Saturday, November 28, 2009

A (Celtic) Knotty Situation

For those of you who've never met Bertha, she's Noel's motorcycle. Bertha and I are on somewhat friendly terms - I don't really like to ride, but she doesn't care.

Noel decided that this weekend was the perfect opportunity to give Bertha a major makeover. Faaaaabulous! Pass the mascara!

This is Bertha before. Note the green & white paint job. (Also, that's Noel's daughter Lauren on the back).

Yesterday, Noel painted Bertha black. Honestly, I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out. I had fears it would look like she was covered in either tar or primer.

He wanted to do some kind of cool decoration on her, and I suggested celtic knots (we both love them so much!) He loved the idea, so he got some silver pinstriping (basically a stretchy sticker that usually you use to make the long stripes on the sides of cars) and I got to work.

Here I am, measuring out the knots and drawing them on the front fender. They're basically done on a grid of dots, so it does take some measuring.

Once everything's marked out and drawn on, I started putting on the pinstriping.

Here's the fender afterwards:

And here are several side pieces with a circular design:

And here's the top of the tank. This is the same design I painted on the bedroom walls.

It connects on the sides of the tank to another knot:

So here she is....MacBertha, the Celtic Cycle! :)

Fabulous, no? I'm quite pleased, if I do say so myself. Awesome!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Post Stuffing Stuff

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We certainly did.

The feast turned out quite well, if I do say so myself, after we had to mitigate one issue with the turkey, namely that it wouldn't fit in the oven. OOPS.

We only had a turkey breast, so I had to cut away some of the ribs to make it fit.

We had to shove several pans in the oven at the same time, and had lots of stuff going on top of the oven too. I managed to make a HUGE mess while cooking.

The turkey came out great though:

And the side dishes turned out very well too!

So see? You CAN make a full thanksgiving dinner in an RV kitchen! Take THAT, Martha Stewart!

We have a lot to be thankful for this year. Here are my top 5:

(1) a wonderful friend to spend my days with (and who's also willing to get rid of spiders for me)

(2) the kitties. This was our first Thanksgiving together. They make me so happy, even when they destroy my stuff.

(3) a cute little house. It my not be large, but it's cozy and safe and homey.

(4) life adventures. I had no idea a year ago I'd be having Thanksgiving in Texas!

(5) a supportive family. It means so much more than you ever think it would.

(6) my eyes and hands, which give me the opportunity to do all the crafty stuff I love so much.

(7) that there is no List Police to tell me I went over my Top 5. Oops.

Hope everyone has a nice list of their own! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Close Quarters Cuisine (aka How To Cook In An RV)

One question we get on a fairly regular basis is about cooking and eating in an RV. These questions generally can be summed up by the following:

(1) Do you have a kitchen in the RV?

Answer: Why yes, we do. We have a gas oven with gas burners on top (3 of them), a microwave, a fridge, and a double sink.

(2) Do you cook in the RV?

Answer: Yes! We both enjoy cooking, and I do lots of baking as well.

(3) How do you cook in such a small space?

AH HA! THAT, my friends, is the trick question! The one thing missing in our kitchen is that: space. Cooking can be a bit challenging for that simple reason.

Generally, I cope with it by making only 1 or 2 things at once, and making sure to put away the ingredients as I use them. Or I use the crockpot, since it's 1 pot cooking.

However, sometimes a feast is called for! In those cases, you end up juggling a lot of stuff. Every year on the first day of fall, I like to make an Autumn Feast. This year was no different. I made marinated pork loin, dressing, roasted root vegetables, and a cobbler. As you can imagine, my work space (the new desk Noel installed) was absolutely overflowing with cooking stuff:

I decided to try cooking all of it at once (except for the cobbler), since it could all be cooked at roughly the same temperature. But! My oven isn't very big - it's much smaller than a normal oven - closer to the size of a microwave on the inside. So I got practical and started shoving:

It worked! The feast was great. It just took a little piling of pans in the oven.

One other thing to consider when cooking in an RV, however, is whether or not your RV is level. Usually when you stay in a campground, they try to keep the sites nice and even, so you don't have to use your levelers, jacks, or pieces of wood to try to make the RV level. Sometimes, however, you just can't get it exactly right. Normally it isn't very noticeable. Until you bake a cake:

Um....guess we needed to lift the RV a little more on the right. Oops.

But you know what? It still tasted just fine! And that's the important thing.

We're planning a big feast for tomorrow too. I've never made a turkey in this oven, so this might be interesting. Honestly, I don't even know if it'll fit! We got just a turkey breast, so we wouldn't have 6 months of leftovers. Here's our Thanksgiving menu:

Turkey breast


mashed sweet pototatoes with brown sugar & cinnamon

green beans

parmesan walnut salad

homemade bread with honey butter

pumpkin pie

The kitties will be having their favorite: chicken & salmon in sauce, courtesy of Nine Lives. They're already excited.

I'd better go check the bread now.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hiking & Boots (yes, more boots!)

Noel and I have had a great time over the last few days. Yesterday I made some venison stew in the crockpot, and while that was cooking, we decided to go for a walk at the local state park, Fairfield Lake.

It was so pretty!

Except some of the plant life looked a little vicious:

There was supposedly lots of wildlife there, but we only saw birds. Noel found some evidence of beaver activity though:

The other wildlife we saw was....not my favorite kind. As some of you might know, I'm slightly afraid of spiders. Ahem. So Noel, being the kind guy that he is, ran Spider Interference:

(Thankfully they don't have those gargantuan yellow spiders around here that they have in Savannah!)

One of my favorite photography subjects, the mossy fallen log:

We had a great time, walked about 6 miles, and really enjoyed the sunshine.

When we got back to the house, the venison stew was cooking away, and was quite tasty if I do say so myself! The crockpot (named Davy Crockpot) is great for RV living, since it takes up very little room and you can cook a meal in 1 pot (without having to sit there cooking all day either!).

Quick venison stew recipe:

2-3 lb. tenderloin (or pork or beef or whatever)
2 peeled & cubed potatoes
1 chopped onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can of water (use soup can)
1 pkg of beef stew flavoring
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp (or more) of minced garlic

Put the potatoes and onions in the bottom of the crock pot, then put the meat on top. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl, then pour over meat & veggies. Stir to cover everything with the sauce. You can also prick the meat with a fork or knife to help season the meat better. Cook on high for 6 hours.

Enjoy! The cream of mushroom soup makes the jucies in the crockpot turn out like a thick gravy. Very tasty!

Today we went to Dallas to see a movie (Boondock Saints 2 - very good). After the movie, we decided to check out a new western store. It had quite a bit of really fun stuff (I'm really surprised nobody's asked me to stop or leave the store or anything when I'm standing there taking pictures of stuff.)

Texans are very proud of their Texas-ness. We've all seen the bumper stickers, right? Don't Mess With Texas, etc. Anyway, they're serious! This store has something for every Texan on your list!

Kitchen looking a little too non-Texan?

Need something snazzy for the front of your car?

Pint-sized bronco-buster of the house needing more training?

Want to embrace the life philosophies of The Duke at each meal?

Man in your life who wants to smell more like burning tires and gasoline?

Let me know if you want me to pick up any of this stuff for you next time we go out shopping. Heh.

We then went to another western wear shop so Noel could check out some boots he'd been coveting. They looked so nice and were so comfortable, he went ahead and got them! He's well on his way to a full Cowboy Conversion. (Next up, a cowboy hat. Or spurs.)

Detail shot! They are pretty - you have to admit.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

These Boots Are Made For Walkin'!

We went on a juking trip today (as Noel calls it). Basically we got in the truck and drove around for several hours, taking in the sights and discovering new places.

We took a break to go to Cavender's Boot City, a western wear store, and were amazed by the variety of cowboy (and cowgirl!) boots! I figured they would have maybe 4 or 5 types: black, dark brown, light brown, rounded toe, pointy toe. Oh no, friends. They had a VAST array of boots: lime green ones, red ones, patent leather ones.

I tried on some fun ones and was so surprised at how comfy they are! Noel wanted to buy them for me, but I wouldn't let him (they're over $100 a pair, and I just couldn't justify it.)

Cavender's also had some stylin' furniture. Want something to go with your cowhide toilet seat cover? How about a table with cow horns for legs?

I have to say, these are actually pretty cool. Not sure we have room in the RV though.

We ended up after many cowfields, back in Palestine, where we couldn't help but check out some of the local architecture again. We saw this lovely and interesting house:

They have a lot of property for sale. In case you're curious about how much house you could buy in the pretty town of Palestine, TX, here you go:

Lovely, right? It was built before 1900, has over 3700 sq ft (5 bedrooms and 2.5 baths). Nice, isn't it? Wanna guess how much it's selling for?

$175,000. Really.

Noel and I found another house that we both just loved. I think it's just gorgeous, and has so much potential! Sigh. I really really REALLY would love to take this house on as a project. It was built in 1907, has 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, 3 floors, and is a fixer-upper but has had some of the work completed already.

And it's only $45,000. SERIOUSLY, I KNOW.

Would anyone want to buy this house with us? You can come visit! :) Pretty please? If someone would buy it, we'd do the work and lease it back! (*sob sniff sniff* I love this house.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Plumbing and Palestine

Chinese water torture is what it's normally called. The incessant drip, drip, drip of a faucet. It drives me INSANE. For some reason the kitchen faucet decided to torture us on Monday. I tried to put up with it, tried to reason with myself that Noel is much more qualified to do plumbing work than I am and once he got off from work, he could fix it.

However, I had the three necessary ingredients to tackle the problem:
(1) Pink tool kit
(2) Google, and
(3) Extreme frustration.

So! I did about 5 minutes of research, turned off the water supply, and started tearing stuff apart:

And a mere 2 hours later, I managed to get it fixed! Go team! :)

Noel's job finished up late on Monday night, so we've spent the last few days sightseeing and running errands. Yesterday we drove to the city of Palestine, TX to visit the Museum of East Texas Culture. On the way, we saw some of the native fauna.

Miniature donkeys and a zebra! I love them. :)

It was a great museum - laid out very nicely in an old high school building. Each room had different exhibits, and downstairs they had rebuilt an old pre-civil war cabin that had been saved from someone's farm. You could go in and see how it would've looked when in use, and it's so fascinating to look at how people truly lived in their day to day lives:

Here's the living room and kitchen:

Here's the bedroom:

They had some really cool antique living implements too. I liked these corn hullers:

They had several old carriages on display:

And from more modern times, a doctor's office. How's this for an x-ray machine?:

They also had an iron lung:

Here's the signage from the top of the iron lung. Incredible!:

They had a neat old coke cooler too:

An old stove. Imagine trying to cook Thanksgiving dinner on this!:

And my favorite, a hair curler. HEH.

Driving around Palestine, we saw some gorgeous old houses. SO many. Saw a few that were on sale and for prices ranging from $29,000 (!) to a 5 bedroom beauty (move in ready!) for only $175,000. AMAZING. These weren't for sale, but aren't they absolutely stunning?

All in all, it was a wonderful day. Tonight, we're going on a date to see a movie in Waco!