Clean, then stinky…

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Beautiful again.  Sunny.  High 76

The weather is absolutely perfect.  We sleep with the windows open and love the cool air wafting in.  We don’t need either heat or air-conditioning. 

It is even perfect for cleaning up Joy, our Airstream, after our dusty summer trip.   Today I tackled the shower.  I ran out of 409 cleaning spray so George picked me up a replacement while he was running errands today.  He bought a Mexican brand (it was cheaper) with a very strong, distinct fragrance.  Now, when I smell it in the trailer, I think I am in a resort in the Caribbean or in Mexico!

We bought a nice decorative mirror for our tiny house bathroom.  It makes it look bigger and lighter.  Here is George at work putting it up…..

A neighbor gave me some red quinoa which she discovered she doesn’t like.  I looked online and found a salad to make with it.  It turned out wonderfully – crisp and clean. I am posting the recipe below.  It includes garbanzo beans, lots of parsley, red onion, red bell pepper, and a dressing with olive oil and lots of lemon juice.  It made a LOT!

I go grocery shopping every 10 days or so, when we run out of fresh fruit and vegetables.  I carefully research or create recipes and plan each day’s lunch and dinner menus.  Then, I develop my grocery list from the ingredients needed for the recipes.  One problem……sometimes in unsupervised moments at the supermarket, George makes some unauthorized, impulse purchases.  Such was the case this week.  He bought a whole, fresh mackerel, and sneaked it into the grocery cart.   

About 5:00 this evening, a terrible smell emanated from the kitchen.  George had opened the fish package and was gutting the fish in the sink.  I wouldn’t let him touch anything with his smelly fingers, so fetched him aluminum foil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  He wrapped it up and cooked it on the grill.  I like fish, but it shouldn’t smell bad, in my opinion.  I scoured the kitchen after his prep work.  Ugh!

DINNER:  George had the aforementioned grilled fish and the quinoa salad.  I stuck with the quinoa.  Here is the recipe….

Cleaning up Joy

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  Sunny.  High 75

This morning was so nice – not too hot and not too cold, so we sipped our morning java on the driveway.

I have a long list of “to-do”s to clean up Joy, our Airstream.  Driving on gravel roads during our summer road trip certainly got her dusty.  On today’s checklist was cleaning out all cupboards and drawers.  I worked until I ran out of 409 spray!

I am starting to think and dream about next summer’s trip.  If Covid gets under control and if the borders open up, we will join our Nova Scotia friends Tony and Jenny for an “Iceberg” trip along Canada’s Atlantic coast.  We also want to spend a month or more in Michigan. Sometimes planning the trip is almost as fun as the actual trip.

After a hard day’s work, we made margaritas. We used a recipe we came upon today – adding the juice of a mandarin orange. It turned out quite tasty!

DINNER:  George always makes grits for Sunday breakfast.  For some reason, he made gobs too much last Sunday, so I wanted to tackle the leftovers.  I added an egg and a lot of Parmesan to the grits and pressed them in a Pyrex dish.   I topped with more Parmesan, and mozzarella from Mabel (the cow at last week’s Harvest Host stay), then baked.  To serve, I poured some leftover vegan pasta sauce over the grits “cake”.  It really was yummy.  Side was steamed broccoli.

BOOK:  “Whispers” by Belva Plain.  I picked this up during our summer trip at a library book sale for $.10!  It is sort of sappy, telling the tale of a “perfect” family that ends up not being so perfect.  3 stars out of 5. 

Taming the jungle

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Nice and cool.  High 60

For breakfast, we tried one of the eggs we bought at the Harvest Host farm where we stayed last week.  The colors were all different and lovely….kind of like Easter eggs!  The yolks are very yellow and large.

We did some shopping today…. first to Home Depot to buy paint and gardening materials.  George needs to add some stain to the shed in the faded areas.  We tried to buy sugar snap pea seeds to plant along our back fence, but were told that it is not the season.  I also tried to buy some basil and other herbs, but again it is off-season.  But, I was able to buy some pansies for my Mexican flower pot. 

Another shopping stop was the grocery.  We bought a lot of fruit.  Here I am doing my Carmen Miranda dance.  We are eating more fruit and fewer carbs, especially for breakfast.  One thing we like about the Rio Grande Valley is the fresh and inexpensive fruit and veg.  Today we bought mangos, pineapple, oranges, and grapefruits – all grown locally. 

George finished up the bush trimming.  Here is the “before” photo

And, here is the “tamed”, finished product…

This is the street view of our front garden, that people call a graveyard (similar shape to a cemetery plot)

I put out the pumpkin that I made last year in a community craft event.  Our house is about the only one with a pumpkin instead of a political sign!

DINNER:  Southwestern naan. For the topping, I sauteed onions, garlic, red bell pepper, poblano pepper, and garlic.  I added a ton of Mexican herbs – chili pepper, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, cumin seed, and ground cumin.  Then, I added some leftover grilled chicken pieces, cilantro, and salsa.  I spread this over toasted naan, and warmed it up, melting some Cheddar cheese.  Buenisimo! 

After dinner, since it was nice and cool, George made a fire in our firepit.  Lovely! 

Yo vote’

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Cold!  A cold front came in dropping the temps by about 30 degrees.  I love it!

Since the day was cool, we started tackling some of our overgrown shrubs.  The biggest one is called a Porter Weed.  Here is the “before” photo….

I will post the “after” picture, hopefully tomorrow.

We dithered around the house all morning, waiting for the UPS truck to deliver a case of wine.  We joined, a wine club.  It works somewhat like a CSA…..we pay $40/month, and then order wine whenever we want..  They support small, struggling wineries around the world, so the wines are unusual.  So far, we are very pleased with the quality.

After that delivery excitement, we went in to town to vote.  I carried a book to read, assuming that there would be a long line.  But – we were the only ones there, in a cavernous gymnasium!   They were extremely organized, and set up for Covid protection.  They issued us a long Q-tip thing that we used to press the buttons for our candidates.  Other than Trump and Biden, all of the candidates’ names were Hispanic.  Good to see how locals are strong community citizens. The Latino influence, on food, language, culture, and friendliness, is what we like about the Rio Grande Valley.

DINNER:  A new recipe I put together, that turned out pretty well. I sauteed some onions, garlic, mushrooms, and shrimp.  I stirred in a small amount of cream cheese, just to give it some creaminess,  a dash of white wine, and a lot of capers to give it a zing.  Side was a salad with avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes, and romaine.  All good! 

Our spring/summer/fall road trip…in a nutshell…….

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

Now settled in for awhile, I wanted to provide an overview of our trip.  The first photo is the first leg – from Mission, Texas to Montana.  When we left here in June, we didn’t know what to expect, Covid-wise.  Some national and state parks were closed, so I reserved 3 stays in RV parks to use as a base.   We then did a lot of day trips.  This part of the trip was mostly pre-planned.

After we left Missoula, MT, we didn’t have a planned route.  We spent quite a bit of time in Wyoming and Colorado, and then headed to Duluth, MN where we spent a week with our daughter in an AirB&B.

After Duluth, we headed south.  The weather started turning, and we wanted to avoid high winds and hail. We did this leg of the trip fairly quickly.

We had a wonderful trip.  Here are some stats…..

Number of weeks:  19

Number of states:  14   (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Missouri, Arkansas

Number of national parks:  5 (Glacier, Badlands, Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountain, Wind Cave)

Number of state parks:  7

Number of National Forest Service parks: 4

Number of Army Corps of Engineers parks: 10

Number of commercial RV parks: 11

Number of times smooched off friends:  3

Number of miles on pick-up truck:  15,000

Number of miles on Joy, our Airstream:  11,000

Number of Harvest Host stays:  27.  Breweries, brewpubs, wineries, distilleries, museums, golf courses, and farms. 

Number of times we almost ran out of gas:  6

Number of divorces (due to being together 24/7):  0  – Happily so!!!

Number of enjoyable breweries and brewpubs: Too many to remember!

Number of yummy dishes cooked over a campfire or gas grill: About 150

Number of great experiences along the way:  Countless!

Work, work, work!

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas
WEATHER: Back to the heat. High 90

We seem to have a lot to do around the house, yard, and trailer. Today I did 4 loads of laundry, and I still am not finished!

We swept and mopped the floor. Since there was construction right behind us this summer, there was a lot of dust!

We live in a community called Retama Village. Check it out at There are about 200 houses. It is a gated, 55+ community with a very nice clubhouse, and lots of activities (except for this year with Covid). I like the fact that there are a variety of home styles. There are small coach houses, either 12 x 20 or 12 X 24 that people use as a hobby room, man cave, TV room, guest house, or just as an extra bathroom and laundry.. People buy them as shells and do whatever they want with them. Then, moving up a step are what are called deluxe coach houses, like ours. They are 12 x 40, and come fully finished with kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and dining/living room. This is what it looks like….

Then, moving biggger are casitas. These are about 800 square feet and have one or two bedrooms.

All of these come with a pedestal for RV hook-ups – electricity, water, and sewer. Most people who live in the small coach houses live in their RVs. Those of us in the deluxe coach houses and casitas live in a combination of house and RV.

Next is a new concept called cottages. They are like small homes without the RV set-up. They form a circle and enjoy shared green space.

Even bigger are the port homes. These are about 1200 square feet. They come with a huge, tall garage for parking motor homes underneath. They are probably the most popular.

Finally, are regular houses. These are 1800-3000 square feet. These are mostly for people who used to RV and lived in a smaller house in Retama, and then have decided to stop RVing. Since they like the community, they build a regular house.

There is still a lot of construction going on. When we left for our summer road trip, the lot behind us just had a cement slab. Now, the deluxe coach house is completedly finished and is on the market. It is good to be in a neighborhood with growth.

DINNER: We bought 4 pork chops at the last Harvest Host farm where we stayed. They are HUGE! We also bought some good bacon, thanks to the pigs that they raise. George first grilled the bacon to have on hand…

Then, he grilled the porkchops. I served them with the sauerkraut I had bought at that same farm, and mashed potatoes. We will have a LOT of leftovers!

BOOK: “Unspeakable” by Sandra Brown. Just a paperback I picked up while waiting for my library books to become available. 3 stars out of 5

Mother Nature “Bites”!

LOCATION:  In our “tiny house” in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Delightfully cool.  High 75

We spent the day busily unpacking and unloading Joy.  I cleaned all the shelves in the house before re-stocking them. 

George did some work on Joy, our Airstream. She performed well on this 5-month road trip!

Our yard has turned into a jungle!  Everything needs to be weeded and trimmed back.  While I was working on the vines on the fence in our backyard, I felt some bites.  Yikes!  My feet were covered with fire ants.  I had stepped right on top of one of their hills.  Ouch!!!

George was weeding the front area, and suddenly he came running into the house to get an ice cube.  A big wasp had taken a chunk out of his hand when he put his hand in to pull some weeds. 

A few residents chatted with us from afar.  We are doing a self-quarantine for 1-2 weeks to make sure we have not brought Covid 19 with us, and to protect residents here.  We are certain we are Covid-free, as I had a test during our trip, and we have no symptoms.  We have been away from people most of the time, only interacting with others outdoors, and social distancing.  So, I won’t be swimming or doing yoga for awhile.  Darn!

We were full-timer RVers for about 5 years, then built this “tiny house” in south Texas in 2018.  We live here a few months each year when we are not traveling in Joy or not housesitting.  Texas is a BIG state, and we are about as far south as you can get.  The WALL is about 1/2 mile from our house. 

DINNER:  I am trying to use up all the frozen goods we have in the trailer’s freezer, and will start fresh.  So, tonight was a bit boring…..frozen tuna burgers in a pita with tzatziki.  Side was steamed mixed vegetables. 

Back to our tiny house

LOCATION:  Back in our tiny house in South Texas
WEATHER:  HOT  High 95
DRIVE:  9 hours

We strolled around the Harvest Host farm, where we stayed last night, and admired these pigs, a mom and babies.  The farm owners had just taken another pig to be butchered yesterday. 

We had a hearty farm breakfast at the Harvest Host farm……freshly-laid free-range eggs, homemade biscuits and gravy, sausage from their pigs, and milk and butter from Mabel the pet cow.  Wow!

George and Mabel relaxed after breakfast. We selected a lot of food to buy – their farm-fresh products:   pork sausage, pork chops, brisket, bacon, beef tongue, pesto, mozzarella cheese, butter, yogurt, and sauerkraut.  Thank goodness our freezer and refrigerator were almost empty.   We should be set for awhile! 

We had a hard time leaving as George and the host talked a lot! 

Finally back on the road again, we passed through flat Texas with lots of oil rigs and trucks.

Our plan was to stop at Choke Canyon State Park, 3 hours north of here, but they were full.  Since there weren’t many other attractive options, we decided to drive on to Mission.  We were trying to beat the sunset so we would have light to park. Our GPS took us around the Valley to avoid construction on the main highway.  That was good, until the road turned to gravel!  😦    Then, it took us through a residential area where I was nervous about getting trapped.  We were doing fine until we approached a truck moving a house!  It took up the entire street.  All the neighbors were out watching.  I had to suddenly turn down a side-street to avoid going in the ditch.  We were able to zig-zag out of that neighborhood, and made it here by 7:30.  A long day!

DINNER:  Hamburgers with blue cheese.  Stir-fried mixed vegetables.  I will get more creative later….

Down on the Farm!

LOCATION:  Out in the middle of nowhere in central Texas
CAMPGROUND:  Our 60th Harvest Host site!!!!  This is a farm called 4C Market and Brew Barn.  Lots of animals, lots of farm products to buy, and homebrew!  Electricity (A/C) and water available for purchase.  5 stars out of 5
DRIVE:  3 hours

We had an easy drive from Waco Lake to this Harvest Host destination, passing by lots of cotton fields and oil derricks.  So different from what we have been seeing.

We arrived at this Harvest Host farm in mid-afternoon.  We arrived at this ranch and were welcomed by this sign.  We thought…..”Hmmmm.  This will be interesting”.  Turned out that we were in the wrong driveway!

We found our host, waving frantically from a ranch entrance on the other side of the highway, trying to get us to enter the correct gate.  We finally got it figured out and followed her in her ATV down a road to their house.  The gate had been closed because the cattle and horses roam freely. 

Joy was parked right in the middle of the field.  We had to make sure we did not run over Mabel, the pet dairy cow as we parked.  The horses were also interested in Joy.

We walked around, and visited our turkey neighbors who will be the guest of honor soon on Thanksgiving Day!

We met Harry the Pig who was a runt and had to be separated from his siblings….

The Heritage Herefords are their bread-and-butter which they butcher and sell.

Then, it was milk time.  Mabel is their prized dairy cow.  They picked her up in Mabel, Minnesota, thus the name. 

Melissa, the host, is a real pro at prepping Mabel for milking and then doing the job….

And, then – I gave it a try!

It would have taken hours for me to milk Mabel completely, so Melissa took over again. 

They also have nice dogs patrolling the grounds.

We ordered a bunch of food items to be figured out tomorrow.  Thank goodness they had electricity for us, as we really needed the A/C overnight. 

DINNER:  Mashed potatoes with the rotisserie chicken breast meat.  Side was cheesy broccoli. 

Are we in the Caribbean?

LOCATION:  Waco Lake, Texas – in north central part of state
CAMPGROUND:  Airport Campground Army Corps of Engineer (ACOE) park on the Waco Lake dam/reservoir.  Top-notch..  We probably have the best site..  Paved, long,  level site with a shelter.  Picnic table, stand-up grill, and firepit.  Electricity and water at site.  Dump station.  Good bathrooms.  $13/night with senior pass.  5 stars out of 5!
WEATHER:  Hot.  High 88..  Beautiful breeze off the lake in the late afternoon/evening.
DRIVE:  5 hours

We took our time at our Lake of the Pines campground in the morning, hiking around the area, and checked the area out again where we had our “episode” yesterday. 

Our route first zig-zagged around the lake.  We were on a lot of country roads.  They are labelled FM – like FM1968.  FM stands for Farm-to-Market, a carryover from times gone by.  In any case, we couldn’t make good time. 

We arrived here at Waco Lake about 5:00 and easily got set up.  We have really been enjoying these ACOE campgrounds.  You can’t beat the price and all the amenities.  I use this book to see if there are any ACOE parks along our route.  Normally, I use online searches, but the ACOE website is not user-friendly.  I highly recommend this book.. 

Our site is on a little point right on the water.  We have our own private beach….

Joy is very happy here, and is cooling off in the breeze coming off the lake.  She is quite alone….the park is probably about 10% occupied, and we are in a section all by ourselves. 

The sunset was gorgeous.  We feel like we are on a Caribbean island!

George happily made a fire in the stand-up grill. 

DINNER:  I made tuna burgers from the leftover fresh ahi that we had grilled the other night.  I added egg, cracker crumbs, dill, and hot sauce to make the patties.  We cooked them in our iron skillet over the fire.  Side was a nice salad.. 

We turned off the A/C after dinner, opened up, and were very comfortable temperature-wise.  We will listen to the waves lapping on the shoreline all night.  Bliss!