Saturday, March 31, 2012

Days fly...

Livingston, TX 77351

RV life:
Since we are STILL in Livingston, TX, I don't have much to blog about. We live a quiet life, so day to day activities are quite boring to write about. For us, it's nice. Little responsibility, not many expenses.  
We laugh, because there are things that Scott would like to do but says..."I don't have enough time in the day".  Of course he stays in bed until noon most days. Not actually sleeping, but after he wakes, he reads, then has a cup of coffee and reads some more while watching TV. Before he knows it, it's noon. Sometimes he'll start cooking breakfast, which I love because by the time he finishes, it my lunch time.
I get up at the crack of dawn, thanks to Devin. 
 Scott passes time by cooking quite often. He made a hearty tomato sauce with this hunk of meat, slow simmered until it could be shredded in the sauce

The dogs pass the time staying cool indoors...
or Devin keeping busy outside with Mom.
That is a 12" ruler in that hole. We are undecided whether to stop him or just let him have fun. As you can see, we let him have fun. We have bought a couple of bags of dirt and grass seed, to repair his digging when we leave.

I pass the time crafting and baking. Lyla loved licking the loaf pan clean.

CRAFTS: I'm still cross stitching most of the day outside. People are starting to become curious as to what I'm doing all day, sitting in the same position. Haven't worked on the sweater much. By the time I come in at 7pm from cross stitching all day, then I need to fix/eat dinner and it's almost time for bed! Another day flew by.
I did complete a soap saver that is loosely based on this SOAP SAVER pattern. A soap saver is a pouch that you can throw in all those little end pieces of soap instead of throwing them out. I put a sponge also in the pouch. This soap saver is made out of beading hemp twine, so it also acts as an exfoliater.


Joe's Itailian Grill on Urbanspoon

Being from NJ, we are somewhat prejudiced in that you can't get good Italian food outside of the NY/NJ area. We were pleasantly surprised by this strip mall restaurant.
The walls were completed covered with murals of grape vine fields, etc.
Service was good.

Stuffed Mushrooms: Excellent. Very flavorful bread crumb type stuffing with mozzarella cheese melted over the top.

Chicken Fettucini Alfredo: Very Good. Fettucini cooked just right. Nice bite size chunks of chicken and the sauce was delicious. You could really taste the REAL cream as one of the ingredients.

Spaghetti & Meatballs with marinara sauce: Very Good. The sauce was simple but tasty. There were six or seven small meatballs, that were average in flavor.

Pizza with peppers & mushrooms: Not as good as our local NJ pizza place, but I would definitely get another. The mozzarella cheese is excellent tasting, which is important. Their crust was somewhat soft and thicker than what we prefer.
All in all definitely a place to check out. We plan on returning.
Scott is a Port and Sweet wine drinker (yeck).
Taylor's Fine Tawny Port:
$13.00 Scott's rating 3.5 out of 5

This is his cheap go to, usually easy to find Port. It's a rare port (& probably terrible) if it's under $10.00.
He has been having a very difficult time finding Port in this part of TX. So he's had to start switching to sweet wines. I'm happy about that because wine is a lot cheaper than port and Scott drinks more than I do.

Wimberley Valley Winery Texas Country Cellars Sweet Red: 
$5.50 (on sale) Rating 4 out of 5

I even like this wine. It's definitely got a fruity taste with a sweet finish. I tasted it at room temperature. This would definitely be a nice wine chilled and to be sipped on a hot day.  Would also probably make a nice base for Sangria. 

Sangria basic recipe
1 bottle red wine
Sliced oranges, peaches, strawberries, lemon, lime, etc.
1/4 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 port or  Cpt. Morgan Rum, or Vodka or Gin or Triple Sec (orange liquor) 
Ginger ale or seltzer to add some bubbly.
Since our Alaska trip was cancelled and since we've been stuck in Livingston, TX for over a month (ugh!!!!), we've decided to skip San Antonio and just cut across the northern section of TX quickly and travel to central & northern NM. We haven't been impressed with TX. It actually reminds me of NJ, which is not a good thing.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Down Time

Livingston, TX 77351
I'm now feeling what retirement is all about, especially without the responsibility of a house.  Cleaning is minimal in an RV, or at least it feels that way because we have all day to do it.
Scott washed & waxed HALF the truck yesterday. He'll do the other half today. That's just enough for him to feel he "accomplished" something (meaning a "honey-do"), but wasn't tired out from too much and has the rest of the day to himself.
About a week ago, Scott went through his side of the basement and also the front compartment.  Amazing how much room we have if he would just keep things organized. He did transfer a lot to the bed of the truck to lighten our RV load.
I rearranged the "basement" yet again. I've condensed our toiletries carton to a smaller one. Eventually as we use up items, that box will be gone.  When cleaning out our home, I couldn't throw out or give away new shampoo, face creams (I'm still looking old), body lotions, etc. We'll use it up eventually. Scott gets more foot rubs since I'm trying to use up body lotions.

Just a couple of little mods we've added to find space for little items.
Bedside Shoe Holder from TINY LOFT.
This attaches under your mattress so it hangs from the sides.  Package comes with two (holds 8 pairs each), for each side of the bed.  Since the RV has a platform type bed, we slipped one under the mattress, and then one inside the platform. We attached with a staple gun instead of the velcro that came with the shoe holder. You can see from the photo below, we have a 2 tier system and it can be hidden by the bedspread when the bed is made.

Scott plans on using the other package of two on his side of the bed, which is very close to the cabinets. He will use the pockets for underwear, sock, pj's etc.

Scott had originally bought a more rugged type pocket system made for tent camping. This really didn't work well under the bed, so I stapled to the wall of the basement. I haven't filled it yet, but it's a great place for storing cleaning rags, bungee cords, small gadgets, etc.
There really isn't much of sightseeing here in Livingston, so we have a lot of down time.  With the nice days lately, I've been spending it outside listening to podcasts and audio books, while cross stitching.  Amazing that I can spend literally HOURS sitting at the picnic table and doing counted cross stitch. I'm having a difficult time accepting that it is OK for me to do this. We've been geared all our life to be busy, busy, busy. We work 40+ hours a week, then we need to do yard work, house work, volunteer work, socializing, etc. I had very little time to watch TV or do crafts while I was still working. So it seems wrong, to just sit around all day and have total "me" time. It's wonderful, but I feel lazy, selfish, less worthy. I guess I feel I'm not old enough to be "lazy". I somehow have to work through this, so I can truly enjoy my life.
And because of our travels and both of us not being outgoing, we tend to keep to ourselves, so even social time has been cut out, so we really have almost ALL our time to ourselves. It just doesn't seem right. I'm very grateful, that I was able to start my career early and keep the same job for 32 years and was able to retire early. 
I still do volunteer work, although not as much. I believe I do a good job keeping records on the computer for our dog rescue. I guess now that I don't work and I've been doing this for years, it has become routine, & I have plenty of time do it now, so this volunteerism doesn't seem as involved as it is if someone else had to take over.  
Here I am again, trying to convince myself of my "worthiness" of this wonderful life I have.

As I stated earlier, I've been cross stitching outside for hours, until it is dusk out.  It's great for a diet.  I don't think much about eating while cross stitching, but then if I do, I don't want to get my fingers dirty, and have that transfer onto the fabric, so I tend to not snack while cross stitching.
A true sign of getting older...I started this "I Love Dogs" counted cross stitch project probably almost 10 years ago. As I also said previously, while working, I did not have much time for crafts, so this was put aside. About 3 years ago (my last year working), I decided to start working on this project during my lunch and breaks. Well, was I in for a surprise, when I pulled it all out and set up the chart and I couldn't see it!!!! So not only did I have to start using reading glasses for the actual cross stitches, but I needed a magnifying glass to read the chart! When I started this project, I could see everything with just my younger eyes.

I've also started a cardigan, called COMFY CARDI. 
The adorable dog & cake stitch holders are from WEE ONES

It was very difficult to get rid of so much yarn when I was clearing out our house.  When I started crocheting & knitting again about 5 years ago, I was crocheting many items to raise money for A&B ENGLISH SETTER RESCUE and ADOPT-A-SETTER. So I bought lots & lots of acrylic yarn for children's ponchos and doggie sweaters. I had so much yarn still that I just had to give most of it away.  I couldn't bear to part with the neutral colors though. So I have enough black acrylic to make a sweater. This cardigan will hopefully be a workhorse and be worn often without worry of washing care. Just throw in the washer and dryer.

Below are a couple of items I made to sell to raise money for rescue.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
This is not what I expected. Although the book seemed silly to me, because of the alien character, I did enjoy the sarcasm through out the book.
Also the concept of how to introduce and promote an unknown star (alien), was interesting.
I would not recommend this.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Victorian Erotic Romance:

Audio book narrated by Susan Ericksen: Excellent narrator. Beautiful English accent and also performs men's voices well without sounding odd.

1st in series: "Ruthless"

2nd in series: "Reckless"

3rd in series: "Breathless"

This was refreshing after the trashy 2nd book, Reckless. The story line is still based on romance, sex, marrying the "wrong" type of person etc.

I enjoyed it and of course the erotic sexual conquests were narrated excellent and left me "breathless".

I'm ready to take a break from this series and will return in a few months.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Audio book:

Maybe this would have been better read than narrated.

I was looking forward to this book because of the description about modern American family life and it's stages.

There was so much detail about the mundane activities of life. On and on and on about all the little things that go on in the day in the life...

Stop! I read/listen to books for entertainment, enlightenment, knowledge, excitement, which this book provided none. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

STILL in Livingston, TX, sigh....

Livingston, TX 77351
We're still "stuck" here in Livingston, near a highway and RV's surrounding us. At least most of these RV'rs are full timers also, so it's gatherings around the "campsite" at night, no campfires, no kids riding their bikes around. So even though we are parked close to each other, it's not so bad. I miss having a view of the woods or water.
At least the weather has been better. Finally out of the spring rainy season I hope.  Scott was getting quite blah with all the rain.  It didn't bother me at all.
We will be here AT LEAST until April 4th. Oh crap! That's because it's taking longer for delivery of the new axles. 

There certainly are a lot of smoked bbq places in Texas. We are loving that part. In NJ, when you get BBQ, it's just cooked ribs with BBQ sauce on it, or cooked pork shredded with BBQ sauce on it.  Just before we started full timing, a local place in Neptune, NJ opened up that smoked their meat. Now that's what I'm looking for and it's plentiful here in Texas. 
Most BBQ places are just little sheds with another shed behind them where they smoke their meats. We see smokers all over the place, in campgrounds, in front yards, on porches, etc. Smokers are as common here in Texas, as Weber Grills are common in suburbia NJ.

Big Mike's BBQ:
We didn't really try any of their sides, just their meat.
Their ribs were excellent. Lot of smoked meat with a great rub cooked into it.  No need for bbq sauce.

Cassity's Cafe:
Cassity's Cafe on Urbanspoon

A very casual place. This was recommended to us for their Friday Chicken & Dumplings so that is what we ordered. Very good, but I'm not sure I would recommend it especially. The gravy part was tasty, not a lot of chicken, but ok. I really liked the dumplings. But of course I love breads, starches, carbohydrates. I think the dumpings were home made, but were not the fluffy biscuit type of dumplings but more like GERMAN SPAETZLE dumpling.
They also had catfish that smelled delicious, but I doubt we'll be back to try it.

With the warmer weather, I haven't been drinking as much wine. I made a perfect Gin & Tonic with a slice of lime the other day. Refreshing.
We've also tried those single serving slush drinks. 

Daily's Frozen Peach Daiquiri: DELICIOUS! Great on a hot day. Just put in the freezer. Because of the alcohol in it, it does not freeze solid, but becomes a slush. In checking the ingredients it does not contain rum or tequila as I would expect, but has wine as the alcohol.
This was a little too sweet for me. Next time I'll put the slush in a large glass and pour seltzer over it. That cuts down on the sweetness, but still maintains a soupier (easier to drink) slushiness.
Which brings me to a Slush recipe that I served at our backyard wedding in hot August of 1994.


12 ounce can frozen Orange Juice
12 ounce can frozen Lemonade
2 cups tea (4 tea bags to 2 cups boiled water)
2 cups sugar
6 cups water
2 cups liquor 
(I used vodka, but rum would work or wine also)
7-up, Sprite, or Seltzer

Mix all, but soda, together.
Freeze overnight. 
Scrape slush with spoon into glasses.
Pour soda or seltzer over slush.
(Soda was too sweet for me, so I use seltzer)
Makes 1 gallon.

FYI, I don't know who Kathy is. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Adopt an Irish!

Ryley 2001-2011

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, this post will just be about my Irish Setters and Irish Setter Rescue.  See above links if you are interested in adopting an Irish Setter.  
Adopt-a-Setter deals with NJ, PA, CT, DE, based out of NJ. 
Pillsbury ambassador for Setter rescue.
Magnolia Setter Rescue deals with the Southeastern States, based out of FL.
My gentle giant, Irish Setter, Pillsbury. (Gone Feb 2011) 
Pillsbury's cowl to keep his ears out of his food.

Pillsbury (pre-dog cart) watching squirrels

Ryley was named "telethon dog" because since we had him as a pup, he has always had major problems that were fixable$$$. It would take a telethon to pay for all his medical procedures. We did fix all his health issues and he recovered quickly and happier than ever, until his last bout with bone cancer. He passed Sept. 2011.
Below is just a sampling of his health issues...
As a pup, he had HOD Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy) He went lame at 4 months old. The HOD flared up and down for 3 months. Below is Scott helping him to walk so he can go potty.

Below is after Ryley's Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) & Correction of Angular Limb Deformity Surgery for a Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament.
 Below is a lymph node taken out.  It was called a "reactive" lymph node. Filled up with puss and had to be drained. Non cancerous.
 Below, as a puppy, he also broke his leg.  He learned quickly to lift the cast and bang on the door to go outside.

Pillsbury & Ryley tent camping
Ryley checking out squirrel looking for peanuts

Ryley checking out a funny looking Irish Setter (my foster guinea pig)

Ryley's favorite comfort toy, my neck roll pillow.
And yes, we have to add Devin to this page. I hope someday, I'll feel as close to him as I did to Ryley & Pillsbury.
Misc. Irish Setter Rescue photos

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring has sprung in TX

RAINBOW'S END-Escapees, Livingston, TX 77351
I've heard NJ has had a very mild Winter. So maybe it's Spring in NJ as well as in TX.  The grass is greening up, the trees are starting to bloom, and flowers are popping up also.

Blue Bonnets
Smart Weigh: We had our RV weighed at Escapees. We are about 800 pounds overweight and a little overweight for our tire grade.  So Scott is very nervous. We decided to go up a grade with the tires. We hope to avoid a blowout! But Scott has also decided he wants to add new axles, that can let the RV carry extra weight. I will try to post where we go for tires & axles, after it is complete.
Our RV is our home, so we really can't figure out what weight we can drop other than the 50 lb. screen room tent, that we never use. We couldn't do without that screen room when we tent camped, but now find with an RV, it is not needed.

We were supposed to leave last Friday if all went well transferring to become Texans. That did go well, but Scott doesn't like to leave on weekends, so we were to stay until Monday. It's Monday and we're still here.  Scott wanted to wait for his bike parts to arrive. His bike parts arrived and we're still here. Sigh...Now he wants tires. Fine, we can leave hopefully by Thursday. But wait, Scott wants new axles and they have to be ordered and we can't schedule an appointment for installation until they arrive around NEXT Tuesday. Ugh! It's not bad here, but it's not some place that I wanted to stay more than a week at.
Scott will feel much better with the better axles & tires (so will I). So I'll give in & wait around (to a point) for these to be completed.
Not much going on in Livingston, TX. I spend A LOT of time indoors. Because Escapees has a lot of long time RV'rs and residents with deeded lots, it is quite social here.  I can only take so much socializing.
I've participated in the Saturday breakfast, the Saturday Shanghai Rummy, the Tuesday Smart Weigh, the Wednesday Stitch & Chat, & the Thursday tour of Escapees. Also, while walking the dogs people stop to talk.  I've had my fill.  I've re-routed my dog walking to avoid a 71 yr. old lady, that likes to talk a lot and doesn't remember much. I know, I'm not very tolerant. But, I know my limits and it's best for me to be left alone when I've had enough.
I've skipped, a biscuit & gravy breakfast, another Shanghai Rummy night, & an ice cream social, because it's best for me to have my alone time. 

While on my morning walks, which are now at 7:30 am instead of 6:30 am because of Daylight Savings Time. Devin wakes me up when it's light out. Anyway, while on our morning walk, I found in the local neighborhood a pasture with miniature horses. Fun to look at. I've brought a small amount of carrots to feed them, but other than wanting the carrots, they aren't very friendly.

Lyla is very curious and wants to eat their poop. Devin is very afraid of them, so afraid, he took off across the street and pulled me down onto the grass and I lost my grip. Luckily, I didn't panic and I called him to come and he returned.
On another visit to the mini horses, Devin was still afraid but this time he just turned so he faced AWAY from the horses and just sat. I guess if he doesn't see them, they don't exist.

At one of the other RV sites, I saw this little person hanging onto a man's leg. Wait, is it a person? Is it a dog? Is it a child? No, it's Gizmo, the Capuchin Monkey (organ grinder type). This couple have 3 monkeys. They make their living with a monkey act at state fairs etc.
I was quite nervous around Gizmo, since I know nothing about monkeys. He held my hand and was very curious.  As I talked to his owner, he grabbed my hand again and then proceeded to bite and gnaw on my hand. He had no teeth for safety reasons. Sad, but I was glad in my case.  He was really biting!  I don't see a money in our future. He was cute, but...
Big Mike's BBQ on Urbanspoon
RIBS: Wonderful! May be the best I've ever had.  They are smoked and have a wonderful, delicious rub on them. A LOT of meat on each rib. Very filling. The meat easily pulled off the bone and the rub & smokiness flavored the rib so much, that I didn't want to put any BBQ sauce on them.

SAUSAGE: Unique.  We've been traveling from Louisiana, into Mississippi and now Texas. I don't know what kind of smoked sausage this is, but its THE BEST we've had so far.  My husband loves to eat it cold as a snack. I still prefer heated. A perfect blend of smoke, sausage spices, sweet & a touch of heat. Perfect!

If I'm ever in Livingston, TX again, I will be picking up Big Mike's ribs & sausage.  We were in Livingston for 1 month and had to get ribs & sausage here at LEAST once a week.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
True Crime:
I kept reading and reading and was never bored.
The story is told over and over, but through the point of view of the victims, the victims family,the accused, the accused family, the townspeople, the law "enforcers", the religious leaders, etc.
Very well written. Written without bias, so there is actually a point where you can almost believe this "Doctor" is not guilty. But of course, too much evidence to the contrary.
How naive adults can be when overshadowed by religion.

Our Travels