Wind down Wednesday

Wednesday is usually my busiest day with 2 yoga classes and 2 water aerobics classes, then a 2-hour “Wine Wednesday” chat with other women in the community lounge. I was all geared up for them all, with the pick-up truck packed for all events. I was quite energerized after the morning yoga classes, but no one showed up for swimming. I guess it was too cold——68! And, for some reason, no one appeared for Wine Wednesday. So I spent time getting acquainted with my new device – a Samsung Galaxy android. I still miss my old iPad, but I’m sure I will get used to this.

I also practiced the seven songs I will play at the community Christmas sing-along. The event was publicized in our community announcements….

This will be an evening in the clubhouse of Christmas cheer and fellowship beginning at 7:00 pm on 12/10. Please coThanksgivingme to wish all friends and neighbors of Retama a “Very Merry Texas Christmas” through song as we celebrate the season and enjoy the decorations in the clubhouse with song, fun, cookies, and punch. The songs will be lead by Joe Massey and Karmen Reid will be the accompanist.

Please plan to attend.

George spent hours in the Airstream, working on an annual maintenance check-off list, including disassembling the kitchen exhaust fan and cleaning it up…

I found a rather strange recipe for “Greek style acorn squash” for dinner. I used the second half of Thanksgiving squash. I stuffed the squash with sausage (yes, left over from Thanskgiving stuffing), feta cheese, and yes again……leftover canned fried onion rings – the stuff you sprinkle on green beans. It was quite good.

And, for lunch I made a broccoli slaw salad which called for some of the slivered almonds left over from the Thanksgiving green beans.

We are watching Christmas shows on CBS, since that is the only TV station we get in the house. I had forgotten the famous, old stars whose voices narrated the shows…..Jimmy Durante in “Frosty the Snowman” and Burl Ives in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:

It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas!

LOCATION: In our “tiny house” in Mission, Texas

WEATHER: Sunny (finally) and a bit cool – 60s

A few people have started to decorate for Christmas in our village…

We got rid of all of our Christmas decorations when we retired in 2013 and hit the road, so we won’t be decorating. I’m trying hard not to re-accumulate “stuff”!

We met with a fellow Minnesotan Air Streamer who lives here. He has a great voice and leads a Christmas sing-along each year. He “twisted my arm” and now I’m going to accompany him and the singers on the piano. He loaned me his electric piano and I’m practicing…

The only place we could place the piano is in the Airstream. (Maybe this will start a trend). I’m quite nervous, so I’m practicing a lot. I haven’t touched a piano in about 15 years.

We invited a couple over for drinks. Sadly, they are moving at the end of November. They are full-timers, and are just here for a month. We enjoying talking about our travels. They have done some hosting, which we are toying with.

DINNER: Risotto with seared scallops. In keeping the theme of using up Thanksgiving leftovers, I used the leftover vegetable broth I had made for the stuffing for the risotto, and also poured in a bit of leftover Thanksgiving gravy. Little by little, I’m using everything up!

The Food Issue

LOCATION: Back in our tiny house in Mission, Texas

WEATHER: Mostly sunny. High 80

We dropped off our daughter and her friend at the Harlingen airport on Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving). I think they had a good time, in spite of a few days of yucky weather.

While daughter Alexis was here, she was our technical support for new computer devices. I have a new tablet and George has a new laptop. This was a typical scene while she was here….

We felt a need to “de-tox” from the restaurant eating and drinking we did with them, but alas, it was Thanksgiving. We decided to forego the Retama Village community Thanksgiving pot-luck get-together and just had our own celebration. The menu was the usual suspects….

Turkey breast (I didn’t want to do a whole turkey due to the leftovers)

Stuffing with Italian sausage

Mashed potatoes and gravy

Green beans (served with lime juice and slivered almonds, not the fattening traditional recipe)

Cranberry sauce

Acorn squash

Pumpkin pie

We ate at about 3:00, so didn’t need any dinner.

Friday, for a change of pace, I made a tasty flatbread pizza. Using a store-bought crust, I spread a bit of cream cheese and olive oil on for the base. Onto that, I topped it with artichoke hearts, a leftover grilled portobello, and fresh basil from my basil plant.

I made a menu for the next few days, trying to use the Thanksgiving leftovers creatively, such as….

Since we had cheated on the pumpkin pie by buying frozen pie crusts, we ended up with an extra crust. So, I made a “topless” turkey pot pie. I made the filling by sautéing onion and garlic, and from that made a roux. To that, I added the leftover green beans, some diced potatoes, a bit of the leftover Thanksgiving gravy, some frozen vegetables, leftover diced turkey, and spices such as sage and black pepper. I cooked all of that in the pie shell. It turned out pretty well.

Watch for more Thanksgiving leftover recipes to come —- I found recipes to use 1) the second half of the Thanksgiving acorn squash, 2) turkey chili for leftover turkey, and 3) sausage/portobello toasts using Thanksgiving sausage from the sausage in the stuffing.

Loving South Padre Island

We brought our daughter Alexis and her friend Aemelia over to South Padre Island. The weather isn’t great (windy, light rain, 55ish), but we are having a great time….

First up yesterday was lunch at Pirate’s Landing in Port Isabel, right before the bridge over to the island.

After settling into our hotel, we enjoyed some oysters on the half shell ($.50/each) at Danny’s Cajun Kitchen…


From there, we ordered a pizza at our favorite, cozy Italian restaurant, and ate it in the hotel room.

Today, we visited my favorite place on South Padre Island, the Sea Turtle Rescue Center.

The center has recently moved into their new quarters. We enjoyed the educational “show” in the amphitheater

George and I shared a superb grilled red snapper sandwich for lunch while Aemelia loved her beautifully presented mussels…

Then, on to the Birding Center…

Even in the cool breeze, we had a good time walking on the boardwalk while admiring the beautiful birds.

Oops – this isn’t a bird!!!!

More to come!!!

More fun with Alexis

I persuaded Alexis to do a water aerobics class with me at our clubhouse……Esther Williams, I’m not!

We picked up Alexis’s former college roommate who flew in from snowy Boston. The airport is not too far from one of the border towns, Progreso, so we stopped there for lunch…

We shared a large shrimp ceviche cocktail….

And split some fish tacos, sitting on a second floor restaurant balcony watching the craziness below.

In the evening, we enjoyed the fire pit.

DINNER: Portellos on the grill. Rice and beans with diced vegan ham bits for crunch.

Showing our daughter Alexis around the RGV

We let Alexis sleep in, as she hadn’t slept for about 48 hours. While she was snoozing, I went up to the clubhouse to meet with the quilting club. I have a quilt made by my great-grandmother (my mother’s grandmother). It is in need of a bit of repair so I asked these ladies for help. They are thrilled with the project. They admired the detailed hand stitches, and marveled at the fact that she probably quilted it when she was quite poor, as the backing appears to be old flour sacks.

Because of its fragility, they recommend not using it as a quilt, but to make a wall-hanging from it. They are going to start working on it as a group.

Alexis brought us some really cute pillowcases decorated with retro campers.

Then, out to lunch at a place that has a great variety of craft beers – shared platter of hummus and a veggie flatbread.

We ran some errands, including buying some firewood to make a fire in the fire pit. As we sat around the fire, we watched the beautiful sunset.

DINNER: Sautéed scallops with onions, capers, and vegan ham in a buttery garlic sauce. Salad with kale and arugula on the side. Very gourmet!

Thrilled with a visit from one of our daughters

It was cold this morning — frost on the pickup and roofs. I went up to the clubhouse to use the wifi to check on the status of our daughter’s flight. Steam from the warm swimming pool water was blowing in the cold air.

We picked her up at the Harlingen/South Padre Island airport. She will be here a week. In the winter, there are direct flights from Minneapolis (transporting the Winter Texans down here). It is so convenient to have a non-stop flight.

So good to see her!

On our way home, we stopped for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in the Valley, called Lorettos. Our daughter Alexis loved her order of yucca fries.

George’s mussels, steamed in Mexican beer, were excellent.

My tacos were great, too (just not as photogenic)

Back at home, Alexis got settled in the Airstream, and then we spent some time doing business things with her.

DINNER: Welcome-to-Texas home-made margaritas (as I hate the bottled margarita mix) and shrimp tacos. Delicioso!

No Wall!

WEATHER: Another nasty day – cold (50s) and rain

LOCATION: Our tiny house in Mission, Texas

Enough of this bad weather!

We attended a rally against the Wall. It was quite interesting. Apparently the Homeland Security has not allowed any Town Hall for public discussion, so this group created their own Town Hall. It was held outside, right across from the Border Patrol station.

Unless something changes, the construction in this area of the Wall is scheduled to begin in February. On the cutting board are: 1) our next door neighbor…..a state park/national bird sanctuary, 2) the national butterfly center, and 3) a darling Catholic mission church built in 1899 which was the origins of our town Mission. In addition to the ugly wall, they will clear 150 feet of land on either side of the Wall, ruining farms and hurting wild life. So sad!

After the rally, we visited a few Open Houses in our neighborhood. It is fun to see how people have upgraded their homes.

DINNER: A new recipe that would be great on a campfire…

Make an aluminum foil packet and stuff it with sausage (I used the last of our Louisiana andouille sausage), lots of green pepper strips, fresh oregano, finely diced celery, and a drizzle of olive oil and beer (secret ingredient). We cooked ours on our gas grill, but when camping, they could be tossed directly on the coals.

Unpleasant day…

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas

WEATHER: Cold and rainy

Not a good day today. The high temps are in the 50s, and it has drizzled most of the day. Cold wind, too. And wouldn’t you know….the weather has been terrific, sunny and in the 80s, and now in a few days our daughter from Minnesota is coming to visit, with hopes of swimming and sunbathing, and it is miserable. Just hope the weather improves next week.

I woke up with bites all over my hands. Very sore and terribly itchy. I had spotted a few ants on the counter yesterday, and a few must have bitten me. Then, for lunch, I opened a bag of croutons and out poured hundreds of them. They swarmed all over me. They are fire ants – the worst kind!!!! We don’t know how they are coming in, but George got on the ladder to spray insecticide and to caulk every tiny crack he could find.

Meanwhile, my hand has swollen up and I am miserable.

The internet wasn’t working very well in the club house, so we went to a McDonalds to use theirs. While we were out, we got our flu shots. Not only did we get them free, thanks to Medicare, but we also received a $5 Target coupon each. 🙂

Swim class was canceled due to the cold, but I dutifully did two classes of line-dancing.

DINNER: Leftover French onion soup. Perfect soup weather!

Crazy Wednesday

As I’ve mentioned before, the butterflies are just amazing. They love some of the bushes around our house. Early this morning, I found one who was still asleep next to my basil plant.

After breakfast, I left the house at 9:00 and didn’t return until 4:30. Wednesday is the busiest day of the week, as far as my activities. Almost like work!

At the clubhouse, I first caught up on email. The clubhouse is all decked out for Thanksgiving.

First up was yoga. The instructor is very good. We did a lot of stretching – I’m sure I will feel it tomorrow! From there, I changed into my swimsuit and did two hours of water aerobics. Wow! After quickly showering at the clubhouse shower and changing, I joined other ladies for two hours of chatting at Wine Wednesday. Since I was so pooped out and parched, I sipped on club soda rather than imbibing on anything stronger. By then, it was after 4:00, and time to return home.

We met our new neighbors. They will be moving here from Portland, Oregon and will travel during the summer months. It almost seems like the houses morph overnight from this…..

……to this…..

There are about 5 more houses under construction in the development. Some are like hours, others are “regular” houses, and others are port homes – the kind that have gigantic, tall garages where owners park their motor homes. We are glad the community stays vibrant.

DINNER: Shrimp/sausage gumbo. Using the andouille sausage I had bought in Louisiana and some local shrimp, I cooked up a big batch. I added file pepper, also purchased in Louisiana, and okra. I think it was pretty authentic. I foresee leftovers in our future!