Mad dash to Mexico!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Much cooler.  High 68

Today was quite busy, as we prepared for our trip to Hawaii.  First we went to our community (Retama Village) clubhouse for a presentation by a boat company in South Padre Island, offering discount boat ride tickets.  We bought a few fishing boat trip tickets in anticipation of having guests this winter. 

I zipped from there to an hour’s worth of line-dancing classes.  Then, George picked me up and we were off to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico for George’s dentist appointment.  First we had a nice lunch in a fairly upscale restaurant – beef tacos and Negro Modelos.  The waiters all wore tuxedos along with their face masks and shields.  Great service….there were almost more waiters than customers!

While George was at the dentist, I walked along the main street.  It was bustling  – vendors selling everything imaginable.  It is almost impossible to walk on the sidewalk, as there are so many buyers and sellers.  In the streets, there were taco stands and a lot of guys selling roasted (burned) corn on the cob.  A delightful chaos!

A few days ago, I had asked Retama Village residents if anyone needed me to buy anything for them in Mexico.  Two people asked me to buy some medicines.  In Mexico, it is not very regulated and you can buy almost any medicine.   I easily bought one medicine, but the pharmacy said they could not sell me the antibiotlic without a prescription.  So, I went across the street to another pharmacy and bought it!  Another medicine was not available, so I ended going to about 6 pharmacies.  In addition to  pharmacies, the streets are packed with dentist offices, beauty shops, eye glass offices, and souvenir shops.  After the hassle of buying all the medicines, I waited for George in a bar and sipped on a margarita!

Back home, George did some yard work, trying to make the grass look better for potential buyers, while I did laundry and cleaned inside the house.  Hopefully while we are gone, the realtor will bring househunters to our house!

DINNER:  Chicken thighs.  After lightly browning them in our LeCrueset pot, I added onions, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and rosemary, and baked for about 30 minutes.  Sides were tomatoes with pesto, and stuffing leftover from Thanksgiving. 

Buying and selling houses!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Quite nice.  Sunny.  High 84

We had an appointment with the sellers of our new house and realtor to look at the house again.  We negotiated to keep the orange bar stools and outdoor chairs.  Orange will be our new highlight color!

Remember, readers – contact me if you know anyone who might be interested in our current “tiny house”.  It is 480 square feet, with a bedroom, bathroom, and dining room/living area.    The driveway has a pedestal with full RV hook-ups.  We are in a “young” 55+ community with a clubhouse, activities, swimming pools, and pickleball courts.  We are staying in our community, Retama Village, but moving to a slightly bigger house.  Here is the listing…

In the afternoon, a Mexican guy with his crew came to give Joy, our Airstream, a good bath.  I love joking with the guys in Spanish. 

After water aerobics, we packed a little, then went to a neighorbood block party.  We have these twice a month – just BYOB and BYOC (chair).  It is nice, informal get-together.

DINNER:  Grilled trout that George had caught a few weeks ago.  He butterflied it and simply grilled it with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Sides were salad and leftover breakfast grits that I jazzed up with cheese.  Tasty! 

BOOK:  “Remains of Innocence” by J.A. Jance.  A paperback I had picked up to read when I could not get a book online.  One of many female sheriff books by this author.   The interesting thing is that it takes place in Bisbee, Arizona, a town that we enjoyed visiting.  3 stars out of 5

Fond memories of this summer’s trip to Nova Scotia

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Sunny and hot.  High 86

We had a leisurely morning at South Padre Island, then packed up and returned home.  We had a very nice weekend!

Once home, we had to quickly unhook and set up Joy as some potential buyers were coming to check out the house.  We escaped to the clubhouse and played pool while they were looking at it.  They are serious buyers, but are also looking at 2 other houses here.  We’ll see!

We checked our mail when we returned and had a package from Canada awaiting us.  It was our t-shirts that we had “earned” by visiting more than 25 wineries and breweries this summer in Nova Scotia.  We had our “Good Cheer Trail” passport stamped at each place we visited and in turn, got these 2-shirts.  Our camping friends from Nova Scotia also worked hard and recently received theirs, too…

We spent a glorious 6 weeks traveling all throughout Nova Scotia in September and October.  Here is our route.  For details on our trip, including campgrounds, routes, and things to see/do/eat/drink – scroll down through the blog to September posts.

DINNER:  A new recipe I saw online – Shrimp and Chorizo

4 T olive oil
4 oz sliced chorizo – the hard, dried Spanish kind, and not the Mexican variety
4 garlic cloves chopped
1.5 pound shrimp peeled
1 T lemon Juice
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley
1/2 c croutons

Heat oil.  Add half of the chorizo, garlic, and shrimp.  Cook 3-4 minutes, just until shrimp is pink. Transfer to platter.  Repeat with the other half of the chorizo, garlic, and shrimp.  Transfer to platter.  Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and croutons.  Stir up.  Garnish with parsley.
Serves 4-6.  Very good and super easy

Spacex and Santa!

LOCATION:  South Padre Island, Texas
WEATHER:  Picture perfect.  High 80 and sunny

We drove over to Elon Musk’s Spacex in Boca Chica.  You can see the spacecraft and big buildings from South Padre, only about 2 miles by boat across the bay.  However, to get there by land, you have to drive about 35 miles around the bay…which is what we did.  There is a lot of bleak landscape.

After you drive through no-man’s-land, this scene looms in front of you.  Pretty amazing.

There seems to be 2 sites with spaceships, assembly buildings,  and launchpads.  There were a lot of employee vehicles around the place, a sign that this is a major employer in this otherwise very poor section of Texas. 

Since there is nothing out there (housing, restaurants, shops),  Elon has built an Airstream park for some of its high-tech employees.  There are 30+ Airstreams parked on Astro-turf with a commons area with tiki huts.  It is kind of cute.

Back to South Padre, where we had delicious shrimp tacos for lunch, right on the Gulf.  Here is our view from our outdoor table….

Wanting to take advantage of the amenities we are paying for at this KOA, we  lounged around the pool in the afternoon and used their wifi.

Then, off to dinner.  We always use the island’s free shuttle service.  It picks up/drops off right in front of the campground.  Tonight, however, the driver didn’t pay attention to us when we told her our drop-off place, so we ended up walking about 10 extra blocks!

This was the highlight of our trip here – to see the Christmas Boat Parade.  We went with two couples from Retama Village.  One woman did the organizing and snagged us probably the best seat in town from which to watch the parade.  We were on the outside deck of Liam’s Steakhouse and Oyster Bar (one of the island’s nicest restaurants.)  Our table was right on the water.  The boats were judged near our table, so they came up close and we got spectacular views.  There were large and small boats, all merrily decorated.  Here they are getting organized, when it was still light…Amazing sky!

And here are some of the floats. 

The parade ended with fireworks, right in front of us.  Wow!

DINNER:  The food there was excellent.  We shared a grilled red snapper with mushrooms and crab.  Highly recommend this restaurant. 

Weekend get-away to South Padre Island

LOCATION:  South Padre Island, Texas
CAMPGROUND:  South Padre KOA Holiday.  Pull-through site with full hook-ups.  Great commons room, pool area, and bathrooms/showers.  Right on the bay.  $55/night.  4 stars out of 5 (would be a 5 if price were lower)
WEATHER:  Great!  Sunny.  High 84

Our goal was to leave the house in Mission at 10:00; we were only one hour late.  We wanted to leave the house in pristine condition in case the realtor showed it while we were gone. 

The trip from Mission (where our house is) to South Padre Island is about 80 miles.  Not a bad trip to a whole new world.

We are not fans of KOAs, but this one is pretty good.  We are in the “economy” section.  Some sites go for $100/night.  It is not crowded this weekend, but I imagine it is pretty tight when all sites are filled.  Normally when we stay on South Padre, we stay at the county park, but it is a bit run-down.

As soon as we got unhooked, we walked to Pier One Restaurant right on the KOA campground.  We sat at the bar which overlooks the bay where we watched someone para-sailing, as we sipped on one of their drinks, and ate super-fresh blackened grouper.

We are here with 2 other couples from Retama Village.  We hooked up with them to plan tonight’s schedule, then took the free South Padre Island shuttle to the brewery.  We were there for Happy Hour-priced oysters on the half shell.  Always our go-to place while on the island.

We then joined our Retama Village friends along the main street to watch the Christmas parade.  We lined up about 5:30 for the scheduled 6:00 start, which actually got going around 7:00!

It was very down-home feeling…..the mayor, city council members in their convertibles waving to the crowds, elementary school groups pumping pom-poms, and the high school band marching along.  It was a bit slow, and George got tired of waiting for the floats, so we left early.

We headed to our favorite Italian place on the island.  We sat at the bar and enjoyed the company of one of the best servers ever.  She helped us with our pizza and drink options.  It was fabulous!

We are looking forward to a fun-filled day tomorrow, highlighted with the Christmas Boat Parade in the bay. 

Who says retirement is boring?!!!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  Sunny.  High 78

Today was a busy day, just like I like them.  An early start at the doctor’s office to get some labwork done.  Most of the patients are Latinos.  The staff are completely bilingual.  The person at the door greeted me with “Buenos dias, mama'”.  Just love it! 

After the appointment, we stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, one of the really authentic Mexican ones we like.  I had a breafast taco – huge with chorizo and refried beans on the side.  Including  coffee –  $1.75! 

Then, back to Retama Village for yoga.  Our Mexican American teacher comes once a week and gives us a good workout. I had to be organized, and had taken my swim gear to yoga, as water aerobics followed yoga immediately!  There were 4 of us there today in class.

Back home, I participated in a Zoom meeting that was a retirement party for a former colleague.  Instead of in-person retirement send-offs, Mayo Clinic (our employer) lets retirees choose these Zoom calls.  People seem to prefer them due to Covid, and one is able to reach out to colleagues and family members from out-of-town. 

As soon as that was finished, our friends picked us up for Wine Wednesday at our favorite bistiro in Mission.  We sat on the patio and shared some half-priced wine, a flatbread, and a charcuterrie platter.  We were the only customers on the beautiful patio.  Nice!

In between all of this activity, our realtor stopped by to put a lock box on the door for realtors to show the house.  She also provided us with the photos she is using to advertise the place.  Here is the link – includes photos of the house, the outside, the shed, and the community. If you know someone who might be interested in this great house//community, let me know and I will connect them with our realtor.

DINNER:  Not needing much food after the bistro happy hour, I sauteed some shrimp with broccoli in an Asian sauce  Side was steamed rice.

BOOK:  “Three Words for Good-bye” by Hazel Gaynor..  This is a lovely book about 2 sisters who travel together to Europe right before WWI.  5 stars

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…..

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. 

Bloody Mary Sunday!

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!

Spiffing up the place!

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