Archives for the month of: August, 2012

A Sherman theater friend sent me this link a few weeks ago, knowing my affection for bacon and sweet sweet anything. SUPER easy. So, pictures only…

Yummy yummy!!

Now, discuss if you will: I paid about $2.67 for 16 ounces of Bar S bacon, which was 11 slices. For that same price, you can get 2 ounces of pre-cooked bacon, or about 8 slices. Is it worth it?

Monday night marked the end of our first full week in Austin. So far, we are loving it!

When we got here, we had some usual move-in/set-up stuff, and there was a learning curve with the park, and the layout of the city, and where stores were, but we’re already feeling really settled in and having a great time! The first reminder that we weren’t in a small town anymore was when I went to Time-Warner to pick up my wireless router and we had to take a number. Our half hour wait was extremely enjoyable, as the building was cooled to the extreme, and our RV’s a/c was desperately trying to catch up from the half-day’s journey being turned off.

Tuesday, we got up and did our first day of school and work, which was a bit of a challenge since the slide was still in. At 3 PM, the repair guy came, fixed the slide, and even ordered a circuit board for my water heater so that we could enjoy less-than-bone-chilling showers. We decided to leave the awning alone (he noted that, in addition to the motor being out, the spring was probably broken, too), but the tree in the yard is so over-arching that I am not sure we could extend the awning, anyway. Lots of shade!

As he was leaving, and we were walking around taking pictures of the park, my sister and her family came over to say “hi.” The Littles were asleep, so the big Brownies just came in for a few and we all headed over to Wal-Mart.

D has wanted a bike for so long, and I’d promised her that once we got moved, we could get bikes. $300 later (yeah, I’m kind of a cheapskate) we had bikes, helmets, and a gel-cushioned pad for moi. Hey, she’s young; she can take it.

Leaving Wal-Mart, D and I headed over to The Juice Peddler, about which I blogged here. Then we went over to my sister’s to see her new house.

The cousins were having so much fun that Daphne spent the night with them, and then Wednesday, after I’d worked a bit, we all went to Zilker Park. This was our first real introduction into Austin culture, and we LOVED it. We paid the paltry entry fee to go into the “kept” pool (as opposed to the free springs down the way a bit; dogs seem to love it there!). There were hundreds of people there, but it is so big, it wasn’t at all crowded.

 

It was about 100 degrees outside, and the water is always a chilly 68. Although this was a bit shocking at first, we quickly adapted, and it was a welcome relief after days of moving, and working, and humidity.

The people: this is what made the pool brilliant, and one of the biggest reasons I have high hopes that my love for this town will be enduring. So many people. So many walks of life. So many colors (and that’s just the hair). My sister ran into some kids whose parents she knows through work and the Deaf community. There were some extremely beautiful people here, but it was a natural beauty; not a put-on show. In the Dallas area (my single friend who’s dated some Metroplex women calls it “North Dallas Women’s Syndrome, which I didn’t realize was a thing until I started paying attention), trips to a public pool involve being around many women who sit around with designer sunglasses, refusing to get their hair wet, even if they do deign to dip into the pool. Not here. It was chock full of people who were there to enjoy themselves, and to cool off, and not to worry about who was watching them or what they were thinking. Families. A lone Rasta playing music off in a corner. An extremely old, extremely exhibitionist couple. Teenagers. College kids. Bromancers. It was a great time.

The oldest Brownie came home with us, and Thursday morning, I had my first ever Krispie Kreme mystery shop! Another plus in the “Austin” column. From Krispie Kreme, we headed to the nearest grocery store, which just happens to be H-E-B plus! I bought four things, but I think we spent an hour there: watching tortillas come down the conveyor belt, drooling over fajita meats…

 

… checking out the store brand cereals, and just exploring the giant unfamiliar layout. There’s one section of the store where they have $20 meat deals. It’s nearly-expired bundles of things like 1 4-pound fryer chicken, 2 pounds ground beef, 4 pounds bone-in pork chops, 2 pounds of beef bone-in chuck steaks, and 2 packages of hot dogs for twenty bucks! This isn’t great for someone who has RV-proportioned refrigeration, but if I ever plan a barbecue, that’s where I am heading!

We also found our nearest library branch, which is barely 2 miles from the house. While we waited for five minute for the facility to open, we got to witness a rather obnoxious religious “witness” insulting another library patron’s love for Jesus, evidenced by the fact that this lady didn’t go to his church denomination. He left her promising to pray that her love grew from a tiny love to a giant love. I was just *waiting* for him to approach me, and it’s probably better that the doors opened and we were allowed in before he tried.

Thursday, we found out that my parents had come down to check out both of our new homes. We all ended up gathering for dinner at an Austin institution:

After dinner, the two older Brownies came home with us, the girls all went swimming, and then spent the night.

Friday morning, we had a special breakfast party, followed by a visit from Nana, swimming, lunch (left over from The Magnolia Cafe) and then we all ended up back at my sister’s.

Daphne spent Friday night with her cousins, and I had an ambitious idea to make an epic music video for my teammate. Headed into the laundry room to wash clothes, however, I slipped on standing water at the drain and fell. I was mostly concerned that the small amount of mud at the drain would make it look like I’d soiled myself. Heading into the clubhouse to work while the clothes were busy, however, I realized that my left knee had swollen to about 4 times its normal size in a period of about 3 minutes! There was no discoloration at all, but I was worried that my kneecap might be floating around in that mass, totally out of place. After about 10 minutes of freaking out, I touched the alien-looking thing, and realized it was all just fluid. I put ice on it for the next hour and a half (except when I changed the clothes over) and rested in the knowledge that it wasn’t going to require medical attention.

That night, I did make the video, but I sat on my rear the whole time. Then I got restless and went out to see “Hope Springs,” traveling without the net of GPS. I made it, after circling the venue a couple of times, trying to figure out how to get in. In the parking lot after the show, I saw a Chevy Astro, and it was love all over again,

Saturday brought the first rain we’d had since moving to Austin.

I think they like it.

D and I came home that afternoon, but we were to meet the Brownies later that day at a really neat Eco-Arts Festival. It took place at the Austin EcoSchool. Oh, how I wish I had the bank to send Daphne to that. It looks like an incredible program. Growin Together, the new after-school enrichment, is amazing… In fact, I want to go to that!

At the festival, TJ got to help with a chicken wing-clipping demonstration.

They had demos about composting and time-trading and storytime yoga. But my favorite was Food Is Free’s wicking bed instructions. We intend to do this right after I upgrade my sewer connection, per Travis County Health Ordinance.

 

Did I mention the organic, locally-grown food they had for us? I didn’t? Shame on me!

 

Daphne made a mask out of an empty milk jug, a noise-maker out of an empty can and decorative duct tape, and a small planter with pepper seeds, soil, and the bottom of a water bottle. It was a fun night and, again, the random collection of people made my heart happy.

Sunday, we visited Soma Austin for the first time. I’d found it by expanding the diameter on my Google Maps search from our RV until I saw a website that struck a chord with me. This one did, for three reasons. The first was their homeless/unemployed ministry. The second was this, under the “Who Will I Meet” section: “You will meet people who are alot like you.  We are professionals, bohemians, college students, musicians, artists, moms and dads, and more.  We come from broken backgrounds and spotless records, from nuclear families and divorce, we have been through some life and each of us walks with a bit of a limp that life has given us.  Some of us became believers in Christ at an early age.  Others, including the pastor, came to faith in Christ well into adulthood.  We are not perfect people, but we hope to be humble people who follow Christ.  No matter your past or present, we invite anyone to join us.” The third was the art “vibe” I got, and the statement about worship that included various forms of artistic expression.

When we walked in, one of the first things I noticed was that they have an original and evocative “Stations of the Cross” display.

I wish I could panoramically capture the whole thing, but it’s on two walls. Just trust me. It’s moving. Better yet, stop by and check it out.

We loved the people we met, and the heart of the congregation. It is much smaller than any church I have ever attended, but there is an energy and a spirit here with which I identify. I want to get to work! We’re trying to plug in, having attended a small group last night and planning to attend a picnic this weekend… but that’s not in the “first week,” so I’ll hush about it.

Sunday afternoon, I had another mystery shop at a sports bar with pretty swanky food for a sports bar. We both loved it; it would have been great even if it hadn’t been free… but we wouldn’t know, because we wouldn’t have eaten there.

We just relaxed and hung out that afternoon.

Monday, the pool is closed so Daphne and I started the day riding bikes around our neighborhood. I love it! It’s big and beautiful and just a neat community. Daphne did her first day of a new online school she’s trying out. I worked a full day’s worth of hours. We rode bikes some more. I had two lunch shops. I colored my hair and made banana pudding. It was a nice “home” day. We’ve missed those.

So, all in all, a great initial week! We got caught in our first “rush hour traffic” yesterday, but other than that have managed to avoid that particular annoyance. Even then, it wasn’t too bad. We were downtown and got to watch people (and dogs) running in the park, rowing on the river, and visiting. Looking forward to the rest of our lives here…

 

Yes, I’ve done Banana “Ice Cream” before. Today, it was just a side dish for the easy, secretly healthy breakfast I made for the girl cousins who’d spend the night with Daphne.

My parents had sent over a loaf of whole wheat bread (yep, they’re visiting; they waited a whole 48 hours after I moved before they had to see the grands!), and I made each girl a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich.

The jelly is the only sugary inclusion in this entire dish.

Hey… Here’s a question: How do *you* make a pb&j? Peanut butter on one slice, jelly on the other, then mush together? Or peanut butter topped with jelly topped with other bread? Or mix the peanut butter and jelly and then put it on bread? Just curious.

Note: This was WAY too many eggs for three girls’ French toast.

The finished product!

I had put a dusting of powdered sugar on the plate for presentation’s sake, and I had put syrup on the table but all of the girls agreed that this was “sweet” enough without anything else on it. Between the eggs and peanut butter, it was packed with protein; it is served on whole wheat bread, and each had the equivalent of one whole banana. A great breakfast!

Three out of three cousins agree: yummy! Note the untouched syrup.

And it’s tidy enough to eat with your hands. (Not so much the ice cream.)

Today, Daphne and I headed to JuiceBox Soup Peddler on West Mary, headed in that direction by a Groupon I bought weeks ago. The menu looked incredible; we had everything picked out before we even left the house.

This was our first real Austin outing, and it served as an impressive introduction to the city for Daphne. This isn’t a food truck, but it is a window-order, sit-outside establishment.

Fun artwork, hinting at the goodness on the menu.

The seating area features wooden picnic tables with containers of chalk, for your decorating pleasure. There are a couple of very powerful fans, as well. We just opted for the shade, and quickly moved to the car. It’s quite hot.

Want to call in your order first? Their phone number is super easy to remember!

Otherwise, step right up to the very inviting window, meet the delightful order-taker, and go.

I ordered the Green Monster: a smoothie made with broccoli, peanut butter, coconut water, banana, and spinach. Daphne got the banana peanut butter smoothie. To eat, I chose the mixed greens salad with shaved fennel, red grapes, and crumbled Gorgonzola on mixed greens with apricot vinaigrette. D had the green apple Muenster grilled cheese sandwich.

Here’s the Green Monster! It came with a rather large straw; I suppose this is so any chunks make it easily up and into ones mouth. Mine was super smooth, and I tasted most the peanut butter. Daphne, after trying her banana PB smoothie, said mine wasn’t as sweet. I thought it was delicious! And filling. I had to save the salad for a bit later.

D’s sandwich. Beautiful and, according to her, VERY well done.

My salad. It looks tinier than it is, as I found later when I couldn’t properly toss it without transferring it to a larger bowl.

 

See what I mean? It done exploded.

Had we paid normally, our order would have been just under $18. I only paid $10 for the Groupon, so this was a great deal for which I would be more than willing to pay full price. Daphne said: “Remember: Soup Peddler equals AWESOME!”

 

 

The repairman came today and got our slide unstuck; he’s ordering a circuit board for the water heater, so hopefully we’ll have appropriately warm showers and dish-washing capabilities soon.

I took several pictures around the trailer and the new park… Enjoy!

D’s room, remade!

She still has a bunch of Harry Potter stuff. 🙂

My room. Not much difference from before.

La toilette.

The slide! Finally out!

The Wall of Awesome.

The kitchen.

D, chilling on the patio in the shade.

The whole lot! I love it. The car is in the shade all day!

The community clubhouse.

The patio at the pool.

Daphne hanging out by the pool.

Inside the clubhouse. There’s a lending library and…

…A kitchen!

A DVD lending library, too.

Snacks for sale.

Recycling center!

Playground.

The laundry room.

Common grills and picnic tables.

Nice, right? I think we’re gonna like it here!

3:43 AM – Wake up, like wide-awake, lie in bed for an hour trying to decide whether just to get up and start doing stuff.

6:00 AM – Alarm goes off. Apparently “decided” to fall back to sleep at some point.

6:08 AM – Shower. Cold. Cold. Cold. Cold.

6:12 AM – Run into my bedroom yelling at Daphne, still sleeping, to turn off the fan because my teeth were chattering. Warm up under the blankets.

6:15 AM – Start draining the sewer line. So glad I found those rubber gloves.

6:20 AM – Become increasingly horrified how gross waste management is.

6:45 AM – Change tactics and unhook the cable modem. The internet works no worse when it’s unplugged than it did when it had a power source and a connection to cable lines.

7:15 AM – Start jacking down the RV. Realize at some point that the front right jack is mounted upside down, but that the bottom side is the only one with instructions printed on it. Have to ignore those, though, because for that one jack, “counter-clockwise” is up and vice-versa. All of the rest operate properly; a couple after some serious WD-40 treatment.

7:45 AM – Text The Dude Who Moved My Trailer  and tell him to text me when he’s 10 minutes out. He said he was running late, as he’d hit traffic in Grapevine and that he’d be there by 8:30. Based on where he told me he was, I knew he’d be there by 8:15.

7:47 AM – D goes out to get her birdhouse, leaving the door not all the way shut. Both cats get out. Daphne cries, gets Rudy, we  remand him to the car.

7:55 AM – Bring in the patio furniture.

8:05 AM – Dude texts me that he’s 10 minutes out. Bring in front slide, turn refrigerator to gas, and turn off electricity.

8:07 AM – Daphne catches Carol and throws her in the car.

8:15 AM – Dude gets there. He hooks up, his sweet little ginger boy sticks his head out and asks to play, but is told to stay in the car.

8:30 AM – Ready to go! Stop by the office to pay electricity. Cats meowl as though they are being slowly murdered.

They huddle with Daphne for comfort. Daphne wears her pajamas because we pulled her room “in” and had already put the bag in the car, and we’re not all that fancy, anyway.

8:44 AM – Drop off wi-fi router at Cable One.

11:12 AM – Drive-through Waco Chick-fil-A for lunch, courtesy a gift card from fellow homeschoolers. That place was PACKED. At least ten cars in the drive-through. So I went in and D stayed with the felines.

1:07 PM – Arrive at the RV park. Drive by our spot; we love it! Check in at the office. The clubhouse is fun, with a TV and sitting room, snacks for sale, staff who obviously try to learn your name, and people constantly going in and out.

1:11 PM – Realize that the wi-fi is not going to be strong enough for two people working and one kid schooling/Minecrafting, so spend nearly an hour on the phone with Time Warner. They are irritated that my teammate used the same phone number for his account that I am trying to use for mine. I’m not sure how they fixed that, but it became a non-issue later.

1:35 PM – Dude gets here with my trailer. He backs it in, I set up the electric first thing and turn on the a/c. It promptly becomes clear that the living room/dinette slide won’t extend. Daphne’s room works. We bring in the cats.

2:35 PM – For the most part, everything has been brought inside/outside as necessary. The water is hooked up, and the sewer is, too… for now. Travis County has a most wonderful ordinance that if an RV is staying in the same place for 30 days or more, it has to be removed from the unit with PVC instead of the Rhino pipe. This bodes well for a more conservative rationing of Duct Tape, if nothing else. Mental note to add that to my calendar for two weeks from now, when I’m not on the verge of mental death from exhaustion. Done.

3:18 PM – Daphne and I head to Time Warner to pick up the wireless router! They’d said that it would be shipped in 2 – 5 business days, but I threw a hissy fit about that one. Also, I requested no installation appointment, because, hey, I’m not an idiot, right?

3:31 PM – Oh, yeah! This is what it’s like to live in a bigger city! Take a number and sit down. In the super-cold A/C. We don’t complain. We enjoy.

4:00 PM – Hit the car wash. Not literally. Wash the car. Vacuum the profuse collection of nervous-cat-hair.

4:10 PM – McDonald’s for soda (me) and strawberry banana smoothie (for D; who had helped me lots and was going to help a lot more!).

4:33 PM – Time to unpack! Because of the non-functional slide, we have to climb over the u-shaped dinette and through a hole that would not allow a more corpulent person passage. Unpacked D’s room; it’s a lot more organized than it had been. She has more room now, too, our having ridden ourselves of the PC that was in her TV hole.

5:45 PM – For a small space, the unpacking is taking quite a while. I keep going out to adjust a jack, put something in storage, put boxes in the car, etc. Sister invites us over for dinner. There is sweat dripping down my nose, and I am filthy and smelly. We decline.

6:15 PM – I challenge Daphne to be done by 7. She insists we will be finished at 6:30. Which we are.

6:30 PM – Blessed shower. Wouldn’t have minded a cool one, but the water heater was actually working, so it was comfortable, and eased the pain in my back and shoulders. To enter the bathroom, because of the non-sliding slide, I have either to open the door before I climb, or go all the way into Daphne’s room and open the door completely flat to get in. The guy will be here to fix it between 3 and 5 tomorrow.

7:00 PM – D and I are in bed, eating grapes and apples and cookies. Anything else is too ambitious. While I work, we listen to a couple of Mark Driscoll messages.

9:00 PM – Daphne finds the bike she wants online. I promise to buy them tomorrow. But I need a few hours to work first, too!

9:28 PM – The Brownies get online and Skype with D. She WILL be in bed by 10. This day is SO over. 🙂

All in all, it was drama-free. It would have been so much worse if the air conditioner hadn’t worked. Or the refrigerator. The slide-out is a pain in the back, literally, but by tomorrow, it will be fixed.

Daphne is a little homesick; we haven’t had a chance to “experience” Austin. We probably won’t until later in the week. This weekend, we’re going to a neat festival, then to our first church service Sunday morning and their picnic Sunday afternoon. This will be home in no time! We’re just too beat to enjoy it much.

This will be the last post I make from our Dallas-area RV park! Hopefully tomorrow night, we’ll be sleeping in the same beds, but a few hundred miles further south. We’re heading to Austin at the crack of dawn Monday, and we are uber-excited! I’ve loved our park here, but there is one thing I will not miss: The dang wooden borders they have on either side of the trailer spaces.

For whatever reason, we can’t use the entire space of the lot. There is a lawn-mower’s width of grass between each space. This renders my driveway about wide enough for 1.75 vehicles, which is inconvenient when, say 2.0 vehicles try to park alongside one another. Also, the border is so close to the termination of our stairs that nearly every guest we ever have over eventually trips over the posts.

Last week, I wrenched my ankle getting into the car, fell into the driver’s seat, hit the horn (thus delivering the false impression to my partner that I was honking for him to hurry up inside and decorating my right side with a heathy bruise), and I drive over or back over them all the time, likely causing unknown damage to my car.

Today, I was hauling stuff in when the end of one of them (they’re supposed to be end-to-end, but since I’ve driven over and displaced them, they’re just kind of laying there) caught my left pinky toe. I’m going to put a picture of it at the bottom of this post, and I’m warning you now that it’s kind of gross. So don’t scroll all the way down unless you enjoy the sight of blood. Our new park has paved streets and parking areas (as opposed to the gravel we have here; hopefully less car-vacuuming), as well as a paved sidewalk/walkway. I’m going to love that! I’m also going to try to find a contractor to build us a deck. Yep, that’s how I roll.

Can’t wait to be “home” at the new home! 🙂

Picture below…

 

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Apparently, today is National S’Mores Day, as if we needed a time/reason to celebrate marshmallow graham chocolaty goodness. I was made aware of this by a provocative e-mail from the Pillsbury company, whose website is replete with Sandra-Lee-esque largely-thrown-together “recipes.” Still, I’m a sucker for them. Just look at these search results and try not to fall in love! (Don’t ask me how the pork chops got up in there.) CARAMEL APPLE S’MORES NACHOS?! Well, that’s not what I did. Tomorrow is another day. Anyhoo…

Daphne and I found two “recipes” we wanted to try. One was super easy, the S’more Chippers. In fact, Keebler Soft Batch cookies were on sale so cheap, I didn’t even bother with the refrigerated dough! Just two minutes to warm up the cookies and marshmallow halves, smoosh it down, and dump melted chocolate (with a touch of shortening) – no, I don’t use “coating.” Ick. – and done!

The other recipe we liked was the Mini S’mores Hand Pies. A girlfriend is having some people over tonight, so I wanted to make something yummy to take for snacks.

You can see the recipe; here is my take, pictorially.  Because of how hot it gets in the RV, I did this in the extremely early morning, so pardon the low light.

Pie crust rounds. Note: I have never placed fish on this cutting board.

Believe it or not, I don’t have a pastry brush. I spooned the butter and swiped it with the back of the spoon.

Dredging… Daphne requested chocolate graham crackers. Brilliant!

Yummy cream cheese, marshmallow creme, chocolate chip filling. We made four times as much of this as we “had” to. Lots of left-overs for later!

This is how the website says to construct these. Um, have you MET marshmallow cream? I don’t trust it, so…

 

… a little insurance. Plus it looks purty.

 

 

The finished product!! 🙂

 

Oh, P.S.

Neapolitan Bars

I also made these, but you can see more professional step-by-step instructions here. You should bookmark that site, too… great recipes! You’ll notice that she does hers in what’s probably a more-attractive chocolate, vanilla, then strawberry. I realize that the top layer is going to rise highest, so, chocolate crowns mine! Plus, I’m lazy. I didn’t want to wash my mixer, so I mixed white, strawberry, and chocolate, in that order. That’s just how I roll.

Someone posted this on Facebook, meaning to disparage me. I think it’s *awesome”! 😀 Happy Friday, everybody!

 

This morning, I was lying in bed trying to think of what I might make for breakfast. We’re out of eggs. Can you do pancakes without eggs? I have some Pink Lady apples… I could make a compote, perhaps? Ooh… Apple Compote Crepes! Oh, right. No eggs. Dang it. Know what else I have? Some crumbled bacon. Bacon and apple pancakes. With no eggs.

I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com for Vegan Pancakes. I followed it almost exactly, except that I doubled it, used brown instead of white sugar, and omitted 1/4 cup of water to make up for the liquid in the brown sugar and apples. As it turned out, this made VERY thick, hearty pancakes that promise to stick with me for most of the day. Lunch is an hour away and I can’t imagine being hungry.

Besides all of those changes, of course, I added a few things…

That’s right! Cheese! And not just any cheese. An amazing hard cheese that I got from Scardello in Dallas. It was aged for months, then wrapped in tobacco as it aged further, giving it a nutty, spicy note that I imagined would work well with the sweet apple.

Dry ingredients…

…then wet.

At this point, it was more like a thin dough than a batter.

Next, I grated in about 1/2 of the Pink Lady (Daphne ate the rest).

Immediately, the water content of the batter increased.

On to more grating. This time, we’re getting cheesy.

How gorgeous is that? Like a stained glass window. Err. Stained cheese window?

Finally, add the bacon bits and mix it into a frenzy of sharp cheese, sweet crunchy apple, salty bacon goodness.

On to the cooking part, wherein we see whether egg-free pancakes will stand up when called on.

1/3 cup… really thick batter.

They browned up nicely; I kept the heat on low and cooked them for longer than I would cook typical pancakes. I didn’t want the middle to be laced with potential botulism, though, so I was patient.

There they are! Naked in all of their puffy glory. The lack-of-egg problem ended up being no problem! I wish I could say that we topped these with hand-churned butter and some fancy homemade or 100% maple syrup, but that’s not the case. Store brand butter/margarine mix and Aunt Jemima light fake syrup… and these were tasty enough to stand up to those substandard toppings. I will definitely make them (or something like them; or something totally different but maybe using the same base) again!