Wednesday, February 24, 2010
First, I'd like to send out a big HELLO to J.R. Ewing, who commented on the last post. Unfortunately we won't be able to visit South Fork anytime in the immediate future, but will definitely call in a raincheck. Also, hope that gunshot wound is healing nicely. :)
Well, the ups and downs of the freelance life: the Corpus Christi job fell through. However, we've heard about some great opportunities in Tennessee and North Carolina (Noel's and my home states, respectively) and so we're chasing after them. Why? Three reasons:
1. We have the flexibility to go where the work is. Take THAT, economy!
2. Fewer mosquitos = more blood still inside our bodies.
3. Summer temps generally cooler than Scorching Surface of The Sun.
Ok, ok. Yes, Texas is awesome. We totally plan to go back there. We will miss Texas (see? I said it). So in all fairness, here are 3 reasons why:
1. Great Mexican food. And BBQ. And donuts.
3. Winter = 56 and sunny. Also the boots are great.
4. Oh, and Hobby Lobby stores all over the place.
So we're heading east. We left Texas yesterday, probably overly optimistic about the length of time it would take to complete this 1054 mile sojourn. We were also tragically low on Mountain Dew. We managed to go 360 miles before stopping for the night in eastern Louisiana. Funny thing - we were researching yesterday afternoon for a campground near our location, when one of the men on the crew Noel's been working with called us to say hi, and we found out he lived about 15 miles away! Since he's a super-nice guy and also had all the RV hookups necessary for an overnight stay, we parked in his yard. His wife made dinner, we stuffed ourselves, and life was good.
Today we've made it to Birmingham, Alabama. We'll leave early tomorrow morning to try to beat the snow to Tennessee (it's like that chase scene at the end of Dracula - will we make it before the snow engulfs us? Will we be eaten alive by blood-sucking banshees? Tune in next week to find out!)
This has been an educational trip. To wit:
(1) The RV does not seem particularly fond of hills. This will be tested tomorrow in particular, as we drive into the Appalachian mountains. We may be forced to hook Poe & Loki up to a bridle and have them help pull the thing. Which would result in exactly 0.0% increase in uphill power.
(2) Louisiana is a swamp. The entire state. Did you not know this? I was not aware. Until this morning. Photographic evidence to support this:
The People's Exhibit #1
The People's Exhibit #2
The People's Exhibit #3
IMPORTANT TRAVEL TIP: When staying in an RV in Louisiana, make sure your host has a large tractor & tow chain.
(3) The Mississippi River has some lovely bridges going over it.
Mom, this one's for you. It's the best I could get of a Mississippi Riverboat.
Look! Bridgey Thing In Sky!
(4) We use a large cat carrier (actually made for dogs) to transport the cats while on the road. This is for several reasons, namely for their safety in a traveling vehicle, and so we can see if they're doing ok, plus they have room to move around a bit and get comfy. They ride with me in the back seat of the truck, which is a smoother and quieter ride than in the RV. They are spoiled and are fed treats, and I play Enya for them in an effort to relax them. No, really.
Loki hates the cat carrier. Poe is not fond, but is very Zen about it - we stuff him in there, he accepts his fate and lays down and sleeps. Loki, however, is the Anti-Zen. He lets us know, approximately every .63 seconds, that he is, in fact, still in the carrier despite his wishes NOT to be in said carrier. He does this as loudly as possible, sometimes drawing a single meow out into about 5 syllables. It's really quite impressive. And is also worse than facing the Spanish Inquisition for 8 hours.
Today he was in rare form. There were maybe, out of the entire day, three 20-minute breaks in his opera, Tragedy Of A Tortured Cat, in which he had the starring role of The Wretched One Forced To Endure Misery In This Evil Plastic Box of Doom. When we arrive at the RV park, the first thing I do is let them out into the house, feed them some soft food, pet them, and then clean out the carrier. I was in the midst of this routine, folding the blanket I just pulled out of the carrier, when I happen to look down and see Loki.
Sitting in the carrier.
Voluntarily, just sitting there, looking around like he'd never seen the stupid thing before. I finally went to take a picture, and he walked out and ate some more.
Sigh. Just watch - tomorrow, the drama will begin once again. Act I: The Accursed Bastille Awaits.
(5) (Bet you forgot I was even doing a list, didn't you?). Yesterday, we discovered that our RV was less than 12 feet high. How did we discover this?
So tomorrow's adventures will hopefully be without incident. We'll let you know when we get there!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
And also no rodeo clowns. Eep.
My Olympic quilting is going great! I'm making really good progress and should be able to pull off a first place finish! Quilting Gold! As long as I don't get sidelined by some horrible sewing injury (don't laugh - I bleed regularly while sewing). At least cotton is washable.
I can't quilt in the car though (the quilt hoop is just a bit too big to smoosh into the passenger's seat). So I started a new knitting project, a wrap for myself.
This is out of my birthday yarn from Mom. It's much prettier in person than it looks here - it's brighter and greener. My camera makes it look like camo. I may have been in Texas for a while, but not that long. (Although they do actually make camo yarn - seriously).
I have a red wrap I made years ago, and they're such versatile garments - it can be a big scarf, a shawl, or you can wrap it around yourself tightly like a big wool cocoon. Sometimes I even spread it out over my legs when I get cold. I figured since it's still a little cool here (although only sometimes in the evenings) that I'd better knit something out of wool before it hits the 80s. Which will probably happen sometime in the next month.
Noel and I are really enjoying the Olympics. We watched Shaun White win another gold - gravity just doesn't seem to affect that guy. We also enjoyed the men's figure skating last night (Ok, *I* did). Ice skating is one of my favorites if for no other reason than the costumes. Thank the gods for Johnny Weir. Although you have to say, there are a lot more feathers and sequins than you would've seen on the men's costumes in previous Games. I love it. :)
Tonight's weird sport? Double luge. Has anyone else seen this? It's bizarre. You have to feel really comfortable with someone to lay down on top of them on a luge sled. Particularly while wearing spandex. That's all I'm gonna say about that.
I love the bobsled competition too. I think riding a bobsled would be really fun (if they went slow!)
But yet I still will not ride a cow. No matter how slow it goes. :)
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I'm not Catholic, but I've celebrated by eating chocolate. I also plan to celebrate again tomorrow and every day until my Valentine's chocolates are gone. Yum!! So much for Lent!
Noel, we're happy to report, is feeling much better today.
Cima, one of my dear readers, answered my sizing question about the 1950s in yesterday's comments (and it sounds like their sizing back then in sewing patterns was vastly different than nowadays - at least, I'm going to tell myself that because it makes me feel better).
She also let me know that she moved my St. Patrick's Day dress article back onto the front page of her website (www.savannahbest.com) in honor of Savannah's favorite holiday. The article is at http://www.savannahbest.com/events/kellistory.htm. I hadn't read that article in years and laughed when I saw the pictures again. :)
Also today I wanted to share some pictures of a weird cattle breed that we've seen a lot of in this area: Brahman cows. It's an odd looking breed, but is renowned for being very docile. Guess that's why you never see them in rodeos. They certainly do look serene here. We drove around a bit today until we found some right outside of town. They posed nicely for me. Funky, aren't they?
Monday, February 15, 2010
We decided to go explore downtown Wharton a bit. They have an absolutely darling little downtown with various monuments on the square. Here's a nice veteran's memorial - it has a flame in the middle, probably visible at night. We could see the heat distortion coming out of it, but couldn't see the actual flame.
There was a pretty little gazebo too:
Yeah, not really sure what the point is. I think the whole town really isn't sure why, because even in their Historic Wharton brochure, they have a little description about it that basically says "hey! We have a dinosaur! come look at it! It's...a dinosaur!" This town seems to appreciate odd sculpture, I'll give 'em that.
This afternoon, Noel started not feeling well. By the time we got home he had chills and was achy. He went and took a really hot shower, then dressed up really warmly, and I did my best to warm him up by feeding him homemade burritos. He seems to be feeling better, although he's still bundled up under piles of blankets. Poor guy!
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Today was a gorgeous day! The sun came out and it was really warm - about 70 this afternoon. It was a great day to take a drive to explore the area (which we did this afternoon), and also take some photos of our new campground.
Now, before you peek at the pictures, let me tell you a tiny bit about this place. It's a motel and campground that was built back in 1942. It fell into disrepair and was recently purchased and refurbished by a local couple. It's touted as "the last kitschy motel in Texas." Meet:
The TeePee Motel
These little teepees are the motel rooms - each one has a bedroom and bathroom inside. Note the big arrows in the ground to the left. They're about the size of telephone poles.
Here are the teepees from the other side, so you can see their doorways:
Teepees In Sky!
This gives some perspective on how tall the arrows are:
More artsy arrow photos!
The campground has all the regular amenities: nice bathrooms, laundry room, and even a coffeeshop! That particular amenity has yet to be open when we've gone by though. So we just have to make our own coffee for now and pretend that it's a skinny vanilla latte.
We went to a farm supply store (they have such fabulous stuff in them!) and saw these cool tire swings. They're shaped like horses!
In Olympic Quilting news, I'm making very good progress on my quilt so far. I put a section of the quilt into a wooden hoop to hold the fabric still, and then handsew the 3 layers of the quilt together. I'm hoping that I'll be done by the end of the Games!
The kitties have been SO much help, from stealing my thimble to fighting each other underneath the quilt as I work on it (ie. between my ankles, which feels SO good, let me tell ya).
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
THIRTY FIVE! With a windchill of 28! And.....
Not much, more like rain with occasional clumpiness that might, if you squint just right, look kinda snow-ish. But I'll take it.
We went out to grab some subs for dinner tonight and had to bundle up! Fortunately, if it's one thing we have in spades here, it's knitted stuff to wear when it's cold.
Speaking of, the knitting has been completed on Rachel's sweater. I just need to sew on the buttons. Belated Christmas Present - check!
Tomorrow we're leaving to head south, toward Corpus Christi. The cats don't know this yet. Traveling isn't their favorite thing, so we like to spring it on them at the last minute. They generally start to figure things out when the Cramming Of The Stuff begins, where we take everything off the counters and put it all away. Once they see completely cleared off counters and the windows with the blinds pulled up, they put two and two together and find their respective Safe Havens (Poe under the bed cover overhangs or in the Poe Cave, and Loki under the sofa).
They've been less stressed every time we've traveled though, and hopefully it'll continue to get easier and easier for them. This trip shouldn't be too long either, which is always nice.
The other exciting thing about changing locations? We've picked a campground with cable, because the Olympics start tomorrow!! Go Team USA!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
we've been potty training the cats.
Just kidding!! I wish!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Thankfully, since I was feeling better today, I could spoil him with a homemade dinner. ("It was SOOO good," he adds. Thanks honey! It's nice cooking for someone who enjoys it!) I made meatloaf, garlic & cheese mashed potatoes and homemade beer bread. Meatloaf is one of those things that when it's done well, it's great. I found a great meatloaf recipe that's really foolproof and so tasty. It was in a children's cookbook that my aunt gave me, but I've made some modifications (of course, I can never leave well enough alone).
So here's my super simple meatloaf recipe:
1 lb ground beef
1 pkg of meatloaf seasoning or onion soup mix
1/2 cup (or so) of milk
1/2 cup (or so) of breadcrumbs (optional)
Mix all of it together. I use the breadcrumbs to help keep it all together - it should hold together well but still be moist. Put into a greased loaf pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 min - 1 hour. I cut into it to make sure it's cooked all the way through.
Also, if you buy fatty ground beef, you may want to take it out and drain it off about 15 minutes before it's finished. Otherwise you end up with meatloaf soup. Eew.
I just kinda fudged the mashed potatoes. But they turned out pretty well (I had to have Noel taste-test it for me, since I couldn't really taste it all that well!) I find mashed potatoes are one of those things you just have to keep adding to and tasting til they taste right. ;)
Yesterday we checked our mail and were so pleasantly surprised to find a present from my dear friend Lisa! Check these out!!!
Patio lights - shaped like cow skulls and cowboy boots! WE LOVE THEM. Too bad it's rainy out right now or we would've put them up already. Thank you Lisa!!!
In other news, I realized I talked incessantly about knitting, but hadn't actually posted any pictures of said knitting. For all you know (and care, probably) this knitting doesn't even exist!
So, in order to prove I've been diligently knitting and also to cruelly tease my sister, I present a few pictures of her (almost finished) sweater:
Since it's not finished, it has some spare threads lying about and is also kinda lumpy looking. When I finish it, I'll block it (wet it down and pin it down so the stitches show up well).
Here's a detail of the neckline. I really hope you like it, Rachel!
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Some of you may not know, but I have an irrational fear of clowns. Most people don't understand where this comes from. I'll show you EXACTLY why clowns are scary:
Isn't that AWESOME? And weird!? He actually got to go on it, and said that the woodwork on the inside was amazing. I didn't get to see the inside, but snapped a few pics this morning before they left. It's owned by a religious sect called the Twelve Tribes, a Christian group that resembles 1970 hippie communes.
Gorgeous, isn't it? They built it themselves - what incredible workmanship! We just loved it!!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Since we wanted to celebrate on the actual day, we spent today shopping for the Birthday girl's present. Now Kelli might make jokes about Texas but lets connect a few dots; when i got the rifle she was very excited about shooting it, she often takes pictures of horses and cows and any other animal she can find, speaks just as often about having a sheep farm someday with all the animals she could fit on it and when we chose a pistol she was adamant about getting an old school revolver and she was adorable when we were shooting. It was as if she was a child again on Christmas morning. And now.....of all the presents she could have chosen for her birthday, this is what she wanted;
They are very, very cool aren't they. They also look great on her. So despite her claims, the evidence would say that she's evolving into quite the cowgirl. Don't let her kid you........the spurs are comin' soon.
Also to save time for tomorrow I made brownies as per Kelli's birthday wishes;
Those of you who read daily, I want to thank you. Kelli enjoys writing the blog very much and is absolutely thrilled when you comment. Tomorrow i am going to wait on her hand and foot and spoil her rotten, so I doubt she will have time to post with her heavy pampering schedule. For my blogging finale i have written a little poem for my love that is written terribly, is completely cheesy, but is also absolutely sincere;
Happy Birthday to my dear one, with eyes of sapphire blue.
You are the loveliest of treasures, the sweetest of dreams come true.
Some days I just can’t find the words to describe how special you are to me.
A better friend or lover, the world has never seen.
I am blessed with each and every day I wake up in your arms.
I pray for another hundred years to be privileged with your charms.
I hope you know how much your loved and how much joy you bring.
You touch so many with your love , and mean simply everything to me.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY KELLI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
(This is slightly revised from my Aunt Pat's recipe, just to make access to ingredients & time investment a bit easier!)
Aunt Pat's Easy Chicken & Dumplings
Feeds about 6-8 people (or 2 hungry people for 3 days)
Dissolve 2 chicken boullion cubes in about 5 cups of water in large pot.
Submerge 4 chicken breasts in broth and cook until tender and done through.
Remove chicken from broth.
Add to broth:
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can evaporated milk (or use about a cup of regular milk)
- 1 stick of butter
- 2-3 tbsp sage
- salt to taste
Either make biscuit dough (flour, shortening & buttermilk) or use a large can of refrigerated biscuits (I used these, the flaky butter flavor). Cut or pinch dough and roll into pieces about the size of a large marble.
Bring broth to a boil, drop dough balls in to broth, and reduce heat to medium.
While dumplings cook, cut or tear chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.
Cook dumplings until done, when they start fluffing out (about 6-8 minutes).
When dumplings are finished, addd chicken into mix, stir, and eat!
Notes: I used the refrigerated biscuits because they're easier, and they taste great (just like regular biscuits) when in the broth. Each biscuit made 4 dumplings. I also added a bit of flour (1/2 cup?) to the broth, just to thicken it up.
This is a really surprisingly easy recipe. For some reason I thought that chicken & dumplings was some big fancy concoction that only experienced cooks could manage. I was wrong - this is a pretty fool-proof recipe, perfect for cold gray days. Hope you enjoy!! We ate more today for lunch and dinner, and it makes for great leftovers. If you end up with any. :)
This afternoon we decided to go to the local gun shop (guess whose idea this was!). It's a locally owned shop called Bear Arms, and is convenient because it has a shooting range right around back!
Noel had been eyeing a particular revolver for a while, and wanted me to check it to see how it fit in my hand (sometimes gun grips are too big for my little hands and I can't get a good hold of them).
I was personally enamored of the humongous Dirty Harry type revolver that weighed about 4 tons, and also the little tiny pink gun. :) I am such a girl. The men in the shop found me amusing I think, but thought it was hilarious that I loved the huge revolver and Noel pointed out how expensive it was. They said that's never happened before - it's always the other way around, with the guy loving the big gun and the woman pointing out the price! ha ha!
They showed us several different weapons, but we agreed that the revolver Noel originally liked was a great choice. We got it and went out back for some practice shooting.
Now, normally when I try to shoot a handgun, I end up flinching a bit because they tend to sting my hand a bit. This gun was great - worked like a charm, smooth, balanced, and very little recoil (don't I sound like the expert? Yeah, not really.)
Noel also really liked the way it fires.
Their practice range has targets that look like an intruder rushing at you.
These are the targets that the shop owner uses for his handgun safety classes. Meet Mad Max:
Mad Max had a bad day today. The gun shot so nicely, we both did some major damage. After my first round of shooting, Noel, the range master (the guy overseeing the shooting range), and every man within shouting distance COWERED in TERROR at my shooting abilities:
Honestly, I SWEAR, I did not do this on purpose. Really. I was surprised, because I was aiming at his chest. James, the range master, laughed so hard and then asked Noel where he was taking me for dinner. "Anywhere she wants, right?"