Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fire!


SANDY CREEK COE PARKJasper, TX 75951
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Got your attention, didn't I?
I broke down and bought a KINDLE FIRE.  I'm sure my father is laughing as he reads this. He knows we like gadgets. I will write a review as I use it more.  I haven't been happy with my I-Touch. Just too small. I have held off buying an I-Pad, because it is too large. So the Kindle Fire is what I hope will suit what I want.
------------------------
DOGS:
ABOVE & BEYOND ENGLISH SETTER RESCUE started out in PA/NJ area and has been expanding since it's beginning in 2004.  We have a few adopters way out West, but "free" volunteer transport to those areas is difficult because we don't have the volunteers to connect all the way to California, Washington, etc.
If anyone would like to volunteer to help transport dogs that are coming from shelters to foster homes, or coming from foster homes to adoptive homes, please contact me, via the comment section.
Instead of me explaining how transport works, I'll send you to FREEDOM TRAIN TRANSPORT SITE. The volunteer transport process is explained very well here. Even though this transport group is not associated with our rescue, she acknowledges that the volunteers help many organizations, with the single goal of transporting dogs in need of a home.
---------------------------------
RV:
We have been in the Jasper, TX area for over 3 weeks. That first week in Jasper parked at the park right on the highway is long forgotten. We are heading to the Escapees Headquarters tomorrow to become Texans! This is just a 60 mile trip from Jasper to Livingston. We will pick up drivers licenses, voter registration, register our vehicles, change insurance, etc. Just because we are Texans on paper, does not mean we are Texans at heart. Right now, we have no allegiance to any state. That is the point of our "great escape from NJ"...to find a place we can call home.

Sandy Creek COE Park has been a lovely place to stay. We are very comfortable in this park and in Jasper, TX. I could see this being a winter snowbird home, if the park would allow that length of stay.


----------------------------------------------
BOOKS:

TemptationTemptation by Nora Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Romance: Very light enjoyable reading. Rich  20 something loses family money through no fault of her own. Needs to learn to run her own life instead of just following what is expected. Cat & mouse romance with mostly very like able characters. Quick read and was a great afternoon with tea/coffee cuddled in an afghan read.


View all my reviews


Deadly MasqueradeDeadly Masquerade by Richard Pienciak
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

True Crime/Murder: TERRIBLE book! The author tells how the murder happened in the beginning.  Then proceeds to backtrack to years & years prior in GREAT DETAIL. All the details of many arguments. We do not need to know so much detail. One or two examples and we get the egotist the murderer is. And we get the trap the wife refuses to try to get out of. Typical abused wife syndrome. Then he proceeds to RETELL the details of the night of the murder.
I kept skimming over pages to get through the arguments of he said, she said. BORING!!!!
At 480 pages of small print, it was not worth my time.


View all my reviews

Ruthless (The House of Rohan, #1)Ruthless by Anne Stuart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fiction-Victorian Romance/Adventure: Oooooh, you've seen the talk shows on TV. We are attracted to the "bad boys". That's the theme in this book. Viscount Rohan lives a hedonistic lifestyle. To outsiders he's the "King of Hell" & "drinks the blood of virgins".
I could never fall for...oh, but when he talks in that silky, smooth way... No, I couldn't, but um, that look, the gentle touch....Ok, I've fallen for the bad guy. Is he really so bad?
Great character development, in which you really care for the down & out sisters who want the best for each other and are each willing to sacrifice for their sister. And as for Lord Rohan, you are anticipating that he'll not be so bad after all.
Very erotic, but not raunchy.
I'll be starting Reckless (Bk 2 of series) today.


View all my reviews

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reviews

SANDY CREEK COE PARKJasper, TX 75951
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Not much rambling today, just need to catch up on our reviews.

FOOD & BEVERAGE:

Chef Scott: Breakfast 5 out of 5

Eggs over easy: sprinkled with salt & pepper. Perfectly done with a slightly runny yolk.
Bacon: We have in the past tried different brands of bacon for the one we prefer. We have found 2 that are consistently excellent. One is from the PA. Dutch Store in Collingswood, NJ. They have a maple bacon, that is delicious and you can really get the maple flavor throughout. Since that was an hour away from us while living in NJ and now we are no longer in NJ, this bacon is not an option. Surprisingly, our go to bacon is Oscar Mayer LOW SODIUM bacon.  We purchased it one day because that was all that was available. We love it!!

Home Fries: Superb! Scott gets this side dish right 95% of the time. And when he gets it right, it's heaven.
The only downside to Scott's cooking is he takes a loooooong time. By the time he finished cooking breakfast it was 1pm. I've been up since 6:30am and had my toast & coffee, so I'm ready for his breakfast, my lunch.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Relish, hot & sweet:
This recipe was given to me from a co-worker, 20 yrs ago, while working in the finance dept. of the Post Office, at the Mon. P&DC in Eatontown, NJ. Thank you Jeff B.


7 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, peppers diced small
2 regular sized onion, diced small
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 tsps. salt (optional)

Put all prepared ingredients in a pot.
Bring to boil.
Reduce heat.
Simmer for at least 30 minutes or until liquid thickens.
Makes approximately 1 pint
*Add more peppers if you like a little more heat.

You can make a larger batch and "can" them, but since I've never canned, I'm afraid to try it.
I add this to tuna salad, egg salad, salmon salad. Both Scott & I like it on hot dogs & hamburgers also.  This is a constant in our home. We make sure there is room for a container always in our small RV fridge.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
PICKETT HOUSE in Woodville, TX:
Mixed reviews. Scott's rating 3.5 out of 5   My (Debbie's) rating 2 out of 5
Pickett House-Heritage Museum on Urbanspoon
This home style restaurant gets very good reviews on Urban Spoon, my "go to" reference for restaurants. I think people are swayed because it is "all you can eat" for $10.00. Unfortunately, I couldn't each much because the food wasn't very good.
Atmosphere: Very casual. Picnic tables with checkered vinyl covers. Dinner served family style.
Fried Chicken - Scott 4.5 out of 5, Deb 4 out of 5: Crispy breading, not greasy and moist chicken.  Nothing special about the breading to make it stand out, but was very good.
Chicken & Dumplings - Scott 3 out of 5, Deb 1 out of 5: DISGUSTING! Couldn't find any chicken, just chicken flavor.  Dumplings were the flat pasta style, which is how Scott makes his Chicken Pot Pie. These dumplings were a glutinous glob of starch. I love carbohydrates, so I normally like any kind of starch, but I couldn't swallow these...ugh! I think they were sitting too long in the chicken broth. No seasoning either, except maybe a little poultry seasoning. Very gloppy, chickenless, and bland.
Green Beans - 3.5 out of 5: These were definitely canned, which makes green beans somewhat mushy, but there was some kind of flavor mixed in that made these very interesting. Couldn't figure out the flavor, but I did go back for seconds. If the beans were crispier (frozen at least instead of canned), I would have rated much higher.
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy - Scott 4 out of 5, Deb 1 out of 5: I don't think Scott's opinion on mashed potatoes qualify. He LIKES INSTANT! I'm not saying these were instant, but if they were "real", they were mixed with water, not milk. The only thing that saved this, was the gravy was tasty.
Biscuits - 4 out of 5: May be home made or near enough. These would have been great over some sausage gravy or chipped beef (SOS).
Cole Slaw - 4 out of 5: Sweet & tasty
Beets - 4 out of 5: Pickled, sweet & refreshing (of course I love beets!)
Watermelon rind - 4 out of 5: Pickled, sweet & refreshing. Tasted sort of like a bread & butter pickle. This was a first for me.
Peach cobbler - 2 out of 5: The peach filling was warm and tasty...what little of it there was.  The crust may have been flaky when first made, but was rubbery when we got it. Fresh baked from the oven, this would probably be a 5 out of 5.
Scott would return for the all you can eat chicken. My opinion, go have fun by yourself. I won't return.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2010, French: My rating 3 out of 5.

I think this was just "weak". It's only been a week since I drank it, but can't remember it. That's proof of the averageness of this wine. 
While searching for a photo of the label, I came across an interesting website/blog reviewing cheap wines. This reviewer is much more knowledgeable than I am, so it may be worth checking out his comments and description of this wine. Check out WINE WELFARE I will not purchase again.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Newman's Own Merlot 2009, California: My rating 4.5 out of 5.
What a pleasant surprise! I just bought this on a whim because I knew the profits go to charity & it was under $10.00.  This may be my new "go to" wine!!! It does have a fruitiness to it, but not sweet. It also seems to have a very slight fizz. I'm sure there's some specific wine review term, but I don't know it. This is a wine, I'm enjoying swirling in my mouth. Smooth, tart, fruity, fairly bold, with that touch of tingle. I bought this at Walmart for $8.88! I'll be purchasing this again & again.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BOOKS:

Audio:
Open SeasonOpen Season by C.J. Box
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Fiction, murder mystery:

Although this seems to get good reviews from Good Reads, Audible, and my husband. I did not like this AUDIO book.  I was not involved in the characters, although I felt bad for the bungling game warden who is the main character. He had a lot of stress in his life,which just seemed to depress me.  A good guy that couldn't seem to get a break.


View all my reviews

Friday, February 24, 2012

The day after

SANDY CREEK COE PARKJasper, TX 75951
------------------------------------------------------------------------
It is starting to sink in, that we no longer have the responsibility of our NJ house.  I was in it for almost 23yrs. and my husband for about 18yrs.
I've gone through many boyfriends in that house, one of which was very mentally abusive. That could be another blog, "Great Escape from  _ _ _". That's quite a story.
I entertained the Air Force Reservists for Easter dinner at this house during Desert Storm.
4 cats, 4 foster kittens, 6 dogs, a few foster dogs, many foster guinea pigs, 2 pet rats & 1 parrot have come & gone at this house.
Our wedding was held in the back yard in 1994.
I've gone from a 20 something thin, single woman to a middle aged frumpy woman, here in Neptune, NJ.
Good memories, bad memories, but such is life.
I hated this house and am glad I'm rid of it. Live & learn.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Houseless, but not HOMEless.

video
Yes, WE FEEL GOOD! Garfield is doing our "happy dance"!

After much $ to fix the house up for sale, much stress, but a fairly easy & fairly quick sale (within 3 months), we no longer own property in NJ. 
WE HAVE ESCAPED from NEW JERSEY!!!!! 
Our house "closed" today 2/23/12. 
No more high NJ property taxes
No more electric, gas, sewer, water, & termite bills.
No more cutting the grass, shoveling the snow.

...well, at least until (if) we decide to settle somewhere else.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I miss...

SANDY CREEK COE PARKJasper, TX 75951
------------------------------------------------------------------------
NO, I DO NOT MISS NEW JERSEY!!! 

FOOD:
But, there are certain conveniences of living in a highly populated state.
I miss Costco. I never did a lot of shopping there and probably never made up in savings to cover the $55. annual membership fee. I thought of that fee as more of an "entertainment" fee. I enjoyed going to Costco and finding new items that I don't find in a regular grocery store. Much of their packaged items are EXCELLENT. 
Such as...
I miss the tub of Chicken Salad. Very unhealthy, but very delicious. Lots of chicken chunks, with walnuts (I think), mayo, cranberries...mmmm. 
I miss the canned Salmon (boneless). This salmon comes in a can like tuna.  I love salmon salad sandwiches. 
I miss the huge bottle of Glucosamine/Chondroiton we use for our 8 yr old English Setter. This is a bottle of 375, 1500mg for under $20.

I miss the double pack jar of natural peanut butter. Almost every morning I have whole grain toast with peanut butter & jam. I also toast a slice with peanut butter and give to our dogs & an itty piece for our parrot.
Since I eat so much peanut butter, I thought it best to not use regular peanut butter any more with all the crap they add to it to keep it smooth and creamy. Natural peanut butter's only ingredients are peanuts & salt. Now that I've been using natural peanut butter, it is difficult to enjoy the regular peanut butter. It taste like a mouth full of grease.
I miss the Terra sweet potato chips. I can get these at Walmart I believe, but much more expensive. That reminds me that I love the sweet potato & beet chips (not at Costco) even better! I'll have to keep a look out for them. 
And this reminds me that


A close 2nd is Indiana Kettle Corn (not at Costco).

For those sheltered folks who've never had the pleasure of tasting Kettle Corn, it is popcorn that is salty & sweet.  The combo is incredible.






But, I've become sidetracked! This "what I miss" subject started, because 
I miss Bagels!!!! Oh, to have a lightly toasted blueberry bagel with cream cheese. Please do not say I can get bagels in any supermarket. Those prepackaged, mass produced bagels fresh or frozen are just a glob of dough. I have yet to find a bagel store in Texas. That is one of the sacrifices I've made to not only live this full time RV lifestyle, but to also live in the more isolated, less populated areas.
The small sacrifice is well worth the HUGE BENEFITS of this wonderful lifestyle.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FOOD: RESTAURANT REVIEW
Our Camp Hosts said that Cedar Tree Restaurant was very good. So off we went. Cedar Tree is a casual place with a friendly staff.
CEDAR Tree Restaurant on Urbanspoon  Started off with a huge heap of fried onion rings. Delicious. Nothing fancy about the batter, but it was tasty. The onions were nice and sweet. The dipping sauce seemed to be a combo of ketchup & mayo mixed together with some Cajun spices. Scott usually dips his fried onion rings in ketchup, but he liked the dipping sauce so much he didn't use ketchup this time. Plenty of onion rings for 2-3 people.Would definitely order this appetizer again.
Scott ordered the 12oz. rib eye steak. He normally doesn't order steak other than prime rib in restaurants, but since he was planning on having rib eye at home until I said we were going out, he ordered it.
Scott said it was one of the best pieces of meat he's had in a restaurant. He wished he could cook steak that nicely. His baked potato was perfect. His dinner came with a house salad that was larger than you'd expect a salad with dinner to be. We would order this meal again.
I had the Chicken Monterey over rice with a choice 2 sides. I chose mac & cheese and coleslaw. The mac & cheese was cheesy,creamy & buttery. The coleslaw was a sweet slaw & delicious. The chicken was moist with sauteed green peppers & mushrooms on top with a slice of monterey jack cheese melted on top. It was good, but average. Would probably opt for a different main course next time.
Water was served with ice & a lemon wedge.
Only complaint is although, Brooke, our waitress was very nice, she did rush us through even though the restaurant was not busy.  Our appetizer of onion rings came at the same time as our salad & meal. Then she gave us our check without asking if we'd like desert and/or coffee.
We plan on returning for their lunch buffet from 11-3.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

RV:
The campground is finally starting to drain. Because of all the heavy rain, we had small ponds (not puddles) throughout our section. Our site (#35) was fine.
The campground electric went out a couple of early evenings ago. Camp hosts went around letting us all know. Of course most, if not all already figured it out when our lights went out, etc.
We decided to go out to dinner & along the way saw the electric company working on a pole. Sure enough, by the time we got back, power was back on.



RV MODS:
We go from warm temperatures during the day to cool to very cold at night. The thermostat that came with the RV is crap! It works in that it does regulate the temperature in a general way. It has a sliding gauge that is not very accurate. I finally asked Scott if he thought he could replace it with a digital thermometer. He went out the same day and finished the job.  Wow! Scott is much better at completing "honey-do's" now that he is retired and only has the RV to worry about.
This new thermostat is working beautifully. I believe it has 4 programs you can set for on/off, temps, times, etc. We are very happy with the HUNTER PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT we purchased at Walmart for $24.99.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CRAFTS:
Hopefully, we are out of this rainy period. Texas has presented us with mostly dreary or rainy days. Yesterday was almost perfect. I spent most of the day outside. In the morning, I made a campfire and the smoke was kind enough to stay away from me. Then for most of the rest of the day, I listened to podcasts and continued my counted cross stitch project.
Speaking of projects, I am still trying to use up the "chiengora" yarn (our dogs' spun fur). I don't think I ever mentioned who spun this up for me.  Check out STONYCREEK ETSY SHOP. Diane was a friend from the WHAT'S THE SCOOP, knitting night. What's the Scoop also has wonderful ice cream. Our favorite was the blueberry ice cream, but not always available.
Ryley 2001-2011
Lyla 8yr old

Left: English Setter, Right: Irish Setter

A couple of weeks back I finished DIAGONAL STRIPED SCARF, made with "chiengora".
A couple of days ago, I finished the TWIZZLER BERET, made with "chiengora"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
BOOKS:
Dangerous Love by Catherine Lanigan 
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Fiction & "Romance"?:
SELF-love is the most dangerous love.
One man, three women. Each woman describing how they saw life leading up to and during their "romance" with the same man.
Also this man's point of view and what effect his death has on everyone.
Held my interest, but wouldn't really recommend as a good read.



AUDIO:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (#3 & final book of series The Hunger Games

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fiction, fantasy, suspense:
The first 2 books of the series were better, but of course you HAVE to read the final book. I've become so entrenched in the characters, you NEED to find out their outcome.
Unfortunately, the outcome was anti-climatic, but I must say more realistic, than my version of a more interesting ending would have been.
I highly recommend this series. This is among my top 10 books of all time.







Friday, February 17, 2012

Almost "houseless"!


SANDY CREEK COE PARKJasper, TX 75951
------------------------------------------------------------------------
We are hopefully being released from the prison we call New Jersey, very soon, if all goes as planned on FEBRUARY 22! That is our closing date for the sale of our house in Neptune, NJ.  The sale price is $225,000. We are paying $6560. in property taxes a year. That is about $540. PER MONTH. Just to pay taxes on the house!!!!
Our lot is a 100' x 75' corner lot. 1800 square foot home. RIDICULOUS!
Our house was listed at $239,000. in November 2011. We are VERY FORTUNATE that with 60+ homes for sale in the 1 square mile area of Shark River Hills (Neptune Twp), we sold our house in 3 months.

RV:
We are enjoying Sandy Creek Park. We have a very private site at the end of the park and surrounded by B.A. Steinhagen Lake.
Our Site #35 is where the tent icon is.
No sewer hook up (dump station)
Large sites, spread apart.
Bathrooms ok
No laundry
Camp Hosts nice
Verizon internet works great
Verizon & AT&T cell phones work.
Lots of Armadillos scurrying around.
Dogs allowed, plenty of open areas to tie out without tangling.

FOOD & BEVERAGE:
Elija's Cafe in Jasper, TX: My rating 2 out of 5

Elijah's Cafe on Urbanspoon

This is not a "cafe" but a moderately priced family restaurant. Read mixed reviews, but on the whole was rated well.
Upon entering was greeted by hostess and asked if we wanted table or booth, which was nice. Many times when there is only a party of two, a booth is not an option, since it can seat 4 people. 
We were given a basket of warm rolls with whipped butter that seemed to have honey or some kind of sweet ingredient added. Rolls were just packaged type, but were fluffy, warm and good, especially with the whipped butter.
Placed our order of  appetizer sampler consisting of fried zucchini, mushrooms, & onion rings for $9.95. For dinner, I ordered Grilled Catfish & Scott ordered Granny Fay's Meatloaf.

Wait 10 minutes...

                            Wait 20 minutes... Waitress asks if we'd like more rolls & cornbread. Yes, please.
              
                                                         Wait 30 minutes....No bread brought, but we did finally get our HUGE appetizer AND our dinner salad AT THE SAME TIME.  But unfortunately, huge does not mean good. With the appetizer were two dipping sauces. Your average ranch and honey mustard. The breading on all the fried items seems to be the same blah taste. I felt like I was just eating fried flour over veggies. Scott seemed to like it better than I did. I only ate a few of each and didn't want to waste the calories or my appetite on these bland items. Would not order again.
Scott enjoyed his large house salad with a lot of variety of ingredients. I had a Cesar salad. Basically romaine lettuce, with what tasted to me like RANCH dressing, and shredded cheese on top. Would not order again.

Wait 10 minutes....again asked if we'd like more rolls & cornbread. Yes, please. Still never received them after the first offering. In the meantime, we have piled our salad plates & bread basket at the end of the table. This was never cleared away no matter how many times our waitress passed by.

                              Wait 20 minutes....thank goodness we brought books to read. No plates cleared, no bread brought (never did get a chance to try the cornbread), no apologies.

We gave up.  Got up to pay at the register for what we did eat. Long line to be seated and to pay. This gave us a chance to discuss with other patrons, their experience. The people who came in AFTER us, received their order before us, but it was the wrong order. They ordered Chicken Fried Steak and received Chicken Fried Chicken. Luckily, no one seemed to get angry about the terrible experience. We asked the hostess if they were shorthanded and she said that 2 out of 3 cooks called out. This on VALENTINE'S DAY too! 
Although the waitress was pleasant, we felt even with all the confusion, she should have remembered to bring more bread, if for nothing else, but to keep us occupied while waiting for our meal.  Our waitress also never apologized or explained the situation.  I did make a point to give her a partial tip, since it wasn't her fault we didn't receive our meal.

So it is unfair to to really rate this restaurant by our experience. If you don't have enough help, there's only so much 1 chef can do to make up for 2 not present.

-----------------------------------------

Smitty's Smokehouse in Jasper, TX. Our rating 4 out of 5

Smitty's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

We ordered take out. Very casual dining room.
Smitty's also sells various jar items, such as jellies and relish, etc. They have samples open to try.

I ordered Combo meal with 2 meats & 2 sides for $10.95 Meats were ribs & smoked sausage. Sides were potato salad & dirty rice.
Scott ordered Combo meal with 3 meats & 2 sides for $11.95. Meats were ribs, brisket, & smoked chicken. Sides were baked beans & twice baked potatoes.

Ribs: Very good, moist and not a lot of fat. Nice smokey flavor with a subtle rub on the outside. Would order again.
Smoked sausage: Excellent. Not sure what kind of sausage, sort of like a kielbasa, but with more flavor & substance. Just a little bite and some snap. Would order again.
Smoked chicken: Good. Smokey taste and not too dry. Take it or leave it.
Brisket: Good. Moist. Would probably not order again. I don't think we like brisket in general.
Potato salad: Very good. Flavor was really good. I just didn't like the consistency which seemed to be cut potatoes & mashed potatoes. Would order again.
Dirty rice: Very good. Was "real" rice, not instant. Very nice combo of flavors with some bite to it. Would order again.
Baked beans: Good. Seemed to be doctored up canned beans. Would probably order again, if I want beans.
Twice baked potato: Very good. Served in a small container, not in it's skin with the meat of potato added back in.  This was more liked smashed potatoes with skin. Sounds bad, but actually quite good. Would order again.
Pinto Beans: Nothing special, but still good.
Blackberry Cobbler: Excellent, maybe a little too sweet.
Pecan pie: Good. Since this is my first time trying Pecan Pie, I was pleasantly surprised.  I thought it was just going to be a gooey, overly sweet filling. This was very nice. Filling sweet, but not overpowering. Plenty of flavorful pecans on top. Crust pretty good also.
We plan to make another stop here for more sausage & ribs, before we leave Jasper, TX.
Blackberry Preserves: Smitty's sells jarred dips, pickles and jams. We tried their Blackberry Preserves. No flavor at all. Just tastes like sugar jelly...no berry taste at all.

SIGHTS:
In researching this area, there really isn't much to do as far as tourist areas. 
Seems since entering Texas, we've had more rainy days than clear days. There doesn't seem to be many trails at this park. So we've been basically staying inside and just enjoying relaxed days of reading, tv watching, web surfing, etc.  The dogs have been really good about just relaxing inside also.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Woo Hoo!

SANDY CREEK COE PARK, Jasper, TX 75951
------------------------------------------------------------------------
RV: Just 10 short miles away and we are almost in paradise! It's amazing how much lighter our mood is now that we've moved to this park!  We went from truck & car noise, to the sweet tweets of flocks of Robins, yes, Scott saw a flock or Robins here! I guess they are also "escaping NJ"!

We arrived at this park late yesterday afternoon. It was overcast & drizzly. But it's 1000% better than our previous park.  Compare our view here (below) to our view in a previous post of a tractor trailer whizzing by.
Back window view
Above is what I see while having my coffee & toast in my easy chair in the morning.
Below is what I'm looking at right now while on my computer. Almost heaven.

Side window from computer
Do you see another RV in site? No! We do have neighbors but they are out of sight from inside the RV. Even outside the sites are far enough apart to give us privacy.

FOOD & BEVERAGE:
We have a few places we want to eat in Jasper, TX. There is not much touristy sight seeing, but there are quite a few casual type restaurants and bbq we want to try.

Olives have become quite a popular snack item. You can find Olive bars (like salad bars) in larger grocery stores and also in Italian markets.  Some are great, others so so. Well, Scott found a consistently delicious garlic stuffed olive packaged in the condiment aisle of many grocery stores.
Mezzetta Garlic Stuffed Olives: My rating 5 out of 5
Delicious. Not too salty, not too tart. We both have a difficult time stopping at 2 or 3. They are pricey, but are consistently delicious.

Barton & Guestier Beaujolais-Villages 2007 French wine: My rating 5 out of 5
Very, very nice dry red.  Smooth going down, with a slight tart, almost bubbly taste on the tongue, but no disagreeable after taste. At $14.00, I probably would not buy again, since I usually find ALMOST as good wines for under that price.  I had a moment of weakness, as I am down to one bottle of wine and didn't want to run out. The smoke/wine shop had little selection, so I "splurged" on this so I wouldn't be without any wine.

In the past, I have enjoyed Georges Duboeuf  Beaujolais-Villages French wine: My rating 5 out of 5
I used to buy this by the case when on sale at the Shop Rite Wine Shop in Neptune, NJ. Normally around $10., but would go on sale for $6.99! Beside an easy wine to drink, this also has a cool flowered cork, if you are into collecting them.
And one last wine
Bogle Merlot California wine: My rating 4.5 out of 5
This is my "go to" wine. I usually find it around $12.99, but it goes on sale a lot for about $8.99, when I will buy 6 bottles to a case.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Goodbye traffic noise

JASPER, TX 75951

We are leaving Double Heart RV Park. I did sit outside the last couple of afternoons and cross stitch on the picnic table. Definitely kept my headphones on to drown out the truck noise 200 feet away.

Next time I blog, we'll still be in Jasper, TX but a much quieter atmosphere. Onward to SANDY CREEK COE PARK! We've already met the camp hosts who love dogs and are very nice. 

On our last walk around the neighborhood behind the RV park, I took some photos. Once you left the RV park, you could find some nice places to walk.
You don't see these in NJ in early February!

This A_ _ didn't like us.

Looks like a Panda bear!
BOOKS:
Finished "Greygallows"
GreygallowsGreygallows by Barbara Michaels
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fiction: 1800's Mystery
Not a lot of romance in this book, more ghosts, curses, forced marriage. Kind of depressing, but it held my interest.  Nothing really unexpected.


View all my reviews



AUDIO: 
Finished "Now You See Her"
Now You See HerNow You See Her by James Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fiction-Suspense:
About a teenage girl's mistake and her life hiding that mistake, and then the outcome. Worth the read, but not one of James Patterson's best work.


View all my reviews


Friday, February 10, 2012

Westward we go

DOUBLE HEART RV PARK Jasper, TX 75951
------------------------------------------------------------------
Both Scott & I haven't realized how far from NJ we are. Since we've been traveling just 100-300 miles a day, we have slowly gone further & further West, but it hasn't felt like it's that far until we realize want a trek it would be if we had to return to NJ for some reason. Ugh!  I really have no desire to return.  I suppose partly because I'm so familiar with NJ, & didn't like it, that I have the image in my mind so fresh.

I was talking to the worker in the park office today about traveling. She was telling me of places in the West to visit.  I asked if she'd ever been to New England. She sighed and said she always wanted to go to Bar Harbor, Maine. She imagined a cool fishing village. To us NJ'ians, New England was where we went often for vacation. Odd to hear someone wistfully imagine visiting there. Like it is some far off State. But in reality, it is from here in TX. It's like us thinking of Oregon as a far off State. I'm rambling...
----------------------------------------
Scott brought our Ford F350 to Jasper Ford Lincoln dealer. $1381.07 later he walked out with a fixed truck.
Had to have the FICM replaced (Fuel Injection Controller Module). Also, had some other injectors flushed. The engine light had been on and it had been starting very rough. After service the truck is starting better & running quieter.

RV:
I've definitely had enough of this rv park. The manager is nice enough, but this is not a place to relax outside and enjoy the scenery,unless you enjoy watching trucks & cars pass by.

Today, we spent the day looking at other local parks. They are all only about 10-15 miles from where we are now.  Instead of looking out the busy highway, we'll be looking out onto the busy with wildlife B.A. Steinhagen Lake.
We checked out MARTIN DIES, JR. STATE PARK. We can't really rate it never having stayed in the park, but from the quick drive through, it was really nice. W&E, no sewer. The staff were very nice & helpful. There are variety of sites, mostly all surrounds by trees. Some more private than others.  Lakeside sites available.  I would have no problem staying in this park.
We then went to SANDY CREEK US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS PARK. This also has lakeside sites, some pull thrus. W & E, no sewer.  We met the camp hosts at the office and they were super friendly, but not in a pushy way.
Our third stop was and MAGNOLIA RIDGE COE PARK.  This is a nice park also. The sites are more spread apart, with lakeside sites, but the lake on this side is more like swamp with cypress trees rising from the water. We went on a dreary day and it just reminded me of a very spooky place. At the end of the park are a couple of sites large enough for big rigs also, that are pretty secluded. We would also stay here. 
We had to choose among the 3, so we chose Sandy Creek. 

PETS:
A couple of days ago my computer was out of commission. Thank you very much Devil, oops, I mean Devin! Devin being an Irish Setter, makes him active and always looking for birds, cats, whatever. Devin being only 1 yr old, makes him even more active.
We tend to have to keep the shades down in the RV because Devin will go from window to window to see what's moving outside. I usually leave the small window shade by my computer up. BIG MISTAKE. Both Lyla & Devin have learned to either use the chair or the table to put their feet on to look outside. The problem is, if they use the chair, many times their feet slip and they step on the CPU for balance. Many times they step right on the on/off switch and they shut down the computer improperly. Or they will put their feet on the table (when we take the chair away). My keyboard keeps getting in their way. So they just put their paws on the keyboard and my computer goes all wacky because of who knows what keys they pressed. One time, I had screen icons so large only 2 or 3 would fit on the screen!
After Devin had his fill of looking outside, using my CPU & keyboard as a ledge, my computer would not get out of "repair" mode. Scott thinks he may have stepped on the off switch while also stepping on the keyboard. Ugh!
I NEED my computer for my rescue work.
So while Scott spent a day trying to fix it, I used my laptop. It was kind of nice sitting in the easy chair with my legs up and my laptop in my...LAP! What a concept! I was able to do most of my rescue work on my laptop because I could access the files on my regular computer via DROPBOX.  That program has been a lifesaver for me many times.  In the past while vacationing, I was able to access files on my home computer, on my laptop. It enables me to access my files from any computer.  I think it is called "cloud" technology. Check Dropbox out. I'm very happy with it.  
Scott was able to get my computer up & working again. Thank you sweetie!

FOOD & BEVERAGE:
We ordered "take out" from the Hamburger Depot (no website), which had good reviews from Urban Spoon. My rating 3.5 out of 5, (onion rings 4.5 out of 5).  
Hamburger Depot on Urbanspoon
We both ordered the small cheeseburgers (large is 1/2 pound!). Scott had onion rings & fries. I had sweet potato fries.  The burgers were good, not great. They seemed to be hand made but were somewhat dry. They remind me of a BK Whopper, but with a thicker burger. Toppings were onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles. I really like the fact that they toast the bun. The onion rings were excellent. The fries just average to slightly below average. I would return for the onion rings and since I'm there, go ahead and order a burger.

Currently drinking La Vendemmia Cabernet Veneto. This is an 2009 Italian red wine. 

After drinking the Duplin wine which was a little sweet for me, I had to get used to the dryness of this red. At first I was put off by the oakiness? I think that is the taste I get. But now my 2nd day into the bottle, I'm really enjoying this. Another under $10. purchase. I would buy again.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

JASPER, TX 75951

DOUBLE HEART RV PARK Jasper, TX 75951
Woo Hoo! TX! Let's see if TX is a impressive, as we've been led it to be all these years.

I've added a link to Scott's facebook page HERE and also on the left sidebar. He's been adding his view of our RV travels there.  When I went to facebook to find the link, I realized, I'm not even friends with Scott on facebook!  I had to send a friend request! (He accepted me as his friend)

RV PARK REVIEW: 
Feb. 7 - Feb. 13, 2012 (left 1 day early)
DOUBLE HEART RV RESORT Jasper, TX
$18./day (weekly rate)
Our rating 1.5 out of 5. Would not come back.
Scott picked this one out.  We've been mainly staying at State Parks, so I was surprised he chose a private park. It was the sewer hookup and only $25. a night that got him.  We could pay almost the same at a State Park/Nat'l Forest, but have no sewer. WHAT A MISTAKE!!!! It's not Scott's fault (I keep trying to assure him of that). I agreed to try it also.
The sites are actually pretty level, consisting of gravel with grass in between.  ALL are pull-through (the other feature that tempted Scott to forsake a state park!). BUT, we are right next to State Hwy. 63. I mean literally right next to this major highway with trucks flying by at 70 mph.  No sound barrier at all.  No view, well, of course there is a view, just not a nice view!
There are pvc picnic tables at some sites. Other sites have wooden conversion seat/picnic tables. They convert from a bench with a back, then flip the back over and it turns into 1/2 a picnic table. Put two together and makes a full picnic table.  Kinda nice.

+Nice horse/dog trails behind campground
-Right on busy highway with truck noise all day (This is why rated so low.)
+Nice clean laundy
+Clean bathrooms
+Free wi-fi: good
+Dog Friendly
+All pull thrus
+Full hook up
Internet: Verizon good, Sprint no reception
Cell Phone: Verizon good, AT&T no reception

We were wondering where we were going to go to take the dogs for exercise. A little walk around the 24 site park is fine for potty, but not enough to keep 1yr old Devin satisfied. Even the little stream is almost stagnant. There's a 20 foot long piece of plastic sheeting hanging over a log and laying in the stream. Not a pretty site. The one saving grace for this place is that behind this RV park is an equine camp. If you want to tent camp, then that may be a nice park. There are about 15 grassy/dried leaves sites with water & electric and each site has a little horse corral to keep your horse safe overnight. So what do you do when you camp with horses? Rides the local trails of course. That is the hidden "easter egg" for Double Heart RV & Equine Park.
They have nice trails for the horses, or for our dogs.  We haven't met a horse on the trail yet, but have seen some horse piles. The trails in the woods BEHIND the campground are actually quite nice. You should avoid going to the right, where there are two dogs chained outside. Sad, but they look like they are in a healthy condition anyway.

SIGHTS:
Scott will have a chance to visit the town of Jasper today.  About 20 miles from our destination, the engine light came up.  Scott was freaking. He didn't know if he should pull over immediately or try to push it the 20 miles. You have a different way of thinking when you are pulling a 35' RV. The truck sounded & felt like it was running ok, the dials didn't show any problems. We made it to Double Heart and after set up, Scott called the Ford dealer in Jasper. So here's hoping they don't rip us off too badly.  Scott is the worrier. My attitude, is what can we do? It has to be looked at and we just have to do as they suggest because we are pulling a 35' RV & traveling. I hope for the best, but prepare for a high bill.

FOOD & BEVERAGE:

Finished a bottle of DUPLIN Carolina BURGUNDY, a dry muscadine wine. I believe I bought this at a wine shop in Florida.  Under $10.00. It is described as full bodied. I don't think so.  I have a difficult time even considering this wine a DRY red.  It is on the sweet side, like a Zinfandel would be. I drink my red wine at room temperature, but this would probably be better slightly chilled. This would probably be a decent wine to give as a gift to someone who you don't know their taste. It is neither very dry, nor very sweet. I would not purchase again. This is purely according to MY TASTE.

BOOKS: 
I need to amend my current reading. I can't start "Chesapeake Blue" by Nora Roberts. I found out this is the LAST book in a 4 book series. I'll have to see if I can get the other 3 cheaply.

Currently reading:  "GreyGallows" by Barbara Michaels. Yep, another girly 1800's romance.
I write on the inside cover page when I read the book, where I read the book and my blog address.  Then I leave the book at the campground either in the laundry room or ladies bathroom. I noticed this book had a location & date already. April 1993, Wenatchee, WA. I just find that interesting.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Snug as a bug

It's been stormy the last two days. Heavy rains, some lightning, etc. The weather spoiled our plans of going to see another plantation & running errands.

NJ: Speaking of errands, we were supposed to go to the Post Office on Sat. to send the title for Scott's Yamaha Venture motorcycle to NJ. We've sold it. No more paying storage fees.
But with the heavy rain, we decided to just stay snug as a bug in a rug, inside our RV. The Post Office will have to wait until Monday.
RV: We got a knock on our door yesterday afternoon.  It was the park ranger letting us know that their is an electrical problem with the pump that regulates the park water pressure. May not be fixed for a week! Scott had noticed the drop in pressure when taking a shower last night. We were offered a site at the other loop of the campground, a refund, or the option to stay put and just fill up our tanks. Scott was napping at the time, so I didn't want to wake him to make the decision quite yet. Really no big deal for us.  We had water in our fresh tank to last a few days, or since we don't have reservations for our next stop, we could just move early. What a great life, freedom to just move when needed.  Before Scott even woke from his nap, the ranger was back saying they will have it worked on in the a.m.  Sure enough, by 9a.m. the next morning, the pressure was great again.

With Scott being the cook in the family, I tend to let him get what appliances he wants. While purging our home, that was difficult to purge pots, pan, grills, etc. But if is amazing, our much excess you have that are just used occasionally.

We had a small Foreman Grill which I liked, except for cleaning. Scott bought a "better" Foreman Grill which I hate. It is large, & bulky. The only improvement was the heat plates come off for easy cleaning. So we pack this grill in the RV. It takes up a whole cabinet space, so I resent that. To take it down to use is awkward, so I resent that.  Scott decides maybe an electric griddle might be more user friendly.

Scott also uses a toaster oven quite often, even when we lived in a house. We have a nice Black & Decker toaster oven that can fit a pizza in to cook.  Very nice oven, but again bulky and has only one use.

Off to Walmart we go.  We pick up a RIVAL ELECTRIC GRIDDLE & a OSTER CONVECTION TOASTER OVEN. Scott has used both a couple of times, and so far he is very happy with them.
But now, what do we do with the Foreman Grill & the old toaster oven?? Scott had the great idea of offering them to the park ranger for their lunch room. Even though we are both retired, we well remember how important having those conveniences in our lunch rooms were. The park ranger happily took them off our hands. Two new items in, two old items out.

Now to the present time: It's been raining for two days. We don't mind much. It gives us an excuse to sit around and be lazy. Wait...we're retired! We don't need an excuse! I have to be living in a dream. This life is too good to be true! Scott stayed in the bedroom most of the day, watching TV.  He does miss having a couch, so the bed is his couch. Doesn't bother me because I get the rest of the RV to myself. While watching TV, Scott is also reading the 2nd part of the Hunger Games, "Catching Fire", on his kindle. I spent the day scanning more craft books into the computer, finding more knitting & crocheting projects to do. I also worked on A&B ES RESCUE applications & home visits, which is part of my daily routine. Also sat in my comfy chair and read. In between all this activity, I did have to don my crocs, raincoat, & umbrella to take the dogs out for walks. The weather was very very rainy, with lots of puddles, but at least it wasn't cold & windy also.

DOGS: This is the 3rd or 4th day, that Devin is moving forward to the kind of dog we want. He's still not a cuddler, but will come over for a good massage...who wouldn't? Just think of how often dogs & cats get massages from their humans. If only Scott would massage my skull & back 1/2 as much....sigh. Lucky dogs! We're still half-heartedly working on  recall. But the step forward I'm talking about, it that he is not constantly wanting to go out or pacing the RV, or bothering Lyla.  I'm sure part of it is because all our blinds are down, but for the most part, he has found my comfy chair & the bed as his place to relax.  Makes for a much nicer, quieter day. This change in his behavior came right in the nick of time, since it's been raining for two days. The less we all have to go out the better.

BOOKS:

Fiction:

Side by SideSide by Side by John Ramsey Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Suspense/Mystery. Mother & child kidnapped. Story of their rescue & what was behind it.
I may be able to rate this a "4", but I gave it a lower rating, because I didn't look forward to reading it.  It held my interest, enough to keep reading, but wasn't a book that I wanted to sit for a couple of hours & read. The final 50 pages, were exciting and that's when I didn't want to put the book down.


View all my reviews



Start "Chesapeake Blue" by Nora Roberts
I've read 5 books by Nora Roberts and all I rated between 4 to 5 out of 5. So I'm looking forward to reading this one. Below are previous books I've read by Nora Roberts.
"Carnal Innocence" My rating 4 out of 5
"Genuine Lies" My rating 5 out of 5
"Sacred Sins" My rating 4 out of 5
"The Search" My rating 4 out of 5
"Tribute: My rating 4 out of 5

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Old South

RV:
We've been here at Natchez State Park for 8 days. There is no sewer hook up. Scott decided to lighten our load, by dumping the tanks. He used our portable sewer tote and he's still very happy with it.  He didn't even tow it with the truck.  He just pulled it along while he walked to the dump station.  Very good investment.

NJ:
Good news, our house in NJ is under contract and the home inspection has been completed. The last hurdle to jump over is the Certificate of Occupancy. That is always a stressful part of sale. You can get an ass of a municipal worker who abuses his "power" and picks at every little thing, or you can get a decent municipal worker, who takes pride in his job and requires dangers to be fixed, but doesn't pick at every little thing.
Here's hoping, we are fortunate enough to have the latter inspect our premises. We are hoping for a closing by the end of February. Quarterly taxes were due Feb. 1st, so we had to dish out, $1640.00. Hopefully, that will be our last and maybe a refund also.

SIGHTS:
LONGVIEW PLANTATION Our Rating 3.5 out of 5 Tour Price: $12.00
I would have rated this higher, if the tour guide was better. She was very quick to say her memorized info. and really didn't give much time to observe the surroundings. She did not have a love or real interest in the history as our other tour guides have at the other homes.

This is a beautiful structure though. It looks like a tiered wedding cake! 6 stories, in the round that get smaller in diameter with each level.  The top floor was to be all windows and an observatory.

Unfortunately, only the basement was finished. The Civil War came, the workers had to go to war. After the War, there was no money to continue, so the inside of this magnificent home was never finished.  I love the set up. I'd love to have a single story home in this shape. There are two center main rooms (dining room & living room). Then surrounding those center rooms are the bedrooms, sitting rooms, etc. alternating with a patio area.

We went to the unfinished second floor which gave us a view of the heart of this structure. I'd move into that second floor easily! Brick walls, hardwood floors, open floor plan.

If this were finished, the brick on both the inside & outside would be covered with stucco.  I like the brick myself.
If you look up while in the center of this 2nd floor, it is open and you can view all the upper floors shrinking in diameter.
FOOD/BEVERAGE:
MAMMY'S CUPBOARD Our Rating 3.5 out of 5
Mammy's Cupboard on Urbanspoon

Love the novelty of the building. Staff very friendly. Very simple decor, like going to Grandma's outdated home.
Reuben: The pumpernickel bread for the Reuben was delicious, but the Reuben, no so much. Enough corned beef, but not enough swiss cheese and I did not taste any kraut, which is a must for a Reuben.
Tomato vegetable soup: average, but enjoyable.
Potato salad: DELICIOUS with a touch of sweet chopped pickle mixed in.
Tues. special was Rosemary chicken:  Average. Chicken was nicely roasted, but nothing special. Gravy was delicious, but not enough.
Blueberry Lemonade: Very good. Not real sweet, not real tart. Fill ups free.
Lemon Meringue Pie: Below average. I like the tart bright yellow lemon filling. This was a muted yellow, with just a slight lemon taste. The meringue's top was a thick brown and too sticky to cut apart without a knife.
Humingbird cake: DELICIOUS. A not so sweet cake/bread with pecans? or walnuts?, coconut and cream cheese icing. Great with a cup of coffee.
While paying the bill, we got to talking with the owner/cashier about Natchez. Spoke of the author Greg Isles and how his books take place in the Natchez area.  We find out that he was brought up in Natchez and Mammy's owner has known him for years.
I would return here again if convenient.


BOOKS:
Speaking of authors, both Scott & I love Greg Isles' books. Scott has read more than I have. Below is a list of the ones I have read or listened to in the past.
The Quiet Game: My rating 5 out of 5
True Evil: My rating 5 out of 5
Turning Angel: My Rating 4 out of 5
Third Degree: My rating 5 out of 5

On to the present:

Long Lost (Myron Bolitar, #9)Long Lost by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a Myron Bolitar series. Always a good murder mystery read.


View all my reviews


Currently reading Side by Side by John Ramsey Miller
Suspense/Mystery

AUDIO:

The Rose GardenThe Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Audio, Fiction: Time travel, romance. Not really sci-fi except that it IS time travel. More of a romance.  If you like Diana Gabaldon's time travel Outlander series, you'll like The Rose Garden.


View all my reviews


Currently listening to Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. This is part 2 of The Hunger Games Trilogy.

CRAFTS:
A while back I mentioned I finished a shrug knit from my Irish Setters Ryley & Pillsbury & my English Setter, Lyla's spun fur.
Here's a photo. I love it.
I have finished the diagonal striped scarf, but it is blocking.

Our Travels