LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: Hot and muggy. High 89
What strange weather we are having! We left the windows open during the night, as it cooled down, but the humidity was so high that our thermostat is giving us a “high humidity” warning. So, we closed up and cranked up the A/C.
It was just too hot to walk, so I did a lot of other exercise. I taught my Basic Beginners line-dancing class. I had two new pupils today! I try to make it fun.
LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: Mostly cloudy. High 73
I had planned to play pickleball this morning, but it was drizzling. So, I went up to the clubhouse to use internet. While I was there, George worked out in the exercise room with some friends…
I got a lot of work done online. As I have mentioned, we are going on 2 cruises out of Buenos Aires, Argentina the end of January. So today, I finalized some of the places we will stay afterwards – an AirB&B in Uruguay and a hotel in Buenos Aires. I hope everything works out OK! While I was doing that, fellow traveler aka wonderful daughter was lining up an AirB&B for us in Cartagena, Colombia where we will go after Uruguay, meeting up with her.
This is a photo of our Punta de Este, Uruguay AirB&B:
I did 2 classes of water aerobics for the first time this season. Even though it is not very rigorous, I used muscles I haven’t used for a while. Good workout!
In the afternoon, George played ping pong and I got in my regular walk.
1.75 hours water aerobics 13,839 steps
Breakfast – 1 orange Lunch – 1 cup steamed peas (out of salad greens!) Dinner – 1 medium portion of dinner below Drink – 2 glasses red wine
DINNER: When we were on the cruise, the head chef demonstrated this recipe. I gave it a try tonight – just so-so: Broccoli pesto over pasta. Per his recipe, I made the pesto using sauted/blanched broccoli, onions, and garlic. I put those vegetables in a food processor with olive oil, pine nuts, and grated Parmesan. It was rather blah, we thought. I served it over pasta with a few broccoli flowerets. It just didn’t have the “zing” of basil pesto.
LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: Full sun. 80 high
We are back to our traditional Sunday morning routine – George’s breakfast accompanied by “CBS Sunday Morning”.
I took a nice, long walk. A lot of people in our community, Retama Village, are out and about – walking their dogs, biking, and just strolling around.
On my route today, it seemed like police presence was heightened. Maybe because of the nice weather? Two Texas Troopers passed me, and then I walked past a parked Mission City police car, and then I encountered two federal Border Patrol pick-ups. I wonder how they divvy up the work?
There was a lot of activity at the National Butterfly Center, another place on my route. It was closed during Covid and during a period in which Conservatives took them to court, accusing them of enabling undocumented people to cross through their land which borders the US/Mexico line. Glad to see that they are up and running again. The center is another migratory route – this one for the butterflies, especially the Monarchs.
Breakfast: George’s Sunday grits, eggs, and bacon Lunch: Arugula salad with carrots Dinner: Small portion of dinner – below. Drinks: 1 Sunday Bloody Mary. 2 glasses red wine. Snacks – chips, salsa, and guacamole
12,074 steps Bike-ride to/from clubhouse
People in our community volunteer for “jobs”. Our British friend Rob has just volunteered to manage the library. The clubhouse actually has two rooms of books which people donate. It is a nice amenity. Rob’s job is to check-in the books that are returned and shelve them, keeping track of those that are least popular so that they can be donated elsewhere when our shelves fill up. Rob will be gone for about a month, so we will temporarily do his job. Today he gave us our orientation.
The orientation was followed by a game of pool, and then drinks at our house, along with another couple who also have an Airstream. It was warm enough to sit out on our screened-in porch. Entertaining 6 people inside is a bit cramped, so I am always glad for warm weather.
DINNER: Sweet potato with Trader Joe’s chickpeas in a cumin sauce. I had read this recipe before, but with acorn squash. I thought the leftover Thanksgiving sweet potato would be a good substitution. Yes, it worked.
LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: The sun has returned! Sunny. High 68
What is that bright, yellow ball in the eastern sky? Wow – it is the sun! So happy to see it again. It has been more than a week since it has appeared.
Exercise – 1.5 hours of line-dancing and 13,359 steps of walking
Food… Breakfast – 1 mandarin orange, 2 chunks pineapple and 1/4 cup Greek yogurt Lunch – Arugula salad with carrots Dinner – 1 small serving below Snack – 1/2 bowl popcorn Drinks – 2 glasses red wine
In late January, we are going on a cruise that leaves from Buenos Aires. I have been trying to reach the cruise line to better understand their Covid testing requirements. On one site, it says that they are required, and gives the timing restrictions (within 24 hours if one test; within 72 hours with a different test). Another site says that testing is not required. I wanted to find out for sure so that I could book our flights – taking into consideration whether we test here or there. Finally, today I heard back and now have a plan. We will try to get tested here with the test that has to be completed within 72 hours of embarkation. Then, fly down the next day (overnight), arriving the day before we depart. If that doesn’t work, we can get the rapid test on the pier before boarding. Whew! With that info, I went ahead and booked the flights. I was hoping for some Black Friday pricing, but that didn’t work.
Not complaining, but I almost got too hot walking this afternoon! I try to walk fast, so I usually work up a sweat.
On my usual route, I pass by our state park which is a national birding center. There were a lot of “birders” out today, with their binoculars and cameras with log lenses – getting excited as they spotted something. The park is famous for its birds that reside there all year as well as for those that migrate between Mexico and Canada; the park is on the migration route.
The weather was perfect for a bonfire and George made a good one in our fire ring. We invited our Airstream neighbors over to enjoy it with us. They just returned from a wet and cool camping trip. And hooray, we watched a beautiful sunset from our backyard.
DINNER: Fried rice with a twist. I substituted leftover cooked farro for the rice. For veg, I used edamame, onions, and garlic. I added an egg, a bit of leftover Thanksgiving turkey, stir-fry sauce, and a bit of soy sauce. Quite good.
BOOK: “Strategic Moves” by Stuart Woods, a paperback I had picked up along the way. It was fairly tedious, and follows his same plot as his usual books. 2 stars out of 5
LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: Even worse! Cool and solid rain all day, even though the forecast was for sun and warmth
I had great plans for a lot of exercise today, but with the continued lousy weather, I didn’t do too much.
Being at home all day with not much to do was a challenge to not snack. Knowing I would write my food intake on this blog helped me get through the day:
Breakfast: a few cubes of fresh pineapple and 1/4 cup Greek unsweetened yogurt Lunch: Arugula salad with a few Bacon Bits Dinner: 1/2 sandwich (see below), carrots, and corn Drinks: 2 glasses red wine
I walked up to the clubhouse in the rain and did some computer work. The Photography Club here has asked me to present photos of our recent trip at its first meeting of the season. I need to select the best photos and get them set up to present.
The rainy afternoon was good for reading. I looked out the window every so often to see if the rain had stopped so I could take a walk.
YAY – About 3:00, the drizzle stopped and off I went. I had to deviate from my normal path as parts are very muddy. On my route, I saw about 10 Border Patrol trucks. When I tell people that we are from the Rio Grande Valley, they look concerned, and say something like “it must be so dangerous there with the thousands of illegals coming through”. In fact, it is one of the safest places in the United States. I’ve read that there are more Border Patrol and police in our county than in any other part of the USA. And, the undocumented people are not sticking around here, and not committing any crimes. Their goal is to get North as quickly as possible. They are skinny, sorry-looking young people, clad only in a t-shirt and shorts, obviously not bringing in any drugs and/or guns. It is a sad situation.
Exercise: 14,210 steps (yay!)
DINNER: Portobello and turkey sandwich on a French baguette. Sides were grilled carrots with dill and corn on the cob. Note – we are out of butter, so I spread cream cheese on the corn instead. Was a good choice!
LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: Still overcast with some light rain. Warmer. High 70
Turkey day! All about food and giving thanks.
We spent the morning doing our tradidtional Thanksgiving activities – watched the Macy’s Parade on TV and listened to Minnesota Public Radio’s “Turkey Traditional” show in which people call in with questions about Thanksgiving dinner. Some of the questions/situations are hilarious – such as when a caller called in asking how to thaw his 20-pound turkey that he was just now taking out of the freezer, or a caller who was grilling the turkey and it caught on fire, fell off the grill, and then rolled down the street.
George experimented with a different way to cook the turkey. First he grilled the entire turkey on our charcoal grill. He placed beer cans full of water around the turkey to keep it moist. We rubbed it with oil and a turkey spice rub, and then sprinkled a little liquid smoke over it.
After it browned up and was 3/4 cooked, he cut it up. He continued grilling the bony pieces – wings, legs, and back until they were crisp. I placed the meaty pieces (breast, thighs) in a big Dutch oven with some wine and broth, and let it cook in the oven for another hour to finish up.
While it was cooking, we had an appetizer of liver pate (liver right from the turkey), a jalapeno popper (jalapeno filled with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, and grilled) along with a Cape Codder to drink. All good!
After I prepared all of the side dishes, I joined George outside to plant some flowers. We had bought a bunch of flowers and plants about a week ago, but it has been too wet and nasty to plant them. Since today was much nicer, we went to work.
We are hoping this agave plant and bird of paradise plant grow, and that the bird of paradise puts out some orange flowers (to match our orange highlight decor)
I planted pansies in the ceramic pots that go on the top of our outdoor kitchen bar….
My cactus plant from last year survived in our absence, and I spruced it up a bit…
With the leftover pansies, I planted 2 planters in front of our screened-in porch.
With that complete, it was time to eat! Here is the menu:
Cranberry sauce (jazzed up with Grand Marnier and orange zest) Brussels sprouts roasted with garlic and Parmesan cheese Baked sweet potato with butter, salt, and pepper Dressing, using a Jacques Pepin recipe And….the turkey. We ate the bony pieces today and I put aside the meat for future meals. It turned out very well. This recipe/technique is a keeper!
As promised (a promise to myself actually), I include my exercise and food intake below. What a crazy time to start doing this! I will get back to a stricter routine tomorrow.
Exercise – 1/2 mile walk to/from clubhouse
Breakfast: 1 poached egg Lunch (appetizer): listed ablove Dinner: Everything on the Thanksgiving menu, with hopefully small portions Drinks: 1 Cape Codder and 2 glasses of red wine
After dinner, I made and packaged up a LOT of turkey broth for future use. George watched a little football on TV.
A pretty quiet day!
BOOK: “The Things We Cherished” by Pam Jenoff who writes a lot of historical fiction about the WWII era. This one was about an attorney who returns to Germany to investigate a war crime. 4 stars out of 5
LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: Still yucky. Overcast. High 55
The blog is back!
I’ve decided to continue writing the blog every day while we are here in south Texas. It may be boring as we aren’t doing a lot, but it will help keep me organized. In order to watch my diet and exercise, I will “confess” my intake and exercise daily. Perhaps this will motivate others? Also, I am going to try to prepare a different dinner every evening, trying a lot of new recipes. Again, hopefully this will inspire readers. Finally, I will continue to note the books I finish and rate them on a scale of 1-5.
– Breakfast: 1 orange and 1/4 cup Greek yogurt – Lunch: Arugula and tomato salad with dressing – Snack (Happy hour with friends): 4 shrimp cocktail and one mixed drink – Dinner – one serving of fajitas – see below. 2 glasses red wine
Today’s exercise: 5- mile brisk walk
It is quiet here today without daughter Alexis. George played some ping pong while I took my walk. I did some research for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving recipes.
On my walk, I saw about 20 wild turkeys. The other day, we learned from a state park ranger that there are an unusually high number of turkeys here. With the WALL, they are trapped in the US, and can’t get to Mexico!
Next to the WALL is a “jungle” full of thorny trees and brambles. The undocumented sneak through this area. It must be just awful. Once they make it through these woods, there is a barbed wire fence that they have to climb over. Someone has propped up a big tree branch next to this tree to use to climb over. Very clever!
We ad friends over for Cape-codders , my traditional Thanksgiving drink– – cranberry juice and vodka. It was fun catching up with them.
DINNER: Fajitas using a lot of leftover vegetables, mostly poblano peppers, jalapeno peppers, and green peppers, as well as onions and mushrooms. Added some leftover cooked plant-based hamburger. Melted some cheddar cheese on tortillas, and added the meat mix. Quite delicioso.
BOOK: “Sold on a Monday” by Kristina McMorris. Excellent book about post-Depression era. 5 stars out of 5.
LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: Awful. Cold and rain. High 47
It has rained all day every day for about a week. Wouldn’t you know it….this is when our daughter came to visit.
We made the best of her visit, eating a good lunch out one day, and doing a lot of computer work with her assistance. The three of us will be going to Colombia, South America in the spring. We worked on getting our flights and checked out some AirB&Bs. One thing checked off on my “to-do list”.
One day, we went to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico. George had a dentist appointment. While he was getting a new crown, Alexis and I did some shopping and she got a pedicure. It was fun for the 2 of us to chat in Spanish to the beauty shop owner. We had some good Mexican food and some margaritas. Fun – even though the streets were flooded and it was still raining and cool.
I did a lot of vegan dinner meals during her visit….One night was a garbanzo/spinach stew. Another night, a vegetable chow mein noodle meal, and last night a dish with farro and tofu. I had bought a LOT of fruits and vegetables for her visit, and we have managed to go through most of the food.
She is saving up her vacation days, so this 4-day trip was just a long weekend for her. Today, we took her back to the airport in Harlingen. She can fly out of there to Minneapolis for about $200 round-trip, on a nice, direct flight. Here we are bundled up this morning on the way to the airport…..
And….the weather forecast is for sun and warmth starting tomorrow!
BOOK: “Call After Midnight” by Tess Gerritsen. This is not part of the detective/medical examiner series, but was quite good. 4 stars out of 5. Another ‘who-done-it’.
LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas WEATHER: Sunny and warm. High 87
I haven’t posted since returning to Texas as life has consisted of laundry, cleaning, and yardwork – not too interesting! Some blog readers have contacted me, concerned that we are ok (since I haven’t posted).
For those new to my blog, we live 3-5 months/year in a 55+ gated community in South Texas. We are about 1/2 mile from Mexico! It is the same latitude as Sarasota, Florida, so we get a lot of nice weather in the winter. We live in a small house – 720 square feet. The driveway has hook-ups for our trailer. When we have guests, we use the Airstream trailer as our guest house! The community has a swimming pool, clubhouse, and lots of activities. It is quite vibrant. It is a good place to hang out in the winter. Here is where we are….
We arrived back late on Saturday night. Some friends from our community – Retama Village – picked us up. So kind.
Sunday and Monday were busy with laundry and cleaning. I did a lot of yardwork, pulling up weeds. Now I am sore! We did a grocery run – and really spent a lot of money since the cupboards and refrigerator were empty!
We are getting back to the routine – pickleball, water aerobics, line-dancing (me) and ping pong and pool (for George). Margaritas with friends in the late afternoon. An easy life!
I will post periodically, when there is something interesting to write about.
DINNER: Grillmaster George grilled some portabellos for sandwiches. While he had the grill going, he charred some bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, poblano peppers, and onions for me to use in a future meal of fajitas. He also cooked bacon to have on hand for BLTs.
BOOK: “Silent Girl” by Tess Gerritsen. Another good book in the series featuring a policewoman and medical examiner. A real page-turner. 4 stars out of 5.
The waters were pretty choppy overnight and all throughout today. I did Zumba class clutching onto a chair so I wouldn’t fall over!
Instead of our usual buffet breakfast, we celebrated Sunday by eating in the dining room, trying to replicate George’s Sunday morning specials. I had an excellent made-to-order feta and mushroom omelette and George had a poached egg on toast – close but not George’s grits and eggs.
We visited the Art Gallery and picked up our gift that we won – an oil painting that will go nicely in our living room at home, with some orange highlights. Maria, a real cutie from Mexico, is our sales clerk.
I attend some of the popular trivia games each day. I always lose terribly. I went to a book exchange to trade paperbacks with other passengers. Wish the ship had a library, but this works, too. I have several e-books to read, too.
Since it is Sunday, we splurged with an afternoon Bloody Mary in one of the bars. We chatted with the bartender, from India. He said he has 35 days more of work, and then he will fly home for 3 months off. He said that he, and all the Asian staff, work 9 months straight, every single day. They work at least 11 hours a day, and when the ship is really crowded, 14 hours. About 90% of the support staff are Filipino. There are also a few Indians, Ukranians, and Serbians. He told us that the “European professional staff” – from New Zealand, Brazil, Venezuela, Italian, and England – only work 5 months/year. They, too, have multiple jobs and seem to be working at least 12 hours/day. He said that Princess is the only cruiseline that flies their staff home for their vacations. This guy will be flying from Miami to Goa, India for his 3 months, and then to Puerto Vallarta to pick up his next 9 months. What a life!
Tonight is one of the three formal evenings throughout the cruise. Some people go all out. George puts on a tie, and I wear a skirt with various tops.
DINNER: I seem to be eating a lot of seafood, but I figure it has the fewest calories. Tonight I had the ceviche as an appetizer and grilled shrimp for my entree. George had a salad, bow tie pasta, and mahi-mahi. They always put yummy, fresh-baked dinner rolls on the table, which I try to avoid!
Afterwards we listed to an excellent Scottish soprano in the theater.
More zumba to start the day. The New Zealand instructor really gives us a workout and puts on a show, too. He substituted as teacher for line dancing this morning, too, offering a more rigorous routine, so we really had 2 work-outs.
Today’s weather was great with sun and almost no waves. High of about 72. This made the top deck a popular hangout spot. We had burgers by the pool and then read in the shade. A great way to spend the afternoon.
Every other day we gain an hour, with a total of 6 time changes as we go west.
Before dinner, we enjoyed a drink in the piazza and listened to some nice music. To save money (call me cheap!), we take our own wine to different venues.
DINNER: Keeping with a low-fat regime, I had steamed asparagus for an appetizer and a seafood “hotpot” for a main course – shrimp, scallops, and mussels in a tomato/rice sauce. George had borscht for appetizer and veal scallopini for his main. All good.
After dinner, we listened to jazz again with the guest jazz singer in the nightclub. Very “high-end” feeling.
BOOK: “Drop Shot” by Harlan Coben. Part of the Myron Bolitar series about a sports agent solving murder mysteries. 3 stars out of 5
Everyday we receive “Princess Patter” – the daily schedule showing the day’s activities with all types of games, sports activities, lectures, music venues, hobbies, and dinner options.
We go through it and decide who will do what. Usually there are many options. When there is nothing that interests us, we read and/or rest in the room. Here is today’s plan….
7:00 Breakfast at buffet 8:00 George work-out, then dip in the hot tub 9:00 Karmen zumba 10:00 George class on astronomy 10:00 Karmen – mimosas at one of the shops 10:30 Karmen – class on “how to look 10 years younger” 11:00 Karmen – line dance 12:00 Lunch in dining room 1:00 Art gallery auction 3:00 Read on deck 4:00 Listen to music (violinist) in the piazza 5:00 Dress for dinner. Wine in room, with some nuts we snatched from the buffet 5:30 Listen to different musician (female vocalist) in piazza 6:45: Dinner in one of the restaurants 8:00 Piano concert in theatre 9:30 -Vocalist concert in lounge 10:15 – Concert in piazza with all cruise bands
Each day it has been getting warmer, with today’s high 80. There is a tropical depression near us that the captain is trying to avoid. He keeps us informed about our status.
George dropped by the zumba class today and took an unflattering photo of me…
Art auction (they keep wanting us to buy something)…
Followed by music in piazza….
DINNER: I had ceviche as a starter and seafood paella as a main course. The paella wasn’t that great – more like seafood in a tomato sauce, but the seafood was good and plentiful. George had mushroom soup and goat cheese tart as appetizers and grilled chicken for main course.
After dinner – Japanese concert pianist in theater….
After my daily zumba class, I attended a jewelery store “special” with free mimosas. No price tags are present, but women are really buying! I sipped on a mimosa, then slinked out.
Lunch was in one of the private dining rooms. My tuna sashimi was very good.
I also dropped by the Chanel shop where the beautician was doing eye make-overs. She put eye make-up on me for the evening. (Didn’t do too much good).
We attended another art show, featuring a famous artist named Peter Max. I “won” a $250 coupon to buy one of his works, but I will not be using it. Still way too expensive.
In the afternoon, we went to a talent show featuring passengers. I was expecting painful vocals and other musicians. The 10 guest performers were surprisingly excellent. Everyone loved them. We all sang together at the end.
Then, to another bar in the piazza to listen to the vocalist entertainer. What a surprise! We struck up a conversation with another couple. Turns out that he and I attended the same small college in Iowa – Central College – and graduated in the same year! We both remembered some names of the students and professors. Small world!
DINNER: Ceviche and mixed seafood for me. I need to add more variety. George had stuffed chicken.
After dinner, we rushed to the theater to see a big performance of dancing and singing. Superb talent.
Then, we attended a PG-13 “Marriage Match Game”. Three couples participated – 1) 80-year old newlyweds, 2) an English couple married 52 years, and 3) an American couple with 39 years. It was absolutely hilarious. I laughed until I cried.
We ended the busy day in the jazz club listening to the ship’s jazz group – drum, bass, and piano.
We attended an interesting progran called “Culinary Demonstration”. The executive chef prepared a few dishes. One I will try when we return – a pesto made from leftover steamed vegetables and roasted garlic. He made it with broccoli. Looked and smelled delicious. Afterwards, they took us on a tour of the galley. Amazing amount of food and organization. They make/serve 15,000+ meals per day.
We are cheap. Our room is the least expensive – an inside cabin. We figure that we are hardly ever in the room, so why pay for a more expensitve state room? The only downside is that we don’t know when to wake up in the mornings!
Lunch was a sushi and sashimi buffet. I must admit – I made a pig of myself!
George played a genja tournament – staff versus guests. The crew won. George pulled out the piece that toppled the game. Oops!
Then, in the afternoon another interesting presentation. It was a “behind-the-scenes” discussion with the cruise managers. We learned interesting tidbits such as 210,000 tons of food are loaded onto the ship at the beginning of the cruise, and the freezers are almost emtpy now.
DINNER: We opted to eat in the ship’s pizzeria tonight. We shared a pizza – half Princess special and half pepperoni. A nice thin crust and not greasy. Appetizer was Parma ham and some shrimp.
After dinner, we went to the theater to listen to a fantastic Scottish soprano. She had sung earllier in the cruise and was so popular that they brought her back.
We capped the night in the jazz club again.
Day 13 – Our last full day at sea
We are watching the tropical storm hitting Florida. The captain gives us updates all the time. The weather has turned very tropical – very humid. 80 degrees already when we walked to breakfast.
After a good zumba class, we watched a demonstration on fruit and vegetable carving. Their displays are amazing!
Being the last day at sea, it seemed like they were trying to squeeze a lot of events into the remaining hours. I zipped from the final art auction to line dancing, and then to meet up with George to attended a show with the ship’s dancers and singers. George attended the demonstration on carving an ice scuplture.
Then, we dashed to the theatre at the other end of the ship to watch a crew talent show. This ship has 1500 crew representing different nationalities. Like the crew, most of the performers were Filipinos, but there were staff from England, China, and England who performed, too. They have amazing talent.
The couple who got engaged on the ship received a bottle of champagne. The bride-to-be does zumba next to me. She gave me the champagne as they don’t like it, so George and I popped the cork and enjoyed it in the room.
Then to the piazza to listen to a superb violin duo, and then to the jazz club to listen to a Spanish pianist.
Wow – this ship doesn’t scrimp on entertainment options.
DINNER: After a big seafood lunch, I wasn’t too hungry so I skipped the appetizer. Main was a vegan (shout-out to daughter Alexis) Indian chickpea dish over rice. George had home-made ravioli and crab risotto.
More entertainment – We enjoyed a singing duo who are Broadway and West London actors singing a lot of good songs.
We received a notice from the captain saying that we have some medical emergencies on board. They stressed that they are not Covid-related. Consequently, they are speeding up the ship and we will dock tonight in Fort Lauderdale, instead of tomorrow morning, so that they can be transported to a hospital.
We will gain another hour tonight so we stayed up a bit later than normal.