A Sunday surprise!

LOCATION:  In our casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Quite nice.  Sunny.  High 70

George cooked up our traditional bacon, grits, and eggs Sunday breakfast while we watched “CBS Sunday Morning”. 

I did some computer work while George and Pat visited the state park next door.  Boy, were they in for a surprise!   The parking lot was full of huge motor homes proclaiming “We, The People”.  It was a big national Trump 2024 rally with people protesting Biden’s wall…..apparently it isn’t high enough. 

Pat and George braved the picket lines, and took a golf-cart tour of the park, spotting a lot of pretty birds, including our favorite, a green jay.

After lunch, we wanted to show Pat some of the  cowboy “dives” that are popular on Sunday afternoons.  At our first one, a place nicknamed (appropriately) the “Junkyard”, what did we find?  The protesters had moved  here, for a cold one and to see the wall up close.  (It is in the back yard).  Not wanting to confront these people, we moved on to another dive.  There, the music was too loud and the ambience/beer were not good, so we went to a third one!  This one fit the bill.  We watched a lot of good dancers dance the Texas Two-Step and other fancy dances. I got out on the dance floor to do a line dance with the ladies….

Back home, we had a great happy hour with our friends Irene and Rob (the couple that invited us to join them in Hawaii).  Irene’s sister and brother-in-law are visiting from Germany so they came, too.  We had my world-famous margaritas, chips, pico de gallo, and guacamole. 

DINNER:  Shrimp tacos.  Simple to make — sautee shrimp, green peppers, onions, and green onions.  Warm/brown the tortillas, and place the shrimp mix on the tortillas.  Serve with chopped cabbage, salsa, and minced cilantro. 

BOOK:  “Not Dark Yet” by Peter Robinson.  I am almost through this series about this detective solving cases in the Yorkshire Dales.  I like it because it takes place in the area where we had a housesitting assignment.  4 stars out of 5

Keeping up the Yorkshire Dales theme, we watched another episode of the new series “All Creatures Great and Small”, just about my favorite show. 

Dancing the afternoon away….

LOCATION:  In our casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:   Finally a break.  Sunny.  High 70  Yay!!!

While I went to line-dancing class, George and Pat took a  boat ride on the Rio Grande River.  They had a nice time.  Pat was especially interested in the Mexican and American Border Patrol speed boats that populate the river.  They also saw some pretty birds.

The highlight of the day was an outdoor concert/dance by a husband/wife duo that played on our community clubhouse’s patio.  We were so lucky with the weather.  The sun shone down on us while we enjoyed the music. 

People danced to almost every song.  The singers have a wide range of vocals and styles.  It really was a fun afternoon.

George was deep in conversation with our friend Jim

DINNER:  Starters were jalapeno poppers – jalapenos split open and stuffed with cheese, then wrapped with bacon, and grilled on the grill.    (We had to make sure we scraped off all the seeds for Pat’s.)       🙂
George grilled some chicken thighs.  I made my brother’s baked sweet potato recipe.  Another side was steamed vegetables with and without jalapenos. 

Hot tamales! Shaking it up!

LOCATION:  In our casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Another nasty day.  High 53. Light rain all day.  Gloomy…..:-(

Due to the weather, we did mostly indoor activities today.  This morning we attended the Retama Village Photography Club meeting.  While most of it is too technical for me, it is interesting to see others’ photos, mostly taken when the photographers were traveling to some interesting place.

Off to Delia’s Tamales for lunch.  I thought I did not like tamales until I had these.  They are quite famous, and Delia’s ships them all over the world.  Pat loves tamales,  and was excited to try some of Delia’s….

After lunch, we visited a famous basilica that is a national heritage site. Pilgrims come from all over here to pray to the Virgen Mary.  It is quite moving.

We hurried home for an early dinner so we would be ready to go dancing this evening!  🙂 

DINNER:  Vegetarian burgers on the grill (We use the Impossible Burger kind).  Sides were Cajun potato balls and a medley of sauteed onions, bell peppers, poblano peppers, and tomatoes. 

We went to the next door RV park for a show and dance called “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”.  It is a tribute to the 50s and 60s.  The singers, a group of 4 ladies in poodle skirts, sang, and told stories about those times.  We danced, sang along, and had a good time, due partly to the margaritas that they offered!

Yummy Texas BBQ!

LOCATION:  In our casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Darn!  Still rainy and cool.  High 59

The weather spoiled our plans to go to Progreso (Mexico) today.  We will postpone the day trip to next week, when the rain is supposed to stop.

Between rain showers, Pat and I walked around our neighborhood, chatting with other walkers.  She is so pleasantly surprised at the friendliness of everybody.  I showed her the clubhouse, craft room, pool, exercise room, etc.  We ran into our realtor who was showing our house to potential buyers, but still no nibbles.

I did some computer work, making more camping reservations for our summer trip. We will start the trip in Big Bend National Park. I reserved a tour and Harvest Host overnight stay at a jeep tour place with “Chris the Desert Dude with Gratitude”. Should be an adventure!

In the afternoon, we ran some errands – to the liquor store, pharmacy and to pick up tonight’s BBQ. Along the highway is a big citrus processing plant, now full of oranges and grapefruit.  These trucks just arrived from the citrus groves in our area.

I had posted on Facebook the question of the best BBQ joint in the area.  I heard from LOTS of people, all with different opinions.  492 BBQ seemed to win out, so we went there to pick up ribs and brisket.  Pat had a “hankering” for good ole’ Texas barbeque.

It really was good – pork ribs, brisket, and sides of cole slaw and charro beans.  I made a potato salad as another side.  We stuffed ourselves, as it was really good.

South Padre Island Fishing

LOCATION:  South Padre Island, then back to Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 68. 

We got up early in order to catch our 8:00 bay fishing trip.  It was a little cool, so we were all bundled up.

Besides us, there was only one other group of 4 and a really nice crew. 

We didn’t have much luck fishing.  For four hours, we caught 3 small whiting plus some “garbage” catfish that we threw back.  Here is Pat with her catch

The crew said that they had a group of only 6 yesterday who caught 100 fish! 

At the end of the trip, they filleted the tiny fish we caught – we won’t starve tonight!

We returned to the dock at noon, then drove to one of our favorite beach cafes for lunch.  We shared a shrimp quesadilla which was really tasty

South Padre Island is about 1.5 hours from home.  We got back and introduced Pat to our community and house.  Then, off again – to our favorite bistro, Loretto’s, for Wine Wednesday (half-priced bottles).

We shared an order of yummy crab cakes as an appetizer

Back home, I made dinner with our whiting catch….

DINNER: Whiting in creamy pasta with artichoke hearts and smoked salmon

Whiting (or any other mild fish filet)
Cream cheese
Thin spaghetti
Artichoke hearts
Green Onions diced
Lemon or lime juice
White wine
Smoked salmon

Super easy – I sauteed the vegetables and added a little lime juice.  Meanwhile, I cooked the pasta.  Drain the pasta, and add it to the vegetables along with some cream cheese –  just enough to make a very light cheese sauce.  Right before serving, saute VERY briefly the whiting adding some panko.  Serve in layers – the pasta, vegetables, fish, smoked salmon slivers, and diced green onions. 

Fun on South Padre Island

LOCATION:  South Padre Island
WEATHER:  Mostly sunny. High 67

I taught a Basic Beginner line-dancing session.  Some of the students are starting to “get it”.  Others, not so much….  Then, the more experienced dancers arrived, and we danced another 2 hours.  Great exercise – for the brain and body, too.

Then, we picked up our friend Pat who flew down from Minneapolis for a week.  She left -24 temps and arrived in Harlingen Airport enjoying 67 and sunshine.  She flew Sun Country which has inexpensive, direct flights here in the winter.  It was funny to see all the passengers disembark with their parkas, gloves, and hats.

We drove over to South Padre Island where we will stay one night.  Our first stop was the Marriott which has a really nice outdoor bar/restaurant.  We enjoyed watching the waves roll in.

For dinner, we went to the Painted Marlin Restaurant, one of the nicest on the island.  It has outdoor seating which was nice.  Very attentive service and good food.  We started with an order of fried avocado slices – interesting.  Then, George and I shared a blackened tuna dinner while Pat ordered red snapper Rockefeller.  A very nice evening.

Early to bed as we have a fishing trip planned in the morning. 

Moving day!

LOCATION:  In our new casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:   Continued “yuck”.  High 53.  Light rain all day.  Overcast, gloomy

Today was moving day.  We had been keeping the bed and dresser in our old house, as it makes realtors’ showings look better.  We have been sleeping (cozily) in Joy.  However, starting this week, we have houseguests, so we need to bring the furniture here.

It was quite an ordeal – a heavy dresser, bedframe, mattress, and box springs.  There were no strong men around, so it was just the 2 of us.  Trying to lift/shove a mattress is very awkard, but we made it!  We had to time it between rain showers.

We met with our realtor to lower the price on our tiny house.  Our former neighbors, with an identical house, lowered theirs, so we need to, too.  😦

In the evening, our Airstream neighbors dropped by to chat.  We love that neighborly feeling here.  They even brought cookies! 

DINNER:  I had planned that George would grill a red snapper fillet, but the rainy weather was too miserable to cook outdoors.  So, I seared the filet, then baked it a very short time, topping with panko, butter, ginger, and lemon.  Meanwhile, I stir-fried some Asian vegetables – onion, green onion, mushroom, garlic, and ginger in sesame oil with dabs of soy sauce and fish sauce.  Another side was steamed rice that I made with shrimp broth (previously made with shrimp shells and frozen).  All paired with some hot sake.  Quite nice!

BOOK:  “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver.  I think this book has been around for quite awhile.  It is a paperback I picked up during last summer’s travels.  It weaves the stories of 3 families living in Appalachia.  Mother Nature plays the key role.  4 stars out of 5

A nice outing on a dreary day

LOCATION:  In our new casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Dreary and cool again.  Drizzle most of the day.  High 47

Enough already with this weather!  A friend here in Retama Village told me that she is not getting out of her pajamas for 3 days…until it warms up again! 

A few of us ventured out to do line-dancing.  For me, it was good to get out of the house and to get some exercise.  While I was doing that, George went to Harbor Freight.  (If it is not a Home Depot day, it is Harbor Freight’s turn).  When he got home, he realized that he didn’t get the discounts he was supposed to.

So, after lunch, off to Harbor Freight again.  This time, I went with him, to make it an outing.  We also stopped at Sprouts, a small version of World Market, where we picked up some good veggies and some wine on sale.

Then, to top off the outing, we stopped at a cozy Argentinean steakhouse called the Wine Cow.   The Rio Grande Valley is interesting……There is a lot of poverty here, but also a lot of wealth.  The wealthy Latinos like this tiny restaurant and it really hops at night.  Bottles of wine at $300, steaks starting at about $50.  For us, a modest glass of house wine and an empanada appetizer…

They gave us complimentary toasted bread with chimichurri sauce…

DINNER:  Some of my chili leftover and frozen from the chili contest (in which I did not win…..).  Sides were a baguette and salad. 

When the weather is dreary…..

LOCATION:  In our new casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Not too nice.  Overcast, some rain; High 45

Overnight temps hovered just above freezing, so we think most of our plants made it ok.  The tomato plants and the flower pots got to sleep inside…

We returned to the Driver’s License Bureau to get updated licenses.  The roads were eerily empty.  We realized that schools are closed, probably because most do not have furnaces. 

I spent some time booking more summer campsites.  I heard back from one for the 4th of July weekend, saying they were already full.  In panic mode, I searched for another campground.  Just as I was finishing the online booking, a message popped up and said someone else had just that moment grabbed the site.  I finally found one, less desirable, but it will be ok.  Meanwhile, George booked a ferry ride for us to cross Lake Michigan.  It is a little spendy, but it means that we can avoid Chicago and Detroit traffic. 

We took some drinks and snacks up to the clubbhouse and played a few rounds of pool with friends.  A nice way to spend a dreary few hours.

DINNER:  Pan-Fried Ginger Noodles- keeping up this week’s theme of meatless dishes

1 cup diced scallions
3 T soy sauce
1 T ginger, minced
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
6 oz soba
2 T peanut oil (I substituted more sesame oil)
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 cup thawed peas or edamame
1-2 tsp hot sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup cilantro diced
2 T sesame seeds

Combine scallions, soy sauce, ginger, vinegar, sesame oil, and salt.

Meanwhile, cook noodles half the time that is stated on the noodle package.  Drain.  While still hot in the colander, toss with the sesame oil.  Spread out noodles to keep them from sticking together.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the peanut oil for 20 seconds.  Add garlic untnil crisp.  Add half of the scallion mix.  Cook 1 minute

Raise heat to high and add noodles.  Fry 30 seconds.  Add peas, hot sauce and remaining scallion mix.  Stir-fry 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. 

Garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds. 
You could make this non-vegan by adding some type of meat or chicken. 

Define: “Severe Winter Weather”

LOCATION:  In our new casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Blustery.  Overcast.  High 55

A cold front came in during the night. Since we are sleeping in Joy (that brings up some sexy connotations, doesn’t it???), we hear outdoor sounds more.  I heard the wind howling.  Concerned that my flowerpots sitting on our outdoor kitchen bar would blow over, I ran outside with just a t-shirt on to lower them to the driveway.  That was about 1:00 AM, and was the high temperature for the day!

The thermometer kept dropping all day.  We covered the plants as it is supposed to be colder tonight.  I worked on our summer camping trip some more, scheduling some nights near Big Bend National Park to kick off the summer. 

Starting to get cabin fever, we decided to go out for lunch.  We went to a place called Greens and Lemons which specializes in healthy, “clean” food.  With memories of Hawaii, we shared a poke bowl.  It was quite good, and to top it off, the wait staff only spoke Spanish, so I got to practice mine.  (They complimented me a lot)…  🙂

In the afternoon, we traipsed over to the Driver’s License office to get licenses with our new address, only to find out that appointments are required. 

The realtor showed our house again today…..nada

The weather forecast here is “Severe Winter Weather” starting tonight.  Golly, it will only get up to 45 tomorrow, and tonight will get close to 35. 

Meanwhile, our daughter in Minnesota sent me a screenshot of their weather forecast, also with warnings.  Their “Severe Winter Weather” predicts a low of -35 tonight and warns people that being outside for more than 10 minutes could be fatal. 

I guess it is a matter of perspective? 

DINNER:  Tonight’s meal was a mish-mash that turned out pretty well.  I sauteed some onions, bell peppers, and garlic.  Then added some cooked rotisserie chicken.  I seasoned with oregano, salt, and pepper.  Then, I added some steamed, previously frozen, mixed vegetables.  To finish it off, I added a bit of cream cheese.  I served this over leftover grits to which I added parmesan.  My freezer is so  big that things get lost.  This was a good way to clear it out a bit.