lots of plants died of the freeze. We had a blank spot. Not wanting to spend a lot of money on plants that we will not be able to enjoy, we found some old ones that people had thrown away in our community’s mulch area. One palm and one aloe-thingy. We hope they survive….at least until the house sells! I planted some mint, basil, and pansies in the pots next to our front door. Anything to help the place sell quickly!
We tied Bella up outside (the dog we are pet-sitting) so she could enjoy the outdoors with us.
I spent some time cleaning the inside of Joy, our Airstream. She is still quite dusty from this summer’s trip. Not a fun task
DINNER: Quinoa from a little packet. Side was stir-fried turkey (leftover from Thanksgiving), bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and pesto.
BOOK: “Last Christmas in Paris” by Hazel Gaynor. A series of letters written between a couple and their families in WWI. Although it is fiction, it is based on history. 4 stars out of 5
LOCATION: Mission, Texas WEATHER: Hot and muggy in the AM, cool and rainy in the PM
We spent the morning doing some yard work – starting to spiff up the place to put it on the market.
Today, Thanksgiving, is all about food. Our community is celebrating with a potluck dinner in the clubhouse, but we declined, as I like to cook so much. So, here is an account of our calories consumed…..
Starters – about Noon –
• Cape codders (vodka and cranberry juice) • Jalapeno poppers — Cut the jalapeno lengthwise, stuff with a combo of cream cheese and cheddar cheese, wrap with a piece of bacon, and brown on the grill. Note – I was out of cheddar cheese so substituted goat cheese – even better!
Rain was predicted to start about 1:00, so George went ahead and grilled/smoked the turkey thighs. He made a bed of mezquite chips that he used for smoking. I had marinated the thighs in plain full-fat Greek yogurt, and rubbed with salt and pepper. After they cooked (about 80%), I put the thighs in a Le Crueset pot to finish cooking in the oven later.
While I was cooking, I listened to an MPR podcast of “Turkey Confidential” and a few Jacques Pepin clips. We ate lunch about 3:00. The menu:
– Cranberry sauce – Grilled/smoked turkey thighs – Stuffing – Sweet potatoes – Brussels sprouts – Pumpkin pie souffle – White wine (chardonnay) and red wine (cabernet sauvignon)
CRANBERRY SAUCE – recipe from good camping pal Tony Scott…..
1 # cranberries Zest of 1 orange Juice from orange (1/3 – 1/2 cup) 1/2 cup Triple Sec 1/3 cup white sugar (more if you like sweeter)
Bring everything to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes until cranberries burst. Pop with fork if they need prodding. Cool and eat. Thickens when it cools ————————————————-
OK, I cheat – I use the packaged kind, but I jazz it up with Italian sausage, onions, and mushrooms – sauteed and added to the stuffing. Then, I baked in the oven to crisp up.
SWEET POTATOES – recipe from my brother
Peel potatoes and cut into largish cubes. Stir in some olive oil, but not too much or they will get soggy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, as well as fresh chopped rosemary if you have it. Put in a metal pan. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or more, until crispy and caramelized.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS – recipe from Google
1/2 pound sprouts (I am saving second half of package for later in the week). Wash, cut off stems, cut in half, and pat dry 1.5 T Olive oil 1 tsp Italian seasoning 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 cup Parmesan Salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients . Place the sprouts, cut-side down, on a lined cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes. Serve with finely diced parsley
PUMPKIN PIE SOUFFLE – I made this up (as we don’t like sweet things)
Can pumpkin pie 1/4 cup sugar 2 T milk 1 egg, beaten 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Stir everything together and put in a buttered ramekin. Bake until brown on top
We finished eating around 6:00, then watched the annual Westminster Dog Show on TV. An early night with full tummies…
**************A reader asked me about the tamales I mentioned in yesterday’s post. The restaurant – Delia’s – is located in Mission, where we live, and has a few more stores in the Rio Grande Valley. They are really famous and ship all over the world. They are especially busy at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, as it is a Mexican custom to eat these during holiday times. The website for ordering is deliastamales.com. They have lots of different kinds, all very very delicioso!
LOCATION: Mission, Texas WEATHER: Very nice. Windy. High 82
While doing some gardening in the morning, I got a call from a friend reminding me of the weekly yoga class. A Latina lady comes to our clubhouse once a week to teach a class. She is very good, and I enjoyed the class. Then, I had to rush back home to put on my swimsuit for water aerobics class. When we are here in Retama Village, I like to think of it as a “spa” – my time to eat healthy and do a lot of exercise. Today it begins (with a brief hiccup tomorrow, Thanksgiving)
Then, surprise, surprise!
We bought new house. It is also in Retama Village. It is bigger than our current tiny house – 780 compared to our current 480. Its style is called a “casita”. The current owners have built on a screened-in porch and an outdoor kitchen. At some point, we will probably sell our Airstream, and the covenents for Retama Village require an RV in the tiny house-style that we are currently in. With the new one, we can opt in or out of having an RV in the driveway. Here is the link to the listing….
We did a lot of negotiation and signed the papers in the afternoon. I am still in a state of shock!
DINNER: Tamales. There is a tamale restaurant here in Mission that is famous for its tamales. They ship them all over the world. I thought I did not like them until I tasted theirs. The ones we had tonight are “spicy chicken”. George got a dozen free on Veterans’ Day. When we go there to eat – Delia’s – it is a bit embarrassing. We share a half dozen while all the locals eat at least a dozen per person!
LOCATION: Mission, Texas WEATHER: Very nice. High 80
We are taking care of our neighbors’ dog, Bella, all week. This means we walk around the neighborhood with her at least twice a day. Almost everyone else has a dog, so people stop and talk to us about her. We certainly don’t get a lot of exercise this way!
I did get some exercise line-dancing for two hours. The instructor is traveling this week, and asked me to sub for her. I was a little nervous, but it went well.
Today, we were off to Mexico. The closest safe border crossing is about an hour from our house. Whenever we say that we are going, neighbors ask us to pick things up for them. Today, we were picking up some medicine for a friend, and other friends asked if they could accompany us to buy meds for their dog. George was going to get a tooth fixed.
Crossing the border into Mexico is a breeze. Pay a dollar and you are whisked through – no passport or anything. We always park on the US side and walk across the bridge. After the bridge, you are assailed by hawkers shouting…..”Lady….Manicure/Pedicure”! “Viagra, opiates, morphine”! “Cheapest pharmacy in the world!” and on and on. You just have to plow your way through the narrow path with stalls on either side selling hammocks, belts, souvenirs, t-shirts, you-name-it.
George likes going to the dentist in Mexico. He LOVES the cheap price and feels that he is getting quality service. I will stick with my dentist in Minnesota. The lobby was overflowing, and they told him to return in 2 hours. So, we went medicine shopping, and then found a restaurant for lunch. Our friends shared a seafood platter while George and I split the “Deluxe Mexican Platter” which was 2 tacos, a tamale, an enchilada, a big pile of beans and rice, guacamole, and chips/salsa. All for $7.95. Of course, we had to have their 2-for-1 margaritas.
While George went to his appointment, we shopped and browsed. I bought a Mexican flower pot. I love the talavera pottery.
We got home late, so I wasn’t able to do any of my planned chores. No worries….I have plenty of time to do things.
DINNER: Whole trout on the grill. While I was in Puerto Rico, George went fishing on South Padre Island. Dinner was one of the fish he caught. He split it down the middle, and grilled it with salt, pepper, and squeezed lime. Very tasty! Sides were steamed rice, and a salad.
LOCATION: Mission, Texas – in our tiny house in our Retama Village community WEATHER: Cool (70) in AM, warming to 85
Poor George – he had to pick me up at the airport at 12:30 early this AM, and then take our neighbors to the airport at 4:00 AM! I blissfully slept through that. My body is still on Puerto Rico time.
We are pet-sitting for those same neighbors for a week. We are caring for their blind poodle that they adopted recently from a pet shelter. The dog, Bella, is really cute. When walking her, I have to pay attention so that she doesn’t run in to things. ;-(
Whenever we pet-sit, George grumbles about the pets, but they gravitate toward him. As with Bella, they end up in his lap…
After a nice walk, she was quite tuckered out and rested…
Meanwhile, I created to-do lists, menus, and grocery lists, and started populating a 2022 calendar. Lots to do this week, but I keep reminding myself that there is no urgency (other than groceries) for all the things I need/want to do.
While I am in Retama, I attend line-dancing classes quite faithfully. They are a good exercise – for the body and brain. The teacher will be gone for a week, and asked me to substitute teach for her. So, today we got together to train me. I am quite nervous as I am rusty, having not danced in about a year.
DINNER: While I was gone, George had gone fishing in South Padre Island nearby. While he was there, he bought some really nice shrimp from one of shrimp distributors there. He said he was in the mood for pasta, so I sauteed up some shrimp with onions and garlic, made a cream sauce with some leftover blue cheese, and served it over thin spaghetti. Side was steamed peas.
LOCATION: Mission, Texas WEATHER: Hot during the day; Pleasant (65) at night
Alexis and I enjoyed the remaining hours of our mother/daughter holiday in Puerto Rico. We lounged on the hammock at our AirB&B.
We went in search of brunch and ended up in a little restaurant frequented by locals. Alexis had a Puerto Rican sweet bread…like a flat brioche with powdered sugar…
We split another local favorite – a beans and rice mix. It reminds me of what we call Spanish rice.
We said good-bye to our nice AirB&B
Then off to the airport. It is a good thing we arrived with plenty of time as there were long lines at Security. Once through Security, Alexis put on her winter clothes and we relaxed with a final Puerto Rican cocktail..
Our flights took off within 20 minutes of each other – 4:50 and 5:10. My flight to Houston was a long one – 4.5 hours. She flew direct on Sun Country back to Minneapolis.
They announced that my flight from Houston to McAllen was overbooked and asked for a volunteer to be bumped. I raised my hand – I would get an overnight stay with food vouchers and $500. It would work out well, as George would not have to drive to McAllen airport so late. Long story short – they ended up not needing me to be bumped, so I got on the flight.
As we were getting ready to taxi, the plane stopped and they announced that there was a medical emergency onboard. We returned to the gate to offload the ill passenger and her family. It took some time for the airline to retrieve their bags. The other passengers were not happy! We ended up in McAllen about 12:30 AM. (2:30 AM my body time). Long day!
BOOK: “Sunday Philosophy Club” by Alistar McCall Smith. I started and finished this book while traveling today. It is part of the series about a philosopher from Edinburg, Scotland. I just love this author, and it is great for light reading, which I needed on the plane. 5 stars out of 5
LOCATION: San Jua, Puerto Rico WEATHER: High 88. They say that the weather here is almost the same every day of the year!
We started the day with a great breakfast – avocado toast for Alexis and salmon/goat cheese toast for me. I want to make this one day.
We discovered a “secret” walkway from our apartment to the beach. We hadn’t realized how close we are. We walked along the beach, and had it mostly to ourselves.
This graffiti is cute, but we are not homesick! (Especially Alexis is not missing the Minnesota cold and snow!)
The “national” beer of Puerto Rico is Medalla – similar to BudLite. Not to my liking! We were happy to find a store with some great local craft beers…
Later in the day, we decided to finish off our week here by watching the sun set over the city at a posh rooftop bar. It was a 2-mile walk. By the time we walked back, we had accumulated 21,000+ steps for the day!
We finished off the evening with a light dinner at a seafood restaurant we like near our place. Alexis had arepas made with grilled shrimp. Being a Friday night, the place was packed.
The streets were overflowing with people having a good start of the weekend.
BOOK: “Last Garden in England” by Julia Kelly. This is a delightful book centered around a garden during 3 different time periods – the original creation in early 1900s, during WWII, and now. 5 stars out of 5
LOCATION: San Juan, Puerto Rico WEATHER: Spotty rain. High 84
Today was a big splurge day – snorkeling on an island from a catamaran boat. I was on my own for the day.
After catching the shuttle service at a nearby hotel pick-up, we drove about an hour to the NE corner of the island, near Fajardo. The marina is huge. About 30 of us hopped on to the catamaran, where we would spend the day.
The young crew was so friendly and fun. Normally the trip is to the island of Culebra, but since it has been windy, it was too choppy (and dangerous) to travel that far over open waters. So, we went to a different island where it was more protected. We all jumped off and swam to the tropical island.
I was a bit surprised that several of the people could not swim…..why go on a snorkeling trip if one cannot swim??? In those cases, the crew helped folks get ashore. I took off on my own, with my snorkeling gear, looking for fish.
At our second stop, in deeper water, not too many people jumped in. The current was fairly strong. I was the first one out of the gate! This location was around a reef and we swam around the coral. I spotted lots of pretty fish, a stingray, and wispy fan coral. Another snorkeler reported seeing a blowfish and a baracuda. I swam for about 4 hours, never tiring. I could do this all day!!! I wore a long-sleeved shirt over my swimsuit so I would get sunburned on my back….(the voice of experience from previous long snorkeling days).
The crew provided an open bar, sack lunches, and an afternoon fruit bar. All very nice. On the way home, the bus was strangely quiet….I think everyone was sleeping!
After a refreshing shower, Alexis and I walked to our favorite nearby pizza place for a platter of bruschetta. Yummy!
Then, we went to her favorite bar/restaurant where she had the bartender make her whatever drink he recommended. I don’t know what this was, but it included a tasty mescal. They use a lot of dehydrated fruit slices in their cocktails here. This one was quite tasty and very pretty.
We shared a platter of gnocchi and chatted with the darling bartender. An early night for me!